With 45 per cent of the UK winter wheat market, KWS UK has set out its latest varieties ahead of the Cereals event this month
With 45 per cent of the UK winter wheat market, KWS UK has set out its latest varieties ahead of the Cereals event this month, urging growers to think carefully about variety choice for next season when maximising output will be key. Dominic Kilburn writes.KWS UK’s product development field is close to its Thriplow base situated between Royston and Cambridge. Think about winter wheat variety selection very carefully ahead of deciding what to drill this autumn by taking a long hard look at the potential of the best varieties for each field situation and rotational position to be able to maximise output.That was the headline advice from KWS UK commercial manager Julie Goult (left), speaking recently at the company’s Thriplow base near Cambridge at a variety briefing.Julie emphasised that with land area available for growing crops remaining static, demand for produce increasing and volatile markets, getting the most from the production area has never been more relevant. “We want growers to think more about selecting varieties for each on-farm situation in order to maximise potential output and the best starting point to achieve this is to use the Recommended List,” she said.She highlighted RL winter wheat trials data which demonstrated that the best performing varieties in heavy land and first wheat situations are capable of securing gross outputs of around 2,300/ha with wheat based at 200/t. This was 150/ha higher output than the control mean varieties in the same situations.Turning to second wheat, light land and late sown wheat situations; while total yields were lower, gains of 124/ha, 194/ha and 226/ha respectively can be made by selecting the best performers for each situation.”Regardless of site or rotational situation, at these values the best performers can provide significantly higher outputs than the mean of control in the equivalent slot on farm,” Julie pointed out.”It’s true to say that the highest yielding varieties may require a more robust disease control programme but even at a 30-50/ha spend above what may be required for the most disease resistant varieties, there is still a significant return on the extra investment,” she said.”It shows how important it is to choose the right variety to achieve the maximum output,” she added.Market overview
Providing a general overview of the UK wheat market, she highlighted the fact that the move to grow more Group 4 barn-filling feed varieties continued apace due to current high commodity prices combined with growers recognising their potential to deliver the bottom line without the need to meet demanding criteria for specialist markets. “Twelve years ago the Group 4s were less than 10 per cent of the UK wheat area, but now they are at 57 per cent and rising.”Farmers certainly know how to grow them,” she pointed out.
According to Julie, the Group 1 and 2 bread-making market remains relatively static and concentrated in the hands of those regions where there is a market outlet, but it’s the Group 3 sector which has seen its market eroded. Once the largest area grown in the UK with 50 per cent share, Group 3 varieties now represent only 16 per cent of the total area grown.
“In 2005, Group 3 varieties like Robigus yielded as well as the barn fillers of the day and, prior to this, varieties like Consort and Claire dominated the market. But with the introduction of varieties like Oakley, JB Diego and, more latterly, KWS Santiago growers have moved away from Group 3 and its premium potential and towards varieties with 5 or 6 per cent higher yields.” Despite the difficulties faced by growers last season, including those growing for seed production, Julie said that the good news is that, based on certified seed areas entered, she reckoned that supply and demand for seed this coming autumn should be more or less in the balance. This took into account the fact that not all crops planned for were planted and that yields in some areas may be lower than normal come harvest.
“However this doesn’t mean that every variety has a supply and demand balance,” she pointed out. Fifteen varieties will account for 80 per cent of sales for 2013 and of the newly recommended varieties on the List, only KWS Kielder, KWS Croft and RAGT’s soft Group 4 variety Cougar will be in a position in terms of sufficient seed available to challenge for market share, she suggested.”Some varieties will run short in 2013 and growers need to think ahead and order early if they want to get the varieties they want,” she added.KWS Kielder
The company’s hard Group 4 feed variety KWS Kielder was added to the Recommended List last autumn and is a cross between Brompton and Oakley. It yields 106, 3 per cent above market share-leading variety JB Diego (103) and 1 per cent below its stable-mate KWS Santiago (107).According to KWS UK cereal product manager, Keith Best (left) , Kielder had outstanding yields in 2010 and 2011, between 4-5 per cent above Santiago, but it was unsuited to the conditions it found in 2012 when its yield dropped back.”It’s done very well as a consistent first and second wheat performer and particularly on heavy land where its best potential lies,” commented Keith. “It has no major weaknesses but, like all high yielding feed wheats it’s a high input, high output variety and it does need looking after with a decent fungicide programme.”With orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) resistance, Kielder has very short and stiff straw (83cm compared with Santiago’s 87cm), and comes with better resistance to brown rust and eyespot than Santiago, however it requires a longer grain fill.”In a normal season I would expect the variety to return to similar yields it achieved in 2010 and 2011 and out yield Santiago,” he added, estimating that Kielder could capture 8 per cent of the market next season rising to 10 per cent in 2014/15.KWS UK wheat breeder Mark Dodds (left) pointed out that the wet weather of 2012 had negatively affected the yields of all of the later maturing varieties; including Relay, Conqueror, Tuxedo, Invicta and Kielder, whereas the opposite had been the case with early to mature varieties whose yields were above their five year average.”Last year also had a major effect on specific weights with not one variety having an average specific weight above the minimum standard required for its Group,” he stressed.
Mark added that Kielder was the only variety on the Recommended List that combined top yields with short and stiff straw, performing well as a first wheat on medium to heavy soils where it will fulfil its potential, he suggested, although specific weights would have to be watched on lighter soils.”It’s very well suited to the 10th-12th September drilling slot,” he added.KWS Gator
Added to the Recommended List a year earlier than Kielder (autumn 2011) is another of the company’s Group 4 hard feed wheats, KWS Gator. According to Keith Best, Gator didn’t have sufficient seed for multiplication in its first year and, as a result, is at a similar stage of development to Kielder and other KWS new addition Leeds.Yields (104) are not outstanding, admitted Keith but he noted that it was a good, solid performer yielding 1 per cent above JB Diego. “It performs well in the North, has a bias towards medium and lighter land and matches both Santiago and Kielder as a second wheat” which is ahead of all other varieties.”Keith said that Gator, which comes with OWBM resistance, has exceptional yellow rust resistance (9) and there was no sign of weakness under extreme pressure last year. Conversely, brown rust (3) needs careful management, he added.Relatively short (86cm), stiff with good tiller retention, the variety performs well in stressed conditions on light soils. As a first wheat it should be sown at a similar time to Kielder – 10th September – and towards the end of that month as a second, explained Keith.
“This is the first year that farmers will be able to buy it for commercial planting and I believe a 2 per cent market share might see it sell out. “Gator is an ideal diversification variety to grow in tandem with other barn-filling varieties and the potential is there for a 5-6 per cent market share,” he added.Breeder Mark Dodds pointed out that the variety has a second wheat performance that can’t be ignored, particularly with its high yield compared with other established second wheat varieties over five year data.”Quality of grain is key and whereas varieties’ specific weights usually drop when they are put in a second wheat situation, KWS data from second wheat trials shows that Gator and JB Diego were the only varieties whose average specific weights remained the same as their first wheat performance over a three year period.”Leeds
Soft Group 4 variety Leeds was Recommended last autumn and is the highest yielding variety in its Group (106), and sits marginally below Santiago in terms of outright yields across Group 4.A Robigus and Istabraq cross, bred by Momont, France, the variety performs well in the East and is outstanding in the North of the UK, explained Keith.”Yields have been increasing year on year, performing very well in 2012, and this has been linked to its resistance to fusarium,” he said. “Leeds has medium length straw (88cm), is not quite as stiff as Kielder but, with a 7 for yellow rust and OWBM resistance, it has a good all round package but with a need to keep an eye on mildew (3).”The variety has a ‘UKs’ blending classification for export and is suitable for distilling with its alcohol production per tonne of grain up with the best distilling varieties Viscount and Beluga.Of all the Group 3 and soft Group 4 varieties in harvest 2012 RL trials, Leeds (although not fully Recommended at the time) had the best performing specific weight, and was above the minimum requirement for those Groups.KWS places the variety as ‘mainstream’ for sowing from mid-September onwards and suitable as a first or second wheat across all soil types. And, with agronomic benefits over Viscount, potential as a second wheat and potential to export, Leeds should gain market share in the South and East for export, believes the company.According to Keith, a 3 per cent market share this autumn would sell out the variety however he suggested it has the potential to achieve an 8 per cent market share with Scotland being a key area.KWS Croft
Also gaining RL status last autumn was KWS Croft (104), the highest yielding Group 3 variety on the List. In gross margin comparisons at a base price of 200/t, plus a 10 premium, the variety offers 46/ha over the best performing barn filler and 63/ha ahead of the current Group 3 market leader, pointed out KWS value chain manager, Kirsty Richards.Quality results have been consistently similar to well-accepted Group 3 variety Scout throughout the three-year testing system for biscuit wheats; with protein (10.9 per cent), specific weight (75.9kg/hl) and Hagberg (199), no matter what the season, said Kirsty.
“It’s fulfilled nabim requirements and, in terms of what the millers want, its consistency is key,” she added.Mark Dodds pointed out that in 2010 and 2011 the variety achieved outstanding yields and matched those of control variety Oakley, and, while it had a dip in performance in 2012, its yield compares favourably over Invicta and Scout as a first or second wheat.”It offers a good all round disease package, has very good untreated yields and is resistant to OWBM. It also yields well in the East where most of the biscuit mills are situated and it’s suitable for export,” Mark commented.He said that Croft had a medium height straw (89cm) with early maturity and, a high tillering variety, it will require a good PGR programme to keep it standing.
“The highest yielding Group 3 wheat, Croft is ideal for the East and South with export potential, it has a good specific weight and Hagberg and is one of the earliest maturing soft wheat varieties available,” he concluded.According to KWS, seed availability for the variety will be in limited supply this autumn.