Field of Nelson E winter wheat

The time is now for low input, high quality German E wheats

German E winter wheats gaining traction with UK growers

German E winter wheats are gaining traction as they are offering high gluten, high quality and strong disease resistance.

The UK imports more than 675,000 tonnes annually of strong wheat with high gluten quality for breadmaking (Germany, Canada, USA), yet more UK farmers are turning to E wheats due to agronomic and market benefits.

George Mason from Heygates millers is clear that the demand for UK grown milling wheats is increasing. “We are committed to using the maximum amount of homegrown wheat wherever possible however for some of our flour we require wheat with specific characteristics or functionality that we cannot achieve with traditional grains.”

George explains that, seed-supplied by Cope Seeds, this variety has established itself onto UK farms, giving growers a premium over group one milling wheat. “We have identified that Nelson grown to 14% protein brings us quality and functionality that will displace imported wheat. Through baking, we found Nelson showed a white crumb, no evidence of weakness and produced loaves of good volume. By offering a buy-back contract that incentivises growers, the combination of an additional quality premium and the benefits of the variety on-farm, we are finding the variety very popular.”


Oxfordshire-based independent agronomist, Geoffrey Hawes, thinks the benefits of Nelson need to be more widely understood. “Since Nelson was introduced into commercial trials in the UK in 2014 it’s been the cleanest variety I’ve dealt with.

“Nelson is suited to a wide range of soil types, including drought-prone land or soils with limited yield potential and last year it yielded well, despite the lack of rain, on account of being a tall variety with good standing ability,” says Geoff.

Nelson’s height is said to link directly with its ability to compete with blackgrass and it has a late and wide drilling window, from the end of September to the end February.

“In simple terms, if we have a blackgrass problem, we can’t drill winter cereals until the middle of October. Nelson fits this bill admirably,” adds Geoff.

Trials data

Lincolnshire-based seed and grain specialist Cope Seeds and Grain has been supplying German E wheats to the UK market for over 10 years.

“Nelson is bred by SZ Schweiger GbR, one of the leading German plant breeders we work with, we started to work with Nelson when we found out it produced grain with outstanding bread-making quality and was classed as “E” quality, the highest quality rating attainable,” says Gemma.

According to Gemma, standout trial results show:

  • High untreated yield potential
  • Nelson is tall and was 10cm taller than Crusoe but scored a nine for standing
  • Nelson matured earlier than any other variety in their milling trial and matured two days earlier in its most Northern trial
  • The specific weight of Nelson was the highest across the trials
  • Nelson also retained its green leaf the longest displaying its overall disease resistance
  • Nelson has the ability to achieve higher levels of protein from lower levels of nitrogen



Agrii 2018 Untreated Winter Wheat Milling Trials


Variety Maturity (1-9) Unt Yield (% Controls) Unt Specific Weight (kg/hl) Protein (%) N Offtake (Kg/ha) Hagberg (seconds)
Nelson 8 117.8 76.5 14.2 201.6 405
Skyfall 6 115.1 70.4 13.8 217.1 407
KWS Zyatt 6 115.8 74.9 13.7 200.6 415
Crusoe 6 70.3 65 13.7 212.3 414
KWS Siskin 4 114.6 70 13.1 213.5 368


Agrii 2018 treated Winter Wheat Milling Trials


Variety Treated Yield (t/ha) Treated Yield (% control) Specific Weight (kg/hl) Protein (%) N Offtake (Kg/ha) Hagberg (seconds)
Nelson 8.42 92.6 83 13.8 173 378
Skyfall 8.67 95.3 82.6 13.5 172.2 365
KWS Zyatt 8.93 98.2 80.6 13.6 181.3 369
Crusoe 9.18 100.9 81.2 13.7 187 348


Green leaf retention


Variety Green Leaf Retention (30/6)
Nelson 55%
Skyfall 33.8%
Crusoe 36.3%


Nelson grower

Oxfordshire arable farmer, James Thomson, has included Nelson in his rotation over the last four years.

“Last year I was amazed with the harvest, we had no rain for the best part of two months and Nelson was the best grain I produced in 2018.”

James started growing Nelson because of its outstanding fusarium resistance and he’s found it to be as clean as it claims. “Our fungicide bill was £33/ha from 2016 – 2018 for Nelson. We used to grow maize and it had high carry-over for fusarium – Nelson has been excellent in this respect.”

“It has good disease resistance, it’s cheap to grow in terms of inputs and ultimately it’s always reached market specification. The quality is high, with Hagberg averaging at 344, the highest recorded was 399,” says James.

“Nelson is a proper grade one milling wheat and I don’t know why more people don’t grow the variety,” he adds.