Paul Huntley, Director Cereal Seeds at MSP, reports from the recent wheat variety trials day held near Duns.
On Tuesday 12th June we held our inaugural MSP Wheat Variety Trials Day at Mountfair Farm near Duns in Berwickshire. The sun shone and over 80 farmers and end users came along to see and hear about the latest wheat varieties available in the market whilst also enjoying hot beef rolls and refreshments.
After some initial establishment difficulties due to the wet conditions around drilling time, some severe and protracted winter weather and grazing by rabbits, the large-scale plots of wheat improved with the spring weather and had just come nicely in to ear by the time of our visit.
23 varieties were on show, including current market leaders and 6 new varieties commercially available for the first time this Autumn, plus one seed treatment trial plot. With both treated and untreated plots of each variety there was lots to see, and it was possible to pick out noticeable differences between the varieties in their maturity, height and response to PGR’s. However, disease pressure has been low this year and there was little disease evident even in the untreated plots of more susceptible varieties, so picking out the clean varieties from the dirty ones was not so easy on the day.
Although many of the established varieties looked well, most interest centred around the new varieties on show and they didn’t disappoint. Fast-tracked new soft group 4 wheat LG Skyscraper stood out among the pack due to its height, although it had clearly responded well to PGR. With exceptionally high yield (potentially the best of all this year’s RL candidate varieties), early maturity, good all-round disease resistance, high specific weight and good distilling quality it was no surprise to see a huge interest in this promising new variety.
Two other new soft group 4 wheats, KWS Jackal and Elation, also took the eye. KWS Jackal is currently the highest yielding fully recommended soft group 4 wheat for the North region and looks a good all-rounder, performing well as a first and second wheat on both light and heavy land. Elation is just behind KWS Jackal on yield but as we could see in the plots it is short, stiff and quite early. Like KWS Jackal, Elation has very good yellow rust resistance and is a good second wheat, but it has better specific weight and has slightly better distilling quality.
The new soft group 3 biscuit wheat, Elicit, was another variety that commanded much interest. With high yield, good disease resistance, stiff straw and high specific weight, it looks as if it will offer a credible alternative to the current group 3 market leader KWS Barrel, with much better septoria tritici resistance being a particular advantage.
Two new group 4 hard wheat varieties were also on show and looked impressive. RGT Gravity is the highest yielding variety for the North region on the current AHDB Recommended List, with exceptional performance as both a first and second wheat on both light and heavy land. A big hitter, there is likely to be strong demand for the variety this Autumn. Gleam is another high yielding variety, again performing well as both a first wheat and especially as a second wheat and on heavier land. Potentially suited to early drilling, it is stiff strawed, early to mature and has solid all round disease resistance – a “dark horse” variety which was clearly attracting interest in the field.
Many of our wheat seed growers were present at the trials day reinforcing the local provenance of MSP seed, something which has become much more important to farmers in our trading area in recent years. It was satisfying to not only be able to introduce promising new varieties to our customers but also to offer seed availability of all these varieties from local growers.
Plant counts taken at different intervals demonstrated the speed of development of the different varieties and also highlighted the advantage of “Vibrance Duo” in enhancing tillering in our seed treatment trial. The plots were also mapped numerous times by Drone AG and the images were included in the handout for all to see and interpret.
All in all, a highly successful event which we hope to repeat again next year. Many thanks to the Grimsdale Family and Mountfair Farming, Lloyds, Amazone, Drone AG and SCS Spreader and Sprayer Testing Ltd for their invaluable contributions.