Insecticide-free bread-making wheat – without the risk

Publish on June 18, 2024
Reading time : < 1 min
The first high quality wheat with breadmaking potential that is resistant to barley yellow dwarf virus and orange wheat blossom midge will be available to UK farmers in commercial quantities this coming autumn.

RGT Goldfinch also features exceptional disease resistance and strong agronomics, which will help protect grain quality and safeguard potentially valuable milling wheat premiums even in difficult seasons.

The variety is the latest from RAGT’s breeding programme of Genserus (BYDV-resistant) wheats that provide season-long protection against BYDV. This greatly simplifies crop management and delivers targeted control, removing the need to monitor and control aphid populations for less than the cost of buying and applying a pyrethroid spray.

Lee Bennett, RAGT’s managing director, says: “BYDV resistance is great news economically and environmentally, and the addition of orange wheat blossom midge resistance is of real benefit to growers.

“Crucially, introducing these two resistances into one variety gives growers the opportunity to produce insecticide-free wheat, which we think will have obvious attractions within all markets, but particularly for crops intended for the human food chain.

“In addition, it offers growers the chance to claim £45/ha under the IPM standard of the Sustainable Farming Incentive, which goes straight onto the bottom line.”


High quality

RGT Goldfinch, a Recommended List candidate that will be considered for full recommendation this autumn, has shown plenty of promise in provisional milling and baking tests, says Lee.

“We are very encouraged from what we’ve seen in official tests as well as all the independent work we do with millers and bakers in the UK. It is showing a lot of promise as a future breadmaking variety, aided by its good protein content and excellent Hagberg score.

“It’s up there as one of the best varieties for Hagberg, which has shown to be very resilient; even during some difficult harvests it hasn’t blinked. This, combined with its medium maturity, and a bushel weight in the high 70s, means it will deliver a more reliable specification in a tough season.”


Outstanding disease resistance

RGT Goldfinch has an outstanding disease resistance profile, better than any Group 1 or 2 variety on the Recommended List. It scores 8 for mildew resistance, 9 for both yellow and brown rust resistance and 7 for Septoria tritici resistance.

“RGT Goldfinch is very clean – there are no concerns with early mildew or yellow rust and when it comes to septoria it’s cleaner than Extase,” says Lee.

“It was the cleanest variety in the National List series, and is the only variety in the NL and RL that shows resistance to all prevalent races of brown rust.”

When it comes to yield, it’s no slouch, Lee adds. In RAGT trials (harvest 2023), where plots were inoculated with BYDV-carrying aphids and received no insecticide treatment, RGT Goldfinch scored 106%, Skyfall 95% and Extase 92%.

“In RL trials it does lose some percentage points, as the stated aim of these trials is that the husbandry should be appropriate to achieve the highest quality and yield,” he says. “This means if a trial is in jeopardy, effective control measures, including insecticide, must be applied to the whole trial.

“As a result, varieties like RGT Goldfinch bred specifically to resist BYDV will always be at a disadvantage in these trials; they will never get a chance show their true potential when subjected to BYDV pressure against other varieties.”

As such, RAGT has implemented a 17-site trial matrix across the southern half of England and a further site in southern Ireland to provide an independent view of the full potential of RGT Goldfinch and other BYDV-resistant varieties.

“Some sites will be inoculated with BYDV-bearing aphids, others will be left to nature,” Lee explains. “None will receive insecticide.

“We want to demonstrate how Genserus varieties can cope with BYDV pressure whilst reducing costs and greatly easing autumn management.

“Growers can then decide for themselves whether Genserus technology should play a part in their risk management strategy.”

RGT Goldfinch NIAB Untreated plots - NIAB stand - Cereals - 11/06/2024
RGT Goldfinch NIAB Untreated plots – NIAB stand – Cereals – 11/06/2024

RGT Goldfinch NIAB Untreated plots - NIAB stand - Cereals - 11/06/2024
RGT Goldfinch NIAB Untreated plots – NIAB stand – Cereals – 11/06/2024


















Strong agronomics

RGT Goldfinch is best suited to well-bodied land and can be sown from early September, ideal for a BYDV-resistant variety, right through to the end of November, offering welcome flexibility in less-favourable autumns.

Lee recommends using a slightly higher sowing rate using 25 to 50 seeds/m2 more than normal. “RGT Goldfinch is similar to Solstice and Illustrious, tending to produce a measured amount of very strong tillers and few secondary tillers.

“This is why we get such good grain and better average proteins; we are not getting dilution from secondary tillering and the associated small green grains and demand for nitrogen.

“The variety is very good at holding on to its primary tillers, but don’t let the crop go hungry. Target it to more fertile sites with good levels of background mineral N where possible, and/or make it first on the list for early nitrogen.”

Being a clean variety, RGT Goldfinch carries plenty of biomass. “It will stand as well as anything when treated properly,” says Lee. “It has good stiff straw of medium height but is a PGR-responsive variety.

“Overall, this is a variety that is pretty much going to look after itself. It is not needy when it comes to fungicides and has no issues with either of the two major pests of winter wheat, and can be relied upon to deliver high-quality grain.”

Key Strengths:

  • Very strong disease profile
  • Clean, consistent, and sustainable
  • The UK’s first quality wheat resistant to BYDV and OWBM

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