For UK wheat growers, trying to decide between choosing a crop with high yield or a crop with good grain quality is not a new dilemma.

Many different varieties on the market provide the option to grow a quality grain but this often means having to endure a small yield
penalty and increased growing costs. The question is then posed; is the decision to forego that few percent of yield worth it and will
premiums compensate for this loss? Currently, we have around 27% of the UK wheat area sown to Group 1 varieties, higher than it has
been for many years, and we have the unusual scenario of Skyfall being the most widely grown variety in the UK.

UK wheat market share figures

The market share of quality wheats and feed varieties. Of particular interest is the share of Group 1s which has increased to around 27%.

The large amount of breadmaking wheat on the market is likely to give millers the option to pick and choose their requirements,
meaning that premiums may suffer accordingly. At the time of writing, Group 1 premiums for harvest 2018 are predicted to be
around £15/T. Group 2 plantings are also on the increase with KWS Lili and KWS Siskin growing in popularity, mainly due to their high
yield and solid agronomics. Recent developments with KWS Siskin mean it has the potential to generate a premium on par with the
Group 1’s, in a similar way to Cordiale, but it will need a 13% protein to achieve this and that will be a challenge. Group 2 premiums are generally expected to be around £10/T for full milling specification.

Premiums for Group 3 biscuit wheats have recently been similar to those of the very best breadmaking varieties and this may continue as plantings have not increased dramatically. The chart above shows that the area into Group 3 varieties is at a very low level and current trade expectations are that premiums will be around £10/T. New Group 3 varieties offer high yield potential and solid agronomics but there is still a yield gap to make up on the top feed varieties, particularly in the western region.

The newer, very high yielding feed varieties offer the best yields available, particularly RGT Gravity that out-yields everything else
regardless of region, rotational position or soil type. Graham also yields just as well in the western region.

The charts on the next page show how the potential returns from growing the top performing varieties in each of the nabim groups.
Yields are taken from the AHDB Recommended List for both the east and west regions. Whilst a good quality hard feed wheat can
often achieve a small premium, for this exercise we have assumed a standard feed wheat price is paid. Full premiums are often not
achieved, and in recognition of this, the charts show the income by variety where the full premium is achieved (blue bars) and where only half the premium is achieved (orange bars).

Agronomic factors such as straw strength and disease ratings have not been taken into account in the assessments. This produces
slightly unrealistic results as ratings for yellow rust and septoria tritici would, in normal circumstances, have a huge impact on variety
choice, particularly in areas of the country susceptible to these diseases. This would greatly increase the appeal of the cleaner, lower risk varieties such as KWS Siskin, Graham or KWS Zyatt.

Adjustments have been made for an extra 40 kg/ha of N on the Group 1 and Group 2 varieties.

Eastern region

Growing for the local market is a well-known adage. There are good markets for Group 1 varieties in the east and the market
conditions for Group 2’s across the UK are determined by the supply and demand of quality milling wheats at harvest. However,
the current dominance of biscuit wheats in the east is demonstrated to be a sensible economic decision in this simple comparison.

Whilst KWS Zyatt has the top rating at the full premium level, the Group 3 wheats Elicit and KWS Barrel have a high ‘gross output’ at
both premium levels. This is reassuring to see as these soft milling biscuit wheats are popular with end users in this region and are sure to be favoured by growers too.

The blue bars show the return if the full premium is achieved. 

The orange bars show the return if half the premium is achieved.

Western region

In the west, the variety that stands out again is the breadmaking wheat KWS Zyatt, which produces a very attractive income. However, when looking at the bars for half premium, which may be considered more realistic, the hard feed varieties RGT Gravity and Graham are not far behind. Graham scores particularly well in the west where it yields on a par with RGT Gravity and has excellent septoria resistance. These feed varieties compare well with the other nabim group options when looking at the half premium rates and, as we have often seen, can generate a small premium themselves if possessing good grain quality.

The blue bars show the return if the full premium is achieved.
The orange bars show the return if half the premium is achieved.

Conclusion

The charts show that there are relatively small differences between the output of the top varieties in the four nabim groups. Increased
plantings of Group 1s are expected to generate relatively modest premiums but it is reassuring to see that, in this exercise, the soft
biscuit wheats have excellent returns in the east (where most of the end use markets can be found) and in the west (where most
Whilst KWS Zyatt has the top rating at the full premium level, the Group 3 wheats Elicit and KWS Barrel have a high ‘gross output’ at
both premium levels. This is reassuring to see as these soft milling biscuit wheats are popular with end users in this region and are sure to be favoured by growers too. 
west where it yields on a par with RGT Gravity and has excellent septoria resistance. These feed varieties compare well with the other nabim group options when looking at the half premium rates and, as we have often seen, can generate a small premium themselves if possessing good grain quality. feed mills exist) the charts show the feed varieties producing a high ‘gross output’. The one variety that bucks this trend is KWS Zyatt which has huge potential in both regions. This is a wheat that can be successfully grown in the 1st and 2nd wheat position, has a very high untreated yield demonstrating solid disease ratings, and is sure to be favoured by growers across the UK.