Soft feed wheats challenge the dominant hard feed market

Back in the spring, Limagrain UK’s arable technical manager Ron Granger challenged the perception that hard feed wheats have higher yields and quality over soft wheats.

Back in the spring, Limagrain UK’s arable technical manager Ron Granger challenged the perception that hard feed wheats have higher yields and quality over soft wheats.

How right he was to make this challenge; this year’s AHDB harvest results confirm that soft wheats; LG Skyscraper and LG Spotlight sit at the very top of the yield table, whilst holding onto their quality attributes.

LG Skyscraper is the highest yielding wheat at 105% of control, ahead of the highest yielding recommended hard wheat varieties RGT Gravity (103%) and Gleam (104%). LG Spotlight sits amongst these at 103%.

LG Spotlight’s impressive grain quality credentials remain intact despite the challenging weather towards the latter end of the season. Its specific weight of 76.7 kg/hl is higher than that of Gleam (75.4) and RGT Gravity (75.0). LG Spotlight’s HFN approaching 275, remains the highest on the list.

“It’s important to note that this combination of quality credentials, as found in LG Spotlight, is rarely seen in a soft wheat,” says Ron Granger, arable technical manager for Limagrain UK.

“The stop-start 2019 harvest proves the robustness of these characteristics; the value of this high Hagberg, combined with the high level of sprouting resistance provides security when wet weather delays harvest – and is normally only seen in some top bread varieties,” he points out.

“LG Skyscraper offers a large grain and its specific weight of 76.2 kg/hl and HFN coming in at 212.8 , continue to make to an attractive package when compared to other feed varieties.”

“We are also seeing these excellent harvest results using farm standard inputs, which is an important message as growers can feel confident in their ability to produce these levels of results within more realistic input systems,” adds Mr Granger.

In a Limagrain farm trial near Perth in Scotland, which was based around farm standard inputs, the soft wheats took the top yields; LG Spotlight was the best yielder at 10.4 t/ha, LG Skyscraper sat just behind at 10.3t/ha, whereas the hard wheats; Gleam and RGT Gravity were behind this at 9.7t/ha respectively.

For Russ McKenzie of John Sheard Farms, LG Skyscraper was one of the top yielding wheats across the different units that make up the 995ha’s that he farms on the Northants and Cambridgeshire border.

LG Skyscraper was one of the best performing wheats for Russell McKenzie

“Our best yields were 12.09t/ha and the variety was pretty consistent across all of our units. LG Skyscraper has shown itself to be a competitive variety, very vigorous in the autumn which suits our later October plantings. The variety will be one of our core varieties this autumn and we will be growing it over a larger area,” says Mr McKenzie.

“These excellent results from across the country are a result of the robustness of the disease ratings and agronomics supporting the varieties,” explains Mr Granger.

“Whilst there was significant pressure from septoria and yellow rust, both LG Skyscraper and LG Spotlight have managed to withstand this pressure, which can be seen from the differences in treated and untreated ratings.”

He points out that whilst both varieties are tall, they respond well to good PGR programmes based around split timings and the additional use of terpal or cerone, if required at a later date.

“It’s important that varieties show consistency in performance over seasons, and the season of 2019 has certainly proved that Limagrain’s soft wheats are not just varieties that perform well in dry seasons, as we had in 2017 and 2018.”

“If you are growing feed wheat for high yield potential with good grain quality, then the soft wheats LG Skyscraper and LG Spotlight certainly offer attributes better than, or equal to the best hard feed wheats.”

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