Date: 20.04.2023

DSV UK's North Oxfordshire Wardington base continues to be the centre for the company's wheat breeding programme with several exciting new varieties in the pipeline to follow in the footsteps of DSV Champion, Oxford and Theodore.

Our programme is focused not just on the UK, but also on developing lines for other target locations including Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark. In fact, varieties coming out of the UK programme do well in these regions regarding yield performance. All share the same maritime climates and most of the traits required are similar, but official testing systems differ which is where the real difficulties arise. 

Yields can be optimised in the UK programme, for example, and output then tested in Ireland, Denmark and Netherlands to check yields are still ok, but end-market quality traits are different in each country, so bread-making varieties are very unlikely to succeed across all countries.

It's much easier to breed a hard Group 4 variety with universal appeal than it is a Group 1 and we have been very successful at that. DSV Champion is the highest yielding hard Group 4 on the current RL and DSV Oxford is not too far behind it. Both DSV Champion and DSV Oxford come from a DSV20122 x Reflection cross with their yield potential in evidence very early on in the process. Both were intended as hard feed wheat varieties from the start.

We are, however, currently busy making genomic predictions for baking quality and the first fully featured DSV milling variety is definitely not too far away. But it takes time - the journey for DSV Champion started in 2012 and ten years later it achieved the official world record for highest yield ever in a winter wheat crop. We use a total of 14 locations around the UK in our breeding programme with many in the west of the country where disease pressure, particularly Septoria, is at its height. All our varieties are recognised for their excellent agronomic properties and it is likely a DSV milling wheat will be the same.

It’s actually quite easy to breed wheat in the UK but getting it on the Recommended List is something else.

We have three new varieties currently going through national trials and these are:

DSV321113 – UK baking quality – Sm1, Pch1

DSV321117 – High yielding feed – Sm1

DSV321121 – High yielding feed – Pch1


Investing in baking quality is, therefore, a key priority for us at the moment, but we are keeping all end markets in the system in view as well as focusing on adding vital new traits to our varieties. Stem rust resistance, greater drought tolerance and improved Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) are all traits we are actively selecting for. We are also looking at improving the nutritional quality of wheat by discovering genes involved in the control of micronutrient accumulation in the flour. Ultimately, our objective is to keep our breeding programme small and manageable but with a wide focus on multiple traits and their development. We will also be focusing more on breeding specific varieties for specific markets. We know the national systems well now and increasingly every breeding line will have a target market and utilise varied crossing programmes to meet specific end-market requirements. Novel germplasm will be introduced for these and genetic markers used early in the process to fix suitable traits from the outset.