Friday, September 22, 2017

Wisconsin Wheat Listing from 1919

Classification of American Wheat Varieties, USDA Bulletin 1074, (JA Clark et al) has a survey list in the back of wheat varieties being grown at that time in each state.  The survey year was 1919.  Over the course of my wheat project, I have distilled my project down to one simple idea: it's about Wisconsin's heritage wheat.  If a variety was grown in Wisconsin in the past, I'm interested.

Wheat varieties from the 19th Century and earlier are the most intriguing.  Crosses from the late 19th and early 20th Century are not as interesting to me anymore.  I want to grow out, eat, and sell a true wheat from the past.

Here is JA Clark, et al, list of Wisconsin wheat for the year 1919.  The habit, aka market class, is gleaned from reading JA Clark and checking the USDA GRIN database.

Variety Acreage Percent Habit My Comments
Bacska 900 0.2% HRWW Grown out for two years, winter kill in second season
Dawson 1,400 0.3% SWWW Selection from 1881, not working on currently.
0.0% HRSW JA Clark declares it to be a poor milling wheat.
Durum 12,100 2.3%
Durum is a class, not a variety. Pasta wheat.
Fultz 2,100 0.4% RWW Looks interesting in JA Clark, but not available to test
Goldcoin 400 0.1% SWWW In 2017 test plot
Haynes Bluestem 40,600 7.7% HRSW Two years growing out so far. Research suggests it may be the only remaining bluestem, of which there were once many
Humpback 1,600 0.3% HRSW Developed wheat from 1905
Iowa No. 404 100 0.0% HRWW Pure line selection of Turkey Red released in 1913. Can't find it in the GRIN db.
0.0% HRSW One season growing out. Looks promising. Very fast growing.
Marquis 313,400 59.2% HRSW Seed source from the Loiselle farm in Canada. Amazing how dominant this wheat was.
Odessa 200 0.0% SRWW Said to be very winter hardy
Prelude 2,700 0.5% HRSW Grown out for two years. Will probably not continue.
Preston 26,800 5.1% HRSW A Red Fife cross
Red Clawson 900 0.2% SRWW In 2017 test plot
Red Fife 13,300 2.5% HRSW This is growing fantastic wheat for us!
Red May 3,500 0.7% SRWW In 2017 test plot
Red Wave 600 0.1% SRWW Cross released in 1906
Turkey 39,600 7.5% HRWW This name covers a lot of different wheat, I'm learning
Ped. No. 2 6,900 1.3% HRWW Grown out for two years, 7 lbs planted in Fall 2017. I believe it's the oldest, most authentic Turkey extant.
Other 62,645 11.6%
Wish I could find some of the other bluestem varieties I saw referred to in “Wheat Growing in Wisconsin.” (1919)

TOTAL 527,445 99.5%

Monday, September 18, 2017

Spring Street Planting 2017

Today we drilled the 2 acre field on Spring St to winter wheat.  For me this was a big day.  Two of the historic wheats I have been growing out at home graduated to the big field on this day.

Condition of the soil after drilling and one final pass of the roller.
It was two years ago that I began growing out three historic Wisconsin wheat varieties in my test plot.  Turkey Red, Wisconsin No. 2, and Bacska.  The Bacska suffered major winter kill this season and I decided to discontinue work on it.  

The Turkey Red was originally planted as a control, to test it against modern Turkey strains.  When it grew with a red stem, something that modern Turkey Red does not do, I was very intrigued.  After learning that Russian botanists starved to death while protecting this exact seed line, I became even more passionate about growing it out.

Wisconsin No. 2 is a selection of Turkey Red released by the University of Wisconsin in 1918.  Now that I know the USDA lost it's own Turkey Red some time during the 20th Century, and that the Vavilov Turkey was collected 1923, I believe that Wisconsin No. 2 may be the oldest and most authentic Turkey Red extant.  It also looks amazing.  The No. 2 berries from the test plot look better than any other Turkey Red I have ever grown, in a big field or in my test plot.  I have found references to No. 2 from 1911, so it is at least that old.

The field was roughly oriented N-S, and for the small plantings we made two areas in the middle, oriented E-W.  The Wisconsin No. 2 (WN2) is the Northern plot and measures 28.5' x 133'.  The drill was set to notch 19 and the total seed in this area was 6 lbs 2 oz.  This works out to 70.3 lbs/acre.  I wanted it a bit heavier, but it should be OK.  My thinking is to make it as thin as possible while still making a strong stand.  This should maximize the productivity of each wheat plant, which is what I want.  I'm not trying to maximize yield per acre.  For growing out see that is limited in quantity, you want to maximize yield per plant.

The Vavilov Turkey Red (VTR) is the Southern plot and measures 13' x 133'.  There were 4 lbs 6 oz put down, around 88 lbs/acre.

The setup meant that Ron's 8' wide drill could do three passes around the small plots, protecting them well from the weeds that always creep in from the edges.  The drill was set to notch 20 for the remainder of the field, and my calculation comes to 135 lbs/acre.  I'm a little confused why the seeding rate was so much heavier.  It was 4.5 bags, and I checked the planting area using google earth.  The drill definitely plants light when the bin gets empty, so that explains a lot of the difference.  Next time I think I will just stay at notch 20 for small plantings like this.

We had to did just two passes for the VTR with only 10 cups in the drill filled.  For the WN2, Mary & I kept all the cups filled for three passes.  I had a generator and vacuum cleaner out in the field to clean the drill in between varieties.  I used an Earthway to drill in a little extra on the "headlands" of the small plots.

Mary rides the drill, checking the seed levels and working the levers to start and stop drilling. 

Vavilov Turkey Red is the Southern plot.

Wisconsin No. 2 is the northern most plot in the field

The two plots are oriented E-W.  The northernmost plot is 28.5' x 133', and has 6 lbs 2 oz of Wisconsin No. 2 drilled in.  This is about 70.3 lbs/acre.  The southern plot is Vavilov Turkey Red.  It measures 13' x 133' and has about 4.5 lbs of seed.  This works out to 88 lbs.acre.  We drilled both using notch 19 on the drill.  I set it lighter to try and get the biggest possible seed heads per plant. 

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.