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Hard feed wheats are set to feature heavily again in autumn cropping plans – as growers look to bounce back from a rain-hit season.... New hard wheat varieties bring security for growers

Hard feed wheats are set to feature heavily again in autumn cropping plans – as growers look to bounce back from a rain-hit season.

Winter wheat remains the highest gross margin crop on most arable farms, with yield still seen as king for maximising returns. And hard varieties already account for more than half of the UK wheat market.

But achieving high yields when faced with more extreme and unpredictable weather will require varieties with strong agronomics and proven, consistent, performance across multiple seasons.

Genetic gains

“Farmers are increasingly looking for security on-farm,” says Ron Granger, arable technical manager for Limagrain UK. “You need a variety that delivers the right agronomics, as well as high yield.”

Limagrain has a range of new hard wheat varieties coming through its UK breeding programme. Launched two years ago, they include LG Typhoon, newcomer LG Beowulf and 2024 recommended list candidate variety LG Rebellion.

LG Typhoon is rated 9 for yellow rust resistance and 7.2 for Septoria. It also has orange wheat blossom midge (OWBM) resistance, good specific weight and a slow, prostrate growth habit that suits both early sowing and wide-row direct drilling.

Typhoon joined the recommended list in 2022 with a range of beneficial traits. “These characteristics have seen it deliver excellent consistency across different seasons and regions, and suitability for the on-farm placement we have advised.”

The variety’s suitability for early drilling could be particularly pertinent this autumn, given the likely desire by growers to avoid a repeat of last year, when many drilling plans were halted by heavy rain during October onwards.

Strong parentage

Newcomer LG Beowulf takes genetic gains a stage further. Building on its strong Costello x Gleam parentage, it delivers a range of desirable agronomic characteristics that make it the highest yielding variety on the recommended list.

With proven performance across a range of situations, soil types and regions, LG Beowulf is rated 9 for yellow rust and 6.7 for Septoria. It has stiff straw, strong tillering, OWBM resistance and good grain quality, particularly specific weight.

The variety has also inherited Gleam’s robustness and ability to be sown into a wide range of drilling dates and still deliver on yield, says Mr Granger.

Candidate variety LG Rebellion capitalises on its KWS Extase parentage to give high untreated yields. It too has a strong disease resistance, notably against yellow rust and septoria, with the additional genetics of Pch1 eyespot resistance.

LG Rebellion is also earlier maturing than KWS Extase. Unusually for a hard Group 4 variety, it has export potential thanks to its excellent grain quality.

Different boxes

“It ticks many different boxes and gives growers the option of going for something that’s a bit different to other hard feed wheats on the market,” says Mr Granger.

Meanwhile, more varieties are in the pipeline. They include two hard wheats in national list trials that could progress as candidates for 2025 – the result of several years of development, says plant breeder Phil Tailby.

“When the UK market started shifting towards hard wheats several years ago, it took a few years for breeding programmes to adapt and new hard wheat varieties to come through,” says Mr Tailby.

“But, by using powerful breeding tools, such as marker-assisted and genomic selection, we have been able to increase selection intensity, improve selection accuracy, and reduce the time needed to develop the next generation.

“This ultimately drives faster varietal improvements, delivering the traits that growers want and need in modern wheat varieties.”

New hard wheats from Limagrain

LG Typhoon

Agronomic characteristics for securing consistent yield performance over multiple seasons and regions on farm

Prostrate growth with high tillering capacity suits early drilling, direct-drill regen situations

Excellent disease resistance (especially Septoria and yellow rust) – high untreated yield, OWBM resistance

+2 maturity versus Skyfall

Good specific weight

LG Beowulf

The highest yielding variety, offering high yield potential in all regions, including the north of England.

Wide drilling window and suitability for a range of situations (1st vs 2nd wheat), and differing soil types

Excellent disease profile (especially yellow rust and Septoria), OWBM resistance, and tall, stiff straw

Similar maturity to LG Typhoon

Excellent grain quality, combining a high Hagberg and specific weight

LG Rebellion  (Candidate 2024)

High yield potential combined with the desirable agronomic characteristics of KWS Extase

Agronomics suit the main October and later drilling dates on farm. Very high untreated yield (97) reflects strong all-round disease profile

Excellent disease resistance profile – similar to KWS Extase, plus Pch1 eyespot resistance

Earlier maturing (-2 vs Skyfall)

Excellent grain quality, plusI ukp export potential