With the top seven oilseed rape varieties on the 2021/22 AHDB Recommended List, and some of the highest yielding wheat and barley varieties, there is much interest in Limagrain UK’s breeding programme.
In response to this, last autumn Limagrain invested in a wide range of demonstration variety trials, at both of its sites at Woolpit near Bury St Edmunds and Rothwell in Lincolnshire.
“We put the plots in hoping that by this summer we would once again be able to come together for what we believe is a really valuable exercise in helping growers make the best informed variety choices, and one that has not been possible for the last year,” said Tom Barker, Limagrain’s cereals & pulses product manager.
“We have been thrilled with the response from both the seed trade and growers who have enjoyed technical updates on all of our leading OSR and cereal varieties.”
Key messages to come from Limagrain ’s arable development officer, Liam Wilkinson, were that Limagrain’s OSR genetics are the strongest and most robust that any breeder has seen for a long time.
“Our focus on using genetics to mitigate risk in the oilseed rape crop has been very successful and is fully reflected in the current RL.”
“However, it is important to understand exactly how these genetics translate in the field, so that the correct varieties are grown in the right situations, and that the traits are protected.”
He recognises the question most growers will be asking, is ‘when is the right time to drill OSR?’, reflecting the challenges the crop faces from autumn drought, weeds, and adult Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB)?’.
“If a plant can get up and out of the ground, and grow away quickly in the autumn, producing biomass, it has a much better chance of survival.”
After all, a well-established plant with a good-sized canopy, that’s not too large and has good roots, will over-winter better. A well-established closed canopy can also have a substantial effect on weed competition, and should not be underestimated, and a long tap root is essential for a plant to access the resources to get going again in the spring.
“However, OSR is like wheat; there are varieties that suit early drilling and those that prefer to be drilled later, so it’s important to understand the nuances of each variety.”
Mr Wilkinson uses the example of varieties that have strong autumn vigour like LG Aviron, which can drill into mid-Sept if the seedbed conditions allow.
“If it is grown too early (in good conditions), it can develop a large a canopy which will require management.”
“However, popular varieties such as LG Antigua and Aurelia, can be drilled earlier as they establish and put on biomass well in the autumn, which means that they get up and away quickly, but then they tend to sit in the winter, so their canopies do not get too big.”
“The message is to be patient for the right conditions; OSR can actually be drilled later than you think.”
Seed rate is also an important consideration he adds. “You want to be aiming for 25/30 plants/m2, for the established crop.
Limagrain has produced a variety guide for its OSR Portfolio. This covers information on drilling dates, autumn and spring vigour scores, traits, and much more.
To access this information, please click here.
One of the stars of the show, LG Astronomer, is an exciting new biscuit wheat that offers one of the most complete agronomic packages of any winter wheat available on the AHDB Recommend List for 2021/22.
“Because of its high specific weight (77.8 kg/hl), all-round agronomic package, and strong yield – in the east it scored 102% – it ticks a lot of boxes for on-farm security, which is what growers are looking for,” says Limagrain’s arable technical manager, Ron Granger.
LG Prince, which is the highest yielding biscuit variety on the RL, does particularly well in the east, scoring 104% of control, and is suitable for early and late drilling spots, and also performs well as a second wheat, he says.
“LG Illuminate is popular in the north and has a solid specific weight of 76.6 kg/hl.”
“It meets specification for distilling and export, as well as being a biscuit wheat, so it offers growers a wide range of market opportunities.”
“These are great packages; we know that UK farmers are very good at growing biscuit wheats and get really good results, but any of these varieties yield well enough to be grown as feed wheats too.”
Moving on to Group 4 wheats, Mr Granger points out LG Skyscraper is still the highest-yielding winter wheat available on the RL, and continues to deliver these high yields across all situations.
“The variety is a KWS Santiago cross, and it ticks all the boxes; it works in a first wheat or second wheat slot and because it is suitable for late drilling and quick off the blocks in terms of speed of growth, it is good if you are dealing with a black-grass situation.”
“It has bold grain quality with a high specific weight, and it is widely used by distillers and in soft grists, giving LG Skyscraper multiple market outlets.”
Also on show were new promising Group 4 Candidate hard varieties, LG Farrier and LG Typhoon.
“LG Farrier has consistently high yields, and a good resistance profile for mildew and rusts, whilst LG Typhoon has potentially one of the highest septoria resistance scores, and fits across wide drilling windows, including earlier drilling.”
Mr Granger notes that Group 1 milling wheat, Crusoe, remains very popular with both millers and farmers, and is holding up well agronomically too.
In the second half of June, even the untreated Crusoe generally looked green and healthy, with the promise of a good crop this year.
“It has high protein, good quality grain and a stable Hagberg, alongside an excellent disease package that includes a 9 for yellow rust – which has held up well despite the changing pathogens.”
The breeder is working to develop the next generation Crusoe, and the variety will also be used as a parent to convey the best of its genes.
Limagrain’s varietal offering for Group 2 is also looking strong, with varieties such as LG Detroit and newer material waiting in the wings.
LG Detroit has orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) resistance, it works as a first or second wheat, and looks to be competitive with KWS Siskin on yield.
“We are currently assessing a number of different seed rates to build a robust data set, so we can see which gives the best results for farmers in all sorts of conditions.”
Of Limagrain’s winter barley varieties, LG Mountain is still at the top end of the highest yielding 2-rows, at 104% of control.
“LG Mountain has consistently produced these high yields, since it was brought to the market in 2016, right through to 2020 – which is now recognised to be one of the most challenging growing seasons for many years.”
“This is a really important attribute in a variety, as growers know that whatever the season throws at them, it is able to cope.”
“Over this time, LG Mountain has also demonstrated its ability to produce high yields in both light and heavy soils, showing its flexibility within the rotation.”
“This excellent yield resilience can be attributed to the variety’s good agronomic characteristics of short straw, good disease resistance and great grain quality,” he adds.