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Blending of wheat for Resilience, Improved Distilling quality and Greater Environmental Stability (BRIDGES)

Project Report No. 452

Blending of wheat for Resilience, Improved Distilling quality and Greater Environmental Stability

by

Dr Adrian C Newton1, Dr J Stuart Swanston1, Dr Steve Hoad2 and Roger Baird3

1Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA
2Scottish Agricultural College, King's Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG
3WN Lindsay, Gladsmuir Granary, Tranent, East Lothian EH33 1EJ

 

Abstract

Mixtures of cereal varieties have shown benefits for controlling disease, increasing yield and improving stability across sites and seasons, particularly for winter barley. Preliminary investigations also suggested that both grain and alcohol yield may be improved in soft winter wheat varieties for distilling. This market is much less concerned with varietal purity than is spring barley for malting.

This project aimed to determine whether the same benefits of mixtures could be obtained using current Recommended List varieties of wheat from nabim Groups 3 and 4. Wheat varieties were grown in monocultures, or two- and four-way mixtures, over four sites with full and reduced fungicide treatments. At one of the sites, more varieties and mixtures were included and trials were grown at two nitrogen rates. Yield, thousand grain weight and predicted spirit yields were determined and stability across sites was analysed.

Overall there were some benefits from mixtures and no negative effects. Several interactions between individual mixtures and the environment, fungicide and nitrogen applications were also beneficial, although there were a few negative interactions. Stability in yield, thousand grain weight and predicted spirit yield was demonstrated and probably represents the main reason for recommending variety mixtures for distilling.

Comparison with commercial crops demonstrated that our trials were producing predicted spirit yields acceptable for distilling, while comparison of NIR data, adjusted for moisture content, showed slight, but consistent differences between calibrations. This suggested that our data might slightly underestimate alcohol yield from a highly efficient commercial distilling process. High input conditions (fungicide and nitrogen) at one site elicited most benefit from mixtures, indicating the potential for synergies to be to be enhanced given the right agronomy.

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