Torch – the highest yielding Group 3 with broad market appeal
Lee Bennett, National Seeds Manager for Openfield, says that Torch has the potential to perform as long as growers are prepared to manage it appropriately. “Like other varieties in the yellow rust diversification group 2b, it needs a robust fungicide programme, but managed correctly Torch is capable of producing a high quality grain suited to biscuit making. With a maturity score of 0 – equal to Group 3 stalwart Claire – it reaches maturity up to five days earlier than varieties with similar yield potential. Among the recommended Group 3 and 4 soft types, Torch has a high Hagberg Falling Number at 248 – a feature that is just as important as yield in a Group 3. Some varieties in this group can sprout quicker than hard wheats, hence the need for a strong HFN. It also delivers a high bushel weight.”
Lee notes that Torch is a leafy, high tillering variety that makes it well suited to situations with a high weed burden. He notes that it is also tolerant to chlorotoluron (CTU), which is an advantage when it comes to planning herbicide programmes, especially in problem black-grass areas where CTU is a valuable tool in enhancing sensitivity to Atlantis. “Its resistance to Orange Wheat Blossom Midge is also a real bonus, as there is no need to use insecticides in the summer.”
In Lee Bennett’s view Torch performs at its best as a first wheat on heavy fertile land, where its high yield potential can be achieved. “It looks to be OK as a second wheat, but I would like to test this further in the field. Although trials give an indication of second wheat performance, it really needs to be seen on farm to test its suitability in this position. Its stem stiffness and straw strength is good, a necessary characteristic this year when lodging risk has been high.”
Lee acknowledges that there has been a lot of noise about yellow rust this year. “The threat posed by yellow rust is manageable, especially with the chemistry available. There is a growing body of trials research that supports the mantra “get in front and stay in front”; growers would be well advised to adopt this strategy with all high yielding varieties. Whatever variety you are growing, and particularly one that is more susceptible, yellow rust control needs a programmed approach, starting with a fluquinconazole seed treatment and following with a well-timed T0, T1 and T2 fungicide treatment with a robust rust element. If rust is such an unmanageable problem, why is there so much Oakley in the ground?”
“Disease has been a problem across in all areas this year. Septoria has been a significant problem with all varieties requiring a robust approach while mildew has been an irritant in susceptible varieties. This raises the importance of disease ratings to fungicide planning. When it comes to disease control on all varieties, including Torch, there are three key criteria: product choice, dose rate and timing, with timing being the most important; where possible you should aim to keep the crop free of disease, not just to limit its activity,” he advises.
Chris Martin of Openfield sees Torch fitting in well as a Group 3 biscuit wheat as it delivers a high specification and has good physical grain qualities. “A leading breakfast cereal maker has it under consideration and, should it perform appropriately this harvest, it is likely to lead to substantial demand. There is also interest among exporters as it is likely to appeal to end-users in Spain where quality soft wheats are required. Specifications for this market are more exacting than that of the domestic market and Torch satisfies these criteria easily and should have a decent export potential.”
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