Wheat producers, say hello to two brand-new cultivars

Two advanced wheat lines planted in 2020 have been given the green light. The Agricultural Research Council says Usutu and Selons are both spring wheat cultivars for irrigation areas

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Excitement is brewing in the agricultural sector over two new advanced wheat lines that have been given the green light for release.

With the sector’s stamp of approval, wheat producers can now look forward to getting their hands on the cultivars as early as next year when it becomes available for purchase.

Multiplications for Usutu and Selons were planted during 2020 amidst the fear and confusion brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the first lockdown in March and April 2020, employees of the Agricultural Research Council’s Small Grain Institute were hard at work preparing field trials to plant in the Western and Northern Cape, explains researcher Kim Delport.

According to Delport their dedication led to the completion of a successful production cycle.

The two new advanced wheat lines were approved by industry for release in May.

What’s so different? Why the fuss?  

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Delport states Usutu and Selons are both spring wheat cultivars for the irrigation areas. “While Usutu has a medium to late growth period with excellent yields and an average length of 105 cm, Selons on the other hand, has a medium growth period and slightly shorter.”

Kim Coetzee, Agricultural Research Council researcher. Photo: ARC

The average length for Selons is 95cm and shows no lodging problems. Delport says Usutu has not exhibited any lodging problems either despite its exceptional yields and large ears.

In terms of disease resistance, Usutu is moderately resistant to leaf rust and moderately susceptible to stripe rust.

Meanwhile, similarly to Usutu, Selons are moderately resistant to leaf rust, but is resistant to moderately susceptible toward stripe rust. “Over the last four years Usutu has had an average yield of 12 tons per hectare. Selons is also capable of high yields, with a four-year yield average of 11,4 tonnes per hectare.”

During 2019 Usutu produced an average yield of 13 tonnes per hectare while during the same period, Selons produced an average yield of 12,5 tonnes.  

New flagship cultivar on horizon 

Amidst the flurry of excitement, the ARC-Small Grain has announced the release of another wheat line, Umgeni. The cultivar approved by the industry earlier in 2020, Delport says will without doubt be the new flagship cultivar for the ARC in the irrigation areas.

“Large seed multiplications for commercialisation will proceed during 2021. ARC-Small Grain is hopeful that Umgeni will be available for purchase during 2023,” she states.

Unlike Usutu and Selon, Umgeni has a short growth period and exceptional yields.

During 2019, Umgeni produced an average yield of 13 tonnes per hectare and has a two-year yield average of 12,5 tonnes per hectare. Apart from its superb yield potential, Umgeni is also moderately resistant to leaf rust and resistant to stripe rust.

Delport states, “With these new cultivars, as well as the current cultivars on offer, the ARC-Small Grain has a complete package that suits the needs of all producers.”

Renoster and Koedoes are currently available for purchase and is believed to be excellent cultivars in their own right. Both have short growth periods and average yields of 11 tonnes per hectare.

During 2019 both Renoster and Koedoes realised yields of 12 tonnes per hectare.

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