12th September 2022

Higher yields and more robust disease resistance ratings on offer from new wheat varieties

It has often been said that one of the challenges facing UK wheat breeding programmes was to be able to produce varieties that were higher yielding than those already available, but also offered good disease resistance ratings.

Now this has been made possible with the introduction of three exciting wheat varieties that are up for recommendation this autumn from breeders Limagrain UK. Based on the results of the last two years of official trials Evolution is the highest yielding hard Group 4, Panacea the highest yielding soft Group 4 and Zulu the highest yielding Group 3.

“Limagrain has a history of bringing robust and consistent varieties to the market place such as Claire and Alchemy, but there has often been higher yielding varieties in these Group 3 and 4 categories, and for many growers it is yield that has been the deciding factor when choosing to grow a new variety. However by opting for out-and-out yield, growers have put themselves at higher risk from disease as these varieties have not also been able to offer robust ratings,” says Ed Flatman, senior wheat breeder for Limagrain.

“Evolution, Panacea and Zulu have been severely tested in both official and our own trials over the very different and challenging conditions of 2011 and 2012 and still performed. So, we know that their key traits such as disease, grain quality and agronomic features will stand up to whatever the 2013 season will throw at us and that’s really important for UK growers. “These new varieties will be at Cereals this year, so it is possible to come along and see how they have performed under this season’s challenging conditions.”

Highest yielding hard feed wheat

Evolution is a very high yielding hard feed wheat which will enable growers to increase their yields on farm. “A cross between Smuggler and a Robigus derivative, the variety was bred in Denmark by Sejet, but is being brought to market in the UK by Limagrain. It is an ideal variety for both the animal feed and biofuel markets as it has a hard endosperm and a specific weight comparable with other feed wheat varieties,” says Ron Granger, wheat breeder with Limagrain.

Over the last three seasons Evolution has yielded 108% over control; that is 1% above current market leader KWS Santiago and 5% over JB Diego, with an untreated yield of 9% over JB Diego. These yield results put it at the very top of the Group 4 hard wheats category.

The variety has very good resistance to foliar disease offering a 7 for mildew, and 8’s for both yellow and brown rust. “These levels of rust resistance have not yet been found in a hard Group 4, and the ratings are based on very sound resistance genes that have not succumbed to any of the newer aggressive races that have prevailed in recent seasons,” he adds.

Evolution has good resistance to mildew with a rating of 7, and 6’s for both Septoria and eyespot. The eyespot ratings are far above those for KWS Santiago with a 3, and an improvement on the 5 for eyespot from JB Diego. Evolution is similar in height to KWS Santiago with comparable standing ability to JB Diego.

“We are delighted that growers will have the option of another soft feed wheat with yields, comparable to the hard feed wheats that have dominated the market to date, with the new Group 4 soft wheat from Limagrain, Panacea,” says Mr Granger.

 â€œAs breeders we have always led this sector with Alchemy, followed by Horatio, Myriad and Revelation in the last couple of years, each variety raising the yield bar that bit more. Panacea offers the next step forward in yield.”

“Panacea has been bred through a cross of Lear with a Claire x Robigus derivative. Based on this parentage it is no surprise then that the variety has a very high yield potential in fungicide treated trials, yielding 107% over control which is 8% above Invicta and similar to the hard wheat KWS Santiago in official trials. “

“Panacea has a very good Septoria resistance rating of 6, critical to protecting yield as Septoria is still the most damaging disease in terms of yield. Panacea has moderate resistance to rusts, and very good resistance to mildew. It also has OBM resistance a key trait for many feed wheat growers in the UK.”

“In terms of height, the variety is similar height to Invicta with a comparable ripening date. The grain quality of Panacea is moderate for Hagberg Falling Number (HFN), similar to that of Santiago, but has good physical grain characteristics with a relatively high specific weight and what is so useful about this variety are the flexible marketing options it offers. Panacea’s soft endosperm ensures it can be sold into the soft wheat market, and it is therefore a suitable option for the distilling, bio ethanol, export and feed wheat markets.”

Highest yielding Group 3

“At Limagrain we have a reputation of providing growers with good biscuit making varieties such as Claire and Invicta, and this breeding programme goes from strength to strength with the introduction of Zulu,” says Mr Granger. “Based on a parentage of a Claire cross and Robigus, it is not surprising therefore to see that the variety yields 4% over the leading variety in this group Invicta, and 7% above Scout.”  

“Offering a respectable HFN of 215 for a biscuit wheat with a high specific weight, Zulu has demonstrated consistent biscuit making characters across in-house and official trials. It’s soft endosperm makes the marketing of this variety extremely flexible as it is suitable not only for biscuit flour but also for the distilling, biofuel, export and animal feed markets, and in this way offers growers a risk management strategy for selling grain across a wide range of markets.”

Mr Granger confirms that Zulu has a very good yellow rust rating of 9, an 8 for mildew and a 6 for Septoria which is higher than competitors Scout and Invicta. The yellow rust resistance is similar to that found in Evolution and has stood up against the more aggressive rust strains that have emerged in the last two seasons, including the Warrior race. Zulu carries OBM resistance and also Soil Borne Mosaic Virus resistance which is a vitally important character for some growers.

Zulu is a short variety, shorter than Invicta, is early to ripen and with a similar resistance to lodging as Invicta.” It is important to note however that Zulu is not a suitable variety for the early drilling slot as it tends to be fast out of the blocks in the spring- similar to most Robigus derivatives,” he adds.

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