Cost-effective BYDV control

Genetic protection against potentially devastating barley yellow dwarf virus is easy on the pocket and the environment, says Tom Dummett, cereals and OSR product manager at RAGT Seeds.

RGT Wolverine, Europe’s first winter wheat with resistance to barley yellow dwarf virus, offers the cheapest and most effective protection against the disease, costing less than a single insecticide that offers only short-term and often questionable control.

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%.

Unfortunately the withdrawal of neonicotinoid seed treatments in 2018 has had a significant impact on BYDV management, 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.

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Now neonicotinoids have been withdrawn, farmers facing similar aphid pressure as above might need to spray pyrethroids two times, costing £34/ha, and probably more, often with questionable results.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

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.

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, and it performs consistently well across all regions of the UK.

BYDV – typical control costs (£/ha)

Seed dressing and Bdv2 costed at 175kg/ha seed rate; spray costs include application

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