RGT Wolverine, Europe's first winter wheat with resistance to barley yellow dwarf virus is continuing to deliver outstanding control of the disease even under extreme pressure.

Speaking at a recent RAGT Seeds open day, cereals and OSR product manager Tom Dummett commented: "It is clear to see from trials and field experience that the variety offers exceptionally cost-effective, season-long protection against BYDV.

"That’s very good news for growers and it is estimated that 82% of the wheat crop area is at risk from BYDV. Yield losses in untreated crops average 8%, but can reach 60%. However, the withdrawal of neonicotinoid seed treatments has had a significant impact on BYDV management for the past couple of seasons, leaving pyrethroid insecticides as the only remaining chemical option to control the aphid vectors."

RGT Wolverine, which will be widely available for sowing this autumn, offers protection from the day it is planted to the day it is cut, assuming a seed rate of 175kg/ha, the resistance trait costs just £15/ha.

"That is exceptional value for money, especially when you consider that neonicotinoid seed treatments, which were widely used, had been costing farmers about £23/ha for six weeks’ control,” added Mr Dummett.

"This was often followed by a pyrethroid to extend protection by a week or two. Including application costs, that added a further £17/ha, taking the total to £40/ha."

Now neonicotinoids have been withdrawn, farmers facing similar aphid pressure might need to spray pyrethroids two times, costing £34/ha, and probably more, often with questionable results.

"Pyrethroids only have a relative short period of activity, which means repeat applications may be needed. In addition, resistant aphids can be found in increasing numbers across the UK," he continued. "Assuming an average 8% loss on an 8t/ha crop worth £160/t, the cost of Wolverine’s genetic solution equates to a return on investment of almost £88/ha.

"It’s a no-brainer, especially when you consider it also greatly eases management, removes the need to monitor aphid populations and benefits the environment. Growers who choose RGT Wolverine really can forget about BYDV control."

Extreme pressure

RGT Wolverine – a very high yielding hard feed wheat recently promoted to the Recommended List, –contains the Bdv2 gene which confers resistance to BYDV.

The trials at RAGT Seeds’ Ickleton site in Cambridgeshire are designed to put the trait under extreme pressure and they were sown in early September before being inoculated with virus-laden aphids four times in the autumn and four times in the spring. Plots were assessed weekly for disease symptoms from mid-April.

The variety, along with other Bdv2 pipeline varieties, shrugged off infection. However, several widely grown commercial winter wheats suffered badly, with the worst affected showing severe stunting and yellowing.

"All 13 non-Bdv2 wheats in the trial are showing symptoms, from obvious multiple infection sites to stunting throughout the plot," added Mr Dummett. "The difference between the worst-affected varieties and the Bdv2 varieties is like chalk and cheese."

In last year's trial, eight out of 10 popular conventional varieties yielded between 5% and 18% less when left untreated, whereas none of the Bdv2 lines lost yield.

No yield penalty

RGT Wolverine delivers exceptional yields even in the absence of BYDV – statistically speaking it delivers as good a yield as any hard Group 4 variety on the RL.

"Growers will not be penalised for growing it in low-BYDV years. RGT Wolverine has very early sowing potential, is stiff strawed and has good bushel weight," Mr Dummett explained.

"It performs consistently well across all regions of the UK, so it makes a good choice for any grower, wherever they farm."

RGT Wolverine – key characteristics

  • Europe’s first wheat with BYDV resistance
  • Cost-effective, season-long control
  • Very high yielding, even when BYDV is absent
  • Consistent performer in all regions
  • Excellent straw strength
  • Good grain quality