Falling short of making it onto the 2019/2020 Recommended List, KWS’ latest wheat offering may be discounted by some as a viable option. But with strong agronomics, this small, but mighty, variety looks set to bring something new to the hard Group 4 portfolio. CPM reviews KWS Parkin.
While of course, it’s an incredibly important source of information, the strict criteria means not every variety makes the cut.
However, this isn’t to say those varieties that fall short aren’t worthy in their own right.
Such is the case for KWS’ latest offering, KWS Parkin— a new hard Group 4 wheat, claimed to be the shortest, stiffest variety on the market, which narrowly missed out on recommendation this year.
Drawing traits from its Reflection x Costello parentage, the aim of KWS Parkin was to create something that gleaned the good agronomics of Reflection, but with the added bonus of yellow rust resistance, explains breeder, Mark Dodds. “Reflection has some good attributes — nice grain and fairly short in height. Costello, on the other hand, has always sat at the lower end of the yield spectrum, but it does have yellow rust resistance.
“By crossing the two, we’ve been able to capture those good, strong traits from Reflection and give growers that little bit extra with the rust resistance.”
In terms of its stand-out feature, for KWS Parkin, it’s all about its height— or lack of…
At 78.6cm, it’s an impressive 15cm shorter than the tallest variety on the RL.
While taller varieties often bring the reward of increased biomass, this often comes with a penalty of flatter crops, particularly in a catchy season, says John Miles, product development manager at KWS.
He believes that there’s a gap in the market for this kind of variety and KWS Parkin looks to trump the rest with regards to its shortness and stiffness.
“With many growers now looking to drill later in the season, I feel that the attribute of varieties with good stem stiffness is something that’s being lost a little on the RL.
“Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing — if the majority are drilling later— but for those looking to target the early window they have just a small number of varieties to choose from that are agronomically safe.
“Cast your mind back 15 years or so, if we think of the RL at this time and what varieties were finding favour on farm, products such as Equinox, Cordiale, and Grafton may jump to mind. But what did all these popular types have in common?
“They were all short and stiff types that enabled PGR applications to be simplified, and introduced flexibility into spray windows, allowing them to be safely widened to when workloads or weather conditions permitted.
“Fast forward to today and looking at the RL reveals a very different story. Realistically, I’d say there are only about four or five other options when it comes to really stiff varieties.”
This characteristic goes hand-in-hand with KWS Parkin’s early maturity, he adds. “On a larger farm, or in certain locations, having a variety that is early maturing is incredibly valuable as it allows you to get the harvest going.”
The official score for ripening comes in at -1 day (compared with Skyfall) for KWS Parkin, and John believes growers are now willing to trade slightly on yield because early maturity is just so valuable. “Harvest yield will always come from the longest grain-fill period, which of course naturally pushes you towards later maturing types, so to have something that yields at Parkin’s level and boasts early maturity is quite unique.”
The variety also looks good in terms of its disease package, adds Will Compton, UK country manager at KWS. "KWS Parkin has a combination of disease resistances to help spread the sprayer workload.
“A score of 9 for yellow rust will help to relieve the workload at T0, while its untreated yield score of 81% of controls is better than the average for feed varieties which should serve to give confidence that KWS Parkin will be an easy-to-manage variety with a high output.”
At the other end of the spectrum, KWS Parkin does receive a score of 4 for eyespot, meaning there is the potential of susceptibility. The advice from KWS is that in second or continuous cereal positions— or in high pressure first wheat situations— an effective eyespot fungicide herbicide should be used at T0 and T1.
As a hard Group 4, the end market will predominantly be for feed, but what kind of grower might KWS Parkin be best suited to?
“KWS Parkin is a great choice for growers that are looking for something different,” explains Kirsty Richards, KWS’ knowledge transfer manager.
For growers looking for something to compare it with, the variety is most similar to Grafton which came off the RL this year, she adds. “While Parkin isn’t Grafton, it’s very similar and if growers are looking for something to replace Grafton in their rotation then Parkin could be a good fit.”
One of the key points about KWS Parkin is that while it’s suited to all regions of the UK, it has performed especially well in KWS trials throughout the Yorkshire/Humber region — which coincidentally is where ‘Parkin’ cake (a gingerbread cake made with oatmeal and black treacle) originates from, adds Kirsty.