Breeding varieties with a range of ‘common’ traits such as stable higher yields, robust disease resistance, as well as sector ‘specific’ traits like colour in marrowfats or protein content in white peas, offers UK growers the best opportunity to realise the full potential of pulses, says Will Pillinger.
“It’s about making sure that we produce varieties suitable for UK growers by offering the highest yielding varieties with agronomic characteristics that help to mitigate many of the challenges of the growing season,” he says.
Under Mr Pillinger’s lead, Limagrain’s combinable pea breeding programme focusses on producing pea varieties with the best possible resistance to lodging, a range of maturities to suit different environments and robust disease resistance to downy and powdery mildew, Asochyta, root rot (Aphanomyces) and Fusarium.
“Depending on what markets the peas are being grown for there is a requirement for specific traits, for example colour retention in large blues and marrowfats, to protein levels in white peas,” he adds.
Will quotes the example of newly PGRO Recommended large blue pea LG Stallion, which based on its high yields and excellent colour retention already holds 7% of the market.
“LG Stallion is listed at yielding 100% over control in official trials. This yield improves on farm as LG Stallion holds the world pea yield record from harvest 2017, where it yielded 6.47 t/ha in the Lincolnshire Wolds.”
“Significantly, over several seasons this yield has shown itself to be stable, and even in the difficult season of 2018, LG Stallion still managed to produce excellent yields – 5.6 t/ha at 14.76% moisture.”
“Marrowfats for human consumption or micronizing need to offer excellent colour retention, taste and shape. These factors, along with LG Stallion’s excellent standing power and good disease resistance, make for a really good package,” he points out.
Yield is the most important factor when breeding beans with standing ability following closely behind, points out Mr Pillinger.
“So, our breeding programme focusses on this, as well as building in more specific traits such as winter hardiness, maturity, plant tillering, water logging and drought tolerance.”
“We are always looking for ways to increase the protein content in beans within our programme and have had success with the spring bean LG Cartouche, which has the highest protein content of any bean on the RL of 29.1% – 1.6% higher than Fanfare.”