KWS Siskin tops organic wheat variety trial


In the first fully replicated trial of winter wheat varieties grown under true organic conditions, the popular varieties KWS Siskin and KWS Crispin have come top for yield. The quality wheat types KWS Zyatt and KWS Montana were the only bread-makers in the trial to record protein contents of 12% or more.

Overseen by Suffolk seed merchant and certified organic seed multiplier Walnes Seeds, the trial sought to provide a level of insight in to a variety’s yield potential beyond that gleaned from the AHDB’s untreated trials.

“There is very little organic trials work done anywhere so there is no truly credible data to inform variety selection,” says Lawrence Morden of Walnes Seeds.

“As an industry we rely on the untreated trials done by the AHDB for the Recommended Lists, but while they offer an insight to a variety's disease resistance and yield potential without fungicides, they are not entirely suitable for organic systems because they don’t tend to carry the same weed burden found under organic conditions. This trial was conducted on an organic farm where all crops were managed under an organic regime and so is far more representative of the actual conditions seen on organic farms. This is not something that can be replicated in an untreated trial,” he explains.

For a variety to be successful in an organic situation Lawrence says it needs to demonstrate a vigorous growth habit so it can get away quickly and out-compete the weeds while showing good resistance to the foliar diseases, mildew and yellow rust.† Both KWS Siskin and KWS Crispin demonstrated this characteristic to a high level, he says.†

“For several years the benchmark variety for organic wheat has been Revelation.† But with our seed multiplier in Norfolk this season we saw it heavily effected by yellow rust. In contrast, KWS Siskin went on for about another month. This was reflected in its yield at roughly 1.5t/ha less than Siskin which managed about 7.5t/ha in both trial plots and across 13 hectares of a seed crop. For a farm where the average wheat yield is close to 5.5t/ha such a performance is exceptional.”

Walnes also looked at quality wheats with KWS Basset included as a direct comparison with established biscuit wheat Claire and new milling wheats KWS Zyatt and KWS Montana pitched against Skyfall.

“To have a bread-making wheat capable of meeting the protein requirement and support it with a respectable yield is fantastic. Both Zyatt and Montana provide much-needed options for growers,” he adds.

Table 1: Yield performance of organically grown winter wheat