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Variety Trials - 2011 Maine and Vermont Organic Winter Wheat Variety Trial Results

2011 Maine and Vermont Organic Winter Wheat Variety Trial Results (PDF)

Ellen Mallory, Heather Darby, Thomas Molloy, Erica Cummings, Katherine McPhee

Bread wheat has emerged as a new crop for farmers in Northern New England as consumer demand for locally-grown foods increases. In 2010, the University of Vermont and the University of Maine began a series of coordinated trials evaluating varieties of hard red winter wheat to identify those that perform well in northern New England under organic production. This publication presents results for winter wheat varieties trialed in 2011. Separate publications are available for spring wheat varieties and 2010 trials (www.extension.umaine.edu/localwheat).

In Maine, trials were established at two locations: the University of Maine Rogers Farm Forage and Crop Research Facility in Old Town and Nature’s Circle Farm, a commercial operation in Houlton. For Vermont, one trial was established at the Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh and one at Cornell University’s Willsboro Research Farm in Willsboro, NY. This collaborative work was funded by a grant from the USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to improve bread wheat production in our region.

Trial Design and Varieties

The experimental design was a randomized complete block with four replications, which means that each variety was planted in four separate plots at each location. The winter wheat varieties that were evaluated are listed in Table 1. All are hard red varieties, with the exception of four hard white and one soft white varieties. Hard wheat varieties are preferred for bread flour.

Table 1. Winter wheat varieties planted in Maine, New York, and Vermont.

Winter Wheat Variety Type† Origin and Year of Release‡ Seed Source
AC Morley HR Canada C&M Seed, Canada
Alice HW SD, 2006 USDA-ARS, SD
Alliance HR NE, 1993 USDA-ARS, NE
Anton HW NE, 2008 USDA-ARS, NE
Appalachian White HW NC, 2009 USDA-ARS, NC
Arapahoe HR NE, 1998 Albert Lea Seed House, MN
Banatka HR Heritage var., Hungary, 1800s Heritage Wheat Conservancy, MA
Borden MHR Canada, 1983 Semican, Canada
Camelot HR NE, 2008 USDA-ARS, NE
Expedition HR SD, 2002 Albert Lea Seed House, MN
Harvard HR Canada Agri-Culver Seeds, NY
Jerry HR ND, 2001 North Dakota State Univ.
LP3 HR WA Washington State Univ.
Mace HR  NE, 2008 USDA-ARS, NE
Maxine HR Canada, 2001 C&M Seed, Canada
MDM HW WA, 2005 Washington State Univ.
Millennium HR NE, 1999 USDA-ARS, NE
Overland HR NE, 2006 USDA-ARS, NE
NE01643 HR WA Washington State Univ.
NuEast HR NC, 2009 USDA-ARS, NC
Redeemer HR Canada C&M Seed, Canada
Roughrider HR ND, 1975 North Dakota State Univ.
Sherman SW OR, 1928 Washington State Univ.
Wahoo HR NE, 2000 USDA-ARS, NE
Warthog HR Canada Semican, Canada
Wesley HR NE, SD, WY, 2000 USDA-ARS, NE
Zorro HR Canada C&M Seed, Canada
† HR = hard red, MHR = medium hard red, HW = hard white, SW = soft white.
‡ Year of release was not always available.

Weather Data

Seasonal precipitation and temperature were recorded at each location. The Old Town, Alburgh, and Willsboro locations each had weather stations in close proximity to the trials. The weather data for the Houlton site came from a station 4.5 miles away. Fall 2010 precipitation and temperatures were generally above the 30-year average at all sites. In Houlton, snow cover was inconsistent and temperatures were above normal during the early part of the winter. Spring precipitation was higher than usual at all sites, particularly in Vermont. Vermont spring temperatures were also higher than usual. June and July precipitation levels were close to 30-year averages at all sites except Willsboro, which experienced a substantially drier than usual early summer. Summer temperatures departed from normal somewhat at each site – Maine sites were slightly cooler than normal, while Vermont sites were slightly warmer than usual.

Table 2. Temperature and precipitation summary for , Houlton, ME, Old Town, ME, South Hero, VT, and Willsboro, NY, 2011.†

Location September
2010
October
2010
November
2010
March April May June July Total
Houlton, ME
Total Precipitation (in.) 5.0 3.6 4.9 5.2 3.0 5.9 5.3 4.6 37.4
Departure from Normal 1.6 0.3 1.3 2.4 0.1 2.7 1.6 1.1 11.1
Average Temperature (°F) 58.2 43.6 33.4 25.9 38.2 51.9 60.1 66.4
Departure from Normal 4.1 0.6 1.9 0.1 -0.3 0.3 -0.7 0.3
Growing Degree Days§ 781 372 126 39 205 578 836 1026 3961
Old Town, ME
Total Precipitation (in.) 4.8 4.7 4.5‡ 4.1‡ 5.7 3.8 4.2‡ 2.1 33.9
Departure from Normal 1.0 1.3 1.0 0.8 2.5 0.5 0.6 -1.3 6.4
Average Temperature (°F) 60.3 46.7 36.3 30.3 41.8 53.9 60.6 69.2
Departure from Normal 3.9 1.4 0.8 -0.7 -0.2 0 -2.1 0.8
Growing Degree Days§ 839 440 165 180 294 680 844 1127 4569
South Hero, VT
Total Precipitation (in.) 4.3 6.7 2.9 3.4 7.9 8.7 3.5 3.7 41.1
Departure from Normal 0.9 3.8 0.0 1.1 5.0 5.4 0.1 -0.3 16.0
Average Temperature (°F) 64.0 50.6 39.9 32.9 46.6 58.7 67.1 74.4
Departure from Normal 3.6 1.8 2.2 2.1 3.1 2.1 1.3 3.3
Growing Degree Days§ 991 578 243 144 465 826 1088 1314 5649
Willsboro, NY
Total Precipitation (in.) 2.7 4.1 2.7 1.1 6.6 7.8 2.8 1.8 29.6
Departure from Normal -0.4 1.1 -0.7 -0.7 5.3 4.6 -5.3 -1.6 2.7
Average Temperature (°F) 62.3 48.7 38.7 30.4 45.7 58.3 66.2 73
Departure from Normal 3.4 2.7 3.7 1.4 1.8 3.9 0.9 2.9
Growing Degree Days§ 909 518 236 104 423 809 1064 1277 5340
† Based on National Weather Service data from cooperative observer stations in close proximity to field trials available at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/crn/report. Historical averages are for 30 years (1971-2000) available at http://cdo.ncdc.gov/cgi-bin/climatenormals.pl
‡ Values are incomplete due to missing or suspect data.
§ Base 32°F ¶ Data not yet available.

Cultural Practices

Plots were managed following practices similar to those used by farmers in northern New England (see Table 3).

Rogers Research Farm – Old Town, ME –The trial was conducted on two nearby fields both of which had been in annual crop production for more than 20 years. In early September 2010, the fields were prepared using a moldboard plow and seedbed conditioner. Solid dairy manure was applied at a rate of 22 tons/ac on September 14 and 15 and immediately incorporated with a Perfecta harrow. The plots were seeded with an Almaco Cone Seeder on September 23, 2011 and harvested with a Wintersteiger Classic plot combine on July 25 and 27, 2011. The harvest area was 4′ x 34′.

Nature’s Circle Farm – Houlton, ME – The field used in the trial in Houlton was in potatoes in 2009 and fallowed in 2010. In early September 2010, the fields were prepared using a seedbed conditioner. On September 16, a dehydrated pelletized poultry manure, Nutri-Wave (4-1-2; Envirem Technologies Inc.), was applied at a rate of 750 lbs/ac and then incorporated with a spring-tine harrow on the same day. A spring-tine harrow was used for final seedbed preparation the day before planting. The plots were seeded with an Almaco Cone Seeder on September 22, 2010. On May 23, 2011, a top-dress application of Nutri-WaveTM was applied at a rate of 3,000 lbs/ac. The plots were harvested with a Wintersteiger Classic plot combine on August 6, 2011. The harvest area was 4’ x 34’.

Borderview Research Farm – Alburgh, VT – The seedbeds at both the Alburgh and Willsboro locations were prepared by conventional tillage methods (Table 3). The previous crop grown at the Alburgh site was spring wheat. Prior to that, the site had been perennial forages (reed canary and alfalfa) for the previous 10 years. In August 2010, 2 tons/ac of Giroux’s composted poultry manure (2-3-2) was applied to the area. The field was then disked and spike tooth harrowed to prepare for planting. Plots were seeded with a Kincaid Cone Seeder on September 23, 2010. Grain was harvested with an Almaco SP50 plot combine on July 20, 2011. The harvest area was 5′ x 20′.

Willsboro Research Farm – Willsboro, NY – At the Willsboro location, planting of the winter wheat followed a 3-year crop of alfalfa/timothy sod. The sod was plowed in August 2009 and fallowed prior to planting. The field was dragged twice during the fallow period to knock down the alfalfa and perennial grasses. The plots were seeded on September 27, 2010 with a custom made eight-row cone planter. Plots were harvested on July 28, 2011 with a Hege plot combine. The harvest area was 4′ x 13′.

Table 3. General plot management of the 2011 winter wheat trials.

Location Rogers Research Farm
Old Town, ME
Nature’s Circle Farm
Houlton, ME
Borderview Farm
Alburgh, VT
Willsboro Research Farm
Willsboro, NY
Soil type Melrose & Elmwoodfine sandy loam Caribou gravely loam Benson rocky siltloam Kingsbury silt clay loam
Previous crops Mixed vegetables/sweet corn Potato/fallow Spring wheat Timothy/Alfalfa Sod
Fertility source Solid dairy manure Dehydrated, pellet-ized chicken manure Composted poultry manure Plowed in sod
Target nitrogen rate (lbs/ac) 70 70 70 70
Row spacing (in) 6.5 6.5 6 6
Seeding rate (seeds/ft2)† 30 30 32 32
Replicates 4 4 4 4
Planting date 9-23-10 9-22-10 9-23-10 9-27-10
Harvest date 7-25-11 & 7-26-11 8-6-11 7-20-11 7-28-10
Harvest area (ft2) 4′ x 34′ 4′ x 30′ 5′ x 20′ 4′ x 13′
Tillage operations Moldboard plow,seedbed conditioner Seedbed conditioner, spring-tine harrow Fall plow, disc, &spike-toothed harrow Fall plow, disc, & spike-toothed harrow
† The target seeding rate was calculated to achieve the same plant density for each variety. This translated to 70-140 lbs seed/acre (average 113), and depended on the seed weight of each variety.
† The target seeding rate

Measurements and Methods

Flowering date was recorded for each variety where possible. At the Houlton and Willsboro sites, which were more remote and visited less frequently, information on the week of flowering is provided rather than the actual day. Once the wheat reached physiological maturity, plant height, number of tillers, wheat and weed above-ground biomass were measured. Only tillers with filled grain heads (spikes) were counted. For biomass, plants were cut one inch above the soil surface. Prior to harvest, the incidence and severity of lodging was noted for each plot.

All varieties were harvested on the same day at each site once the latest maturing variety threshed free in hand tests and weather and logistics allowed. Following harvest, the grain was cleaned with a small Clipper cleaner. Measurements on the harvested grain include yield, moisture, test weight, crude protein, falling number, and mycotoxin levels. Harvest moisture and test weights were determined using a DICKEY-john GAC 2100 moisture meter.

Subsamples were ground using a Perten LM3100 Laboratory Mill. The ground material was then analyzed for crude protein, falling number, and mycotoxin levels. Protein content was determined using a Perten Inframatic 8600 Flour Analyzer. Most commercial mills target 12-15% protein. Falling number was determined on a Perten FN 1500 Falling Number Machine. The falling number is related to the level of sprout damage that has occurred in the grain due to enzymatic activity. It is measured as the time it takes, in seconds, for a plunger to fall through a slurry of flour and water to the bottom of the tube. Falling numbers less than 200 indicate high enzymatic activity and poor quality wheat. Concentrations of deoxynivalenol (DON), a mycotoxin produced by the fungus that causes Fusarium head blight, was determined using Veratox DON 2/3 Quantitative test from the NEOGEN Corp. This test has a detection range of 0.5 to 5 ppm. Samples with DON values greater than 1 ppm are considered unsuitable for human consumption (US-FDA 2010, see footnote).

All data were analyzed using mixed model Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) in which replicates were considered random effects. The LSD procedure was used to separate variety averages when the ANOVA F-test was significant (P<0.05). There were significant differences between the locations for most parameters, so results from each location are reported independently.


WHAT IS A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE?

Variations in yield and quality can occur not only due to genetics but also due to variability in soil, weather, and other growing conditions. Statistical analysis makes it possible to determine whether a difference between two varieties is real or whether it might have occurred due to other variability in the field. The Least Significant Difference (LSD) is the minimum difference needed between two averages to consider them statistically different. LSDs at the 5% level of probability are presented at the bottom of each table for each measure. Where the difference between two varieties within a column is equal to or greater than the LSD value, you can be sure in 19 out of 20 chances that there is a real difference between the two varieties.

In the example below, variety A is significantly different from variety C because the difference between their yields (1454) is greater than the LSD value (889). Variety A is not significantly different from variety B because the difference between their yields (725) is less than the LSD value (889).

Throughout this bulletin, the greatest value at each site for each measure is indicated with an underline and bold type. Varieties that are not significantly different from the greatest value are also in bold type. Using the example below, variety C had the highest measured yield (underlined and bolded) but it was not significantly different than the yield of variety B (bolded).

Example Table

Variety Yield
A
B
C
3161
3886
4615
LSD 889

Results

Growth and Development

Winter survival was generally good for all varieties except Maxine, which suffered winter injury at the Maine sites. Maxine had good vigor ratings going into the fall (data not shown), but much of its fall topgrowth was killed over the winter. Subsequent biomass production was low compared with other varieties. Winter injury also was observed across many plots in Houlton but was independent of specific varieties. In Alburgh, some areas of the field suffered from erosion and decreased plant vigor due to saturated soils. In general, minimal lodging and wildlife damage was observed at all locations. At the Alburgh site, Sherman partially lodged but it was still harvestable.

Flowering occurred predominately during the second week of June at the Old Town, Alburgh, and Willsboro sites, and during the third and fourth week of June in Houlton (Table 4). Most varieties flowered within a few days of one another. Alliance, Appalachian White, NuEast, and Wesley flowered relatively early at both Old Town and Alburgh, whereas Zorro consistently flowered later than other varieties.

Table 4. Estimated wheat flowering date, number of spikes, and plant height, ME, NY, and VT.

 Variety     Estimated Flowering Date (day or week of June)
    No. of Spikes (no./ft2)
    Plant Height (inches)
Old Town Houlton Alburgh Willsboro Old Town Houlton Alburgh Willsboro Old Town Houlton Alburgh Willsboro
ME ME VT NY ME ME VT NY ME ME VT NY
AC Morley June 10 June 22 June 9 2nd wk 41 32 57 56 40 37 45 39
Alice‡ June 7 1st wk 68 52 33 27
Alliance June 8 < June 22 June 7 2nd wk 37 38 75 67 28 26 39 31
Anton‡ June 10 June 22 June 7 2nd wk 31 37 60 38 28 26 34 29
App. White‡ June 8 < June 22 June 7 2nd wk 48 38 54 55 29 26 35 30
Arapahoe June 9 < June 22 June 7 2nd wk 45 45 81 66 32 29 41 35
Banatka June 10 44 49
Borden‡ June 10 < June 22 June 10 2nd wk 34 39 66 40 39 36 50 37
Camelot June 9 < June 22 June 10 2nd wk 39 36 63 52 31 27 36 31
Expedition June 8 < June 22 June 8 2nd wk 45 44 58 61 30 28 38 31
Harvard June 9 < June 22 June 8 2nd wk 31 27 49 42 33 29 39 34
Jerry June 10 < June 22 June 9 2nd wk 52 50 62 68 31 31 41 36
LP3 June 9 2nd wk 57 45 29 25
Mace June 10 < June 22 June 9 2nd wk 45 43 68 52 26 25 32 27
Maxine June 9 < June 22 June 7 2nd wk 26 21 41 26 28 26 35 30
MDM‡ June 22 2nd wk NA NA 37 33
Millennium June 9 < June 22 June 9 2nd wk 39 46 57 57 29 28 38 31
NE06143 June 7 2nd wk 55 59 38 31
NuEast June 8 < June 22 June 7 2nd wk 46 48 47 53 29 27 36 33
Overland June 9 < June 22 June 9 2nd wk 36 44 67 77 30 27 38 34
Redeemer June 10 < June 22 June 7 3rd wk 40 43 45 48 33 33 41 33
Roughrider June 9 2nd wk 92 62 47 38
Sherman‡ June 10 2nd wk 52 50 49 42
Wahoo June 9 June 22 June 8 2nd wk 26 27 55 54 29 26 38 31
Warthog June 10 < June 22 June 7 2nd wk 45 38 49 43 36 33 40 30
Wesley June 8 < June 22 June 7 2nd wk 37 37 49 57 25 23 34 29
Zorro June 11 June 22 June 10 2nd wk 41 32 68 55 38 33 45 39
Site Average 39 38 60 53 32 29 39 33
LSD (0.05) 8 8 24 17 2 2 3 4
† For all measures, bolded values are not significantly different from the highest value, which is indicated with underline.
‡ Variety is not a hard red type.

The number of spikes per unit area is influenced by tillering and tiller survival, which in turn is influenced by planting date, weather, and variety. The Alburgh and Willsboro sites, with the greatest number of growing degree days, had the greatest number of spikes per square foot, on average 60 and 53 spikes per square foot, respectively, compared with 39 and 38 spikes per square foot in Old Town and Houlton, respectively (Table 4). Arapahoe, Jerry, and Mace had the greatest number of spikes per unit area across locations. While the average number of spikes at each site appears related to the average site yields, within a site we found only weak correlations between spike number and plant biomass, or spike number and yield.

Plant height ranged from 23 to 50 inches (Table 4). Tall varieties included AC Morley, Banatka, Borden, Sherman, Roughrider, and Zorro and short ones included Alice, LP3, Mace, and Wesley. Taller varieties are more susceptible to lodging but, as noted above, lodging was not an issue at any site this year. It is thought that taller varieties may be more competitive with weeds but winter wheat in general is very competitive. Weed pressure was low and nonuniform at all of the locations (Table 5), making it difficult to properly evaluate the relationship between plant height and weed competitiveness. In Maine, however, where weed biomass was collected, no correlation was found between plant height and weed biomass. The tallest varieties (AC Morley, Banatka, Borden, Sherman, and Zorro) did not necessarily have the lowest weed biomass (Table 5). A similar observation was made in 2010.

Table 5. Weed and wheat plant biomass, ME, NY, and VT.

Variety Weed Biomass
(lbs/acre)
Wheat Plant Biomass (lbs/acre)
Old Town  Houlton Old Town  Houlton  Alburgh  Willsboro
ME ME ME ME VT NY
AC Morley 119 125 8469 7263 9675 12291
Alice‡ 9313 6618
Alliance 363 176 4710 4230 9692 7223
Anton‡ 218 135 5483 5576 9106 7462
App. White‡ 219 124 6759 5043 5951 9081
Arapahoe 95 106 6730 5159 10120 10578
Banatka 69 9136
Borden‡ 162 112 7262 7571 14390 7670
Camelot 127 215 6453 5094 9287 7905
Expedition 213 192 6478 5565 9072 6680
Harvard 57 102 6888 5370 10585 8505
Jerry 117 161 7327 7669 9905 8108
LP3 8928 5509
Mace 232 196 5903 4941 8336 5907
Maxine 253 275 5846 3778 8975 4512
MDM‡ NA
Millennium 184 172 5828 6277 8632 7860
NE01643 8483 6678
NuEast 204 96 6903 5858 7564 8033
Overland 188 136 5442 5187 7841 9430
Redeemer 191 21 7047 8978 8564 6303
Roughrider 12727 7442
Sherman‡ 9954 8451
Wahoo 332 355 4914 4628 8496 7373
Warthog 78 101 8798 7129 9325 6868
Wesley 111 526 5975 4761 8120 7603
Zorro 76 94 8513 5659 13055 9831
Site Average 176 175 6687 5814 9463 7757
LSD (0.05) NS§ 131 1492 1508 3629 3102
† For all measures, bolded values are not significantly different from the highest value, which is indicated with underline. For weed biomass, the lowest values are indicated.
‡ Variety is not a hard red type.
§ No significant difference among varieties.

Total wheat plant biomass was measured at the grain soft dough stage when plants are considered to have accumulated their greatest biomass (i.e. “peak biomass” stage). It is a stage when cereals are sometimes harvested for animal forage. Overall, the Alburgh and Willsboro sites recorded the highest peak biomass with site averages of 9,463 and 7,757 lbs/acre, respectively (Table 5). Among the varieties, AC Morley and Zorro produced the greatest biomass at three of the four locations. Other top biomass producing varieties included Banatka, Borden, and Warthog. Wheat plant biomass did not correlate strongly with final grain yield, but it may be a good indicator of potential straw yield.

Leaf disease were prevalent in 2011 at some sites. In Old Town, powdery mildew and rust were noted in the fall. In early spring before stem extension, Anton and Mace appeared to be the most infected by these diseases. Subsequent infection of the flag leaf was most notable for Alliance, Expedition, and Mace. In Vermont and New York, the wet spring created the ideal environment for growth of fungal pathogens including Ascochyta leaf spot. At both the Alburgh and Willsboro locations all varieties exhibited signs of this fungus, but Redeemer appeared to be particularly susceptible. Ascochyta leaf spot initially appears on lower leaves. The first visual symptoms are chlorotic (yellow) flecks, which turn into distinct oval or round spots (lesions). Over time these spots spread out over the leaf and the centers turn a grayish brown (necrotic). Fungal structures (pycnidia) look like little black dots within the necrotic spots. The spores can overwinter on crop residues or be blown in on the prevailing winds. In general, Ascochyta leaf spot is not usually considered a significant problem in the major wheat producing countries. However, its distribution and impact may be greater than originally thought, because Ascochyta species are found on most cereals and grasses throughout the world. Powdery mildew was observed on several varieties at the Alburgh location in areas where there was poor drainage.

Yield

Yields for 2011 are presented in Table 6, as well as in Figure 1 in graphical form to easily compare varieties. Two-year averages (2010 and 2011) also are presented in Table 6 for three of the sites to provide information for how the varieties perform over different seasons. For instance, while higher than average rainfall created challenges for the 2011 season, the 2010 season was ideal for growing winter wheat, with mild winter conditions, an early spring, and dry conditions at harvest. This difference between the years is reflected in the fact that site average yields were lower for 2011 than the 2-year average for all sites.

Table 6. Yield and test weight of winter wheat in ME, NY, and VT.

Variety Yield at 13.5% Mositure (lbs/acre) Test Weight (lbs/bu)
2011 2 yr averages (2010-2011) 2011
Old Town Houtlon Alburgh Willsboro Old Town Alburgh Willsboro Old Town Houtlon Alburgh Willsboro
ME ME VT NY ME VT NY ME ME VT NY
AC Morley 2799 2993 5171 3226 2773 4866 3886 61 57 65 60
Alice‡ 3159 2498 64 58
Alliance 1714 1643 3074 2225 2191 3543 2944 61 54 63 57
Anton‡ 2109 1655 2481 1616 2373 3001 3048 63 53 64 57
App. White‡ 2710 2160 3839 2501 62 51 66 59
Arapahoe 2337 1921 3028 2653 2426 3535 3299 62 56 65 58
Banatka 2660 62
Borden‡ 2752 2602 4306 2331 3032 4461 2971 58 53 65 55
Camelot 2332 1960 3687 2387 2610 3659 3189 63 53 63 58
Expedition 2504 2522 3207 2436 2580 3337 3308 62 57 63 59
Harvard 2696 2740 4338 3006 2971 4153 3515 62 57 65 59
Jerry 2372 3024 3609 2862 2921 4008 3361 61 55 64 58
LP3 3282 1806 64 58
Mace 1667 1201 2576 1952 2025 3115 2579 61 50 65 57
Maxine 1774 1651 3324 1654 2081 3509 2936 61 56 63 58
MDM‡ 2138 1688 2372 2885 54 53
Millennium 2214 1767 3683 2501 2362 4001 3064 62 55 64 58
NE01643 4145 2712 65 58
NuEast 2680 1893 3758 2913 64 56 64 60
Overland 2248 2237 3904 3397 2625 4056 4023 60 55 62 59
Redeemer 2537 2704 4149 2217 2594 4018 3172 62 58 65 58
Roughrider 3010 2457 3217 3179 64 59
Sherman‡ 3226 2660 66 59
Wahoo 1679 1371 2622 2390 2238 3252 3192 61 52 65 58
Warthog 3068 3330 4202 1691 3228 4103 2770 60 56 64 58
Wesley 2342 2110 3368 2823 2510 3515 2984 61 55 65 58
Zorro 2667 2379 3933 2984 2906 3718 3514 62 56 63 58
Site Average 2371 2220 3509 2470 2576 3662 3095 61 55 64 58
LSD (0.05) 433 466 518 811 567 642 995 0.9 0.7 1.6
For all measures, bolded values are not significantly different from the highest value, which is indicated with an underline.
‡ Variety is not a hard red type.

Figure 1. Yield of winter wheat varieties.

* Varieties under this bar did not perform significantly lower than the top performing variety.

Text alternative for Figure 1

The 2-year average yields also show that overall, the Alburgh and Willsboro sites have had better growing conditions than the Old Town site, most likely due to the greater number of growing degree days and a more tempered winter climate at the Vermont sites. The 2-year site averages for yield were 3,662, 3,095, and 2576 lbs/acre for the Alburgh, Willsboro, and Old Town sites, respectively. The Houlton site, used for the first time in 2011, had a site average yield similar to Old Town’s.

In 2011, hard wheat varieties that were among the top yielding at all locations were AC Morley, Harvard, Warthog, and Zorro. Borden, a medium hard red type, and Banatka, a heritage land race, also had relatively high yields. Varieties that yielded well at multiple sites over the two years include AC Morley,

Borden, Harvard, Jerry, Overland, Redeemer, Warthog, and Zorro. Test weights were within the accepted range of 55 to 60 lbs/bu at all but the Houlton site. In Houlton, poor winter conditions, lower heat units, and possibly inadequate fertility may have contributed to low test weights.

Wheat Quality

Commercial mills use a variety of measurements to determine if a particular lot of wheat is suitable for bread flour, including grain protein, falling number, test weight, and mycotoxin (DON) concentration. Site average protein levels were lower in 2011 than the 2-year averages, which might reflect nitrogen loss from leaching or volatilization due to higher than usual spring precipitation. In general, protein levels have been lower in Maine than in Vermont and New York over the two years of the trial. Interestingly, at the Willsboro site, protein levels weren’t lower in 2011 compared to 2010. This could be attributed to the higher level of organic N in the soil from the plow down sod compared to composted poultry manure applied in Alburgh. However, heavy rains in Willsboro caused soil erosion and compaction which contributed to reduced yields. The fertility program for Old Town has been a preplant application of solid dairy manure at a target rate of 70 lbs of available nitrogen per acre. We suspect some of this nitrogen has been lost over the winters, and that actual available nitrogen was probably 55 to 60 lbs per acre. In Houlton, a split application of dehydrated pelletized chicken manure, with 20% was applied preplant and 80% was applied as topdress. However, the spring application didn’t occur until late May because of wet conditions. Low protein levels at this site suggest inadequate availability from the mid-season surface application.

In 2011, hard red varieties that had high protein levels across sites were Anton, Maxine, and Redeemer (protein ranged from 10.3 to 13.0% among these varieties). Banatka, Mace, and Sherman (a soft white) also had relatively high protein levels.

Redeemer stands out as a variety with consistently high protein levels, across sites and years. Two-year average protein levels were 10.9, 12.6, and 13.6% for Old Town, Alburgh, and Willsboro, respectively. Other varieties with high 2-year average protein levels at multiple sites include Anton, Arapahoe, Jerry, Maxine, and Zorro. Falling number values were well above the acceptable level (250 seconds) for almost all of the varieties. The exceptions were Appalachian White and Anton at the Houlton site (Table 7).

Table 7. Protein concentration and falling number of winter wheat, ME, NY, and VT.

Variety Crude Protein at 12% Moisture (%) Falling Number at 14% Moisture (seconds)
2011 2 yr averages (2010-2011)
Old Town Houlton Alburgh Willsboro Old Town Alburgh Willsboro Old Town Houlton Alburgh Willsboro
ME ME VT NY ME VT NY ME ME VT NY
AC Morley 8.4 8.2 9.6 10.6 9.6 10.8 11.9 463 345 370 402
Alice‡ 9.8 11.3 401 393
Alliance 8.9 8.7 8.8 9.9 9.6 9.4 11.1 431 336 381 400
Anton‡ 10.4 10.3 10.4 12.1 10.6 10.9 12.9 483 172 404 375
App. White‡ 8.9 9.2 9.9 11.5 486 75 395 367
Arapahoe 9.8 8.4 9.6 10.6 10.3 10.4 12.1 478 328 429 420
Banatka 10.2 469
Borden‡ 8.2 8.4 9.7 9.8 9.1 9.7 11.0 396 386 402 408
Camelot 8.9 9.4 9.2 11.4 9.7 10.2 12.3 464 462 393 421
Expedition 8.6 8.4 9.4 10.7 9.3 9.7 11.9 453 340 391 412
Harvard 8.9 8.9 9.7 11.2 9.2 9.7 11.9 411 331 349 389
Jerry 9.6 8.5 10.4 11.5 10.2 10.6 12.1 486 290 416 423
LP3 10.4 12.5 383 414
Mace 9.8 11.1 10.2 11.2 10.2 10.8 12.1 497 374 410 427
Maxine 10.6 10.4 10.3 12.7 10.8 10.5 13.2 477 410 412 367
MDM‡ 10.7 12.0 11.1 12.8 380 393
Millennium 9.2 8.7 9.8 10.9 9.9 9.9 11.8 460 257 391 419
NE01643 9.4 10.5 405 431
NuEast 8.9 8.8 8.6 11.1 518 441 410 440
Overland 8.4 8.2 9.7 11.9 9.4 9.6 11.8 484 396 404 426
Redeemer 10.5 10.4 12.3 13.0 10.9 12.6 13.6 499 322 428 452
Roughrider 10.3 11.7 10.8 12.6 412 432
Sherman‡ 11.8 13.5 410 400
Wahoo 9.3 8.9 9.7 10.4 9.6 9.6 11.7 450 349 392 399
Warthog 8.8 8.8 10.0 12.0 9.7 10.5 12.6 463 413 413 466
Wesley 9.4 9.8 10.5 11.8 9.9 10.7 12.3 440 395 387 384
Zorro 9.7 8.6 11.0 11.3 10.1 11.5 12.2 469 283 397 429
Site Average 9.3 9.1 10.1 11.4 10.0 10.5 12.3 465§ 335¶ 398 411
LSD (0.05) 0.5 0.9 0.9 0.7 1.2 0.8 27 35
† For all measures, bolded values are not significantly different from the highest value, which is indicated with an underline.
‡ Variety is not a hard red type.
§ Average value taken from two samples per variety instead of four.
¶ Average value taken from one sample per variety instead of four.

Figure 2. Protein concentration in winter wheat varieties.

* Varieties under this bar did not perform significantly lower than the top performing variety.

Text alternative for Figure 2

Fusarium head blight (FSB), which produces the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), is a disease of major concern for wheat growers in northern New England. It primarily infects the plant during flowering and is favored by cool, humid weather. The United States Food and Drug Administration has established a maximum DON guidelines of 1 ppm for finished human products. Millers may accept grain with slightly higher DON levels because they can remove some of the infected grain and reduce DON levels through cleaning. In Maine, despite wet weather during flowering at both locations, DON levels were all below the detectable limit of 0.5 ppm (Table 8). In contrast, the Vermont locations had measurable amounts of DON, with site averages of 1.4 ppm for Alburgh and 1.3 ppm for Willsboro. A similar trend was observed in 2010, as reflected in the 2-year averages. Seventeen of the varieties in Alburgh and 14 of the varieties in Willsboro exceeded the 1 ppm standard. Anton, LP3, and Wesley had the highest levels at both locations. Anton and Wesley also had high DON levels in 2010 at sites where DON was a concern.

Table 8. DON levels for winter wheat, ME, NY, and VT.

Variety DON (ppm)
2011 2 yr averages (2010-2011)
Old Town Houlton Alburgh Willsboro Old Town Alburgh Willsboro
ME ME VT NY ME VT NY
AC Morley <0.5 <0.5 <0.5 0.6 <0.5 0.7 0.8
Alice‡ 1.0 1.3
Alliance <0.5 <0.5 0.8 0.8 <0.5 0.7 0.7
Anton‡ <0.5 <0.5 <0.5 4.8 <0.5 3.4 3.1
App. White‡ <0.5 <0.5 2.0 2.0
Arapahoe <0.5 <0.5 1.3 0.9 <0.5 0.9 0.8
Banatka <0.5
Borden‡ <0.5 <0.5 0.6 0.5 <0.5 0.6 0.7
Camelot <0.5 <0.5 1.8 1.5 <0.5 1.2 1.1
Expedition <0.5 <0.5 1.3 1.2 <0.5 1.0 1.1
Harvard <0.5 <0.5 0.6 1.1 <0.5 1.1 0.9
Jerry <0.5 <0.5 0.8 0.8 <0.5 1.4 0.6
LP3 3.0 2.2
Mace <0.5 <0.5 1.8 1.0 <0.5 1.4 1.0
Maxine <0.5 <0.5 1.0 1.2 <0.5 0.9 1.1
MDM‡ 2.2 0.7
Millennium <0.5 <0.5 1.5 1.2 <0.5 1.0 1.2
NE01643 1.0 1.2
NuEast <0.5 <0.5 1.2 2.4
Overland <0.5 <0.5 1.6 1.3 <0.5 1.2 0.9
Redeemer <0.5 <0.5 0.4 0.7 <0.5 0.5 0.7
Roughrider 0.6 <0.5 0.6 0.7
Sherman‡ 0.6 0.6
Wahoo <0.5 <0.5 2.1 0.7 <0.5 1.9 0.8
Warthog <0.5 <0.5 0.7 0.8 <0.5 0.9 0.9
Wesley <0.5 <0.5 2.7 3.0 <0.5 1.7 2.2
Zorro <0.5 <0.5 1.0 <0.5 <0.5 0.9 0.7
Site Average <0.5 <0.5 1.4 1.3 <0.5 1.3 1.5
LSD (0.05) NS§ NS§ <0.5 NS§
† For all measures, bolded values are not significantly different from the highest value, which is indicated with an underline.
‡ Variety is not a hard red type.
§ No significant difference among varieties.

Wheat grain sold for bread flour can receive up to twice the pay price as grain sold for livestock feed, but the grain must meet higher quality standards. Therefore, when choosing which varieties to plant it is important to consider their potential to produce grain with acceptable protein, test weight, falling number, and DON levels, as well as their yield potential.

The 2011 growing season provided a good opportunity to evaluate the winter wheat varieties under somewhat challenging growing conditions. In particular, all sites experienced above average rainfall in the fall 2010 and early part of the 2011 season (April and May). Poor snow cover affected the Houlton site with some areas of the field suffering from winter damage. In Alburgh, heavy rain caused standing water in some poorly drained plot areas. Leaf diseases were prevalent early in the season, and in Vermont Fusarium head blight pressure was high. All sites produced lower yields and protein levels than in 2010.

Most commercial mills want a minimum of 12% grain protein for winter bread wheat, although some local buyers have accepted a minimum of 10.5 to 11% when supplies of locally-grown wheat are limited. In our trials, site average protein levels have been below 12% except at the Willsboro site. Within a site, however, protein levels for individual varieties ranged 1.0 to 3.7 percentage points, and at every site at least one individual variety met the lower limit of 10.5% protein. This illustrates that variety choice is the key strategy to use when trying to achieve adequate protein levels for bread wheat. Another key strategy is fertility. Achieving high protein levels is difficult in winter wheat because much of the nitrogen in preplant applications can be lost over the winter, or slow to mineralize in the spring. At the Willsboro site protein levels have been consistently higher than any of the other trial locations. This could be attributed to the higher level of organic N in the soil from the plow down sod compared to composted poultry manure applied in Alburgh. To increase protein levels, growers should consider using a higher preplant manure application rate or applying additional nitrogen in the spring as a topdress application. Note that topdress nitrogen sources must be consistent with organic certification and food safety standards (for instance, no manure within 120 days of harvest) and should be in a readily available form.

There are currently no varieties that are resistant to Fusarium head blight but some varieties are more tolerant than others to the disease, resulting in lower DON levels. In Maine, DON levels were not a concern, with all varieties testing below 0.5 ppm, but in Alburgh and Willsboro, 17 and 14 of the varieties, respectively, tested above 1 ppm, with Anton, Appalachian White, LP3, and Wesley testing above 2 ppm at both locations. Over the 2 years of the trial, Anton and Wesley consistently have had high DON levels at sites where DON was a concern and should be avoided for production in northern New England.

Choosing bread wheat varieties is difficult due to the common tradeoff between maximizing yields and maximizing the quality parameters required by millers and bakers, particularly protein. AC Morley, Harvard, and Warthog have been among the highest yielding varieties in these trials, but their protein levels have been relatively low. In contrast, Anton, Mace, and Maxine have consistently had among the highest protein levels, but the yields for these varieties have been below average. Arapahoe and Zorro are in the middle of these extremes with medium protein, low DON, and average to above-average yields. One variety in particular, Redeemer, stands out from the others as scoring high in all categories. It has shown consistently high protein levels, low DON levels, and average to above-average yields. Redeemer does appear to be more susceptible to leaf disease, specifically Ascochyta leaf spot, under extremely wet conditions as Vermont experienced in 2011, but on lighter soils or with more typical rainfall, it has performed well.

Full reports of the 2010 results are available as a separate publication that can be found at www.extension.umaine.edu/localwheat and www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil. It also may be helpful to compare these results from Maine and Vermont to variety trails from other regions. Ultimately, though, it is important to evaluate data from test sites that are similar to your farm and region when deciding which varieties to grow.

Footnote: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2010. Guidance for Industry and FDA: Advisory Levels for Deoxynivalenol (DON) in Finished Wheat Products for Human Consumption and Grains and Grain By-Products used for Animal Feed. Division of Plant and Dairy Food Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. College Park, Maryland.

Acknowledgements: The UVM Extension Crops and Soils Team would like to thank the Borderview Research Farm and the Willsboro Research Farm for their generous help with the trials. We would also like to thank Savanna Kittell-Mitchell, Amber Domina, Chantel Cline, and Katie Blair for their assistance with data collection and entry. The University of Maine Sustainable Agriculture team thanks Dick York of Nature’s Circle Farm for providing his assistance and field in Houlton, the Univeristy of Maine Rogers Research Farm, and Joe Cannon, Hannah Griffin, Chris Illingsworth, Michael Correll, Jess Richards, and Aaron Englander for their technical help. Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

This research is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Organic Research and Extension Initiative under Award No. 2009-01366, “Enhancing farmers’ capacity to produce high quality organic bread wheat.”

Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment. Call 800-287-0271 or TDD 800-287-8957 (in Maine), or 207-581-3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.


Image Description: Harvesting the Alburgh trial wheat

Image Description: Harvesting the Old Town trial wheat

Image Description: diseased leaves

Image Description: Figure 1. Charts showing yield of winter wheat varieties in Old Town ME, Alburgh VT, Houlton ME and Willsboro NY

Image Description: Figure 2. Charts showing protien concentration for trials in Old Town ME, Alburgh VT, Houlton ME and Willsboro NY

Image Description: Old Town variety wheat trial

Image Description: wheat trials

Image Description: University of Maine; University of Vermont Extension, Cultivating Healthy Communities

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Contact Information

Northern New England Local Bread Wheat
495 College Avenue
Orono, ME 04473
Phone: 207.581.2942E-mail: ellen.mallory@maine.edu
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System