Two new winter cereal varieties from one breeder’s stable now available for 2021

With both an award-winning winter barley and a high-quality soft Group 4 winter wheat suitable for distilling, Senova’s new additions to the AHDB RL for 2021/22 look rather promising.

Bordeaux winter barley

Winter barley achieves early success

Senova’s new Danish-bred winter barley, Bordeaux, is a conventional two-row feed variety with a UK-wide recommendation and an award- winning track record.

Rivalling the six-row hybrids for yield, Bordeaux joined the latest AHDB Recommended List with a yield of 106, a specific weight of 69.9kg/hl and low screenings losses.

As such, Bordeaux offers better grain quality and yield performance than most other winter barleys, along with the early maturity that eases any harvesting bottlenecks.

At 86cm tall, it has a 7 for lodging resistance. It is also resistant to barley yellow mosaic virus and has ratings of 6 for both mildew and brown rust.

There’s plenty of early interest in Bordeaux, reflecting the preference that growers have for varieties that perform well regardless of the season, says Senova’s commercial director Jeremy Taylor.

“There have always been commercial reasons behind the popularity of conventional over hybrid varieties,” he comments. “With the yield gap closing between them, now there are compelling agronomic reasons, too.”

Already creating early headlines for its success in the annual YEN competition organised by ADAS, Bordeaux was the variety that won Scottish grower David Bell a gold award for achieving 84 per cent of its yield potential.

After a challenging start in a very wet autumn, his 2020 crop yielded 11.9t/ha out of a theoretical 14.1t/ha, beating some of the UK’s best wheat crops.

The 4ha field of Bordeaux also went on to give the best margin on the farm in St Andrews, Fife, coming in at just over £1,300/ha excluding operations.

As a mixed farmer, Mr Bell looks for the combination of good specific weight and palatability with high yields, when he considers winter barley variety choices.

He is growing Bordeaux again this year on a larger scale and hopes to repeat his success, with another YEN entry planned.

Bordeaux joins Senova’s existing winter barley, Valerie, in the market and continues the company’s tradition of marketing barley varieties that combine high yields with good grain quality.

swallow winter wheat

Winter wheat’s arrival sets new distilling standards

Swallow, the new soft Group 4 winter wheat from Senova which sets the highest standards for distilling, is being tipped for success in the north.

Added to the AHDB Recommended List 2021/22 at the end of last year, Swallow combines the end market appeal of a very high alcohol yield and low viscosity – two prerequisites for the distilling sector – with a strong set of agronomic characteristics.

That will make it attractive to growers too, says Mr Taylor, who highlights Swallow’s early maturity and short, very stiff straw – both of which are important in the north of England and Scotland, where there is a longer growing season.

With a yield of 102, good grain quality and a septoria score of 5.7, Swallow also meets the other standards expected by soft wheat growers, outperforming the current variety favourites on key characteristics, he adds.

“While the distilling market has particular requirements in terms of alcohol yield from each tonne of grain, it does not pay a premium for the highest alcohol yield,” notes Mr Taylor.

“So even though Swallow has achieved a ‘Good’ rating for distilling from independent evaluation and is expected to have a significant impact on the grain distilling market, it has to have farmers behind it.” As such, Swallow’s high yield, good all-round disease resistance and earliness are bound to appeal, while its grain quality and straw characteristics bring further benefits.

Bred by John Blackman and being marketed by Senova, Swallow has a septoria score of 5.7, above that of other popular distilling choices. However, Mr Blackman’s experience suggests this might not be representative given its yield in untreated trials, where the variety remained much cleaner than its rating indicates.

A high starch content, Hagberg of 245 and specific weight of 76.3kg/hl are complemented by a superb lodging resistance (+PGR) score of 9 [-PGR 8], a height of 78cm (compared to over 90cm for Skyscraper) and a 6 for both yellow rust and brown rust resistance.

A 0 for ripening makes Swallow one of the earliest varieties to mature. Its consistency of performance across harvest years and trials sites also stands out, making it a promising new introduction for an important market segment, believes Mr Taylor.

Swallow joins Senova’s popular hard Group 4 winter wheat, Costello, on the latest Recommended List.

Seed for both Bordeaux winter barley and Swallow winter wheat will be available for autumn 2021 plantings.

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