Agronomy key in 2017 wheat variety choice

Company News

February 6, 2017

Agronomy key in 2017 wheat variety choice

Agronomy should be the most important consideration in wheat variety selection for the coming season, with varieties chosen first and foremost for their ability to address the farm’s most pressing production challenges.

“Whatever wheats you’re growing, reliable production at the least cost per tonne has to be the priority in a market set to be well-supplied with quality,” stressed Agrii seed trials manager, Colin Patrick at the Masterseeds briefing.  “This puts the onus firmly on varieties best able to cope with your particular farm challenges to secure the yields that will, more than ever, be your key profitability driver.

“Our extensive testing of existing and emerging new varieties at our own sites across the country, run under more commercial growing regimes than those used for the RL, highlights major differences in their ability to perform under pressure from foliar diseases, lodging and weed competition, not to mention  different drilling dates.

“As well as providing our growers with the most up-to-date agronomic intelligence for variety selection, the Advisory List we produce each year, combining our results with those from official trials, pinpoints areas of agronomy requiring particular attention to achieve the desired performance.”

So what specific agronomy-based guidance is the Agrii trials network giving on new variety choices for the coming season?

Well, it clearly identifies LG Sundance and Dunston as especially valuable for levels of disease resistance that offer the greatest spraying flexibility.

“If Septoria tritici  is your main challenge, then alongside Graham, which currently offers class leading levels of resistance,  both these varieties stand out for their combination of resistance ratings and untreated yields,” reported Colin Patrick.

“LG Sundance has an eyespot weakness that concerns us as a second wheat while Dunston carries Pch1 resistance, making it a very good replacement for long-time favourite, JB Diego which is really showing signs of its age these days.

“KWS Zyatt is also shaping up to be a good Group 1 choice here, with a strong Septoria rating, high untreated yield and Pch1 eyespot resistance. Yellow rust will need watching, though, as we’ve seen noticeably higher levels in our trials that its RL score would suggest.

“We like Bennington too for its consistent high yields and strong export potential and see it as a useful Leeds replacement for those not targeting distilling markets,” Colin Patrick continued. “Our work however suggests it’s weaker on brown rust than it looks on the RL.”

“Alongside individual variety resistance, of course, the yellow rust diversification work we’ve been maintaining with the support of Dr Rosemary Bayles needs to be taken into account in variety choice,” he added. “Designed as an aid to risk management across the farm, it allows agronomists and growers to select varieties less likely to be universally affected by any changes in the rust population.”

Agrii trials under high lodging pressure conditions suggest that of the newcomers, Bennington and Dunston are the most suitable varieties where pressures are likely to be high, while LG Sundance – like a number of the other new soft feed varieties – is probably best avoided.

As far as weed competitiveness is concerned, KWS Zyatt and Dunston have been showing similar overall strengths to JB Diego, Sykfall and KWS Siskin in initial screening at the Stow Longa black-grass technology centre.

Colin Patrick did point out, however, that the clear differences in relative variety competitiveness they have been seeing at different sowing dates need to be factored into decision-making here.

“In addition to performance under locally optimised input regimes, disease scores from the most recent season, lodging ratings under high pressure conditions and weed competitiveness rankings, our trial work is adding valuable broadened Fusarium resistance, maturity and drilling window guidance to the RL data,” he concluded.

“This will be of particular value in helping growers choose the best varieties for their own farm conditions and manage them as cost-effectively as possible for the greatest overall profitability.”