BENNINGTON Winter Wheat

"Thankfully feed wheat prices are currently back to a relatively healthy export price and this, along with intensifying disease pressures, appear to have had a lasting impact on how farmers assess the relative merits of a variety. When wheat prices are low, growing varieties with a weak agronomic package is tough. In these circumstances a single point difference in a variety’s Septoria resistance rating can be considerably more valuable than a yield difference of say 3-4% – an important observation to bear in mind when assessing the new 2017-18 Group 4 soft entrants. Outside of the key northern distilling and feed markets, soft feed wheat is popular in areas with access to ports and export markets. This not only broadens market opportunities but premiums can be achieved with varieties that meet the necessary uks specifi cation. The 2017/18 RLs proved particularly interesting for soft feed wheats with six new additions to the Group 4 list, the fi rst in four years. Established varieties in this group include Leeds and Revelation, but the time was right for new entrants like Bennington to come in with disease concerns mounting for Leeds in particular. Agrii’s in-house trials put varieties under more farmercentric conditions than those applied for RL trials, using more
conventional spray programmes, for example. This generates complementary data that pushes the robustness of a variety in the face of arguably more realistic growing conditions. We start to assess varieties at an early stage of their development so we’ve been assessing the best of the new RL entrants for some time. Agrii took Bennington into trial two years ago on the basis of its potential to outperform all other soft feed varieties. It now sits at the top of the group in terms of both treated and untreated yield,
at 104 and 90 respectively, closely matches Leeds in terms of specifi c weight at around 77kg/hl, and offers comparable disease resistance to Revelation, with an AHDB Septoria rating of 6.2 (c.f. 6.4). Furthermore, Bennington has a very different growth habit and maturity profi le to Revelation. Bennington is faster in its autumn development and early to mature and, in this respect, Bennington and Revelation complement one another. Bennington initially stood out in terms of its yield and disease resistance and, although we’ve seen a drop in yellow rust resistance, we still regard it very positively in this respect. Its Septoria and mildew resistance ratings are good but Agrii advice on brown rust, a disease that often occurs later in the season driven by warm, dry conditions, is a proactive approach. Performance has been particularly strong on light soils, a niche previously occupied by Leeds, and although it stands quite tall, its straw stiffness is good. The only other advice is to keep seed rates up since tillering capacity is relatively low. Agrii in-house data backs the early assessment of Bennington and indicates that growers can consider this new variety as either a fi rst or second wheat." By David Leaper and Barry Barker, Agrii

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