12th September 2022

New feed wheats prompt re-evaluation of variety selection

Five years ago, barn-filling hard Group 4 wheat’s dominated cropping plans, but weak disease resistance, late maturity, and unflattering grain quality saw disillusioned growers move away from the likes of KWS Santiago, KWS Kielder, and Evolution.

There was a swing to quality wheats such as Crusoe and Skyfall, which at the time offered better disease resistance, good physical grain quality, and a potential milling premium, with comparable on-farm yields.

This trend has been reinforced by recent Group 2 additions, such as KWS Siskin, which has similar attributes, and has helped keep many traditional feed wheat growers away from Group 4 wheats on offer.

Limagrain UK’s arable technical manager, Ron Granger, says breeders have listened to the concerns surrounding Group  4’s, and evidence on the latest AHDB Recommended  List suggests they have been addressed.


Yields quality


“New addition, LG Skyscrapers  fungicide treated yield is now  7% ahead of Skyfall, at 106%  of controls, making it the highest  yielding wheat on the  Recommended List overall.”


It is also significantly higher than other key varieties across nabim Groups, including KWS Siskin in Group 2, and KWS Barrel in Group 3 (see graph 1).

Mr. Granger says there have also been very noticeable improvements in average specific weight across soft and hard Group 4 wheats in recent seasons.

Soft Group 4’s, LG Skyscraper and LG Spotlight, have helped continue that trend further this year, with LG Spotlight having a high specific weight of 78.3kg/hl and LG Skyscraper – a solid 77.2kg/hl (see graph 2).

Also telling is the shift in maturity, with top yielding feed wheats on the 2013-14 Recommended List having later maturity ratings, between +2 and +4. Growers’ were expressing concerns that varieties were getting too late and this may have implications at harvest, in some regions.

“Breeders have now dragged back maturity to 0’s and +1’s, so any concerns – particularly for growers in the north – are no longer there,” explains Mr Granger.


Adding value


For feed growers, the attraction of the quality wheats currently dominating the UK wheat area, was the potential to fetch a premium if milling quality was achieved.

However, only a small percentage of growers achieve full specification for Group 1 milling wheats in most years, and obtain the maximum premiums.

While Group 2 wheats offer a higher yield potential, contracts often demand that specific protein content is achieved, and this is often unrealistic as present Group 2’s have a lower inherent protein content.

“With feed wheats now outclassing nabim Groups 1 and 2 for yield, the risks and costs associated with growing premium crops should be evaluated where a farm has traditionally grown feed wheat,” explains Mr. Granger.

He adds that there are now potential premiums on offer from high yielding soft feed wheats, such as LG Skyscraper and LG Spotlight.

Both are suitable for distilling and after further testing by independent millers, may be suitable for inclusion in biscuit grists and small premiums may be offered if desirable characteristics are identified.

LG Spotlight also offers exceptional grain quality, having a specific weight similar to JB Diego, combined with a very “stable” Hagberg of 290 – equivalent or better than most wheats on the Recommended List.

“This is a unique characteristic in a soft wheat, and combined with good sprouting resistance, offers growers a very secure variety when erratic weather patterns cause delays at harvest,” says Mr. Granger.

“Overall, the new feed wheat varieties from Limagrain offer high yield, good agronomic characteristics and excellent grain quality attributes, so perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the place of feed wheats on your farm.” 


“Overall, the new feed wheat varieties from Limagrain offer high yield, good agronomic characteristics and excellent grain quality attributes, so perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the place of feed wheats on your farm.”



















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