Our demo field open days have started – discover here what we’re showing during those days !

Publish on June 6, 2024
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Growers, merchants and end users will be able to get up close to some of the most innovative developments emerging from RAGT Seeds’ breeding programmes when the company’s open days return this summer.

In part 1  we looked at making more of SFI opportunities, new wheat varieties and novel crops for AD biomass.

In this article we kick off with a look at RAGT’s trials on BYDV resistant wheat, now in their fifth year…


BYDV wheat trials – Genserus varieties versus the rest

RAGT’s long-term trial assessing the performance of its near-market, high-performance BYDV-resistant Genserus varieties continues this season.

Both current and future pipeline Genserus varieties are being grown under high virus pressure alongside the main Recommended List wheats.

Plots received commercial on-farm inputs – a full fungicide programme, growth regulators and standard nitrogen applications, but no insecticides at all.

The plots were sown early in September. Some were inoculated several times during the season with BYDV-infected aphids to create as much disease pressure as possible. Others were infected during autumn or spring only, to observe any difference between timings of infections.

“Over the past four years the trials have vividly demonstrated the effectiveness of BYDV resistance in Genserus varieties, even under intense pressure from the disease, and the resulting yield advantages over non-resistant varieties under these conditions,” says arable products manager Jack Holgate.

Last year, all Genserus varieties took the top seven places. RGT Grouse, RAGT’s current commercial Group 4-type Genserus variety, outyielded Champion by 8.3%, equivalent to £173 extra income at a grain price of £180/t. In addition, the SFI scheme offers £45/ha for growing a crop without any insecticide.

RGT Goldfinch, a Genserus variety with bread-making potential, gave 14% more yield compared with KWS Extase and 11% over Skyfall.

“As in previous years, this season’s BYDV-resistant wheat plots are showing no symptoms obviously associated with the disease, while conventional varieties are all affected to varying degrees, with some already showing significant effects,” says Jack.


Trio of new oilseed rapes

Three new varieties take top billing in the oilseed rape variety plots, all of them the result of RAGT’s decision several years ago to reset its OSR breeding programme.

According to managing director Lee Bennett, this new material from RAGT offers a step change. “We have a broad selection of material coming forward, the products of two separate sterility systems in our hybrid breeding programmes which gives access to a wide range of traits.

“This is helping us develop varieties that will have something for everyone – varieties that fit the farm, rather than the other way round.”

RGT Kanzzas

RGT Kanzzas could prove a very popular choice thanks to its excellent vigour, before and after winter, and exceptional resistance to light leaf spot.

“This is a big biomass variety, with a very stiff, upright, but not overly tall canopy.,” says Lee. “It has pod shatter resistance and its on-farm performance is exceptional.”

RGT Blackmoon

This variety is best suited to less fertile or exposed sites, or for later drilling, where strong early vigour is key.

It has very good phoma resistance and is resistant to TUYV. It is a taller type, with very stiff straw and an upright canopy with good resistance to pod shatter, making for an easy harvest.

“The big take-home message is that this variety flies out of the ground,” says Lee. “If you want serious get up and go, then RGT Blackmoon has no equal.”

RGT Ceos

RGT Ceos is another vigorous variety that contains some real game-changing characteristics. Its strong disease-resistance package includes RAGT’s unique source of TuYV resistance, and it has excellent resistance to pod shatter, all of which support very high yields.


Winter wheats – how late can you go?

Particularly pertinent after a wet autumn and winter, as this season, RAGT is asking the question just how late some winter wheat varieties can be sown in the spring before opting to leave the seed in the bag.

“RGT Bairstow needs very little vernalisation, and none needs less than Skyfall, so we’ve planted those alongside claimed late-sowers from other breeders and our own spring wheats in development,” says Lee.

“We planted the plots seriously late, at the last week of March, so it will be interesting to see which of the true winter varieties ones make it into ear and produce an acceptable margin after what has been a relatively mild late winter/early spring.”


Alternative cereals

A range of RAGT cereals species will also be on show, including lines from RAGT’s new winter barley breeding programme, spring barleys, winter triticale, winter and spring oats and durum wheat.


Arable newcomers?  Crops with growth potential

RAGT Seeds is exploring a range of crops that have yet to gain a firm foothold in UK arable rotations.

“Being part of a multi-species breeding company, we have a great opportunity to explore the potential of lesser-known species such as sunflower and soyabean,” says Camille Florin, RAGT Seeds’ commercial development agronomist.

“These are not usually suited for the UK climate, but climate change is likely to change that, perhaps sooner that we think.”


Soya beans

Global demand of soya beans has increased, including the UK where it is an important constituent in animal feeds. Most is sourced from South America.

“There is a potentially very big domestic market for UK-grown soya beans,” says Camille. “That is potentially very good news for farmers and will help the country reduce its dependency on, in some cases, less sustainable imports.”

RAGT has direct access to very early varieties that could fit into the UK market, she adds, including RGT Sigma, which is currently going through National List trials.



Sunflowers are also becoming more viable as a spring crop in the UK. End markets include oil, biogas and bird seed.

“They could soon be a realistic alternative to other oilseeds, including OSR which has declined markedly in recent years, largely due to flea beetle pressure,” says Camille.

“RGT Capitoll is the earliest variety in RAGT’s portfolio and could fit really well into the UK market, and we have another variety that we are testing with higher oil content.”


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