Variety valour: Disease resistance, improved yields and innovation on the new RL

Like great ice cream, you can never have too many varieties, and the 2017/18 Recommended Lists for cereals and oilseeds certainly have a great selection.

Among the 29 new varieties added to the list were the first soft wheat varieties for years.  Advances in combining high yields with good resistance traits have been made, and are reflected in the disease ratings for new varieties across the lists

This combination of yield improvement and disease resistance is increasingly important because it provides essential flexibility needed for modern spray programmes, particularly to help deal with the unpredictable UK climate.

New methods of reporting also offer growers even more choice on what best suits their situation. This year’s list features whole-UK gross outputs for osr; septoria tritici ratings to one decimal place, which better reflect incremental improvements by breeders;  and reporting on percentage protein in milling trials

New wheat varieties resist yellow rust, despite recent race changes
Last year saw changes to the yellow rust population that caused a fall in disease ratings of some RL wheat varieties. Most of the new wheat varieties on the RL have avoided this issue, and are relatively low-risk, combining high disease and lodging ratings with a high untreated yield.

Dr Simon Oxley, who heads AHDB’s Crop Production Systems, said: “The relative risk of these new varieties is low, providing confidence to early adopters of new varieties. For all varieties, new and old, the RL shows information from previous seasons, so there is always a chance risks may change. AHDB disease monitoring is important for identifying any changes that occur in the new season.”

New to the RL – reporting on percentage protein in milling trials
Protein is an important market measure when selecting milling wheat varieties. This year’s list shows the percentage protein achieved in trials grown to milling specification, as well as the protein levels reported in all trials, both feed and milling.

The RL does not measure the quality of the protein – which can be more important than the total protein – but varieties are checked in nabim baking tests to ensure they are up to the mark for the quality bread markets.

New spring barley variety has potential to be an innovative first for brewing
This year, sees the first potential brewing variety lacking a gene for lipoxygenase production, Chanson. This helps to improve flavour stability in the end product. Further tests are required before it achieves IBD approval.

The printed 2017/18 RL will be available in late February, and pdf versions are already online at cereals.ahdb.org.uk/varieties

SimonOxley

SimonOxley

Simon Oxley spent 20 years in Scotland carrying out applied research and giving integrated pest management advice to advisers and growers on a wide range of agricultural and horticultural crops. Simon currently manages the cereals & oilseeds Recommended Lists and agronomy projects at AHDB. Simon has worked on a wide range of research projects including Scottish Government funded advisory activities in plant health focussing on the monitoring pests and disease activities, and identifying unusual pest, disease and weed outbreaks. Cross institute research projects include cereal pathology projects, in particular work on barley disease epidemiology and management. Simon has been involved with training activities to both agricultural students and BASIS training to agronomists.

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