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New quality wheat gains industry backing

Brexit could boost demand for high quality, home-grown wheats. Could new variety Mv Fredericia fit the bill? Abby Kellett reports.


Abby   Kellett

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Abby   Kellett
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In welcoming input from growers, millers and bakers, independent plant breeder Bill Angus, founder of Angus Wheat Consultants, has developed a new breadmaking wheat said to be capable of competing with high protein European imports and which suits variable UK growing conditions.

 

Despite demand for 3.7 million tonnes of high protein wheat in the UK, 22% of the wheat used for breadmaking is imported from countries such as Germany and Canada, which are better able to achieve grain protein contents of 14% and above – an attribute which is highly valued by many new UK bakeries, according to Whitworth Bros purchasing director, Raich Growdridge.

 

While winter wheat Mv Fredericia does not promise to deliver protein contents as high as 14%, the quality of protein it delivers and its suitability for the UK climate makes it an attractive proposition for the industry, says Mr Raich Growdridge.


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“Having access to home-grown wheats which have a protein content of over 14% would be great, but realistically any UK grain that has a protein content that is as high as 14% has usually received a top-dressing of nitrogen late in the season and so the protein is predominantly in the husk – which is not where we want it as that is the first thing that is removed.

 

“As millers, we would far rather have grain which is perhaps lower in protein but that contains protein that is functional and that is able to be delivered consistently, which is what Mv Fredericia could potentially offer.”

The agronomic offering

  • Early maturing
  • Around 5% lower yielding than Skyfall

Disease ratings from National List trials:

  • Septoria resistance rating: 6/7
  • Yellow rust resistance rating: 8
  • Brown rust resistance rating: 6
  • Fusarium resistance: Good

Given the £10-30 premium associated with high protein imported wheat over standard UK wheat and the uncertainty around what Brexit will bring, there is a huge opportunity for UK growers to capitalise on the demand for quality wheats, says Mr Growdridge.

 

The variety has been test baked by three independent millers and bakers over three years and Mr Angus says the results have been very positive. AHDB trials also showed the variety had ‘excellent’ grain characteristics and ‘surprisingly’ good hagbergs.

 

In order to boost the UK’s success in growing high quality milling wheat, Mr Angus says it is important the industry is realistic about where these wheats are grown. To get the best out of Mv Fredericia, he says it will be best grown in East Anglia due to the dry climate and high levels of sunshine.

 

Therefore rather than the variety being made available on the open market, Mr Angus plans to sell the variety on contract to growers who are likely to meet the protein specification.

 

In managing the variety to achieve a high milling spec, growers can expect to achieve yields of around 8-9t/ha using modest rates of nitrogen. In Agrii trials Mv Fredericia achieved the highest protein levels with 200-250kg/ha of nitrogen. It performance was comparable to that of Crusoe and older milling wheat variety, Soissons.

Bill Angus

Agrii trials also revealed the variety is highly competitive in black-grass scenarios – a reflection of its rapid spring development.

 

Bred from Hungarian parent lines Mv Zelma x Elviss, it has an inherently good disease profile.

Mr Angus says: “Fungicide use in Hungary is low therefore varieties bred there are expected to have good resistance levels and Mv Fredericia is no different.”

 

Agrii trials also revealed the variety is highly competitive in black-grass scenarios – a reflection of its rapid spring development.

Bred from Hungarian parent lines Mv Zelma x Elviss, it has an inherently good disease profile. Mr Angus says: “Fungicide use in Hungary is low therefore varieties bred there are expected to have good resistance levels and Mv Fredericia is no different.”

 

According to Mr Angus, the variety should be sown at the end of October to ensure it does not lodge later on in the season.

 

Since the variety is best drilled late, Mr Angus is looking to develop a nutrient-based seed treatment which will be used exclusively with Mv Fredericia – “This will be the first time a seed treatment will be sold exclusively with one variety. Hopefully it will mean the variety will emerge in four weeks instead of six.”

 

It is also early maturing (-4) with harvest likely to occur in late-July. Its early maturity means that while the variety is in National List trials, it will not go into Recommended List trials.

 

Four farmers are currently growing the variety, with a larger group of growers set to drill 1,000ha this autumn. The seed is expected to be more widely available for the 2019/2020 growing season.

 

Royalties will be ‘pegged’ to the grain price. Mr Angus says: “If the grain price goes up, so will the royalty fee and vice versa – we are sharing the risk with the farmer.”

 

As a good will gesture, Mr Angus plans to donate $5 for every tonne of Mv Fredericia seed sold to the Norman Borlaug Training Foundation, which provides training for plant breeders in developing countries.

2017 harvest results

  • Specific weight: 76 kg/hl
  • Hagberg: 250s
  • Protein: 13%

Source: Bill Angus

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