CLIMATE change coupled with the ongoing loss of chemicals to control pests and diseases is producing a new wave of arable farmers looking for varieties with improved disease resistance, and the new Recommended Lists (RL) published at the beginning of the month, have come up few just for the job.

Although treated yields and gross output have always been considered important by growers and agronomists, disease resistance is now the key priority for growers according to Jenna Watt, who oversees the production of the Recommended Lists at AHDB.

“As chemistry is lost and efficacy is eroded by resistance, farmers put a greater value on varietal resistance to disease. In fact, the whole variety package, including regional performance and potential market premiums, is being looked at more closely," she said.

“Headline treated yield remains important, just not as much as it used to be – today, optimum and cost-effective yields, not maximum yields, are king.”

Speaking at a press briefing she added that the new 2019/20 lists for cereals and oilseeds boast exceptional disease resistance. This includes a new winter wheat variety with the best ever resistance to septoria.

However, she added that disease resistance ratings for ramularia in barley had been removed due to the inconsistency in results between sites due to the extremely variable weather.

In all, some 24 varieties have been added to the AHDB 2019/20 Recommended Lists to include five winter wheats, six winter barleys, one spring barley, two spring wheats, a new spring oat variety and nine oilseed rapes. The new lists also sees the removal of 23 varieties.

Winter wheat

New to RL is KWS Extase which looks set to be a firm favourite with growers as it boasts the highest ever septoria tritici resistance rating of 8.1. This nabim Group 2 wheat also has an exceptional untreated grain yield of 95% (compared with the treated control varieties), with good resistance to yellow rust (9), solid resistance to brown rust (7), and good quality attributes (hagberg falling number of 307s and specific weight of 78.6kg/hl). Also added to Group 2 is LG Detroit, which is claimed to be resistant to orange wheat blossom midge, according to AHDB.

Group 3 has also seen strong new contenders, with the addition of KWS Firefly which also has shown good levels of resistance to septoria tritici (7), yellow rust (9) and brown rust (8).

Soft feed wheats see the inclusion of two new varieties in LG Skyscraper and LG Spotlight. Highest yielding in their group, Skyscraper provides potential opportunities for grain distilling while, Spotlight has one of the highest fusarium ear blight ratings on the RL.

Winter barley

Four two-row feed varieties have been added to the list of which KWS Gimlet, LG Mountain and LG Flynn are the highest yielders at 104%.

Gimlet is the tallest and has larger ears containing five to six extra grain sites, while Mountain which is earlier maturing and high yielding at 105%. is likely to attract Scottish growers.

Valerie is also likely to appeal being stiff strawed and early maturing. It also boasts the highest specific weight at 70.2kg/hl with a strong treated (102%) and good untreated yield (87%). Exceptional resistance to brown rust (9) forms part of its strong disease resistance package.

The two six-row hybrid winter feed varieties, SY Baracooda and SY Kingsbarn, offer good yields and specific weights. The two also top the treated yield leader board at 108% and 109%, respectively. SY Baracooda also has the greatest untreated yield (91%) out of all the recommended winter barley varieties on the RL, which again is attributed to a strong disease resistance package that, includes the best mildew resistance on the list (8).

Spring barley

Cosmopolitan is the only new spring variety to be added which comes in as a top yielder at 106% with potential for brewing use ahead of the main variety, Planet at 103%.

Short and stiff strawed, it offered good disease resistance and a specific grain weight of 66.8kg/hl. However, it will take another 12-18months to attain full variety approval from the maltsters and brewers.

Winter oilseed rape

For the first time, untreated gross output figures for OSR varieties, which have been recommended for at least one year, have been included in the new RL.

With recommendation for the UK, Aspire, Ballad and DX Expansion combine high gross outputs with stiff stems and good resistance to lodging. Aspire also has resistance to Turnip Yellows Virus (TuYV).

Two new OSR varieties have been added to the East/West region list – PT275 and George. Although based on limited data, George has the strongest resistance to phoma stem canker (rating of 8) on the RL.

DK Exsteel has been added to the North region list.

Three varieties have been recommended for specific purposes. Temptation has been added to the growing list of varieties with resistance to TuYV (in addition to Architect and Aspire). With resistance to common strains of clubroot, Crome has recorded gross output yields in excess of the treated control, marking a step-change in the performance of clubroot-tolerant varieties.

Herbicide tolerance has also been recognised as a specific category and PT297CL, which has tolerance to specific imidazolinone herbicides (a Clearfield® variety), has been added to the list.