1. Agriculture World

Insecticide-Free Wheat Varieties Set to be Available in UK in 2023

RAGT Seed Group has developed two new hard-milling feed winter wheat varieties that are resistant to both BYDV and the orange wheat blossom midge, and it is speeding up their multiplication so that growers can drill them next year and harvest them in 2024.

Shivam Dwivedi
Wheat
Wheat

Insecticide-free winter wheat varieties are expected to be available for growers in autumn 2023 in UK, after one plant breeder developed the first wheat varieties with resistance to the crop's two main insect problems, which frequently necessitate spray treatment.

RAGT Seed Group has developed two new hard-milling feed winter wheat varieties that are resistant to both BYDV and the orange wheat blossom midge, and it is speeding up their multiplication so that growers can drill them next year and harvest them in 2024.

According to Managing Director Lee Bennett, these two varieties, RW 42046 and RW 42047 are the first wheat to have this double resistance, and any future varieties from the company will have these traits.

 "This means that there will be no need to spray insecticides for the two main insect problems of wheat, which will have economic and environmental benefits," he said at a recent company briefing.

Wolverine, the first BYDV-resistant wheat variety, was added to the AHDB Recommended List in December 2020, while midge-resistant wheat such as the group's Skyfall has been available for several years.

It has now bred the first varieties with both BYDV and midge resistance, and they outperform Wolverine in terms of yield and disease resistance.

Bennett estimates that there will be enough seed for the two varieties to take 2% of the wheat seed market in autumn 2023, before they are considered for inclusion in the new Recommended List in December 2023.

The new varieties have yields comparable to the market's current popular hard feed wheats and disease resistance scores of 5 to 6 for both septoria and yellow rust, on a 1-9 scale where 9 represents good resistance and 1 is very susceptible.

The development follows the autumn 2019 ban on neonicotinoid insecticidal seed treatments in wheat to control the aphid-spread BYDV, amid rising pest resistance and increased scrutiny of all pesticides.

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