There is often more to variety selection than yield and disease resistance but finding a variety that fits your farm situation can be a hit or miss affair. For Richard Maycock of Hurdlesgrove Farm, Whitchurch in Buckinghamshire the decision to try KWS Zyatt followed a discussion with his grain trader and then the agronomist. It has proven to be a fortunate and worthwhile series of conversations.
“We have had good success with Group 1 varieties and can reliably meet specification but had struggled to find a variety that suited our system since moving on from Solstice,” says Mr Maycock who farms in partnership with his son and daughter.
“We found Crusoe slow to go through the combine as it wouldn’t thrash well while Skyfall fell out of the ear unless you caught it at precisely the right moment. In contrast, KWS Zyatt matures evenly and is easy to combine,” he adds.
Across 165ha of first wheat and a further 135ha of second wheat, average yields are about 9.9t/ha and this makes up more than half the arable area with oilseed rape and winter and spring barley accounting for the remainder.
For the 2019 harvest KWS Zyatt has replaced RGT Illustrious after a 21-hectare trial last season proved successful.
“One of our grain merchants suggested we gave KWS Zyatt a go on the basis that there was solid end-user demand for it while our agronomist, John Bellamy of NIAB TAG, already had experience of it and found it easy to keep clean.”
Yields are respectable and the farm benefits from good inherent fertility having been converted from dairy in recent years while the Hanslope series clays, which dominate the farm’s soils, hold moisture well.
“The soils are easy to work so long as you catch them at the right time. Weed issues aside, we seek to manage the rotation partly to make cultivations and drilling easy, because if you miss-time it, it quickly becomes hard work and a mess.”
While performance is admirable the farm has its battles with black-grass. “As a former dairy unit there was an element of bought-in straw and unfortunately this introduced resistant black-grass. We have sought to control it as much as possible through delayed autumn drilling – which fits in well with our preference for quality wheats – and a greater area of spring barley which has come at the expense of oilseed rape, but success has been variable.”
No ‘false economies’
Fertiliser applications are as might be expected with first wheats typically receiving 200kg/ha of applied N and 40kg SO3/ha while second wheats receive an additional 20kg/ha of applied N and the same rate of sulphur trioxide.
Pre-emergence herbicide tends to reflect black-grass pressure and is often based on Crystal (flufenacet + pendimethalin) and Liberator (diflufenican + flufenacet). Fungicide strategy is another area where the Mr Maycock has decided to steer clear of what he sees as ‘false economies’ routinely following a four-spray programme to protect yield potential and grain quality.
“The mild winter has influenced tactics this season with the T0 delayed where possible in case disease pressure intensified and conditions deteriorated resulting a delay to T1. In hindsight this was wise, so the inclusion of a triazole with the T0 proved highly worthwhile.
“With the exception of some Septoria on the lower leaves the crop looks respectable. A few weeks of bright sunshine and we should see some impressive yields supported by good grain quality,” he adds.
Richard Maycock and family in KWS Zyatt
Satisfaction from farm to mill
KWS Zyatt’s broad appeal extends beyond the farm gate and into the flour mill. Since being added to the AHDB Recommended List in 2017, it has earned a reputation as a versatile Group 1 wheat suitable at fulfilling a range of end-uses.
“A tried and tested variety KWS Zyatt continues to perform well for Hovis. The variety has impressed with its consistently good baking performance and versatility across a range of applications,” says Shaun Taylor, technical director of Hovis Bakeries.
“Increasingly, the baking industry needs more varieties with the characteristics of KWS Zyatt. Those that are able to produce good quality products, and tolerant doughs across a range of products,” he adds.
During his time at Rank Hovis Milling, Mr Taylor received samples of KWS Zyatt ahead of its addition to the Recommended List to gain an early insight to its performance across several seasons. At the time he noted that products made using KWS Zyatt were of a comparable quality to those made using other top-performing nabim Group 1 wheats.
“The work we have done with KWS Zyatt gives me the confidence that it will produce the level of quality we consistently require in the bakery: the samples that we tested all delivered a level of protein functionality beyond that of other Group 1 wheats. This gives me confidence that it will be a consistent performer across a range of seasons,” he adds.
Shaun Taylor, technical director, Hovis Bakeries
“KWS Zyatt is now firmly established as a solid Group 1 both with end-users who understand its performance through the mill and with growers who know what’s needed to get the best from it. Consequently, it is likely to remain a favoured Group 1 for several more seasons,” says Mr Piggott.
“Whether it is grown as a full specification quality wheat, a low-protein export grain or even as a feed, it is an easy-to-manage variety with notable second wheat performance. It has better Septoria tritici resistance than its Group 1 counterpart, Skyfall, though perhaps not as strong on yellow rust. Its performance in untreated trials, however, is impressive and it consistently ranks among the top quartile of untreated varieties for yield. As with many varieties following the loss of prothioconazole and clothianidin-based seed treatments, it is best sown after late September.”
Chris Piggott, regional seed manager, Frontier Agriculture
“End-users like to have several Group 1 varieties to choose from and in KWS Zyatt and Skyfall we have two reliable partners able to deliver good grain across contrasting seasons for a range of end-use applications,” says Mr Guest.
“Both varieties offer growers a lot more beyond their Group 1 status. KWS Zyatt in particular has a strong all-round disease package, especially to Septoria which is rapidly becoming a greater priority than yield in the minds of many growers. Its performance in the second cereal situation is widely acknowledged and this owes much to its competitive growth habit and good eyespot resistance.”
Chris Guest, head of seed, ADM Agriculture
“KWS Zyatt performed soundly in 2018 and with no new additions to the Group 1 category we expect existing growers to stick with it and some Crusoe growers move to it for its higher yield potential, better brown rust resistance and earlier maturity, but yellow rust does need watching,” says Mr Barker.
“It is also a good fit with the other dominant Group 1, Skyfall. It features a different set of disease resistance genes making it a useful risk management partner, is slightly earlier to mature, has decent Septoria resistance and, as with Skyfall, is a good second wheat. For these reasons it should at least retain, if not increase, its market share in both the West and East of the country.”
Barry Barker, national arable seed product manager, Agrii
“KWS Zyatt is a variety with many good points and a few weak points. Its treated and untreated yield is excellent as is its stiff straw. It's easier to achieve protein specification with KWS Zyatt than with many other varieties while its Hagberg is reliable and its specific weight is excellent,” says Mr Bennett.
“It is also a good second wheat. This may be to its solid eyespot resistance, but it also appears to be one of those varieties that is a naturally good second cereal. Its grain quality is robust enough that seed rates can be pushed without compromising grain quality.
“It has done consistently well across soil types and its grain quality marks it out as a variety well-suited to those with light soils. It's not however, well-suited to land with high black-grass populations as its open canopy and erect growth habit make it look a little thin, much like Equinox did before it. Despite its open structure, final ear counts are always in line with expectations which underlines its yield performance.
“It is a variety with no real disease issues, but like many varieties in 2019 it has been hit by yellow rust. It is by no means a dirty variety, but one that needs a realistic fungicide programme if it is to fulfil grower expectations. Lastly, while not as fast to establish as either KWS Siskin or KWS Extase, it is not one for sowing before mid-September or, for those on the south coast, the third week of the month.”
Lee Bennett, head of seeds business, Openfield Agriculture