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field of Nelson e-wheat|field of Nelson e-wheat close up

Nelson offers high protein efficiency from lower nitrogen inputs

Celebrating 10 years this year at Groundswell show, Nelson German ‘elite’ or E-wheat is consistently hitting high protein levels with lower nitrogen inputs, and millers are sourcing more of the British-grown grain because of its excellent bread making quality.

German E-wheats such as Nelson have greater protein accumulation at lower levels of nitrogen due to a Grain Protein Content GPC-B1 gene which has the potential to increase nutritional and end-use quality, it’s also evident that zinc, iron and a range of seed pigments are increased in these varieties.1

Nelson can earn a premium over normal group one premiums with its high quality and Hagberg falling number, and farmers are continuing to see the agronomic benefits due to its wide drilling window, early harvest, tall and stiff weed-suppressing straw, bold grain and its high untreated yield.

George Mason from flour millers Heygates is sourcing more Nelson from British farmers. “Based on a 14% protein level, Nelson brings us the quality and functionality that is displacing imported wheat, and as such, we are looking to contract increased volumes going forward. In these difficult times of high fertilizer prices, we can also accept Nelson on a 13% protein basis albeit at a Group 1 value.

“We have a policy to support British grain over imported and support UK farming wherever possible,” says George.

“Nelson has been consistently popular with farmers, and it’s a highly efficient variety. The fact that our farmers continue to grow it is a testament to its agronomic and bread making benefits,” adds George.

“Nelson has a fantastic disease profile”

Nelson is celebrating its 10-year anniversary at Groundswell show this year and UK agent Cope Seeds and Grain is offering a buy-back contract to farmers growing it. “Nelson has consistently delivered since being launched to the UK  market 10 years ago, and with the rising input costs really starting to pinch, it’s an even more attractive variety, because it can hit the protein levels required by millers like Heygates, with less nitrogen applied,” explains managing director, Gemma Clarke.

“Agrii trial results from 2019 show that it achieved over 14% protein at 201kg nitrogen offtake,” says Gemma.

Ideal for milling wheat growers looking for a solid variety with a full Group 1 premium buy-back contract within the catchment of the Heygate mills, with other markets available if you farm outside this catchment. Reading-based arable farmers David and son Nick Philp have grown Nelson for six years on contract to Heygates.

Nick says: “We applied 250kg of nitrogen last year and reached 14 – 15% protein. This nitrogen application rate is on par with other conventional varieties on the farm, but they struggled to achieve 13% protein, so it is highly efficient, and this year we can get away with cutting back a bit to achieve the Heygates specificiation.

“Nelson also has a fantastic disease profile, it’s very clean, and is a tall wheat which doesn’t lodge,” adds Nick.

Oxfordshire-based agronomist Geoffrey Hawes who has 50 years of agronomy experience in the Thames valley, works with David and Nick Philp and says Nelson has proven to be a consistent variety since it was launched to the market 10 years ago.

“I can’t think of another variety that’s as consistent and as low input as Nelson. It produces one of the boldest grains, has a high HFN and protein content and very low screening losses making it more likely to achieve full milling specification.

“It’s a clean variety, in fact it has the cleanest ear relative to ear disease complex I’ve come across, it also has good tolerance to yellow rust and many of my farmers have grown it for numerous years.


NCFM, Cope Seeds. e-wheat capability report, Dr Wayne Martindale 15th August 2019, ‘E Wheats, connecting crop traits to New Product Development strategies in the food industry’