Having spent his career enjoying wheat breeding, Bill Angus felt that it was time to put something back. Plant breeders have opportunities to make a diﬀerence, and this was always the main driver. In addition, he wanted to help young aspiring plant breeders, and it was also important for me to look at opportunities to help breeding in developing countries.
Angus Wheat Consultants Ltd (AWC) was established by wheat breeder Bill Angus to work with clients in the UK – and worldwide – to increase wheat yields on-farm while maintaining quality and optimising inputs.
Also, to enhance variety development through ‘public-private’ partnerships.
For AWC’s UK work, Mv Fredericia was the ﬁrst variety which in many ways exempliﬁed part of our philosophy. We could see that the variety could play a strategic role on farm with its competitive strength in black grass control. In addition, its quality proﬁle made it an attractive variety for a major end user. A variety with a number of attributes which would not be recognized through the current testing systems.
Our second variety is Garibaldi, and this had been very consistent in the challenging year of 2020 – topping the NL2 trials until a late January trial was thrown into the mix and it did not make it as a candidate for the Recommended List.
However, I am pleased to say we have a number of growers and merchants across the country looking at it compared to their own choices. This is the real test of a variety – what will it do on farm – is becoming more usual to see varieties not on the Recommended List being developed. It does not mean that they are bad varieties – far from it – just that they don’t ﬁt a rigid systems-based process.
Turning to our work in developing countries, we looked at a wide range of crops . Wheat featured, of course, but so did crops such as cassava, rice and cow peas. I am pleased to say that the BPAT programme is now being used routinely and is being improved year by year. Now run by the University of Queensland, it has become an essential tool.
The UK is privileged to have some of the best wheat research in the World. Our wheat programme F1 Seed Ltd is engaged with some projects and AWC has carried out a number of project evaluations for BBSRC.
We are not in the business of doing ‘blue sky’ research – we are driven by taking up the products of public research and translating these into tangible beneﬁts for UK growers with Public-Private partnerships an important component of our work.