On-Farm Wheat Variety Trials

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The Manitoba Organic Alliance is running its first-ever wheat variety trials on organic farms this summer. Four organic farmers received seed from five different wheat varieties in May, 2021. The wheat was seeded in strips with each of the varieties replicated four times (4 strips) across the field. Total plot sizes on three farms averaged around 55 acres. A fourth farm is conducting small-plot trials using specially designed small-scale research equipment for seeding and harvesting. Each producer will manage the wheat varieties using the same organic management practices that they would typically use to produce organic wheat. An agronomist will visit participating farms multiple times during the spring and summer months to assess populations, vigour, disease, lodging, sprouting and other performance measures. Once the wheat is harvested, MOA's industry partner, La Milanaise, will process the wheat into flour and assess the baking qualities of each variety. La Milanaise processes flours for the artisanal baking industry and prefers wheats that perform well in breads produced with traditional baking techniques, including long fermentation periods.

The Varieties

The varieties of wheat chosen for this trial are untreated conventional certified seed. Performance of these varieties has been previously assessed in Manitoba under conventional conditions. The purpose of this and of future MOA wheat trials is to determine which varieties are best suited to organic management. Different wheat varieties will be assessed in future years.

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ACC Brandon

Parentage Superb/CDC Osler//ND744

Breeder Dr. Richard Cuthbert and Dr. Ron DePauw, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Swift Current, SK

This is the "check variety"; the comparator against which the other wheats will be assessed. Brandon was chosen as the check as it is the most popular wheat in Manitoba for both organic and conventional growers and it has been grown for long enough that its performance (for conventional management) is well understood.

 

AAC Brandon is an awned, semi-dwarf CWRS wheat with a good disease-resistance package. It is the shortest of the five varieties in this trial. Other characteristics include:

  • Large seed size

  • Overall good disease package with moderate resistance to fuserium head blight and susceptibility to common bunt

  • Poor rating for sprouting

  • Falling number similar to that of checks

  • Performs well in arid conditions

  • Short, strong straw

  • Excellent standability

AAC Starbuck VB

Parentage Griffon/BW876//Carberry

Breeder Dr. Richard Cuthbert, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Swift Current, SK

Starbuck is an awned, semi-dwarf CWRS high-yielding wheat with decent straw strength, moderate resistance to fuserium head blight and low DON accumulation. It is moderately resistant to leaf rust, stripe rust and loose smut and it is tolerant to the Orange wheat blossom midge. Certified seed is a blend of 10% AAC Brandon and 90% AAC Starbuck. 

 

AAC Tisdale 

Parentage Somerset/BW865//Waskada

Breeder Dr. Richard Cuthbert, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Swift Current, SK

Tisdale is an awned, hollow stemmed CWRS high-yielding wheat. This wheat has the highest protein of the varieties in the trial and is tied with Redberry as the tallest variety. Other characteristics include:

  • Moderate resistance to fuserium head blight and low DON accumulation

  • Moderately susceptible to stripe rust, resistant to stem and leaf rust

  • Resistant to lodging

Cardale (Seed Depot)

Parentage McKenzie/Alsen

Breeder Dr. Stephen Fox, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Winnipeg, MB.

 

Awned, fast drying CWRS wheat. Other characteristics include:

  • Decent resistance to shattering in Seed Depot tests

  • Moderate resistance to fuserium head blight

AAC Redberry 

Parentage BW874/01S2120-40

Breeder Dr. Richard Cuthbert, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Swift Current, SK

 

Redberry is an awned CWRS wheat variety that produces good bread quality. This very red seed is expected to have the lowest resistance of the five trial varieties to fuserium head blight. It is resistant to stem and leaf rust, loose smut and to stripe rust. Tisdale and Redberry are likely to be the tallest varieties in the trial. Redberry may also be the first of the trial wheats to reach maturity. Other characteristics include:

  • Intermediate resistance to common bunt

  • Susceptible to Orange wheat blossom midge

  • Matures a few days earlier than Brandon

The Producers

The three large-plot producers are all long-time organic growers and are very experienced with growing hard red spring wheat under organic management.

Alan McKenzie, McKenzie Land and Livestock, Nesbitt, Manitoba

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