RAGT fast-tracks ‘insecticide-free’ wheats

RAGT hosted hundreds of growers, merchants and agronomists from across the country at the company’s Ickleton, Cambridgeshire trials site during June.

The work includes several new projects that aim to help growers get the best from their RAGT varieties, taking into account changing methods driven by political and economic demands.

Here’s our pick of what was on show.

RAGT fast-tracks ‘insecticide-free’ wheats

The first winter wheat varieties with resistance to both barley yellow dwarf virus and orange wheat blossom midge are expected to be launched commercially in autumn 2023, offering the prospect of insecticide-free wheat to many growers.

RAGT Seeds is fast-tracking seed production of two varieties up for full Recommended List consideration in 2023.

Both varieties are Group 4 hard types, like RGT Wolverine, which in 2019 became the first commercial wheat in Europe with BYDV resistance. However, the new Group 4s are very different prospects, said Tom Dummett, RAGT’s arable product manager.

“When it comes to yield potential and disease resistance these new Group 4s are without doubt a big improvement – and they have OWBM resistance. They are also better suited for early sowing, which is where BYDV-resistant varieties will come into their own.”

Their dual resistance means many crops won’t have to be sprayed with insecticides at all, which is already causing millers users to prick up their ears, he said.

Fortunately, RAGT has three very promising milling wheats resistant to both pests that are excelling in screening trials and, if they make the grade, will be ready for launch in 2025.

“We have a very large pipeline of varieties mostly with virus resistance and midge resistance. All different backgrounds, all different quality classes, but these milling wheats look particularly exciting,” Tom said.

“Two of the three have an RGT Illustrious background, and one has Skyfall. They have been extensively tested by end users and all are labelled as high-quality bread wheats.”

Robust resistance

The resistance gene, Bdv2, was introduced from a wild goat grass and has been used commercially in Australia for two decades and has proved robust, with no signs of breaking down.

RAGT has also been testing the concept in the UK under extreme pressure for the past three seasons, comparing several of the company’s near-market, high-performance BYDV-resistant varieties against a selection of widely grown Recommended List wheats.

As in previous years, the current BYDV-resistant wheats plots are showing no symptoms obviously associated with the disease, but conventional varieties are all affected, some severely.

All the inoculated conventional winter wheats exhibited severe BYDV symptoms and produced lower yields, up to 18% last year, said Tom.

All wheats containing the Bdv2 gene will be sold under RAGT’s new Genserus brand (genetic security virus). A new logo will be used on all branding, and each variety will begin with the letter G, ensuring the resistance technology stands out from the pack.

Learn more about our current and future BYDV resistant varieties here.

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