What will be the top-selling wheat varieties this autumn?

Extase is set to overtake Skyfall as the top-selling winter wheat variety this autumn, driven by its good disease resistance, stiff straw and early maturity.

Seed trade experts believe the variety will sell out this autumn as growers choose solid, sustainable varieties, rather than look for out-and-out top-yielders.

Barry Barker, national arable seed product manager at agronomy group Agrii, says the variety has looked very good and clean in the field all through the season.

“I think it will sell out and be the number-one variety driven by its good disease resistance to septoria and rusts, standing ability and earliness,” he says.

See also: Winter wheat variety assessed for ability to cut fungicide costs

High septoria rating 

The variety has the second-highest septoria resistance rating on the AHDB Recommended List at 8.1, just behind Theodore, a top 9 for yellow rust and a good solid 7 for brown rust, on a 1-9 scale where 1 is very susceptible and 9 shows good resistance.

By using the genetic potential of the variety, wheat growers could cut back on some inputs and also get good value for money from inputs such as fungicides.

In addition, with the winter wheat area down nearly 20% this season, Extase growers could well receive a useful premium for the Group 2 milling wheat, as millers will be eager to use all the home-grown wheat they can buy.

“Those who do well out of Extase this season  are likely to put it in the ground for next season,” he adds.

Mr Barker expects Extase to be the top-selling variety in the certified seed market, followed by feed variety Gleam, then Skyfall – helped by its ability to be drilled late – with Graham and Skyscraper competing for fourth spot.

Popular in England

David Waite, northern seeds manager at agronomy group Frontier, also expects Extase to be the top-seller this autumn, particularly in England.

He believes the variety is at the beginning of a trend favouring those that offer much improved disease resistance, especially to septoria.

The only downside for the variety may be seed availability, as many seed crops suffered from late drilling and then a very dry spring and are likely to have low yields.

“The variety has a lot of positives – good septoria resistance, high hagberg, stiff straw and is at the higher end of the millers’ specifications for a Group 2 wheat,” he says.

Mr Waite does not expect it to be grown too far north into Scotland, as its regional yield has not been that impressive in the North, while Scotland is largely a soft feed wheat market.

Extase wheat seed

Top three in the West

Jonathan Baxendale, combinable seed product manager at seed supplier Wynnstay, says Extase will be among his group’s three top-selling wheat varieties, along with Graham and Gleam.

The seed supplier focuses on Group 1 milling and Group 4 feed wheats and covers an area across the middle of England from Shropshire to Yorkshire. In terms of seed sales it is third after Frontier and Agrii.

Mr Baxendale says wheat variety choice in the West often focuses on those with a resistance score of 6 and more for septoria, especially after the septoria fungicide chlorothalonil was banned.

“For this year, we are seeing the most interest in Extase after it sold out last year, and with no chlorothalonil for next season,” he says.

Group 2 milling wheat varieties in the AHDB Recommended List

Variety   Extase  Siskin  Detroit  Lili
Fungicide-treated yield (%)   101   101   100    99
Untreated yield (%)    95     83     77    71
Hagberg (seconds)   297   286   279   295
Protein (%)   12.6   12.6   12.9   12.2
Specific weight (kg/hl)   78.4    77.2    77.6   77.3
Resistance to lodging     7      6      8     7
Yellow rust     9      9      9        7
Brown rust     7      5      5     4
Septoria      8.1      6.6      5.3     5.9
NOTE – On the 1‒9 scales, high figures indicate that a variety shows the character to a high degree (eg high resistance)