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This year’s choice cereals – Agronomist & Arable Farmer – David Bouch

David Bouch, Hutchinsons national seeds manager, highlights his recommendations for autumn drilling this year. ...

Winter wheat

Winter wheat is seeing little change in terms of preferred varieties in the market for autumn 2021. Group 1 wheats will be miller influenced, with Crusoe producing the best quality and KWS Zyatt and Skyfall offering the higher yields. Skyfall still offers the greatest flexibility for drilling, with the latest safe sowing date and OWBM resistance. However, its important to note that the latter two varieties saw greater yellow rust pressures last season.

Group 2 sees Extase as the variety of choice, with excellent disease resistance and still an exceptional Septoria score of 8.LG Detroit offers OWBM resistance in the group 2 sector and has East/West recommendation but not the standout untreated yield of Extase.

In Group 3 we see new developments, with five newly recommended varieties, with the standout variety to my mind being LG Astronomer. Although not the highest yielding, it has acceptable quality for biscuit making and distilling. It is not an export variety like KWS Firefly or LG Illuminate, but it has the best agronomics and I believe that is key. LG Astronomer has some of the best untreated yield figures on the list, with 7.4 for Septoria, 9s for both rusts, a 6 for Fusarium and OWBM resistance, coupled with an 8 for lodging with a PGR.KWS Barrel will still be a popular choice for the North and the borders.

In the Group 4 portfolio I would keep it simple, Skyscraper and RGT Saki for soft preference and in the hard section, Gleam, SY Insitor and newcomer KWS Cranium, which is short and stiff and has acceptable agronomics with good yellow rust 8, Septoria 6 and, again, is OWBM resistant.

Finally, we need to focus on RGT Wolverine, which put its toe in the commercial market in autumn 2020 and will have greater availability for this season. Wolverine has BYDV resistance, although with an average yield at 102 (3% off the top) and requiring a more robust fungicide programme, it will have a key place in the autumn for the management of BYDV. With greater aphid presence and earlier drilling being employed more widely, this focus can be utilised to counteract any delay in spray application and, of course, enable prioritising those varieties without the trait. This will also benefit those growers with land further afield from the main enterprise. RGT Wolverine David will require stewardship but can undoubtedly provide a significant benefit in autumn 2021.

Winter barley

There are one or two new winter barley contenders on the AHDB Recommended Lists that will offer a step forward in yield. KWS Tardis, Bordeaux and Bolton all look to offer very similar ability with little, if any, discernible difference in yield, both nationally and across the regions.

Grain quality also looks decent in the high 60s for kg/hl weight (lowest is 68.6 and the highest 69.9, so no major concerns in that department). Disease resistance also looks acceptable and with Tardis having a 7 score for Rhynchosporium, this also looks an asset.

Aside from these three, there will still be an interest in the proven varieties such as KWS Orwell, LG Mountain, Surge, Valerie and the old favourite KWS Cassia, which still holds demand within the marketplace. California is still a niche within the South- west for livestock growers with a straw requirement.

In the malting segment, the options remain Craft and Electrum, with the choice in the region being aligned to the Maltsters’ preferences.

Hybrid barley will see the market being dominated by Kingsbarn, Bazooka and Belmont primarily. There will still be limited interest in Libra with its very consistent grain quality. Limited introduction of candidate variety SY Javelin sees a marked change in untreated yield, with the variety possessing a 9 score for Rhynchosporium. Yield-wise, it will be comparable to Kingsbarn, but with earlier maturity.

Finally, there are the BYDV-tolerant varieties to consider for management purposes and Sensation is the variety of choice in this six-row feed barley market, as we stand. Six-row malting candidate KWS Feeris also possesses this trait and may be of some interest to monitor for the future.


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