Agrovista exclusive group 4 winter wheat

‘It just gets on with it’ was a comment received from one of our early adopter growers of Mindful winter feed wheat, trying 12 hectares following sugar beet in Suffolk.

“It was one of our best fields in the end. Somehow it turned itself around – I had no idea it would be capable of that after such a testing start.” said Simon Pretty who manages 600ha of cereals, combining peas and sugar beet for GLA Farms from Castle Farm, Wingfield, Suffolk.

Mindful winter wheat is the new group 4 hard feed variety exclusive to Agrovista. A cross between the Dutch variety Evolution and Costello, Mindful offers versatility to growers with high yield when both drilled early and late season. Agrovista trials across various sowing dates coupled with official AHDB data highlighted the variety’s ability to perform well drilling from early September through to early November, with good performance in a second wheat position too.

  • Best mildew score of any AHDB RL variety/candidate
  • Outyields Dawsum in east and Champion in north
  • Good early drilling yields - 105 over two years, third highest overall (including Dawsum/Champion) in 2022
  • Compliments Sartorial with earlier drilling window and differing genetics to reduce disease pressure on farm
  • Has equivalent specific weight to Dawsum through same Costello parent
  • Performs well as a second wheat and on heavy land
  • Mindful appears to have inherited from its parent Evolution the latter’s good scavenging capability, with competitive yield both early and late-drilled

Early sown independent trial data is limited but we do have validated results from official trials in 2022, which being from a single year need to be treated with caution.

However, in these limited trials drilled early September fungicide treated and using plant growth regulator Mindful outyielded the majority of all high yielding feed varieties to come third highest overall (table 1).

At the other end of the drilling season, three years of continuous trialling at our fenland AgX site courtesy of A. G. Wright & Sons Farms Ltd, Haddenham, Cambridgeshire highlights the flexibility of this extraordinary variety. Drilled in November following sugar beet the Haddenham site is used by Agrovista to assess new lines of wheat and determine how resourceful they are in compromised drilling situations.

Here Agrovista determine how good varieties may be at scavenging for nutrients by example, and withstanding possible issues of compaction, colder seedbeds, and excessive water (such conditions as experienced this autumn and spring for many) (table 2).


There were originally seven trials across two years where Mindful featured, but after assessment by AHDB the others were discontinued for being unrealistically variable, such is the scrutiny of the AHDB trialling protocol. To be able to publish this trial data we can only compare Mindful to the control varieties present in the original trial.

Mindful’s performance at Haddenham in 2022 was one reason Simon Pretty chose the variety to follow his sugar beet that autumn. “It wasn’t the best land – Beccles series loam over clay on an outlying block of land at Winfarthing in Norfolk… The conditions were awful, and I did question the wisdom of what we had done, especially after the heavens opened as soon as the tractor left the field.”

Throughout the winter the crop appeared to struggle and lacked vigour, and the headlands in particular were thin. Simon was unable to apply herbicide and the gate remained shut until the first nitrogen dressing was applied.

“However, the Mindful responded very quickly to early fertiliser, and as spring progressed it picked itself up,” said Simon.

The ability of Mindful to grow away rapidly in the spring has been noticed by other growers. Mark Lancaster on heavy clay soil at Cold Norton, Essex drilled Mindful on the 16th October 2023 after lucerne, beans and linseed. The cold and wet weather shut down all activity until a contractor with low ground pressure tyres was able to get fertiliser applied end of March. “If anything, the field after linseed looks the best,” said Mark. “It may be due to the very wet winter and how the land lies, but things are improving all the time. It’s a vigorous variety and there looks to be plenty of potential there.”

Standing ability

There is limited trial and REML statistical data to suggest Mindful is weak strawed, but this has not been a feature in any commercial crop to date, other than the typical overlap areas on headlands. When first grown for seed following potatoes in Bedale, North Yorkshire the grower Mark Sampson reported it standing better than KWS Dawsum drilled in the neighbouring field. In October 2022 - drilled trial of both Mindful and Sartorial was conducted by one of the Agrovista Scottish agronomists Ben Lowe near Ellon in Aberdeenshire, alongside Skyscraper.

“The 2.5 hectares Mindful trial was sown on the 8th October following oilseed rape and had 175kg/ha of nitrogen, with no T0 fungicide…nothing lodged, and the crop was harvested with ease, with the straw chopped” reported Ben.

Simon Pretty had similar experiences 500 miles south in Suffolk.

“We applied in the region of 220kg of N/ha overall, 180kg/ha as liquid N and the balance as MZ28 slowrelease N applied at GS33. I didn’t go over the top with growth regulator at all, but it stayed bolt upright”. Mark Lancaster also reported no problems with his 8 hectares trial crop last year; “It also stood well, leaning only where the turkey muck pile had been and on some overlaps on short land quite late in June after heavy storms – hardly surprising given the soil type and eventual yields”.

Grain quality

One of Mindful’s principal advantages over other varieties is its grain quality. Mindful has a very high specific weight on par with KWS Dawsum. This stems from Mindful’s Costello parent and stands out in the 3-year trial results at Haddenham compared with Champion where the latter’s grain quality was more than 3kg/hl lower. Some breeders often ignore specific weight, but Agrovista think it is fundamental in a variety’s ability to consistently perform.

Whether a wet season or dry, having high specific weight will ensure grain yield and grain value is maintained. At 70.52kg/hl the grain sample of Champion in the example of table 2 would be below the minimum standard for feed wheat and would sustain a penalty at best and in years of high wheat stocks may prove problematic to sell.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that trial specific weight values are measured from plots 10m2 so are rarely achievable at commercial scale. When the risk is unnecessary, why take it when varieties are available that are genetically higher without a yield penalty?

“The crop produced 9.84t/ha dried over the weighbridge, with good bold grain which had a specific weight of 77-78kg/ha. We had a relatively Harvesting Mindful, Scotland straightforward harvest by the time it was ready, so it came in in good condition, it was one of our best fields of wheat in the end.” concluded Simon.

Mark Lancaster reported, despite the leaning patches that harvesting was not a problem, ““We were still able to cut it easily enough,” Mark noted. “In the end we combined just over 85t off the 8ha, with a very pleasing sample – 75-76 specific weight and 11.5-12% protein. We struggle to do 10t/ha on this land, 8.75 is pretty good, so it was a great result. The combine driver said it combined a treat and the quality of straw afterwards was noticeable”.

Agrovista has its own seed processing facilities in north Lincolnshire and produce our own seed crops throughout England to service retail customers with quality seed delivered in a timely manner. “The most important point for me is Mindful’s specific weight. It generally flies through the plant, and we get a really bold good quality sample out the other end” reported Claire Vergette Agrovista’s Seed Production and Site Manager.

Agrovista also has seven mobile seed cleaning lorries across the UK, managed by our Mobile Seed Manager Leah Onn; “Mindful produces one of the best samples for the customer, big bold seed, very easy to clean and looks very good in the bag once dressed”.