Pipeline wheats

Two wheats from RAGT are vying to become Recommended List candidates this autumn. We take a look at their characteristics and speak to two growers who will be trying commercial areas of the new varieties this season.

RGT Zinzan

A high quality wheat aimed at the top end of the Group 2 sector, RGT Zinzan produces very high yields of excellent quality grain.

It scores 100.2% of controls for yield on the 2018-21 AHDB report of National List and Recommended List varieties, just behind the current highest Group 2 variety on the RL but ahead of the other two and all its RLT Candidate rivals.

RGT Zinzan posted an impressively high Hagberg falling number of 310 during NL trials, which along with its very bold grain at 77.5kg/hl and good levels of protein suggests it will find plenty of demand from end users. This high grain quality reflects its RGT Skyfall/Trinity/RGT Illustrious parentage.

The variety is also rated positive as bread wheat for export (ukp) opening up further marketing opportunities.

Growers will benefit from good agronomics, including resistance to orange wheat blossom midge and the presence of the Pch1 eyespot resistance gene. Disease scores are 5.7 for Septoria tritici, 8 for brown rust, 5 for yellow rust and 7 for mildew, and the variety has stiff straw, making for a very manageable package.

RGT Zinzan is relatively fast developing in the autumn, and has inherited Skyfall’s broad leaves, which make a good-looking winter stand. It’s no slouch in the spring either, with a ripening score of +1 day compared with Skyfall.

It can be drilled up to the end of February, adding welcome flexibility to growers concerned about unpredictable autumn weather.

Limited quantities of commercial seed will be available next autumn, with a full launch expected in autumn 2023.

Hopes are high for RGT Zinzan

A 6ha block of RGT Zinzan is being put to the test on some well bodied land at Heathcote Farms, near Toddington in Bedfordshire. The crop was drilled in early October at 165kg/ha after winter linseed and was showing well by early November.

“It looks to have some nice vigour and I’m looking forward to seeing how it performs,” says sprayer/drill operator Matt Fuller. “Quality looks good – we grow 80% milling wheats and we need dependable varieties.”

RGT Zinzan’s bold grain and good Hagberg figures are a good start, and its agronomics are pretty sound, he says. “We’d need to keep an eye on Septoria as that can be a problem on this farm, although the variety does have a pretty reasonable score.

“If we do go with it then we’d aim to drill it in October. It looks as though it develops quite quickly, so there’s no problem there, and I like the fact it can be drilled to the end of February, so if we do run into another tough autumn we don’t have to worry about switching to spring wheat.”

RGT Wilkinson

Aimed squarely at RL Group 3, RGT Wilkinson has a treated yield score that is 1.4 percentage points higher than LG Astronomer on the four-year AHDB NL/RL report.

As well as good biscuit-making potential, RGT Wilkinson is also rated medium for distilling. Thanks to its exceptional regional yield consistency, it can be expected to deliver the goods from the far north to the south coast, where it could attract export interest thanks to its positive soft wheat export (uks) rating. Earliness of ripening is Skyfall +1.

Officially this RGT Pembroke/Evolution//Dickens cross scores 8 for mildew, 7 for yellow rust, 5 for brown rust, 7 for eyespot (thanks to the Pch1 gene) and 5 for septoria, topping Barrel and Skyscraper and just half a point behind Gleam.

However, as there was insufficient data during NL1, the septoria figure is based mainly on 2021 data , which was an extremely high-pressure year for the disease. RAGT technical sales manager, Cathy Hooper points out that on her tour of official and independent trials, the variety stood out as one of the cleaner varieties she saw.

The average score across five UK AHDB untreated sites was 30%, only a few points above Gleam but well below Barrel’s 50% and Skyscraper’s 40%. There was very little yellow rust to be seen.

The variety has a very useful untreated yield score of 83 and short stiff straw, suggesting it will be dependable and simple to manage.

Tough test in Scotland

Murray Cooper is trying 5ha of RGT Wilkinson on recently rented light stony land near Mains of Thornton, near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire.

“The crop follows continuous spring barley so the field is not the best for fertility. It is already looking for nitrogen as growth hasn’t stopped in this mild weather – it’s 16°C and its mid November.”

The crop was drilled on 13 October at 200kg/ha, after ploughing and pressing. “We’ve not had three continuously dry days since the middle of September so we’ve been grabbing opportunities when we can,” says Murray.

Germination and emergence was good, even in a wetter area in the middle of the field. “RGT Wilkinson doesn’t seem to have any problem with vigour. It’s all come through.

“The variety has short dark leaves and looks very different to the Skyscraper that went in on the same day, which is 3 inches taller already. At the moment I don’t know which I prefer, but the crop looks well set up for the winter.”

Although his RGT Wilkinson is being grown conventionally for now, Murray is considering converting all his conventional land into organic.

“If that’s the case I’ll be growing it organically from April. It looks like it will sit better that Skyscraper as far as disease profile is concerned, and it has a slightly better untreated yield. My agronomist is looking at some new natural fungicides, and we will be trying some microbial products to help fix nitrogen.”

* We’ll be keeping tabs on both these crops and will report on the findings at key points during the season.

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