RGT Highgrove showing good potential in South East
RGT Highgrove looks a good fit for growers on the lighter soils in Kent and Sussex where wheats are prone to burning up in the dry springs and early summers that the region often experiences.
Andrew Bourne, seeds manager at Mersham-based T Denne and Sons, has been keeping an eye on northern French material for the past few seasons.
“We’ve seen other varieties that have French genetics, like Extase, which have earlier maturity and better resilience meaning they are less prone to dying on their feet.
“I spoke to a few breeders to see what they might have in the pipeline that ticked the boxes for this area, where we grow predominantly Group 1 and 2 wheats.”
Nothing really appealed apart from RGT Highgrove, a variety that contains English and French genetics and was selected at RAGT UK’s headquarters at Ickleton in Cambridgeshire.
“This process has already produced a proven early-maturing type in Skyfall,” says Andrew. “We’d seen what that variety can do in the early sector of the market, so we thought there might be some linkage there.”
Although RGT Highgrove is a Group 4 type it has very good grain characteristics, including a high specific weight and decent Hagberg, with potential for inclusion in the human food chain.
“As an offering to a grower in this area, it’s not too much of a leap of faith,” says Andrew. “Add on its decent straw characteristics and a reasonable disease profile and you can see it’s a step up from a standard feed wheat.”
Although quite tall, the variety stands well. “It will suit lighter land in the east of Kent and across the North and South Downs.”
RGT Highgrove’s unique Septoria resistance will be a key attraction if it continues to live up to expectations, Andrew maintains. “I’d like to see for three years so we can see how it copes with a range of seasonal factors, but I do like this aspect of it.
“We know how to manage rusts, but Septoria is more difficult, so if we can bring in another scale of resistance and resilience, we have to do it.”
Judging by what he has seen, RGT Highgrove also makes a decent second wheat.
“We’ve included it as part of our mix of Group 4 varieties as I thought it had a few extra stories to tell.
“I’m not looking for a stand-out performance of one characteristic in one year, but consistency of traits over a number of years – that’s what attracts growers.
“RGT Highgrove has performed well and has maintained its yield potential and good specific weights in dry years, ensuring marketability. If it holds up and show consistency over three years that will give us real confidence in it.”