Professor Margaret Smith, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Breeding and Genetics, informed attendees at the 2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop about small grain variety trial results and performance in New York State.
Smith reported that regional testing sites are scattered across the state, providing a wide range of results, while adding to the multi-year data base.
“When you look at variety testing results in a given year you can see anything,” said Smith. “As breeders we all know about the ‘one-year-wonder’, the variety that looks fantastic 99 times out of 100. Then, the next year that variety looks mediocre. Don’t be fooled by the one-year-wonder! You always want to be looking at multi-year testing data.”
Summaries for several grain groups, including Soft White Winter Wheat, Soft Red Winter Wheat, Winter Hybrid Rye, Spring Oats, Winter Malting Barley and Spring Malting Barley were examined.
“The Soft White Wheat used to be part of the specialty for New York,” commented Smith. “But the acreage seems to be going down because of issues with it.” The two major issues are pre-harvest sprouting and Fusarium Head Blight. Out of the four varieties developed, Cayuga showed the most promise, with Medina and Hopkins now showing improved resistance to Fusarium Head Blight.
“I think most people would agree that there are not Soft White Wheats, or even necessarily Soft Red Wheats, with real resistance to Fusarium Head Blight.”
Smith said there is some renewed interest in Soft White Wheat due to the potential of using it in a niche market for brewing beer. However, she cautioned, “Be sure you have a market for your crop before you start thinking about some of these novel ideas for the farm brewing industry.”
Of the Soft Red Winter Wheat varieties, a new variety called Erie shows a higher yield per acre, good test weight, resistance to lodging, excellent resistance to Spindle Streak and Soil-borne and a reasonable tolerance to Fusarium Head Blight. Unfortunately, it does show a higher level of potential for pre-sprouting than Otsego. Two high-yielding Pioneer varieties are coming on the market, and although they only have two years of testing, they also look promising.
Winter Hybrid Rye, developed in Europe, has only been available locally for a few years. The 2-year testing shows that KWS Magnifico is a promising crop. Smith noted that Hybrid Rye is a cross-pollinating crop, with high quality for milling, baking, brewing, feed, bio-gas and a “whole array” of other things. “These Hybrid Ryes are some of the most exciting things to come along in quite awhile.”
All six varieties tested show a very high rate of winter survival and good resistance to lodging. In a wheat-check against Medina, the Hybrid Ryes showed an increase of 40 to 50 bushels per acre than the winter wheat.
The Spring Oats variety of choice is Corral, a solid performer in New York State. Eight-year data shows a yield of 93 bushels per acre with a low lodging score and disease resistance, as well. “Corral is head and shoulders above anything else in yield, better than anything else commercially available,” said Smith.
Both Winter and Spring Malting Barley were discussed at the meeting. “There is potential for New York growers because of the farm brewery law,” stated Smith. “But, there are also lots of challenges for New York growers. Grain diseases are a going to be a major challenge that will have to be managed. And then for malting barley, you need it to be able to germinate well. You need it to be able to malt.”
Smith said one of the focuses is how to keep it from sprouting on the head while making sure it is able to sprout once it gets to the malt house. “There’s a bit of a balance there that’s going to be tricky.”
Winter survival is another problem that growers will have to contend with. Two-year trials show winter survival rates below 70 percent, at best. “This is lower than what we’re used to for our typical Winter Wheat,” Smith pointed out. “If you’ve got 60 to 70 percent winter survival, what are you going to have in the spring?”
Data on the Malting Barley is coming from other areas, however, it is still being determined which ones will be most promising in New York State. The three Winter Varieties being looked at most closely are 2-row varieties including KWS Scala, Sytepee and WintMalt.
While WintMalt has a lower rating for winter survival than the other two top varieties, all three have other challenges. For instance, protein value must be at or below 11 percent for malting and all three varieties test higher, with KWS Scala coming close at 11.8 percent.
Diastatic Power must be 150 ASBC or less. Sytepee tests above that.
Beta Glucan must be 140 ppm or less and while all three varieties qualify for this guideline, all three fail at the FAN score, which should be less than 150 ppm. WintMalt scored 260, while KWS Scala come the closest with a score of 168.
Spring varieties of Malting Barley had similar results, with the top three varieties including Conlon and AAC Synergy, both 2-row, and Quest, a 6-row variety.
“I think the Malting Barley area is going to be real challenging, just for getting the right quality and the right connections at the malt house. You need to be able to produce the crop and make sure you can market it.”
Smith also spoke about some renewed interest in heirloom grains, including Spelt and Emmer. “Lodging can be a problem with Heirloom varieties,” cautioned Smith. Winter kill and smaller yields also make these specialty crops less profitable. If you are growing heirloom varieties, marketing to local bakeries is an option. “Local artisan bakeries that like unique flavors for their breads and products are looking at some of these heirloom grains.”
Speaker presentations will be continued in an upcoming issue of Country Folks.