Date: 09/2022

After eight and a half very happy years, it is now time for my journey with DSV to come to an end. I will therefore take this opportunity to thank everyone with whom I have worked at Wardington and elsewhere in DSV. I have been involved in a variety of projects over the years, including WOSR, SOSR, Winter Barley, Spring Wheat, Winter Wheat, Linseed, Turf Grass, Forage Grass, Covercrops (remember Terralife and the first soil pit at Cereals? ), and of course Maize.

Firstly, maize. When I first joined DSV, we were planning a new variety for the UK called Denny, and I was told that "Mikee, maize is your job (along with everything else)". I started working and quickly realised Denny wasn't quite right for the UK and we needed something else. With the help of Simon Kroeger and Frank Trockels, we sourced new material, all of which DSV UK continues to sell. This includes LiRoyal, LikeIt, Farmunox, Expedia, Movanna, and Petroschka. My personal favourites are LikeIt and LiRoyal because they are cultivars that are simple to handle and produce well on any UK farm.

During my time at DSV Dr. Matthew Kerton has also developed a trio of varieties that provide excellent performance for any feed wheat grower namely Theodore, Oxford, and Champion.

My portfolio of covercrops and grasses, which has always been strong during my time at DSV and ranges from Gorilla forage rape to the truly outstanding variety Astonenergy bred by Tim Ball, has received more of my attention over the past two years. The breeding has not changed, but the movement towards catch cropping, companion cropping, and multi-species leys clearly shows that these varieties and species are beginning to be used in a different way. Given the context of climate change and fluctuating fertiliser prices, I believe this area presents the greatest opportunities and challenges for plant breeding.

 I joined DSV after United Oilseeds, and oilseed rape has been the focus of my efforts so far, but what drastic changes and an area rollercoaster (700,000ha to 300,000ha and back to 430,000ha?? wow). We still had the HGCA, Cruiser, Modesto (remember them?) and my favourite variety, Incentive45, 8 years ago. The farmers stuck with the crop, the breeders kept breeding, and the breeders advanced the crop by light years despite all the market turbulence and difficulties. On mainstream hybrids with high yields, we now see major gene phoma resistance (from multiple genes), TuYV resistance, Pod Shatter Resistance, Enhanced LLS Resistance, and high resistance to lodging offered as standard. Then, we observe these in combination with Clearfield technology and Clubroot resistance.

In closing, I'd like to express my gratitude to all the farmers who have supported me during my time at DSV, with particular thanks to David Hutchinson, Tom Hawthorne, Jake Freestone, Richard Butler, Richard Monk, Will Cysters, Tim Hayward, and Martin Smart.