Hard wheats could help maximise Scottish farm incomes

Wheat growers in Scotland targeting the animal feed market should consider switching to new, higher-yielding hard varieties to maximise crop income.

Speaking at a recent briefing in Edinburgh, Simon Howell, managing director of RAGT Seeds, said soft wheats had dominated the market north of the border for decades, thanks to a run of excellent barn-filling varieties that were suitable for distilling as well as feed.

“This year, however, we are starting to see a few hard Group 4 feed varieties coming into the market in Scotland, with interest creeping up from Northumberland and the Borders,” he said.

“With the arrival of hard wheats such as RGT Gravity, there is every reason for this trend to continue.

“These varieties won’t be for everyone, particularly further north where distilling is the key market, but elsewhere the advantages stack up. The feed market still accounts for about half of the overall winter wheat market in Scotland.”

RGT Gravity, a new arrival on the 2018/19 Recommended List (RL), looks particularly well suited to a market that favours consistent performance, said Mr Howell.

RGT Gravity was the highest yielding variety in both years of National List trials and in RL trials. It is now the highest yielding fully recommended winter wheat in every region of the UK, on heavy and light land and as a first and second wheat.

“The variety is a three-way cross of Oakley, Scout and Santiago, and is a big biomass variety like Santiago and seems to cope with whatever is thrown at it. It has good straw strength, good bold grain and is consistent through and through.”

RGT Gravity is the first feed wheat to receive automatic recommendation to the RL for over a decade thanks to its superior yield, which is rated 106.4% of treated controls on a UK basis and for the East and West region.

However, in the North region its score jumps to 108%, giving it a clear lead of 6% over Scotland’s favourite Group 4 soft variety Leeds and 3% over newcomer Jackal.

RAGT also has a very high yielding soft alternative, RGT Universe. This did not make the RL this year due to lower than ideal alcohol yield, but it has been re-sown into the 2018 RL trial matrix.

RGT Universe is only a whisker behind RGT Gravity in the yield stakes. It was the highest yielding soft wheat in RL harvest results 2013-2017 at 104%. It performs well on heavy land and suits either early or late drilling.

Learn more about RGT Gravity here.