12th September 2022

Edgar delivers a pleasant surprise

In a season where many growers’ wheat struggled to meet milling specification a little known German wheat has been somewhat of a welcome surprise.

Edgar, from Limagrain UK, is a German ‘E’ wheat that was identified by Warburtons, Britain’s premium bread brand, as having the necessary quality attributes to meet its requirements. It was then trialled by Limagrain and Openfield to assess its suitability to UK conditions.

Its bold grain and high protein content as well as its versatility across a range of soil types, particularly lighter soil types, raised its appeal at a time when there were few varieties coming through domestic programmes likely to make the Group 1 category.

Though not on the HGCA Recommended List it is available in the UK through the EU Common Catalogue and is now generally available having been previously exclusive to Warburtons. While it was its quality grain that first attracted attention it is gaining a following among growers who like its easiness to manage and find its tall straw of value.

“After three seasons in the UK it has proven to be particularly consistent and will inevitably come to be a significant variety with its vigorous growth habit and good grain sample,” says Openfield’s Dr Tudor Dawkins who manages the technical aspects of the Warburtons relationship.

Experience suggests it is ideally suited to lighter land, black-grass and second wheat situations, but its excellent disease package suggests it will find favour beyond this catchment.

“The lack of visibility on the HGCA and NABIM lists may have slowed uptake initially, but once growers have tried it they will certainly want to grow it again,” says Dr Dawkins.

“It ticks a lot of the management boxes which often determine whether a grower goes with a variety,” he says. “It has a prostrate winter growth habit and tillers prolifically. It develops rapidly in the spring producing a tall crop, but with very good standing ability and has outstanding disease resistance, especially against mildew, brown rust, Septoria and Fusarium.

“If that were not enough to attract growers it is also a proven second wheat with outstanding Rendezvous eyespot resistance,” he adds.

SUCCESOR TO HEREWARD For West Sussex grower James Seller Edgar seemed to offer everything he was looking for in a quality wheat to succeed Hereward which has been his main wheat for many years.

“We can grow Group 1 wheats well with consistent results, but not every variety suits our soils or our climate. We’ve tried Solstice, but didn’t get on with it and consequently, we have been stuck with Hereward for some time,” says James Seller.

Such testing requirements have not discouraged him from looking for a successor to Hereward which, while its quality remains outstanding, its yield lags newer varieties.

“We have been monitoring the results and experiences of other varieties in this category for some time and following a trip to Cereals in 2011 we decided to go with Edgar. Of all the varieties available to us, I felt Edgar best suited our situation,” he says.

Part of the attraction was its tall straw and its impressive quality aspects. “We look for taller varieties as they tend to perform better on our drought-prone land. Our flint clay over chalk can, and does, dry quickly and experience has shown that the taller crops tend to fare better. “It also had a strong disease profile with good scores for all the main foliar diseases and resistance to eyespot. We couldn’t see a reason not to try it,” he says.

Due to a sizeable area of woodland surrounding the farm and no near-by neighbours James Seller avoids oilseed rape and spring peas for fear of losing these crops to pigeons. Instead, he follows a rotation of winter wheat, winter oats, winter wheat and spring beans.

Last season Edgar drilling commenced on 9th October and finished 11 days later, a laudable result given the season. Heading in to winter he had his reservations about the variety as it was not tillering in line with his expectations, but these proved to be unfounded.

“I felt we were one tiller short of what we should expect, but it’s fair to say that it is not a variety with a prostrate growth habit.  The Gallant seemed to look better coming out of the spring, but Edgar delivered pleasant surprise at harvest.”

Even so, it came out of the relatively mild winter looking good with no signs of stress; all that however, was about to change as the seemingly endless rain begun in April.

“It’s true to say it had a less than robust fungicide programme. The rain interrupted our spraying schedule with the T1 application being merged into the T2, but nonetheless it withstood the disease pressure well considering the conditions and yielded 7.65t/ha (3.1t ac).”

The quality results were mixed with specific weight bucking the season at 73-75 while Hagberg Falling Number and Protein coming in at 205-337 and 13.3-13.5% respectively.

“The Hagbergs were a little low though this could be partially attributed to my inexperience with a new dryer installed before last harvest.  A neighbour on the Down had an appalling harvest with specific weight in the 50s so we count ourselves fortunate: 40% of our Edgar made Grade A specification,” he adds.

ONLY WHEAT TO MAKE MILLING GRADE Edgar’s robust performance surprised more than one grower in 2012 with Colin Collins of RB Goldbourne & Sons in Worcestershire grateful for Edgar’s resilience in what turned out to be a challenging year.

At 7.9t/ha (3.2t/ac) his 101ha (250 ac) of Edgar outperformed newcomer Crusoe, the highest yielding Group 1, and stalwart Alchemy.

“We were pleasantly surprised by its performance and revised our decision to drop it.  If I could have secured more seed this autumn I would have taken it, but like many others I suspect we have not had the opportunity to plant any winter wheat,” said Colin Collins.

His crop of Edgar was helped by its early maturity which meant it was harvested two weeks before any other variety with combining commencing on the 19th August.

“Despite the challenges at harvest all our Edgar made milling specification. Given the year, this was a relief and has changed my opinion of a variety we were having second thoughts about,” he added.

Test results reveal his Edgar produced broadly consistent results with specific weight of 74 or above and Hagberg Falling Number ranging from 205 to 234.  Protein too was respectable at between 12.8% and 13.2% against a contract requiring a minimum of 12.5%. In comparison, Crusoe managed a specific weight of 65 to 68 which, while not poor for the season, was less than his milling contract specified.  Hagberg too fell short of contract specification at 180 though protein levels were similar.

His only criticism of Edgar lies with its tall straw. Although it stood well all year he decided to cancel his seed order ahead of harvest, but once combining began he reversed the decision and as the other crops came off even tried to secure more seed.

“We knew it was a tall variety and so increased the PGR accordingly, even so its height going into harvest was a concern.  On reflection I needn’t have worried because it stood fantastically, even in to the corners, but as we have little need for the straw I tend to prefer shorter varieties,” he says.

As such the straw was chopped, a decision he regards as a wise one given the early entry it provided for winter oilseed rape drilling. 

“I feel we were fully justified to chop the straw. The oilseed rape that went in after Edgar had two weeks longer than that following the other wheats and it looks significantly better for it.”

“It was also reasonably cheap to grow.  It has good all-round disease resistance which tends to befit most German-bred varieties so despite the season we managed with a modest fungicide programme (see table below) similar to 2011.  Our only overspend was on the PGR.”

Edgar fungicide regime at RB Goulbourne & Sons

T0 (31st March)                  Alto Elite (chlorothalonil + cyproconazole) 0.72 l/ha

T1 (15th April)                     Fosulfuron (sulfosulfuron) 1.0 l/ha                                             Standon Pygmy (trinexapac-ethyl) 0.15 l/ha                                             Whistle (boscalid  + epoxiconazole) 1.0 l/ha                                             Rover 500 (chlorothalonil) 1.0 l/ha

T2 (17th May)                     Aviator 235 Xpro (bixafen + prothioconazole) 1.0l/ha                                             Terpal C (chlormequat + 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid) 1.0 l/ha (???)

T3 (10th June)                     Fandango (fluoxastrobin + prothioconazole) 0.15 l/ha                                             Proline (prothioconazole) 0.3 l/ha                                             Tebuconazole 0.36 l/ha


Specific weight






Lodging with PGR


Lodging without PGR








Yellow rust


Brown rust


Septoria tritici






OWBM Resistance


CTU tolerance


Source: Limagrain private trials

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