The winter wheat Skyfall from RAGT Seeds and the AberGreen perennial ryegrass from IBERS/Germinal breeding team have respectively won the 2015 NIAB Cereals Cup and Variety Cup. This marks the first cereals award for six years and the Variety Cup since 2011.
The Cereals Cup is awarded to varieties that show outstanding merit and value in their marketplace. NIAB cereal crop technical specialist Clare Leaman explains that Skyfall represents a significant step forward in winter wheat by closing the yield gap between Group 1 breadmaking and feed varieties. “Skyfall is the first variety since the spring barley Quench in 2009 that has met our strict Award criteria, with its combination of orange wheat blossom midge, PCH1 eyespot resistance, yield and approved breadmaking quality,” she says.
The Variety Cup acknowledges varieties of all crops that have made a major contribution to crop productivity through improved quality, disease resistance, grower return or commercial success.
NIAB forage crop technical specialist Simon Kerr highlighted AberGreen’s significant higher yield and quality characteristics in both simulated grazing and conservation management systems as major contributors to its award. “AberGreen was promoted this year from provisional to full recommendation after eight years of testing, and immediately fulfilled one of the Cup’s specifications for the ‘most improved, high quality, fully recommended variety’. It shows strong grazing performance in the summer and autumn, as well as having good ground cover scores and Crown Rust resistance, and is a very worthy winner.”
Making the presentations at Cereals 2015, NIAB chief executive Dr Tina Barsby congratulated both the RAGT and the IBERS/Germinal teams. “Varieties of all types of crops are reviewed on an annual basis by NIAB’s technical staff as candidates for the Variety and Cereals Cups. There were a number of strong contenders this year for both, with the winning varieties Skyfall and AberGreen showcasing the strength and diversity of UK’s premier plant breeding programmes,” she said.
IBERS’ Professor Mike Gooding commented: “I’m delighted that AberGreen has been chosen by NIAB as a winning variety. Our aim is to create grasses which exemplify IBERS’ aim of breeding for the ‘public good’, and are amongst the best on the Recommended List but with added benefits such as increases in water soluble carbohydrate which deliver animal performance improvements to agriculture in addition to environmental benefits.”
For RAGT, Celia Bequain said: “We are truly honoured to receive NIAB’s recognition of Skyfall’s attributes and benefits to the UK industry. Skyfall is a very exciting variety which has already raised much interest from both growers and millers. It is the first RAGT UK adapted variety to originate from our integrated approach to crossing, selection and screening and brings much needed genetic diversity to the UK’s bread quality sector.”