Reference Number: 561
The investigations to be described below are the outcome of some experiments started in 1900 which had in view the improvement of English-grown wheat. The necessity of such work may not be evident to all, so at the outset I will sketch in broad outlines the state of affairs which led me to undertake the task. The fact is generally recognized that the wheats of this country are characterized by their high yields per acre and by the shapeliness of their grain. We can grow on the average over 30 bushels to the acre where the United States grow 14, Russia 10, and the Argentine 7. Yet the acreage under wheat in this country has fallen from three and a-half million acres in 1876 to one and a-half million in 1903, and we now grow approximately only one-fifth of the wheat we consume. Further than this there is good evidence to show that the quality of the grain now grown is inferior to that of twenty years ago. It has been sacrificed to yield, and many of the better class varieties, such as Chiddam, Red Lammas and Rough Chaff, have been more or less driven out of the field by varieties such as Square Head and Rivet, which are capable of giving slightly larger crops of grain and straw. These inferior varieties have now to compete with wheat imported from Canada, the United States, Russia and other countries.
Significance for a baker:
This provides some of the key original research on wheat breeding, which offers understanding to the baker of the history of wheat cultivation. It provides a good background to current discussions around heritage varieties, population wheat and rejection of monoculture.