Difficult growing conditions and falling margins over the last few years have caused many UK farmers to shift focus away from planting milling grade wheat in favor of the higher yielding and easier to manage varieties. This shift has resulted in a 3% year-on-year drop in group 1 milling wheat production.
However, seed breeder RAGT Seed UK has developed a new strain set for launch this autumn that it said could revitalize the UK domestic market for milling wheat.
According to RAGT, Skyfall yields are 4% higher than nearest rival, Crusoe; 5% better than Cordiale (which accounts for 70% of the group 2 wheat market), and 6% higher than either Gallant or Solstice, and comes at no greater cost.
RAGT managing director Simon Howell told Milling & Grains: “This will be the biggest launch of group 1 wheat in recent times.”
“…The group 1 and 2 quality market is under pressure, but we hope better performing seeds coming from us and other breeders will help to re-energize the market,” he said.
The company has already sold 80% of the 10,000 tonnes of planted seed for this autumn, he said, and next year plantings are expected to be double.
nabim testing underway
Skyfall is still making its way through the new National Association of British and Irish Millers (nabim) testing process, which now includes commercial-based testing, as the first two trials were inclusive due to human error.
However Skyfall is already on the HGCA Recommended Listing (RL) as ‘provisional’ group 1, pending further trials in September but there is no doubt among industry pundits that it will achieve full group 1 status later in the year. Provisional testing is also taking place in France, Belgium and New Zealand.
Lee Bennett, national seeds manager at farm co-operative Openfield, which supplies seeds to Warburton’s, said: “Group 1 seeds usually suffer from some weakness or other but I would struggle to find fault with Skyfall. There is no agronomic weakness, its physical profile is good, it is robust and suitable for all soil types and it has resistance to the orange wheat blossom midge. I don’t think there is any doubt that Skyfall will boost wheat growth in the UK. Millers are already showing support and are putting their money where their mouth is.”