Highest yielding Recommended varieties on show at Cereals
Plant breeders Limagrain UK will showcase their impressive portfolio of varieties across crop sectors at Cereals 2024. 

 

After several years absence from Cereals, the breeders have returned to the Event on the back of their resounding success on the 2024/2025 AHDB Recommended List.

“Producing the highest yielding varieties, backed up with desirable agronomic characteristics is an exceptional achievement for any breeder. What’s more, these varieties have proven to be robust and consistent performers across seasons and regions,” explains Ron Granger, Limagrain’s arable technical manager.

Ron Granger portraitVisit stand 606 to find out more about the highest yielding winter wheat LG Beowulf, LG Caravelle the highest yielding 2-row winter barley and the highest gross output oilseed rape varieties LG Armada, LG Adeline and LG Academic.

There will also be experts on hand to discuss Limagrain’s very diverse portfolio, including maize, forage crops and SFI options as well as an opportunity to enter a prize draw to win free seed.

“We are here to listen and share our expertise on how to get the very best out of Limagrain genetics, and the Cereals Event gives us the opportunity to do this directly with the farming community we serve,” he says.

Visit LG on stand 606, buy tickets here

Limagrain Upgrades Malting Barley Laboratory at UK Head Quarters

Our malting barley laboratory at Rothwell in Lincolnshire has been upgraded to increase testing capability for the early screening of new varieties, from 1000 to 4000 samples a year, for both the UK and European markets.

“This will allow us to use the data generated more efficiently to enable more accurate genomic selection, to better predict the malting potential and quality of the next generation of malting barleys,” says Sophie Buon, barley breeder.

“This new approach will test varieties under different micro-malting regimes, that require less water and less steeping – and in response to end user requirements, do this in the most carbon neutral way possible.”

“We hope that the new facility will encourage end-users to visit and see for themselves, the extensive work that we are doing to breed new and exciting malting barley varieties, that meet all of today and tomorrows market requirements.”

Limagrain varieties top the 2024/25 AHDB Recommended List
Plant breeder Limagrain’s winter wheat LG Beowulf and 2-row winter barley LG Caravelle, are the highest yielding varieties to join the 2024/25 AHDB Recommended List.

LG Armada also takes lead position as the highest yielding oilseed rape variety on the Recommended List for the UK, whilst LG Adeline takes pole position for oilseed rape in the North.

In addition, high yielding maize variety Saxon tops the 2024 BSPB Forage Maize Descriptive List for ME yield (‘000s MJ/ha).

This means that LG now offer the highest yielding varieties in; winter wheat, 2 row winter barley, OSR and maize*.

Ron Granger

“This is an exceptional achievement for any breeder,” explains Ron Granger, Limagrain’s arable technical manager.

“Last year saw our winter wheat and winter barley varieties take pole positions across the RL. We have built on this success for a second year running, producing higher yielding varieties, backed up with desirable agronomic characteristics, securing high yield performance on farm. What’s more, these varieties have proven to be robust and consistent performers across seasons and regions.”

 
Highest yielding winter wheat

Group 4 hard wheat LG Beowulf yields 106% across the UK and shows the same consistency of performance across all regions: east (106%), west (106%) and the north (107%) – an outstanding achievement for any variety.

LG Beowulf has produced these exceptionally high yields consistently in National List and RL trials over regions and seasons, in both the unusually dry summer of 2022 as well as the exceptionally wet summer of 2023. Alongside these yields, it offers a good grain quality, with a spec weight of 78.3 kg/hl.

LG Beowulf is much like LG Skyscraper; it performs wherever you grow it,” he says. “It can be drilled early or late – providing growers with a wide drilling window, as a first or second wheat, on light or heavy land, and there are very few varieties that meet this criterion,” he says.

LG Beowulf yields are backed up by a set of strong agronomic characteristics, offering an excellent disease resistance profile with ratings of 9 for yellow rust, 6.7 for septoria, as well as orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) resistance.

It has very stiff straw and is rated 8 for standing in untreated and PGR treated trials, which strongly contributes to its reliability on farm.

“In summary, LG Beowulf is a very high yielding, robust and versatile variety that comes at a time when growers are looking more than ever to maximise output, in order to maintain profit in times of increasing costs,” says Mr Granger.

 
Highest yielding winter barley

LG Caravelle is the highest yielding two-row winter barley for the second year running, since joining the Recommended List in 2023.

“Offering UK yields of 105.6%, LG Caravelle continues to dispel any misconception that two row barleys are lower yielding than hybrids. The variety certainly competes with the best yielding hybrid barleys, especially in the east,” says Mr Granger. “LG Caravelle is competitive in a black-grass situation, another characteristic that is normally associated with hybrids.”

LG Caravelle’s high yields are backed up by an excellent disease profile, reflected in its superb untreated performance, it is early maturing with stiff straw and good brackling resistance.”

LG Caravelle also offers an exceptionally high specific weight for a winter barley, of 71.4 kg/hl combined with low screenings %,” he adds.

“Indeed, LG Caravelle possesses all of the key characteristics for a winter barley.”

LG Capitol is a two-row winter barley that joins the Recommended List this year and is a sister variety to LG Caravelle, offering similar yields and consistency of performance over seasons and regions. Its yields sit just 0.1% behind that of LG Caravelle, at 105.5%.

LG Capitol also combines a high specific weight and ripening, similar to KWS Tardis, with a solid disease resistance profile and good straw attributes.

 
Highest yielding OSR

The top three highest yielding oilseed rape varieties on the 2024/25 AHDB Recommended List all come from the Limagrain stable, offering exceptional consistency over regions and seasons.

LG Armada tops the UK and E/W List at 107%, LG Academic follows 1% behind at 106%, with LG Adeline taking pole position on the Northern List with an outstanding yield of 108.3%.

LG Armada is one of the next generation of versatile high yielding oilseed rape varieties, improving on the characteristic trait loaded-hybrids that growers have come to expect from Limagrain.

“‘Ambassador-like’ in its growth habit, LG Armada has strong autumn vigour, is robust, with good adaptability to all regions of the UK,” says Limagrain’s oilseeds product manager, Liam Wilkinson.

Liam Wilkinson - Limagrain UK in Oilseed Rape trial plots“LG Armada is the first of our seventh generation of hybrids, bringing new maintainer and restorer lines to our OSR portfolio. This effectively means we are bringing varieties to market offering a stacked portfolio of much improved stem health attributes, alongside the standard pod shatter, TuYV and RLM7 resistance traits.”

“We know stem health is key to driving consistent oilseed rape yields across farms and with these seventh-generation hybrids, we are seeing bigger stems and better rooting which also results in higher oil content,” he says.

 
Highest yielding maize

Limagrain’s maize variety, Saxon was added to the BSPB 2023 Forage Maize Descriptive List and has made the top of the list for 2024 for its ME yield of 225 (‘000s MJ/ha). It has dry matter yields of 19.1 t/ha, making it ideal for all uses, including anaerobic digestion.

“On the Descriptive List, Saxon yields 105% of the average and additionally is quite an early variety with an FAO of 180,” says Tim Richmond, Limagrain’s product manager for maize.

Saxon combines superb early vigour with good standing power, making it perfectly suited for all mainstream maize sites.”

“LGAN has long been the watchword for maize varieties that deliver what really counts – high yields of high-quality feeds that sustain excellent milk yields. Saxon is one of the latest examples of the benefit of breeding varieties that deliver in the clamp.”

To learn more about how any of these varieties could perform on your farm, click the links below;
LG Maize
LG Winter Wheat
LG Winter Barley
LG OSR

 

LG Caravelle proves its value

Two row winter barley, LG Caravelle, joined the AHDB RL last year as a contender to match hybrid barley yields, and early harvest reports confirm that it has lived up to its promise.

Despite the challenging season, the variety has performed well on the Yorkshire Wolds. Mark Ullyott of Langtoft Grange Farm near Driffield, is really pleased with his seed crops of LG Caravelle, yielding between 8.5-9.5 t/ha.

“We have grown seed crops of barley for over 10 years, and LG Caravelle must be the best we have seen,” he says.

He grew two fields this year: one following vining peas and the other after potatoes. The crop following the vining peas was drilled on the 28th September at the standard seed rate of 300 seeds/m2. This field was ploughed, pressed & combination drilled.

The field following the potatoes was min-tilled and went in a bit later, on the 23rd October, with a slightly higher seed rate of 350 seeds/m2, to compensate for the later drilling.

Both fields established well and looked pretty good. “We don’t have too much of a black-grass issue, so a pre-emergence application of flufenacet and diflufenican at 0.4 l/ha and some Avadex, pretty much tidied up any weeds,” explains Mark.

Disease-wise, the crop stayed clean with a standard fungicide programme, and received 160 kg of Liquid N32/ ha, which was reduced slightly due to the increased fertiliser costs at the time.

“It’s a fairly tall variety, so we used a ‘bottom-shortening’ PGR, chlormequat, but I think the crop would benefit from a ‘top shortener’ as well next time, just to reduce its height that bit more, although it’s important to note the straw strength was good and we didn’t have any lodging or brackling issues.”

“Both fields were ready to harvest by the third week of July, but the wet weather meant the field following the vining peas was ready first on the 31/7 but we had to hold on for another week for the second field, again due to the weather.”

“Despite this, the crop held its own, germ still looked good and bushel weight held up with no sprouting. The straw came off well; all of which goes for home use,” he adds.

“It is always interesting growing a new variety for the first time to see how it performs, and we are very pleased with LG Caravelle and will grow it again. If we could, we would put all of our acreage down to the variety,” says Mark.


LG Caravelle joined the 2023/24 Recommended List as the highest yielding two row winter barley.

“We launched the variety not just on the back of its high yields but with a confidence that the variety would deliver across a range of conditions,” says Ron Granger, Limagrain’s arable technical manager.

“The years running up to its recommendation were dry and the variety yielded exceptionally well, however this season has been much wetter but LG Caravelle has upheld its promise of consistency and delivered the yields – and that’s a very valuable attribute on farm.”

Ron explains LG Caravelle’s yield potential is backed up by its specific weight. “Specific weight is important no matter what, and LG Caravelle’s is very high at 71.8 kg/hl. It’s one of the best scores available and is only surpassed by KWS Cassia.”

LG Caravelle’s yield potential is also bolstered by its disease resistance profile, says Ron. “The variety has a 7 for mildew, a 6 for rhynchosporium and a 5 for net blotch,” he explains. “Although there’s no rating on the RL yet, our data indicates the variety scores a 7 against brown rust, which is high against this disease.”

The variety also has resistance to barley yellow mosaic virus, giving it all round disease resistance, he adds. “The culmination of this can be seen in its untreated yield.” “It has a very high untreated yield of 89%, which really gives growers security,” he adds.

Ron feels that growers who’ve been growing hybrids might be interested in returning to two-rows because of LG Caravelle’s performance. “Hybrids account for about 20-25% of the winter barley market but this could change. Plus, we’re currently testing to see if LG Caravelle could be suitable for more than just the feed market.”

“We’re seeing the next step in on-farm varietal security for farmers and these types are proving to be an option on-farm again.”


Fungicide programme:

Esfenvalerate 2.50%, was applied at growth stage 14.

6th May: T1 consisting of Cyprodinil 30.00%, Tribenuron-methyl 14.30%, Metsulfuron-methyl 14.30%, Florasulam 0.25%, Fluroxypyr 10.00%, Trinexapac-ethyl 25.00%, and Folpet.

6th June: T2 consisting of prothioconazole 25.00%, trifloxystrobin 8.80%, and prothioconazole 17.50%.

LG GatePost Newsletter – June 2023
The June 2023 issue of LG GatePost is now available to download.

This edition features articles about our newest wheat addition to the 2023-24 AHDB Recommended List, LG Redwald, as well as LG Caravelle, our excellent 2-row winter feed barley.

You can read about and view our Live Panel event which was a round table discussion on Varieties, Soils and Policy with industry experts.

We discuss the new Sustainable Farming Incentives and the new ‘actions’ involved, with an article about why to consider establishing a legume fallow.

There is also information about our upcoming Demo Days and a link to register.

Download the June edition here, and don’t forget to claim your BASIS and/or NRoSO points for reading it.

LG GatePost – June 2023

LG Caravelle – The Easy Choice

Over the last 10 years, breeders have made great progress in improving 2-row feed winter barley varieties. Newer varieties offer superior yield potential with better disease resistance and good grain quality attributes – desirable characteristics recognised by all feed barley growers.

LG Caravelle leads the way in this new world, as the highest yielding 2-row winter barley to join the 2023/24 AHDB Recommended List.

Bred by Limagrain, LG Caravelle dispels any misconception that 2-row barleys are lower yielding than hybrids, as it offers UK yields of 106% – which is as high as the present top yielding hybrids. Its performance in the east (109%) is exciting, with a significantly higher yield potential than any other variety; including hybrids – where it has a 3% advantage.

More importantly, the variety has shown a high consistency of performance across both regional and seasonal data sets.

These high yields are backed up by an excellent disease profile, reflected in LG Caravelle’s high untreated yields.The variety has a good rating of 7 for mildew, which can be a difficult disease to control in winter barley, as we saw last spring. Limagrain data suggests a 7 rating for brown rust – again this disease can be the yield robber in many seasons when not effectively controlled.

The variety has a respectable 6 rating for Rhynchosporium, a 5 for Net Blotch and is BaYMV resistant.

Agronomically, LG Caravelle is shorter strawed like LG Mountain, and offers both good lodging and brackling ratings with an earlier maturity (0).

LG Caravelle also offers an exceptionally high specific weight for a winter barley, at 71.8 kg/hl; one of the best available and only surpassed by the old favourite, KWS Cassia.

Early indications from AGRII black-grass competition trials in Cambridgeshire, suggests that LG Caravelle is competitive in a black-grass situation, offering high yields and black-grass ear reduction levels similar to that of hybrids.

Download the latest edition of LG GatePost here

LG Live Panel – Varieties, Soils & Policy

On 21st March, LG’s Ron Granger and Tom Barker were joined by industry experts, Tim Parton (Farm Manager, Staffordshire) and Susan Twining (CLA Advisor) for a live Q&A round table discussion on Varieties, Soils & Policy.

Key Questions raised…

1. Do you still think yield is king? Are breeders, such as Limagrain, breeding varieties specifically for a regen system?

RON GRANGER: “Yield will always be important because farmers have to make an income. But the key issue going forward is around yield security, especially with our changing climate. For example, the capability of a plant to withstand spring droughts is now becoming an increasingly important factor.”

“Robust disease resistance also has a key part to play – we are currently seeing the fruition of stacking genes in both Septoria and rust resistances. Resistance to pests is also key.”

“Most growers have been adopting some form of regenerative practise for the last 5 years, so we are in a position where growers are able to tell us, as breeders, what they want from varieties to suit a regen system for the future.”

“Generally, varieties for regen have been chosen from the present AHDB RL – which is not a problem. However, as breeders, we can look at the germplasm in our programme and identify varieties that will better suit a direct drilling, wide-row situation.”

2. What type or size of crop rotation is likely to be needed to sustain regenerative farming? Do you use companion cropping?

TIM PARTON: “I try to extend my rotation as much as possible and split spring to winter cropping by 50:50, to allow for as much cover cropping as possible. It’s the cover cropping that is key to the system and this brings in the variety of plants above and roots below the soil.”

“Companion cropping is important, particularly in OSR, where I grow white, berseem and crimson clover in the crop, to take it through. Nature doesn’t monocrop and plant diversity is key.”

3. Should regen ag be certified?

SUSAN TWINING: “At the CLA , we have looked closely at this, and decided that it is not something that we would advocate for at this stage, if ever. Regen farming is about a set of principles which allows for flexibility, depending on the farming situation etc. In certifying this, it would become a tick box exercise – which makes it a completely different concept.”

“ELMS offer a good suite of options to reward farmers for good practise. We already have the Soils SFI, the IPM, and Nutrient Management SFI’s coming out later this year.”

 

You can watch the full version HERE

LG Denmark Study Tour

In the spring, Limagrain took a group of UK growers to Denmark, to look at regenerative and conservation agricultural practices.

After two full days of visiting farms, agronomy companies and a plant breeder, there was some very interesting and surprising feedback:

GEORGE ATKINSON, LINCOLNSHIRE: “It’s been fascinating to see all the different farming systems, and also learn about Danish policies that contradict themselves. I was expecting to come and see the future, but some of the growers are where we were 15 to 20 years ago.”

AL BROOKS, HAMPSHIRE: “I came here with a preconceived idea that we were going to learn something from the Danes in terms of their view towards conservation and regenerative agriculture. I was stunned by the amount of red tape they are subjected to. They are constricted in the industry and don’t have the voice with government.”

TIM PARTON, STAFFORDSHIRE: “I think the government advisors in Denmark need to take a real hard look at what they are trying to achieve, and what their directives are. They are so restrictive; they are missing out on the big benefits they could be getting from regenerative and conservation agriculture. They need to help their farmers more, rather than restrict them.”


“Discovering that UK farming practice with regards to conservation agriculture or regen is ahead of Denmark, was a surprise to many on the trip, and a real positive take home message for the UK.

It’s very noticeable that plant breeding is paramount to the future direction of agriculture, as practices move towards lower input and better disease resistances. Limagrain look forward to sharing what we do with growers from the UK and abroad,” says Tom Barker of Limagrain, who hosted the trip.

Download the latest edition of LG GatePost here

Survey reveals variety decisions driven by regional trials information

Arable farmers favour local variety trials over national demonstrations when making crucial decisions about what varieties to grow next season, a survey by plant breeders Limagrain UK reveals.

The online questionnaire shows the overwhelming majority (86%) regard the information they gain from regional variety demonstrations as being more relatable than from national events.

Tom Barker, Cereals and Pulses Product Manager

Tom Barker, Cereals and Pulses Product Manager

“This is mainly because local events offer the chance to see how new and existing varieties perform in local soils, climate, and disease situations,” comments Limagrain UK cereals and pulses product manager, Tom Barker.

“Indeed,43% of farmers responding to the survey have attended a regional event with variety trials in the past 12 months, compared with just 28% that have attended a national event, such as Cereals or Arable Scotland.”

“Around one quarter have taken part in an online trials webinar, such as those organised by AHDB, or NIAB TAG.”

“Three-quarters of growers are prepared to travel up to an hour or more to attend a regional variety trial, and alongside location and practical considerations, such as date and time, the quality of technical information on offer is a major factor influencing the decision to attend,” he says.

This shows growers value the opportunity to gather technical information on individual varieties, and how to grow them, he points out, although of particular interest is the ability to compare treated and untreated plots to see first hand how varietal characteristics stand up to seasonal pressures.

“Other areas of interest include; late versus early drilling comparisons, different methods of establishment, alternative fungicide programmes, and trace element/ micronutrient work.”

As might be expected, winter wheat varieties are generally of most interest, followed by winter barley, spring barley, oilseed rape, then a host of other minor crops.

“It is also clear from the survey that, while growers take information from a range of sources when making variety decisions, including independent bodies, breeders, agronomists, and seed merchants, the vast majority (93%) would confidently select a variety based on what they had seen or learned at a variety trial,” says Mr Barker.

“We organised the survey to find out what growers want from trials events, and how we can tailor them to their needs in the future.”

“It shows that growers base their varietal decision making on what they see or learn at demonstrations and trials, with regional events once again proving their worth as a place growers can go to gain knowledge and understanding of varieties.”


Summer Demo Days

Recognising the importance of local information when making variety choices, Limagrain UK hosts a series of events around the country every year.

This summer’s programme during June and July features five locations, from our milling wheat demonstration on the Essex coast near Maldon, up to the Perth winter wheat trials in central Scotland (see panel for details of all events).

Every demonstration will showcase a range of new and existing varieties, alongside five new Candidate wheat varieties currently going through Recommended List approval. These include two potential biscuit wheats, LG Arkle and LG Grendel, and two hard feed wheats, LG Beowulf – the highest yielding feed wheat Candidate – and LG Redrum.

Limagrain UK’s Rothwell site will also feature the new winter barley Candidate LG Capitol, plus the highest yielding two-row feed, LG Caravelle, which joined the RL this year.

Click here to head to our Events page, where all of our Summer Demo Days are listed – ‘SIGN UP’ to get involved!

Dominating the 2023/24 AHDB Recommended List

It’s a grand slam as Limagrain UK’s exciting new wheat, winter barley and oilseed rape varieties, take leading positions across the 2023/24 AHDB Recommended List.

LG Redwald secures poll position as the highest yielding winter wheat.
LG Caravelle is the highest yielding two row winter barley.
Attica joins as the highest yielding oilseed rape variety, with the essential turnip yellows (TuYV) and pod shatter resistance traits.
LG Wagner is the highest yielding addition to the northern OSR Recommended List.

LG Redwald sets a new standard for high yielding wheats, yielding 107% in the UK, (107% in the east and 109% in the west). As a soft wheat, the variety also offers potential for distilling.

These high yields have been consistently proven across National List trials, over seasons, drilling date and soil type, particularly in the second wheat and later drilling situations.

LG Redwald has an excellent disease resistance profile, with very good Septoria resistance as well as orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) resistance.

LG Redwald

“It is an exciting variety that should deliver for growers in 2023/24, if supported with good agronomic practise to ensure it meets its full potential on farm, and comes at a time when growers are looking more than ever to maximise output in order to maintain profit in times of increasing costs.”

– says Ron Granger, arable technical manager.

LG Caravelle is the highest yielding two row winter barley to join the 2023/24 Recommended List.

LG Caravelle dispels any misconception that two row barleys are lower yielding than hybrids.

LG Caravelle

It offers UK yields of 106.3% – which is as good as the top yielding hybrid barley variety – and yields 2% above hybrids in the east.

These high yields are backed up by an excellent disease profile, reflected in LG Caravelle’s high untreated yields. LG Caravelle also offers an exceptionally high specific weight for a winter barley, of 71.8 kg/hl.

It is an early maturing variety with stiff straw; both important characteristics for a winter barley.

Attica is a newly recommended fully loaded hybrid with full UK recommendation. It joins the Recommended List as the highest yielding variety to combine stable high yields with the genetic security of TuYV and pod shatter resistance traits.

Attica has a strong autumn growth habit, offering growers a wide drilling window and a very good disease resistance package.

Attica

LG Wagner joins the north Recommended List as the highest yielding variety (108.1%). In 2022, it was the highest yielding variety, also offering the security of pod shatter and TuYV resistance. It is a shorter hybrid with stiff stems, combined with solid light leaf spot resistance and good stem health.

“This is a tremendous achievement and is the first time that any breeder has achieved this level of success across all of the cropping sectors in the last decade, if not longer.”

– says William Charlton, marketing manager for arable seeds.

“We believe this success is built on our unique UK focussed breeding approach, which means we are able to select for the UK’s maritime climate from day one in the breeding programme. This allows us to look for consistently high yielding varieties from the very start of our programme, to suit UK growers and end user requirements.”

YEN Innovation Award winner
This year, to mark 10 years of the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN), a new Innovation Award has been commissioned which was presented at the YEN conference on 24th January. The award is for an outstanding contribution to on-farm innovation and has been sponsored by Limagrain.

“Limagrain has been an active supporter of YEN since its inception so it seems only fitting that we sponsored the Innovation Award for the 10th anniversary conference,” says Limagrain’s Arable Marketing Manager, Will Charlton.

“As a company that invests in UK based breeding activities for all major arable crops, innovation is a core value of our business. Alongside bringing new varieties to market, we invest a considerable amount of time and money in examining how our varieties perform in different farming systems. Over the years YEN has been invaluable in helping us facilitate this work by providing a structure and detailed analysis to aid Limagrain’s collaborations with innovative farmers across the country.”

The standard of nominations was exceptionally high with all the farmers demonstrating a passion for progress, learning and collaboration. However, there could only be one winner. The award was presented by Limagrain’s Arable Technical Specialist, Liam Wilkinson. 

Liam Wilkinson and Russ McKenzie

“I’m delighted to announce that Russ McKenzie, farm manager of DJ Tebbit and John Sheard Farms, has won the YEN innovation Award. Russ has demonstrated his commitment to YEN by being one of the few farmers to provide an entry every year since YEN began.

In particular, the judges were impressed by his recent on farm trials work which has sought to investigate fungicide, nutrition and variety interactions under his own establishment system, utilising the latest digital and molecular diagnostics, alongside a trials plot combine to analyse the results. The complexity of his trials required dedication and a significant time commitment throughout a busy growing season. The data generated has provided valuable insights into how different inputs interact and influence a farming system.”

Variety choice is central to risk management

Using variety choice to manage on-farm risk should be a top priority for growers when finalising variety choices for the coming season, according to breeders Limagrain UK.

Speaking at a recent variety demonstration at the Limagrain Woolpit site in Suffolk, arable technical specialist, Liam Wilkinson, urged growers to take a whole-farm approach to risk management when deciding what to grow. There were many ways that varieties could be used to manage risk, from selecting those with different maturities to mitigate the impact of unsettled weather around harvest, to choosing varieties with strong disease resistance scores based on a diverse genetic background, he said. “Don’t look at any one aspect in isolation; mitigating risk has got to be based on whole-farm factors.” Yield results from local trials (treated and untreated), grain quality suitability for different end markets, fungicide response, growth habit in autumn and spring, and other agronomic traits, were all important factors to consider, Jonathan Payne of Nickerson Seeds added. “The type of drilling system you use, whether that’s wide or narrow rows, may be something else that affects the most suitable variety to choose.” A variety like RL Candidate LG Redwald, for example, offers huge biomass and tillering capacity, making it well suited to wide row direct drilling or min-till systems, using lower seed rates. The variety offers a yield potential of 106%, but can also be used for whole-crop forage, given the large biomass potential. This could allow ground to be cleared early, or be part of a grass-weed control strategy. “The key is to identify your hopes and expectations for 12 months’ time and plan variety choices depending on what you want to achieve.” After another dry spring and early summer, drought risk was once again top of many growers’ minds, Mr Wilkinson noted. “For drought-prone sites, generally you need a taller variety which is quick to get going in the spring, combined with early maturity and good grain quality, such as LG Skyscraper.” “On the whole, higher-yielding varieties are generally getting taller, and we find these have better resilience in droughty situations, although growers need to manage them properly through the season.”

 

Safe option

For those growing milling wheats, Mr Wilkinson said Crusoe remained the safe option from a quality perspective, given its stable Hagberg, high inherent protein content and proven farm and end user performance, during a more than a decade on the Recommended List. He acknowledged growers should be mindful of brown rust risk, but said this was generally easier to control than yellow rust, which was a much greater threat in several other varieties. In contrast, Crusoe’s yellow rust resistance score remains at 9. This strong yellow rust resistance had been passed on through Limagrain’s breeding programme to other varieties, such as LG Detroit, which was the only Group 2 wheat to offer Orange Wheat Blossom Midge (OWBM) resistance, alongside stiff straw and good grain quality, with similar performance to Crusoe in some mills. “Midge resistance is a fantastic trait that we know is effective, with no yield deficit. If you’re going to push a Group 2 type variety for milling potential, then this is the one I’d go for.” Among the increasingly crowded Group 3 sector, Mr Wilkinson picked out LG Astronomer as being an “all-round safe package”, that combined excellent grain quality with robust disease resistance and other good agronomics that would help manage risk on farm. Importantly, its three-way parentage of (Cougar x Leeds) x Britannia, has proven to be far more robust than other varieties against the Cougar Septoria strains seen last season, resulting in it remaining one of the best Group 3’s for Septoria resistance on the RL. “LG Astronomer likes being drilled a bit earlier and generally needs decent bodied land to get the best out of the variety. The biscuit premium might not be as attractive as that from Group 2’s, but with LG Astronomer, it’s one that can be achieved with no extra agronomic input required.” The Group 4 variety LG Typhoon was another new variety that ticked a lot of boxes for managing risk, Mr Wilkinson said. It combines high yield potential with excellent disease resistance, stiff straw and OWBM resistance. “Typhoon’s Septoria resistance comes from Irish parentage and is one of the highest scores available on the RL. It also has the stacked genes for yellow rust resistance, using the most robust genetics we’ve got. There’s been a lot of demand for it already, particularly in the West.” LG Typhoon’s strong genetics could buy useful flexibility around key spray timings, and potentially allow for some savings depending on disease pressure, he said. “The variety suits earlier drilling situations due to its spring growth habit, and is rated +2 for maturity, so it’s well worth investing in the T3.”


Local trials inform decisions

Suffolk grower Peter Mahony was one of several farmers who valued the benefits of being able to see how varieties performed in local conditions, rather than having to rely on National Trials information. Mr Mahony farms around 220 ha (560 acres) of owned and contracted land near Rattlesden, south of Woolpit, growing 35 ha of LG Skyscraper, alongside Gleam, LG Mountain winter barley and sugar beet, on mainly clay loam soils. This autumn will be his first year direct drilling, so he was particularly interested to see which varieties might suit that system. “Big National Trials have less relevance to what’s going on at our farm, whereas seeing how a range of varieties fare in our soil type and growing conditions is far more useful. Plus we also value being able to talk to the breeders and get their opinions on things like drilling date or optimum seed rate. “We’ve been growing Limagrain varieties for many years,” he added. “Knowing they’ve been bred just down the road from us gives us confidence that they should be well suited to our growing conditions on the farm.”