BYDV resistant wheat – putting trust in new technology

Publish on August 31, 2023
Reading time : < 1 min
Last season was the worst for barley yellow dwarf virus that David Huish has seen. As well as the usual problem areas, it appeared in new locations not usually associated with the disease.

“I saw BYDV in wheat for the first time ever on our family farm in Yorkshire last season,” says David, who is seeds sales manager for Dalton Seeds. “But it has been a problem everywhere, due to the mild autumn and the loss of Deter, which gave such reliable control in the past.”

David says RGT Grouse, RAGT’s latest BYDV-resistant wheat, is being tried on the farm this autumn, and he is advising customers who had BYDV in their crops to do the same.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s a variety to put the whole farm down to, but we really need to see how this technology works in practice and how to get the best out of the variety agronomically.

“On a lot of farms Grouse could do a specific job and that’s where I see it fitting in. For example, it would be well worth trying on high-risk areas, such as more distant, difficult land that might not be the easiest to spray.”

Although the variety’s slow growth habit suits early establishment, ­Dalton’s seed crop demonstrated the variety’s resilience when sown later. “It was drilled later than we wanted, towards the end of November.

“It came up really slowly, but when it did catch up it shot away and looked really good. Yield was comparable to Graham sown at a similar time.

“I would be looking to sow 175-200 seeds/sq m from early to mid-September, then 200-300 seeds to mid October, and 300-350 from mid to late October. It has a prostrate growth habit and tillers strongly, so you don’t want it to get too thick.

“The variety is definitely manageable for disease – you do need to keep on top of Septoria, but people are still growing Gleam and Skyscraper, and we cope with those. RGT Grouse won’t be any worse. And you don’t have to worry about lodging, which is a real positive.”

Another major pull is the variety’s double resistance – as well as resistance to BYDV, the variety also features orange wheat blossom midge resistance. “This is the whole package, offering security through season,” says David.

“Being a new variety people are less willing to experiment, but this double resistance is why people will try it – it’s a tool to use on farm, in a specific situation.

“Without doubt there will be market pull for insecticide-free wheat, especially in the human food chain, which at the moment is unobtainable. Farmers also want the trait – they would like to make saving on chemicals and make management easier – they don’t want to be spraying multiple times in the autumn. In addition, the SFI payment means they get the technology for nothing.”

David anticipates even better things from RAGT’s breeding programme. “We’re at the start of this technology and it is going to get much more mainstream as even better varieties come through.

“It’s an unknown quantity for many – they need to see the technology in action, learn to trust it and go from there.”

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