Limagrain carried out three snap Twitter polls on people’s perception of hard and soft wheats and when looking for a high yielding wheat, 39% of respondents said they would still choose a hard grain type.
The same proportion thought hard wheats would typically out-yield their soft milling cousins and finally, a significant 56% thought that hard wheats produce a better grain quality than soft wheats.
Limagrain UK’s arable technical manager; Ron Granger challenges this preconception. “15-20 years ago, soft wheats such as Riband, Consort, Claire and Robigus were dominating the UK wheat area, offering premium qualities and yields on par with hard feed wheats on the AHDB Recommended List.
However, higher feed wheat demand and improved prices, plus a surge of top yielding hard milling feed wheats from breeders, saw the so-called “barn fillers” take over, as everyone strived for maximum grain output from their crops.
“This has led to the perception in some quarters, that the highest yielding wheats are hard endosperm types, and we need to dispel that myth,” says Mr Granger.
Perhaps the variety to do that is soft Group 4 LG Skyscraper, which joined the 2019/20 AHDB Recommended List as the highest yielding UK wheat by 2% and has a range of additional traits attractive to all feed wheat growers.
Bred in the UK, it has shown consistently high yields in trials across varying seasons and has demonstrated that same potential in first and second wheat slots, on heavy and light soils and when drilled late in the autumn.
On top of its high output, other agronomic attributes include; early maturity, a good disease resistance package, orange wheat blossom midge resistance and a strong tillering ability combined with fast spring growth – which makes it ideal for blackgrass situations.
Grain quality characteristics of a large grain, combined with a good Hagberg falling number of 221 and a high specific weight of 77.2 kg/hl, make it an attractive package when compared to other feed wheat varieties.
Mr Granger believes the variety’s all-round package should be considered by any feed wheat grower and not just those in traditional soft wheat-growing heartlands of the north of England and Scotland.
“It’s no coincidence that the variety performs very well in the south east; an area associated with a drier climate – after all, this is where the variety was bred.”
“We know it has high yield potential and with the bonus of distilling potential, there might be additional premiums to be had over standard hard milling feed wheats,” he adds.
Header photo credit: Rob King