Updated: Oct 28, 2021
By Dr Cathy Hooper, technical sales manager, RAGT Seeds
RGT Illustrious has been delivering high yields of top-quality breadmaking wheat since it was first listed in 2016. The variety remains a firm favourite with many growers who tried it back then, and it is still very popular with millers and is widely accepted for inclusion in the UK grist.
This proven commercial performance, coupled with its good all-round disease resistance, makes it a great choice for any growers looking for a “new” Group 1 this season.
RGT Illustrious came from the same stable as Hereward, which was the mainstay for UK millers for quite some time. Hereward possessed a unique quality that was hard to beat. RGT Illustrious has similar quality properties and bakes a great loaf of bread, even at lower proteins. Like Hereward it is also a perfect partner to other varieties in the milling grist.
When it was recommended, it sat alongside five other Group 1s on the Recommended List. For a number of years the bread-making sector consisted of Hereward, Solstice and Cordiale. Then, like buses, four new Group 1s came along in quick succession: Gallant, Crusoe, Skyfall and Trinity.
They say in life timing is key and when RGT Illustrious was recommended a year after Trinity. There were now six Groups 1s plus Cordiale, an honorary Group 1, and the Group 2 variety Siskin that quickly gained market share. In terms of yield, RGT Illustrious sat in the middle of the Group1s on the 2016 RL.
Fast forward to 2021 and most of RGT Illustrious’s counterparts have gone. Since it was recommended, only one Group 1 variety (Zyatt) has been added to the RL.
So what is the reason behind the longevity of RGT Illustrious? It may appear not to have the headline yield on the RL, but, statistically speaking, its five-year mean shows it is likely to yield as well as any of the current Group 1s wheat on that list.
But where RGT Illustrious really comes into its own is its unique combination of Group 1 quality and disease resistance. It consistently meets and exceeds end-users specification and has the best overall foliar disease scores of all the current Group 1s, with no major weaknesses.
So, if you’ve had enough of chasing yellow or brown rust YR/BR and are thinking of giving RGT Illustrious a go, how do you get the best from the variety?
It is a relatively slow developer throughout the autumn, so can be drilled earlier than Skyfall. It performs best when sown early, but can be drilled up to the end of January.
RGT Illustrious is low tillering, so keep seed rates up and position it on more fertile fields. In terms of nitrogen application, grow it in a first wheat position, but treat it as a second wheat and feed it early doors to reduce tiller loss in the spring.
It is a tall variety (similar to Solstice), but has good straw strength, with the added bonus of Pch1 eyespot resistance, so this should reduce the risk of lodging.
AHDB RL 2021. Drill RGT Illustrious early as a first wheat and avoid light land.
Its maturity profile is similar to Solstice, which a lot of experienced quality-wheat growers will be more than familiar with.
“UK millers welcome the news that there is renewed interest from growers in the breadmaking variety RGT Illustrious. This variety was granted full Group 1 status in 2017 after millers were impressed with its baking quality, which was maintained even at lower protein levels, as well as high water absorptions – a good feature for a breadmaking variety. As an established Group 1 variety, RGT Illustrious has wide market acceptance amongst UK millers.” UK Flour Millers 24.9.21
Download the RGT Illustrious data sheet: Please click here.
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