Wheat variety Crusoe – which has been around since 2012 – is still showing its true character having come through 2019 with some leading yield figures.

Seven years since its launch, the variety has just had one of its best performing seasons and is provisionally sitting at the top of the AHDB Recommended List 2019 harvest results, for fully recommended Group 1's. It had a yield of 11.49 tonnes/ha – 3% over Skyfall at 11.11 tonnes/ha and 1% over KWS Zyatt on 11.31 tonnes/ha.

“This really shows how robust Crusoe is in a high disease pressure, challenging year,” pointed out Ron Granger, arable technical manager with its breeder, Limagrain UK. “Crusoe’s protein results compliment those of its yields – 13% protein sees it at the top of the Group 1s, once again above that of the likes of Skyfall (12.6%) and KWS Zyatt (12.7%)

“With no issues around any of its physical qualities, Crusoe has become universally accepted by its growers and the millers as being a solid Group 1 which also meets export specifications, and this year’s harvest results confirm its position as one of the most consistently performing Group 1 varieties.”

He said it had stood out over a wide range differing seasons and challenges because of its robust and consistent disease resistance, good standing ability and agronomics. “Septoria and yellow rust are by far the biggest threats in any season and Crusoe continues to show good resistance to both.”

He acknowledged its inherent weakness to brown rust –Crusoe’s RL rating dropped from 6 to 4 on the 2015/16 list – but said this is relatively easy to control providing growers are observant and act early if pressure is high.

“Medium maturity helps with an orderly harvest especially for larger growers, and this has helped with this year’s stop-start harvest. Crusoe’s bright green colouration is retained longer than most other varieties mainly due to excellent resistance to mildew, yellow rust and septoria tritici.”

“Feedback from the field has sometimes alluded to the fact that the variety can be difficult to thrash out due to its tight glumes, but when the weather causes serious delays, such as this year, this characteristic ensures both yield and quality do not deteriorate, when other varieties have suffered,” he added.

At Nocton Farm, part of Beeswax Dyson Farming, a field yielded 11.46t/ha, with a protein content of 14.16%. Agronomist Ben Abell was pleased with the results in an unpredictable season: “We have grown Crusoe since 2012 and put about 600ha of Crusoe into the ground every year, 100ha of this is grown for seed, the rest for milling which we sell onto various merchants.

“This particular 55 ha field was drilled on November 6 at a seed rate of 400seeds/m2 and established well. We always drill Crusoe behind vining peas as the residual nitrogen helps the it achieve protein specification. That said, the crop received 195kg N in total, which also included 40kg of Nufol as a late protein spray.”

Inputs are always tailored to the season: “This year we had a dry spring so fungicide inputs were lower than normal. We do keep an eye on brown rust as this is a weakness of the variety, and tailor our programme accordingly, so it’s not an issue.

“The crop was harvested on September 2 and this was its best performance in the seven years we have grown it. However, year on year Crusoe is always a consistently good yielder.”