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Cereals Preview 2019: Latest variety developments on show

As several organisations celebrate anniversaries this year, variety plots offer an opportunity to look back as well as forward at the results of plant breeding programmes.

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Cereals Preview 2019: Latest variety developments on show

The past, present and future of plant science takes centre stage at the NIAB stand, with nearly 120 crop and variety plots celebrating the organisation’s centenary year.


The stand features the show’s largest independent winter wheat and winter oilseed rape plot demonstration, with current varieties and candidates from the AHDB 2019/20 Recommended List. But the past is also celebrated, with visitors able to take a step back in time with some of the most popular winter wheat varieties from each decade of the past century.


As part of its centenary celebrations, NIAB will be announcing two ‘once in a lifetime’ winners of its prestigious Cereals Cup and Variety Cup at the 2019 Cereals Event. This year, the NIAB Cereals Cup will be awarded to the most outstanding UK wheat variety from the past 100 years and the Variety Cup to the most outstanding UK variety in any other crop.


The centrepiece of the RAGT’s Cereals stand will be a ‘Back to the Future’ video - a 360-degree immersive experience within a specially designed dome, in celebration of its 100th anniversary.


This presentation will highlight some of the important milestones in the history of plant breeding, as well as the cutting-edge technological advances that RAGT is developing to tackle the challenges of the future.

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Over the past century, RAGT says it has evolved from a regional co-operative in southern France to on of Europe’s leading plant breeders, responsible for varieties such as Skyfall, RGT Gravity, RGT Planet and RGT Windozz.


Wheat varieties on show include RGT Gravity, the joint highest yielding (104%) Group 4 hard winter wheat on the 2019/2020 RL, a strong, consistent performer suited to all soils and an excellent first or second wheat, according to RAGT.


Staff will also discuss RGT Lantern, a high-yielding (104%) hard RL candidate feed variety with solid disease and OWBM resistance. It is a consistent performer as a first and second wheat, according to the company.


RGT Planet is the joint highest yielding (103%) spring barley on the RL that is fully approved for brewing use.


RGT Southwark is the highest yielding winter oat on the 2019/2020 RL at 105%. It combines high yield and quality and is early to mature.


Celebrating its 175th anniversary, UK independent plant breeder Elsoms Seeds is exhibiting leading Group 3 winter wheat variety Elicit and, following its recent collaboration with Ackermann Barley, it will be exhibiting winter and spring barleys from the Elsoms Ackermann barley programme.


New plots


Elsoms’ head of agriculture, Adrian Hayler says: “In oats, we will be showcasing Lion, the newest of our spring varieties which succeeds high yielding varieties such as Yukon and Delfin. We will also be displaying new plots focusing on three major hybrids in rye, wheat and barley.”

Visitors to its stand will have access to the company’s technical experts, including Heather Oldfield – energy and forage crop manager; George Goodwin – vining pea and combinable crop manager, along with breeders from Elsoms Wheat, Elsoms Ackermann Barley and OSR breeder Mark Nightingale.


Joining Senova’s variety portfolio are Valerie, a two-row winter barley for feed, and a new spring barley Cosmopolitan, which has potential for brewing use.


Also being featured for the first time since their approval are Hexham, a Group 4 spring wheat which has the highest yield (107%) for autumn sowing for spring wheat varieties on the RL, and Elison, a spring oat which scores 9 on resistance to lodging.


All four were added to the AHDB RL 2019/2020 at the end of last year, with UK-wide suitability.


Valerie, joining the list with a yield of 102%, has given a good performance in all regions of the UK.


It offers a high specific weight, low screenings, disease resistance and good standing ability, says Senova.


Senova commercial director Jeremy Taylor says: “In Valerie, we have a variety which suits the market and is easy to grow.


“Growers need another feed variety with the desired bushel weight of more than 70kg/hl, so they have been very pleased with this recommendation.”


Mr Taylor points out that Cosmopolitan’s potential for brewing use means it will now undergo testing by Malting Barley Committee [MBC] for approval for this sector.


Researchers from the James Hutton Institute and the Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI) have completed a 10-month Innovate UK-funded project resulting in the development of an improved genetic marker which can be used by barley breeders to unequivocally identify potential epiheterodendrin (EPH) non-producing barley varieties at the earliest stages of the breeding process.




EPH is broken down during malting to form a precursor for ethyl carbamate, a strictly regulated compound in the food and drink industry. Only EPH non-producing barley varieties are recommended for use in the distilling industry, to ensure minimal levels of ethyl carbamate are produced during the whisky production process.


James Brosnan, director of research at SWRI says: “The advanced marker system developed within the Innovate UK EPH project will help plant breeders produce a more efficient pipeline of fit-for-purpose distilling barley varieties to meet the demands of the growing, export-led Scotch whisky industry. This project serves as a successful example of industry academic collaboration supported by the International Barley Hub.


Seven new cereal varieties will be showcased in plots at Syngenta’s stand at this year’s Cereals Event – six barleys and one winter wheat.


New winter wheat SY Insitor is a high-yielding feed variety being previewed on the stand that offers a potentially wide drilling window, based on Syngenta observations, says Syngenta conventional varieties marketing manager, Tracy Creasy.


Currently it is on the AHDB Candidate variety list.


Syngenta will also showcase plots of three new hybrid barleys. Hybrids SY Kingsbarn and SY Baracooda were both added to the AHDB RL for 2019/2020. Both offer a step up in UK treated yield over the popular UK hybrid, Bazooka, says Syngenta hybrids marketing manager, Mark Bullen, with Kingsbarn also offering improved specific weight.


“The third new hybrid on the stand, SY Kingston, is currently on the AHDB candidate variety list,” says Mr Bullen.


“So Cereals 2019 will provide an early opportunity for growers to see it, prior to any decision over its recommendation later this year.”


Three new potential malting barley varieties will also be on show. One, as yet unnamed, is a winter barley variety which could have malting potential for distilling, the company says.


Ms Creasy says: “Currently, the only varieties with approval for distilling on the MBC Approved List are spring varieties.


“A winter variety that can be used for distilling and grown in England and Scotland would spread risk for growers and end users alike.”


The other two potential malting barley varieties are spring candidates SY Splendor and SY Tungsten. Limagrain is showcasing its soft Group 4 wheat, LG Skyscraper, top yielder on the 2019/2020 RL at 106%, with its other soft Group 4, LG Spotlight, just behind at 104%.


LG Skyscraper also offers a good Hagberg falling number of 221 and a high specific weight of 77.2kg/hl, and is rated positive for distilling, says Limagrain.


Oilseed rape variety Aspire offers a gross output of 104% and turnip yellows virus (TuYV) resistance – the first time a UK RL variety has offered both high yields and TuYV resistance, says Limagrain.


Winter barleys LG Flynn and LG Mountain share top position on yield (104%) in the 2-row section.

BYDV tolerance


Offering the unique genetic traits of both barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) and barley yellow mosaic virus tolerance is six-row winter barley, Rafaela, says the company.


Limagrain’s arable technical manager, Ron Granger, says: “We are delighted that our focus on bringing high yielding varieties with additional traits, attractive to UK growers and end-use markets across the cropping sector, has come to fruition.”


OSR will be a particular focus of Bayer’s stand, following the acquisition of Monsanto and its Dekalb programme in 2018. On display will be four successors to DK Extrovert and DK Exalte – DK Exstar, said to have a complete agronomy package; newly-recommended DK Expansion and DK Exsteel; and DK Extremus, currently in National List testing.


Also being displayed will be Clearfield varieties, DK Impressario CL, clubroot-resistant DK Platinium and new high oleic, low linolenic (HOLL) variety, V353OL. A range of high-yielding oilseed rape varieties with added agronomic functionality will be showcased by seed breeder DSV UK at the event.


One of the key features will be DSV’s new TuYV-resistant OSR variety Temptation, which has one of the strongest all-round production and agronomic packages in the new 2019/2020 AHDB RL, says the company’s Sarah Hawthorne.


“Temptation is listed as suitable for the whole of the UK, with a combination of high yields in challenging conditions and strong all-round disease package making it one of the most reliable ‘drill and forget’ oilseed rape choices available.


“By any standards, it is one of the highest performing varieties currently available in the UK, demonstrating a high and consistent yield with a score of 101% of control representing 5.35t/ha in the current RL.


“Temptation also has an exceptional oil content of 46%, the highest achieved by any variety recommended as suitable for the whole of the UK.”


United Oilseeds is offering growers an opportunity to learn about HOLL varieties which, when sold through the co-operative, come with a guaranteed premium of at least £25/tonne and the assurance of free seed if the crop fails to establish, subject to terms and conditions, says the company.


Growers interested in a conventional seed for 2019 planting can learn about Acacia – the variety with the highest UK gross output on the AHDB Candidate List.


Those looking for a hybrid may consider Aurelia, which is the highest yielding hybrid variety on the Candidate List, with RLM7 protection against stem canker and resistance to TuYV and pod shatter, says United Oilseeds.




A new rhizome-based miscanthus variety, Athena, is being launched at Cereals by biomass firm Terravesta.


Trial results are said to show that, on average, year two (first harvest) yields are 62% above the standard Miscanthus giganteus variety, producing 8t/hectare and 12.5t/ha in year three. The Athena trials took place on 270ha of varied UK soil types, as well as in differing geographic and climatic conditions.


Athena will give growers a faster return on investment and overall increased margins through the crop’s life, says the company.


Terravesta chairman, William Cracroft-Eley says: “Not only does Athena produce a higher yield than standard Miscanthus giganteus, it’s also more uniform so yields are more stable.”

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