Drummonds agronomists are confirming that four main varieties will drive Irish wheat output over the coming years i.e., Graham, Torp, Spearhead and Dawsum.

Speaking at the company’s recent Crop Open Day at Termonfeckin, Co. Louth, agronomist Brian Reilly said that Graham is a particularly important variety and that it must be protected, at all costs, for the future.

“In contrast to barley, where many varietal options remain open to farmers, wheat breeding programmes have been thrown into chaos over the past couple of years,” he explained.

“This is because of the previous genetic breakdown to septoria resistance in the variety Cougar.

“The result of this development has been a very significant contraction in the number of new wheat varieties now coming on to the market.”

Given that significant numbers of emerging wheat varieties had Cougar parentage, the impact of the, now confirmed, genetic breakdown in this single variety has had a very severe knock-on effect on numerous breeding programmes.  

According to Reilly, it will take a number of years for the wheat sector to recover from this setback.

He said: “This is why we need to be very careful in protecting the wheat varieties that are available right now. And in an Irish context, Graham is the one which ticks most boxes.

“It has tremendous yield potential and our own trial work confirms its general suitability under Irish conditions. It is high yielding and shows high levels of resistance to both mildew and yellow rust,” he added.

Wheat production

Reilly explained that Spearhead was provisionally recommended by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) for the 2022 season.

It has a slightly lower yield potential than Grahamand, but has also demonstrated good levels of resistance to mildew and yellow rust.

“Torp is another high yielding wheat variety, which shows extremely high resistance to Septoria which is a must have in the Irish wheat market,” he said.

Dawsum was not on the 2022 DAFM recommended list of winter wheat varieties, due to a lack of seed availability. However, it is included within Drummonds’ 2022 trial listings.

The variety is high yielding and can be sown out from September through to November.

Courtesy of UK trials, it has demonstrated very high resistance to mildew, yellow rust and brown rust.

“We trial every new cereal variety for at least three years at Termonfeckin. At that stage a decision will be taken regarding its suitability under Irish conditions,” Reilly explained.

“Only then will we push to have it included in the Department of Agriculture recommend list trials.”