Time to give BYDV-resistant wheats a try

Publish on August 30, 2023
Reading time : < 1 min
Last season was something of a wake-up call for many wheat growers when it comes to barley yellow dwarf virus.

In all areas of England the T-Sum 170 threshold, which indicates the emergence of the second generation of aphids responsible for the spread of BYDV within crops, was reached four times between mid September and the end of November, with a fifth in January, according to AHDB data.

In theory, growers should have applied a pyrethroid aphicide to crops each time the threshold was breached, which means even early October-drilled crops should have at least three sprays in the more susceptible areas such as the south, south east and south west of England.

Many growers managed to keep disease dampened down, but BYDV was still visible in many fields up and down the country and, in cases where growers were unable to apply a pyrethroid spray, symptoms – and yield loss – were often all too obvious.

It is difficult to pinpoint actual yield loss to BYDV, particularly last season due to other factors such as high levels of foliar disease and mid-season drought, but AHDB states that in wheat, yield losses on untreated crops averages 8%, but can rise to 60% at the extreme.

Unfortunately, a lot of growers are now much more aware of the damage that BYDV can inflict, following last season’s exceptional pressure.

It is little surprise that interest in RAGT’s BYDV-resistant wheats, marketed under the Gensersus brand, is increasing.

Genserus stands for genetic security virus and denotes RAGT’s winter wheat varieties that carry the gene that confers resistance to barley yellow dwarf virus. The trait offers protection from the day the wheat is planted to the day it is harvested, for less than the cost of a single pyrethroid spray, greatly simplifying crop management and benefiting the environment.

RGT Grouse is the latest in the pipeline of Genserus varieties. As well as offering all the above advantages, this Group 4 hard wheat has the added benefit of resistance to orange wheat blossom midge, which will enable many growers to produce insecticide-free wheat, which has obvious attractions within all markets, and offers the chance of securing an SFI payment of £45/ha.

Take no chances

Historically, BYDV pressure may not have been as high in the north of England as the southern hotspots, but Nigel Britland, Wynnstay’s national arable sales manager, says growers can no longer afford to take chances, given that even low-level damage saps profits.

“BYDV is becoming more of an issue and has not been easy to solve. Most growers have got BYDV on farm, particularly this season. It is something we are going to have to address,” says Nigel.

“Pyrethroid sprays have to be managed, are not ideal environmentally and are subject to the weather, which is changing. Last autumn a lot of growers didn’t manage to get any BYDV spray on at all.”

Nigel is urging his customers to take a closer look at RGT Grouse. “This variety gives growers the opportunity to see how this trait might fit in with their management systems. Grouse may not have the highest yield or best disease resistance but it is certainly no slouch, even in the absence of BYDV.

“We had one seed crop and it’s done well, producing a Gleam-type yield performance with the benefits of ease of management and no pyrethroid use.

“I believe growers should put a proportion of their area into RGT Grouse this autumn. I think there is a lot of merit in seeing how it suits – at some stage BYDV is going to become a big problem so why wait?

“The only real way you can control the disease is via resistance and there is some very promising material coming through the pipeline, so it is well worth preparing.”

RGT Grouse

  • BYDV resistant
  • OWBM resistant
  • Suits early sowing when BYDV risk highest
  • High tillering variety, excellent tiller retention
  • Very good lodging resistance
  • Good specific weight
  • Hard feed wheat
  • Suits all soil types
  • High yields


For more information on RGT Grouse and Genserus, you can keep reading :

Good prospects for BYDV-resistant wheats in the South West

Successful debut for RGT Grouse in Norfolk

Tough test for RGT Grouse in Suffolk

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