Serving the Farming Industry across the Midlands for 35 Years
• High efficiency ‘breakthrough’ wheats • Builds on RL-topping DSV Champion • Big emphasis on disease resistance

• High efficiency ‘breakthrough’ wheats

• Builds on RL-topping DSV Champion 

• Big emphasis on disease resistance 

Better nitrogen efficiency, greater drought tolerance and enhanced nutritional properties are all on the radar for new wheat varieties.

Although a relative new entrant to the world of wheat breeding, DSV’s UK-based programme has already achieved major success with several breakthrough varieties in recent years.

DSV Champion is the highest yielding wheat on the 2021/22 AHDB Recommended List,  DSV Theodore is widely regarded as the cleanest wheat on the list, and DSV Oxford is on the AHDB candidate list.

“That could be a trio of very strong varieties on the recommended list by the end of 2022,” explains DSV wheat breeder Matt Kerton (right), who says several factors have led to the success of the company’s programme.

“With the current pressures on growers and those likely to emerge in future, our approach is to focus on disease resistance and agronomic traits first and then select for yield.”

DSV’s UK breeding station is in a strong septoria pressure area, for example, but one which also has a lot of yellow rust. This allows the breeder to select for septoria resistance first knowing that yellow rust will also be a factor, says Dr Kerton.

“The stronger the disease pressure in the early breeding stages, the stronger the genetic material coming through these is.”

DSV also has breeding programmes in France and Germany  – as well as trials sites in Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands. These are supported by a state-of-the-art molecular laboratory at Thule in Germany.

Model outcomes

“This allows us to model the likely outcome of crosses before we physically make them. It helps ensure the material entering our breeding programmes is as close as possible to our required specification from the start.

“This not only shortens the time from concept to commercial reality, it also strengthens the lines by fixing certain traits from the earliest stages and ensures we can track these at all times through the breeding process.”

Creating the new varieties of the future could be based more on looking to the past, says Dr Kerton. It could be that strong drought tolerance genes from the past are useful when combined with more modern high-yielding genetics, he adds.

This means DSV is increasingly turning back the genetic clock to see if  older variety characteristics  have relevance for the future – although the company strategy is very much to breed for today.

“There is no point in breeding now for an event that is potentially 20 years away,” says Dr Kerton. 

With the average breeding cycle around 5- 10 years, timescales are important. 

And Dr Kerton says some breeding aims have greater priority than others. 

“Nitrogen efficiency of varieties is one of our biggest areas of focus, not just because of the current high price of fertilisers but also the environmental pressure to reduce use of nitrogen long-term.

“We are also looking at improving the nutritional quality of wheat by discovering genes involved in the control of micronutrient accumulation in the flour.”

“But varieties like DSV Champion, Theodore and Oxford are successful because they meet producers’ needs today – high yield, strong disease resistance and good untreated yields.”