... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

F1 Wheat - 'Smooth Awnless Club' X "Black Emmer"

I'm really happy with this cross and think it has incredible potential to generate all kinds of interesting wheats. In my hand are the mama and papa. To the right are several heads of the F1. The mama is a locally adapted club wheat (I call "Smooth Awnless Club") that is derived from 9 generations of selection from a cross I did many years ago of a commercial common bread wheat with 'Pima' club wheat. 'Pima' is a southwest adapted strain that was supposedly introduced by the Spanish missionaries and grown for many years by the Pima. My "Smooth Awnless Club" differs from 'Pima' in having no pubescence on the glumes (seed coverings) and by being much happier to grow here in Maryland. "Smooth Awnless Club" should be a hexaploid, with 42 chromosomes.
The papa, 'Black Emmer' is an awned tetraploid wheat, with 28 chromosomes. It is one of the healthiest and most vigorous wheats I've grown, but it has the major drawback of being a "covered wheat" - it requires quite a bit of processing to extract the seeds, since they don't thresh free of the glumes like most modern wheats.
The pentaploid hybrid shows the dominance of the black glume trait (from 'Black Emmer") and awnlessness and free threshing (from "Smooth Awnless Club") along with an intermediate head shape. Disease resistance was roughly intermediate too, but the vigor was phenomenal. Just as expected from what I'd read about this kind of mixed ploidy cross, the pentaploid F1 are only about 50% fertile. But even so, I'm counting around 30 seeds per head, which should give me a decent sized F2. The future generations should theoretically tend to revert back to hexaploids and tetraploids. So, I'm hoping to maintain at least some of the vigor while selecting for disease resistance and unique free threshing derivatives. Two things I'm hoping to see... an exceptionally disease resistant, black glumed club type with higher carotenoid content in the grain... and a free-threshing, awnless version of 'Black Emmer'.
Aside from this cool F1, I also grew two others this season:
'Black Emmer' X 'Kamut' - (a cross of two tetraploid) - which should also give me an opportunity to get the free-threshing trait into 'Black Emmer'
"Wooly Awnless Club" X spelt - (a cross of two hexaploids) - the mama is a sister strain to "Smooth Awnless Club" and spelt is another primitive "covered wheat.

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