Organic wheat varieties

A range of standard, new and heritage wheat varieties will be trialled to assess the best yield and soil protecting qualities, specifically for the growth of wheat in organic systems.

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Field Lab Timeline

    7/31/2017 11:00:00 PM
  • Idea formation

    Idea formation
  • 9/2/2017 11:00:00 PM
  • Method discussion and finalisation

    Method discussion and finalisation
  • 10/1/2017 11:00:00 PM
  • Pre-trial soil analysis

    Pre-trial soil analysis
  • 10/28/2017 11:00:00 PM
  • Start of trial

    Start of trial
  • 11/19/2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Wheat growth progress monitoring

    Wheat growth progress monitoring
  • 12/4/2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Ongoing crop management

    Ongoing crop management
  • 2/12/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Analyse crop cover

    Analyse crop cover
  • 3/5/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Progress review

    Progress review
  • 5/13/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Analysis of possible foliar disease

    Analysis of possible foliar disease
  • 7/8/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Further cover and disease analysis

    Further cover and disease analysis
  • 8/12/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Yield analysis

    Yield analysis
  • 9/2/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Grain analysis

    Grain analysis
  • 10/21/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Results review and discussion for next plans

    Results review and discussion for next plans
  • 10/21/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Next steps

    Next steps
  • 10/22/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Second year methods

    Second year methods
  • 10/22/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Pre-sowing soi ltests

    Pre-sowing soi ltests
  • 10/24/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Crop sowing

    Crop sowing
  • 11/12/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Crop establishment

    Crop establishment
  • 12/11/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Growth cycle length monitoring

    Growth cycle length monitoring
  • 3/5/2019 12:00:00 AM
  • Crop canopy height monitoring

    Crop canopy height monitoring
  • 6/17/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • Disease severity monitoring

    Disease severity monitoring
  • 7/10/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • Review meeting

    Review meeting
  • 7/14/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • Ear density counts

    Ear density counts
  • 8/19/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • Grain yield analysis

    Grain yield analysis
  • 8/31/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • Grain quality analysis

    Grain quality analysis
  • 9/11/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • Year 2 report

    Year 2 report
For further information hover over the above milestone marks
  • Discussion

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  • Achievements

    October 2018

    Varieties sown

    The four farmers in the second year of trials have now sown their multiple varieties of organic wheat as established in discussion with the researcher. The original triallist has both a field scale and plot trials, whilst the three new farmers have just plot-scale trials to lessen their risk.

    Some farmers in the wider interest group of the trial are also considering including spring varieties into this trial, and propose doing this on the larger farm plots of the original triallist, rather than the small plots.

    Milestone: Crop sowing

    October 2018

    Monitoring plan Year 2

    The variables and traits that are going to be assessed for both plot and farm trials are as follows:

    • Pre-trial soil chemical analysis - N P K MG pH
    A representative soil sample will be collected from the trial area either prior to or at drilling.

    • Crop establishment – visual assessment to detect any remarkable crop failure
    A simple visual assessment will take place for each plot to determine crop establishment and make varietal comparisons if evident.

    • Growth cycle length - crop phenological stage in correspondence of flowering
    The growth stage of each variety will be assessed using the BBCH scale at a site visit at or around mid-flowering to determine earlier or later varieties.

    • Crop canopy height - on a plot basis, in correspondence of flowering (BBCH GS 65)
    The canopy height will be measured using a ruler to give a representative canopy height across the plot.

    • Disease severity – on a plot basis. Identification of main diseases and estimated average percentage cover of flag leaf and 2nd leaf in correspondence of BBCH GS 65

    A simple percentage leaf area showing symptoms for the two leaves described will be performed

    • Ear density – count of fertile tillers on two randomly selected linear row meters in each plot
    Counts of ears along a row meter to provide an estimate of ear numbers per meter squared.

    • Grain yield – plot/commercial combine harvest of each plot at maturity, with grain weight adjusted at 14% moisture and converted to t/ha.

    Each plot (plot trial/farm trial) harvested to provide a t/ha grain yield and a moisture content to allow standardisation to 14% moisture.

    • Grain quality – protein content and grain specific weight (hectolitre weight, HLW) on a 1kg sample from each plot (plot trials and farm trials) collected by the combine.

    Milestone: Second year methods

    October 2018

    Methods Year 2

    (...)
    The trial will assess yield and quality, both bushel weight and protein levels. It will also evaluate the agronomic advantages of the varieties, with regards to weed competitiveness, disease levels by visual assessment and straw production.

    The 2018/19 plot trial will be a randomised complete block design (22 varieties, 12 m by 3.4 m plots, replicated 3 times).

    The plot trials will include the following varieties;
    YQ, Ehogold, Siskin, Crispin, Montana, Evolution, Revelation, Zyatt, Skyfall, Crusoe
    Edelmann, Mortimer, Extase, Moschus, Cougar, Halfreda, AWC1, AWC2, AWC3 and AWC4, Costello, and Maris Widgeon.

    The farm trials will include the following varieties;
    Revelation, Ehogold, Skyfall, Crusoe, Zyatt and Crispin

    The reasoning behind each variety’s inclusion encompasses several factors, with the list aiming to represent current commercial organic, novel, heritage and developmental varieties to properly represent the winter wheat variety portfolio in the UK.

    Milestone: Next steps

    October 2018

    Next steps - Year 2

    Alongside the first year triallist, another three farmers will be trialling some of the organic wheat varieties. Plot trials will run alongside larger field-scale trials, the latter which will be held in the original triallist's farm. He will also run plot-scale trials to compare to the others. The varieties chosen for the plot trials are in part selected from last year’s top yield performers in the plot trial, as well as novel material from plant breeders and seed merchants with potential for high levels of performance under organic husbandry. With more farmers trialling in this second year, potential differences in soil biota, weed profiles, disease pressure and natural fertility of organic rotations, the results of this trial will be more robust giving information to a wider reach of organic farmers.

    One interesting result from last year’s plot trial was the performance of Mortimer, which demonstrated a high yield potential under organic husbandry. This variety however is no longer available commercially in the UK, with the supplier no longer carrying it, and the breeder no longer wishing to maintain it for the UK, given a lack of interest from the conventional sector. The group are keen to trial Mortimer again to substantiate its performance.

    The group would like to conduct larger scale variety trials on their own farms, using their commercial farm equipment and own farm management and environment to give a more relevant evaluation of varietal performance for their own farms. This larger scale farm variety trial will be coordinated to give proper comparisons by designing the trial to an incomplete block design, with multiple comparisons taking place across farms.

    Plot trial data and farm trial data will be compared to assess which if either is more useful in providing farmers with information to make management decisions and varietal choices. Both approaches should compliment each other to give a more thorough evaluation of variety performance.
    (..)

    Milestone: Next steps

    October 2018

    First year research conclusions

    Conclusions about varietal performance must be taken cautiously because the trial has been run for one year only. However, this trial has a value outside its results as it embeds all the pros and cons aspects of a plot trial. In fact, the general underperformance of wheat in this trial is in part linked to the plot structure itself and to its artefacts (especially machinery not representative of farm machinery, delays in drilling due to availability of the plot drill): the average yield of the trial was evidently lower than the yield of the surrounding commercial field of variety Revelation, which was about 3.8 t/ha, i.e. 58% more than the same variety in the plots. However, a plot trial is the only way to compare a relatively large number of varieties in the same environment and to draw a general profile of their performance. For example, specific constraints in terms of diseases have been identified, and correlation between yields and quality are possible without other “confounding” variables.

    Merging data from this trial with the data from the parallel trial run by Pearce Seeds in Dorset will strengthen both trials, confirming and/or correcting the trends identified. Testing a restricted number of varieties at a field scale with a network of farmers, whilst maintaining a reference plot trial is by far the best compromise to draw conclusions about varietal performance in organic systems.

    Milestone: Results review and discussion for next plans

    October 2018

    First year results

    The results of the first year of trials including 17 different varieties of organic wheat have been analysed:

    Height and disease

    Crop observation during the flowering stage highlighted differences among varieties in terms of height and disease susceptibility. Maris Widgeon had an outstanding canopy height (82.5 cm on average) compared to the bulk of the other varieties, all ranging between 57 and 67 cm.

    We observed presence of the three major foliar diseases:
    • Septoria was observed in all varieties except Crusoe and Skyfall, with relatively low severity not exceeding 11%, and with no significant differences among the affected varieties;
    • Yellow rust was only present in variety Skyfall with a high severity of 43%;
    • Brown rust affected with a medium severity var. Crusoe (10%).

    Yield

    The average grain yield was 2.25 t/ha. Yields spanned across a range between a minimum of 1.78 t/ha of var. Anapolis, and a maximum of 2.80 t/ha of var. Mortimer at 430 seed/m2. However, statistical analysis did highlight significant differences between varieties (Anova p = 0.001, Tukey’s minimum significant difference = 0.82 t/ha) with Mortimer (lower seed rate) yielding significantly better than Zyatt, Anapolis and AWC13. Protein and specific weights were low compared to optimal values, with 6.14% and 65.6 kg/hl on average, respectively.

    Protein content and yield are linked by a highly significant negative correlation (r = - 0.87; p = 0.000 ***), with the lowest protein content detected in the top yielding variety and vice-versa. Observing the distribution of varieties across a trendline representing this trade-off, we can suggest that varieties Olympus, Siskin and Skyfall fell below the trendline, therefore with lower protein than expected according to their yield, whereas varieties Maris Widgeon, Graham and Gourmet tended to be above the trendline, suggesting that they could have been more efficient in harvest.

    Please log-in to download the full results.

    Milestone: Results review and discussion for next plans

    July 2018

    Progress and crop cover review meeting

    At the recent meeting 12 farmers attended to discuss the trials progress and look at the variety of organic wheat being grown. Of this group, most will start trialling their preferred varieties from autumn onwards, expanding on this initial year of trials.

    Observations by the lead triallist and the group were that the trial plot is not as thick as normal crops due to delays at drilling caused by wet weather. It looks as though none of the varieties have suffered more than others due to this and the current persisting dry weather - an interesting results in itself. The current trial is 2-3 weeks away from harvesting, after which yield data will be collected.

    Having viewed the trial plots, the group discussed the role of smaller plots trials (as utilised this year in 3 m x 6 m plots) and using larger-scale tramlines for trialling new varieties and which is the best method for making farm management decisions. It was felt that both methods of trialling are needed - the initial plot trials are useful for a 'look-see' first before expanding onto a larger scale. In the second year of trials larger part-field tramlines will be used in order to scale up growing the selected varieties. There was also conversation about carrying on using the existing plot trials to try out further varieites, which could also include organic varieties of oat, spring barley and other grains.

    The group will hold a further meeting after the results come through, during which they will each decide what vaireities they would like to trial next year.

    Milestone: Progress review

    July 2018

    Wider group progress meeting

    Come along at 6pm and meet some of the farmers and researchers involved in the trial. Refreshments and a pasty will be provided. Meeting will close at 8pm.

    The group will look at the trial so far on-farm, which varieties are looking best and discuss which farmers want to trial a more select variety next year.

    Directions
    Follow signs on A361 to The Cotswold Wildlife Park ,turn off A361 and pass the Cotswold Wildlife Park entrance. Continue on this minor road and then turn right at the crossroads sign posted ‘Barringtons’. Continue on this road and meeting point is a field located on the right which will be sign posted.

    Note on accessiblity
    As this meeting is being held in and field, anyone with a physical impairment may find access restrictive unfortunately. Please do contact us for more information.

    Queries?
    Please email info@innovativefarmers.org with any queries. For more information on the Innovative Farmers Programme, please visit the innovativefarmers.org website.

    Milestone: Progress review

    September 2017

    Methods meeting

    Methods

    The trial will assess yield and quality, both bushel weight and protein levels. It will also evaluate the agronomic advantages of the varieties, with regards to weed competitiveness, disease levels by visual assessment and straw production.

    Initially the trial will run on one farm and also include a trial at a Pearce Seeds farm. This is a trial run to narrow the varieties down ahead of expanding the trial across other farms. Fourteen farmers will then have the opportunity to trial these pre-tested varieties, and are currently involved in the progress of the initial trial in preparation for the following year.

    The trial will be a replicated trial (16 varieties each with 10 by 4 m plot, each variety replicated 4 times).
    The list of varieties includes:
    Olympus
    Anapolis
    Sundance
    Crispin
    Graham
    Costello
    Siskin
    Dunstan
    Gleam
    Zyatt
    Skyfall
    Maris widgeon
    Crusoe
    AWC 13
    Mortimer
    Gourmet

    Analysis

    • Yield will be taken at harvest.
    • Quality lab and protein level ‘gluten quality’ at lab for milling, bushel weight on combine, yield plot combine.
    • Pre-trial soil tests have been carried out on N P K Mg and pH.


    As the trial expands to further farms next year, it is expected that each farmer will be able to tailor the trial to fit in with their own farming systems – as would be necessary to take on the use of a new variety.

    Milestone: Method discussion and finalisation

    July 2017

    Initial meeting

    Aims

    This field lab aims to look at wheat varieties that are best suited for organic use, grown on organic land under organic farming systems. A replicated trial will use current and potential UK and European wheat varieties that are selected for their organic potential. It will assess old, current and varieties not currently available in the UK for yield and milling quality in UK farming conditions. The UK is a more maritime region than many parts of Europe with a different disease profile, and different requirements from the buyers.

    Pearce Seeds are also undertaking a trial in Dorset using the same varieties, and so we will be able to compare the varieties between different sites.

    Initially, over the course of a year, this trial will be carried out by one farmer to help narrow down the wider group of wheat varieties. The cost of doing this over many farms makes this unattainable, however after the first year, other farmers from the two groups mentioned above will then take part in trials.

    Milestone: Idea formation

  • Findings

    October 2018

    First Year Results

    Conclusions about varietal performance must be taken cautiously because the trial has been run for one year only. However, this trial has a value outside its results as it embeds all the pros and cons aspects of a plot trial. In fact, the general underperformance of wheat in this trial is in part linked to the plot structure itself and to its artefacts (especially machinery not representative of farm machinery, delays in drilling due to availability of the plot drill): the average yield of the trial was evidently lower than the yield of the surrounding commercial field of variety Revelation, which was about 3.8 t/ha, i.e. 58% more than the same variety in the plots. However, a plot trial is the only way to compare a relatively large number of varieties in the same environment and to draw a general profile of their performance. For example, specific constraints in terms of diseases have been identified, and correlation between yields and quality are possible without other “confounding” variables.

    Merging data from this trial with the data from the parallel trial run by Pearce Seeds in Dorset will strengthen both trials, confirming and/or correcting the trends identified. Testing a restricted number of varieties at a field scale with a network of farmers, whilst maintaining a reference plot trial is by far the best compromise to draw conclusions about varietal performance in organic systems.


    The results of the first year of trials including 17 different varieties of organic wheat have been analysed:

    Height and disease

    Crop observation during the flowering stage highlighted differences among varieties in terms of height and disease susceptibility. Maris Widgeon had an outstanding canopy height (82.5 cm on average) compared to the bulk of the other varieties, all ranging between 57 and 67 cm.

    We observed presence of the three major foliar diseases:
    • Septoria was observed in all varieties except Crusoe and Skyfall, with relatively low severity not exceeding 11%, and with no significant differences among the affected varieties;
    • Yellow rust was only present in variety Skyfall with a high severity of 43%;
    • Brown rust affected with a medium severity var. Crusoe (10%).

    Yield

    The average grain yield was 2.25 t/ha. Yields spanned across a range between a minimum of 1.78 t/ha of var. Anapolis, and a maximum of 2.80 t/ha of var. Mortimer at 430 seed/m2. However, statistical analysis did highlight significant differences between varieties (Anova p = 0.001, Tukey’s minimum significant difference = 0.82 t/ha) with Mortimer (lower seed rate) yielding significantly better than Zyatt, Anapolis and AWC13. Protein and specific weights were low compared to optimal values, with 6.14% and 65.6 kg/hl on average, respectively.

    Protein content and yield are linked by a highly significant negative correlation (r = - 0.87; p = 0.000 ***), with the lowest protein content detected in the top yielding variety and vice-versa. Observing the distribution of varieties across a trendline representing this trade-off, we can suggest that varieties Olympus, Siskin and Skyfall fell below the trendline, therefore with lower protein than expected according to their yield, whereas varieties Maris Widgeon, Graham and Gourmet tended to be above the trendline, suggesting that they could have been more efficient in harvest.

    Please log-in to download the full results.

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