Thursday, September 14, 2017

2017 Winter Wheat Test Plot

I planted 15 varieties of heritage wheat into the test plot today--wow! I didn't expect the test plot to get this ambitious, but that's how it is.  Here is the variety listing and what I hope to learn from each.

There are two themes in this test plot.  First, there are multiple comparison plantings to help me determine what historic Turkey Red was really like.  My hypothesis is that none of the Turkey Red available today is as close to historic Turkey as people think.  Differences between the archived Turkey Red I have been growing out, like the red stems, already strongly suggest this to be true.  Another tantalizing clue comes from a 1920 JI Case threshing manual, which states that Turkey Red is harder to thresh than almost any other wheat.  In my experience, modern Turkey strains are actually the easiest to thresh.  "Wheat Growing in Wisconsin" (1919) also states that Turkey is a hard threshing wheat.

I also hope to prove that good, authentic Turkey Red will make better flour than the modern Turkey I have grown and tested.  It will take more harvests and testing to evaluate these ideas.

The second theme is historic Wisconsin wheat.  Red Clawson, Red May, and Goldcoin are three varieties that were definitely grown in Wisconsin in the 19th and early 20th century.  Outside of Turkey Red, Red May and Goldcoin are the most interesting to me at this time.  Bacska, which I was very interested in two years ago, winter killed last year and I'm going to stop work on it for now.

The plot was planted on the ground where I grew Jacob's Cattle beans for storage this season.  I could not get the team in to work the ground, so it was all hand work with the wheel hoe.  It's approximately 7'  by 21', oriented N-S.  Each plot is nominally 2' by 4', drilled in with the Earthway using the beet plate.  Looking at it with North upright, here is the planting legend.  My abbreviations are shown in parentheses:

Red Clawson                       Ehmke Turkey Red (ETR)     Vavilov Turkey Red (VTR)

Beloturka                             Krymka                                   Kharkof

Racine                                 Goldcoin                                  Red May

Wisconsin No. 2 (WN2)     Early Noe                                Red May (from Spring planting)

Montana No. 36                  Nebraska No. 60                      Nebraska No. 6

Here's what the plot looked like when I finished.  The ground is not worked up as well as it's been in the past, but there is good contact with the seed and I think it will be fine.
This is Wisconsin Pedigree No. 2, after two seasons of growing out on the test plot.  I harvested almost 7 pounds this year, and it will go out to Ron's field on Spring Street in a couple of days.  I also planted 5 grams (the standard sample amount the USDA provides) as a control in the test plot on Anarchy Acres.  The berries are beautiful and dark, and almost no yellow berries.  The difference between this and the modern Turkey I have worked with is stunning.  It's going to be an incredible product to bake with once I have enough grown out!

The USDA Turkey Red (aka Vavilov Turkey Red), which has also been grown out for two seasons now, does not look as good as the Wisconsin No. 2.  Those researchers at the University of Wisconsin picked a very good selection for Wisconsin, apparently.  I also put 5 gm of this into the test plot, for a control and comparison.
For comparison, here is what Ehmke Turkey grown on the test plot looked like last year (2016 harvest).  The bugs got into my sample over the winter, but you can still see what kind of berry was produced.  It doesn't look nearly as good, from a protein standpoint, as the VTR or WN2.  I used some field-grown Ehmke seed from this year for the test plot sample.

Red Clawson is listed as a Wisconsin Wheat in JA Clark. It's a soft red winter wheat,  a cross created in 1888.  This is another wheat that was saved by the Vavilov and donated back to the USDA collection in the 1990's.

This wheat is a landrace collected in the Ukraine in 1900.  I am interested to see how much similarity it shares with the modern Turkey Red I have grown.

Turkey Red is a selection of the landrace Krymka, according to Mitrofanova at the Vavilov.  I am interested to see what properties it shares with my test plot Turkeys.  Maybe this will finally solve the mystery!
"Dear Charlie Tennessen,
According to the information we collected a lot of high-quality wheat landraces were imported to the Central Plains area of North America from Russia  before 1900. The work of American breeders with winter bread wheat having vitreous red grain was based on Russian landraces called Krymki and Beloturki. For example, the cultivars Kanred, Karmont, Cheyenne were selected from them as the most adapted to local conditions and resistant to diseases. It is known that culms of plants Krymki become purple (colored with anthocyanin) during the maturation, they slightly resistant to lodging. Apparently, these features have been preserved for cultivar Turkey Red (a red turkey/bird), which is a selection from landrace Krymka. The sample of Turkey Red was obtained to the VIR collection from the US, Nebraska, in 1923, supplier Borodin D.N.
Best regards
Olga Mitrofanova"

Red May is a SRWW with a very long history in the US, including Wisconsin.  It was grown as early as 1690 in the New World.

Goldcoin is a soft white winter wheat.  This is not really an area of interest to me, but it was grown in Wisconsin in the past.  After seeing these beautiful light-colored berries, I am now very interested in growing it out!

This is a soft red winter wheat, and not very old by my standards (1954 development).  But with this name, I had to grow it!

Not sure why I thought this was a good idea to test.  It's a french wheat collected in 1917, and it has a blue stem.  But there is no evidence that it is a historic Wisconsin wheat.

Nebraska No. 6.  This is a selection of Turkey Red released by the Nebraska Agriculture Experiment Station in 1918.  I'm wondering if it shares characteristics with the other historic Turkeys from the USDA.  Nebraska No. 60, below, was released at the same time and JA Clark states it is also a Turkey selection.  

Nebraska No. 60

Montana No 36 is a selection from Kharkof  that JA Clark states is indistinguishable from Turkey.  Another way to see what's going on with Turkey Red provenance.

No comments:

Post a Comment