New Recommended Lists for cereals and oilseeds see a move to varietal resilience

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New varieties on the Recommended Lists for cereals and oilseeds 2016/17 (RL), launched today, see a step forward in breeding for crop management traits.

Advances in agronomics and disease resistance sit alongside good yields to deliver a whole variety package for growers looking for innovative solutions as part of a risk management strategy.

AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds’ Dr Simon Oxley, who heads the Recommended Lists project, said: “Realistically, yield and quality acceptable to end-users remain the main drivers for selecting a variety but this year often sees good disease resistance without the associated penalty.”

Additions to this year’s Lists include wheat varieties with improved septoria tritici resistance, oilseed rape (OSR) with resistance to light leaf spot and phoma stem canker and the first specialist OSR variety with Turnip Yellows Virus (TuYV) resistance. The virus can potentially reduce yields of susceptible varieties by up to 26%.

Dr Oxley said: “Two intractable diseases affecting UK agriculture are light leaf spot in oilseed rape and septoria tritici in wheat. Both are challenging to control with fungicides and, looking not too far in the future, management is only likely to get harder”.

“You may also see some varieties which may not be a step change in yield, but they are a step change in the management of risk. The specialist TuYV resistant variety Amalie is a case in point.

“In RL trials, the management includes effective control of aphid vectors, so it is likely that in situations or seasons where the aphid vectors are poorly managed and crops are infected with the virus, the variety will perform relatively well compared with susceptible varieties,” he added.

Relative risk

Dr Oxley explained how the concept of ‘relative risk’ has been introduced to the RL selection criteria in order to ensure resilient varieties make it on to the Lists: “We have taken the criteria used in selecting a variety based on disease resistance, standing power and the risk of yield loss based on trials data to measure the relative risk of a new variety compared with an established one.

“Trialling varieties across variable seasons and throughout the UK from Aberdeenshire down to Kent and across to Cornwall and Northern Ireland, really puts them through their paces. New varieties have passed this tough test and performed favourably alongside the varieties that growers and the industry know well.”

The concept of relative risk will be explored further at this year’s AHDB Agronomists’ Conference, where Dr Oxley will present on What makes a good variety? Trade-offs for better agronomics. The conference, at Peterborough Arena on 8 December, will also see the launch of AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds’ Risk, resilience, reward communication theme, which will run through 2016.

In total, 32 cereals and oilseed varieties have been added to the Recommended Lists for 2016/17, while 47 varieties have been removed.

AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds has been working with breeders to determine when varieties should be removed from the RL. When varieties fall behind on disease standards, yield or are no longer the variety of choice by end-users, they will now be removed one year after they are out of trial.

Dr Oxley said: “Varieties are recommended on their merit. In some years advances in breeding are made and it is only right that if new varieties provide the industry with better quality, better disease resistance and better agronomics, these varieties are recommended.

“The focus is in providing new information on new varieties. Some growers will always want to continue to grow an established variety, since they have the experience of how they perform on their farm. Continuing trialling these varieties isn’t however likely to contribute more to understanding them.”

Summaries of the new AHDB Recommended Lists are available on the AHDB website at

The full AHDB Recommended Lists for cereals and oilseeds booklet will be distributed in early 2016. The online variety selection tool will be updated in spring 2016.

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