KWS Lili has the potential to match the barn-filling yields of the better Group 4s while retaining the market flexibility and premiums of a true Group 2.
Wheat growers wanting a high yielding variety capable of premium quality grain without breaking the bank have a new option to consider.
KWS Lili, which joined the AHDB Recommended List (RL) for cereals this year, is a premium quality Group 2 bread-making wheat offer-ing yields to rival leading Group 4s, with inputs similar to any other high yielding feed wheat (see table).
It heralds a new era for a sector which has seen little to attract grow-ers or buyers since the launch of Cordiale more than a decade ago.
AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds lead analyst Jack Watts says: “Farmers have picked up on that [lack of new varieties] and have moved away from Group 2s in recent years, but Lili is interesting. We haven’t seen a Group 2 variety generate this much interest since Cordiale and Einstein.”
With a mean yield of 10.5 tonnes/hectare (105% of control UK-wide), KWS Lili is the highest yielding quality wheat and challenges the best Group 4s.
Performance was supported by Agrii trials last year, where KWS Lili was the fourth highest yielding variety out of more than 60 across 11 sites in replicated blocks.
Barry Barker, Agrii national seeds manager, says: “We have a good indi-cation of its potential; it’s up there with Reﬂection, Dickens and Evolution and ahead of established varieties, such as JB Diego.”
Crucially, KWS Lili combines high yields with grain quality suitable for a range of premium markets, which could pay dividends with tight cereal margins, and if domestic milling spec-iﬁcation is missed growers still have export, feed or bioethanol markets to fall back on.
Mr Watts says: “From a quality and consistency perspective, Lili is not going to be at Group 1 level, but the potential is there to achieve a milling premium.”
The variety’s ukp approval allows access to a range of export markets looking for low protein UK bread wheat, such as North Africa, Spain and Portugal, he adds.
There is also potential for UK wheat to regain market share among do-mestic users, he says.
“UK bread-making ﬂour production totals about 2.8-3 million tonnes, which is equivalent to 3.6-4m tonnes of wheat. Some will always be imported as there is a need for a certain amount of high protein wheat which can’t be produced in the UK. But 200-300,000t of imports could be substituted given the right quality, con-sistency and availability of supply.”
KWS Lili promises to be an easy variety to grow, given its strong disease proﬁle, short, stiff straw and suitability to a range of soil types and geographic locations.
It has already demonstrated good all-round disease resistance and suitability to a range of conditions from the south west to the north of England, says Mr Barker.
“We believe its septoria resist-ance is better than indicated by the RL score. We think this is funda-mental as to why it did well in trials last year; the varieties with better septoria ratings stood out from the pack and we see this is a good in-dicator of its longer term success.”
KWS Lili’s high tillering capacity and vigorous growth habit means it is best suited to drilling from mid-September onwards, rather than early-sowing, says KWS product development manager John Miles.
Standard farm seed rates should be used and growers must be wary of increasing rates for reasons such as black-grass control, he adds.
“Increasing seed rates for any high-tillering variety can potentially reduce speciﬁc weight, so be mindful of your target market be-fore making that decision.”
Mr Miles also advises growers follow standard nutrient and fungicide strategies, even though KWS Lili’s resistance ratings suggest there may be scope to cut back in lower pressure situations.
“Varietal resistance is a risk man-agement tool which buys ﬂexibility if spray timings are missed. Trials demonstrate all varieties, including those with better resistance ratings, respond positively to fungicides.”
|nabim Group Variety||
|Yield (% controls)||105||100||106||102||103|
|Total output per ha||1,207.50||1,150.00||1,219.00||1,173.00||1,185.50|
|Variable costs (£/ha)|
|Fertiliser (£1/kg for comparison)||240||240||240||240||240|
|Total variable costs||554||554||551||554||554|
|Gross margin (£/ha)||653.50||596.00||668.00||619.00||630.50|
|Premium needed to equal R.E.S (£/t)||1.38||7.20||0.00||4.80||3.64|
R.E.S = mean of Reflection, Evolution and KWS Santiago. R.E.S are resistant to OWBM, offering £3/ha spray saving