Grain column with farm trader Emma Croft

Emma Croft, farm trader at Anderson Grain Marketing Limited.
Emma Croft, farm trader at Anderson Grain Marketing Limited.

As Harvest 2016 fast approaches and trial invitations are being handed out thick and fast, I thought this week’s column would be a good opportunity to discuss the AHDB recommended winter wheat varieties for drilling this autumn (and also because I am yet to digest the recent ‘Brexit’ revelation).

There are some interesting varieties on this year’s recommended list and whilst the overall agronomy and disease resistance of each variety remains crucial, it is also extremely important to also consider the market options, overall yield and final grain quality.

Beginning with the Group 1 varieties, local favourites Skyfall and Crusoe are continuing to perform well, particularly Skyfall which is believed to be resistant to Orange wheat blossom midge.

KWS Trinity also looks promising and boasts an excellent resistance to Mildew.

The newly recommended RGT Illustrious could be good option, particularly given its recently approved status for bread making by UK millers. The variety has an excellent untreated grain yield of 90% in addition to a very good level of overall disease resistance.

Moving on to Group 2 varieties, KWS Siskin looks promising in the field, particularly in the untreated plots.

The variety boasts the highest untreated wheat yield on the recommended list (96%) and has excellent resistance to yellow rust. Furthermore, Siskin’s fungicide-treated yield is one of the highest on the recommended list and will rival most group 4 varieties on yield performance.

As for grain quality, Cordiale remains the strongest Group 2 variety for both Protein Content (12.1%) and Specific Weight (79.1kg/hl) and the millers remain keen to secure deliveries for next season.

There are two stand-out Group 3 varieties for next season, both of which are KWS varieties. Both Barrel and Basset posses excellent fungicide treated yields, respectable untreated yields and good disease resistance. As for grain quality, both varieties have achieved the required 10.7% protein content and the millers are on board.

Finally, there are 19 Group 4 varieties on the winter wheat recommended list for this season (5 soft, 14 hard), each with their own list of ‘pros and cons’.

Whilst the fungicide treated yield figure gives a good idea of crop potential, it doesn’t give a good enough indication of crop performance and there is a significant difference between the two.

Premiums for all varieties are unclear at this stage; harvest quantity, quality and foreign competition will all play their part in determining prices. However, with grain prices at current levels, most would agree that sowing choices for harvest 2017 should maximise market outlets; chose consistent varieties with premium potential and maximise ex-farm values.