A round up of the Wheat Variety Trials Open Day 2019

Last week, MSP held their 2019 Wheat Variety Trials Open Day at Mountfair Farm near Duns by kind permission of the Grimsdale family.  The event was a great success with over 80 farmers attending to tour the variety plots, watch DroneAG demonstrating their new Skippy Scout drone software, view some impressive machinery courtesy of Kelso & Lothian Harvesters and Mountfair Farming and, not least, enjoy some hot beef rolls!

The wheat variety trials demonstrated a range of 24 varieties both current and new, growing alongside each other in both treated and untreated plots, and allowed the field performance of these varieties to be compared in local conditions.

With the weather this Spring having been more conducive to growth and disease than last year, there was plenty to see in the plots, not just in the noticeable differences in maturity, height and response to PGR’s between varieties, but also in the different disease levels.


Yellow rust has been particularly rife this year and, being highly visual, it was an emotive talking point in the untreated plots. Zulu and Grafton looked the worst affected alongside, more surprisingly, the KWS Lili, Shabras and Dunston.  The unexpected level of yellow rust in hitherto relatively resistant varieties highlights the different races of the disease which are currently active. It also emphasised how difficult it is now becoming to accurately rate yellow rust resistance levels in a variety, particularly as the disease varies so much between regions and seasons.

What was also very noticeable was the stark differences in cleanliness between the untreated and treated plots. This clearly demonstrated the importance of a robust agronomy protection programme, however, with the impending loss of some key actives and agrochemical products, including chlorothalonil, it also emphasised that inherent genetic disease resistance in wheat varieties is going to be of increasing significance in crop management going forward.


There is no doubt that disease resistance in varieties was the “hot topic” of the day so it was no surprise that there was huge interest in the new hard group 2 variety KWS Extase. With its exceptional Septoria resistance, KWS Extase is the first variety ever to be rated higher than an “8” on the AHDB Recommended List.  With very good yellow rust resistance too, the variety has an untreated yield of 95, a huge 7 points higher than the next best variety.  Tall but stiff, it was also noticeably very early which attracted a lot of attention in the field. It was the first variety into ear and looked well ahead of most others on the day, at least equal to Grafton, the benchmark variety for earliness. KWS Extase is a sell out further south, but, with our own locally grown seed crop, MSP are able to offer farmers in their trading area the opportunity to try this exciting new variety this Autumn.


There were other variety highlights which also drew farmers interest.  LG Skyscraper looked clean and early and despite its tall straw had responded tremendously well to PGR in the treated plot which looked much shorter and encouragingly stiff.  New variety LG Spotlight perhaps looked less eye catching on the day despite being as tall as Skyscraper, but it is stiffer still and performs exceptionally well on heavier soils.  It will undoubtedly come in to its own at harvest time as its “USP” is its superb grain quality with the highest hagberg and specific weight of all soft wheats – surely attractive attributes for northern growers.  The jury is still out on whether the new soft group 3 variety KWS Firefly is one for the north, but it looked short and stiff and its good resistance to Septoria and yellow rust again drew attention, as did the bright green LG Sundance which looked as clean in the untreated plot as it did in the treated!


The wheat trials have given us a great opportunity to monitor the relative

performance of the different varieties throughout the growing period and to learn about their growth and development habits.  On the day there was certainly a lot to see and discuss and growers were able to assess first-hand how the different wheat varieties perform locally as they start to ponder making their variety choices for the coming season.


Want to find out more about the latest varieties and how MSP can help you? Get in touch today – 01289 333361.