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Mendel's Laws of Inheritance and Wheat Breeding

  • R. H. Biffen (a1)


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. The seriousness of the position becomes evident when one finds English wheat selling at 28s. 6d. a quarter when Manitoba Hard is selling at 35s.



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page 4 note 1 Girard and Lindet, Le Froment et sa Mouture, Paris, 1903, p. 101.

page 4 note 2 The figures are a general average—they do not refer to the abnormal prices of this season.

page 5 note 1 See also Maurizio, , Getreide, Mehl and Brot, Berlin, 1903, andLandw. Jahrb. Bd. XXXIII. Heft II. p. 242, 1904.

page 5 note 2 For further evidence see Hall, “The Quality of English Wheat,” Journ. Farmers' Club, 1904, p. 123, and Journ. Board of Agric. 1904, p. 321.

page 6 note 1 See De Vries, Die Mutationstheorie.

page 6 note 2 Vilmorin, , Bull. Soc. Bot. France, T. XXXV. p. 49, 1888; T. XXVII. p. 73, 1880.

page 6 note 3 Rimpau, , Landw. Jahrb. Bd. XX. p. 335, 1891.

page 6 note 4 Minnesota Agric. Expt. Stat. Bulletin 62.

page 7 note 1 The original paper in the Verh. naturf. Ver. in Brünn Abhandlungen, IV. 1865, is almost unobtainable. Translations will be found in the Journ. Hort. Soc. 1901, Vol. XXVI. Parts 1 and 2, and in Mendel's Principles of Heredity, Bateson, Camb. 1902.

page 8 note 1 Ibid.

page 8 note 2 Spillman, , Science, Vol. XVI. p. 794, 1902; seeHurst, , Journ. Roy. Bort. Soc. 1903, Vol. XXVII. Part 4;Tschermak, , Zeits. Landw. Versuchs. Oesterreich, 1901, Heft II. p. 1029.

page 8 note 3 Couteur, Le, The Varieties, Properties and Classification of Wheat, Jersey, 1837, p. 65.

page 8 note 4 Compare p. 29.

page 9 note 1 I have never met with a case of natural cross-fertilization, but Rimpau cites a number of undoubted examples.

page 9 note 2 Figured in Vilmorin, Les meilleurs Blés, Paris, 1880.

page 14 note 1 Focke, , Pflanzenmischlinge, Chap. IV. p. 469.

page 14 note 2 See Weldon, , Biometrika, I. 1902, Pt. II. and Bateson, Mendel's Principles of Heredity.

page 15 note 1 For farther proofs see Evolution Report of the Roy. Soc. Pt. I.

page 16 note 1 They have white and red grain respectively, but for the time we will neglect this difference.

page 16 note 2 In certain cases complications occur: see Evol. Report, Pt. I. p. 142.

page 18 note 1 Linnaeus, , Species Plantarum, T. I. Pt. I. p. 478, 1797.

page 20 note 1 Vilmorin, Les meilleurs Blés.

page 21 note 1 That is in 1902. Both 1902 and 1903 were peculiarly bad seasons for work of this kind. They were too wet and sunless. 1904 on the other hand was excellent.

page 23 note 1 Rimpau, loc. cit.

page 23 note 2 Science, 1902, Vol. XVI. p. 794.

page 23 note 3 Tschermak, loc. cit.

page 23 note 4 Vilmorin, , Bull. Soc. Bot. France, T. XXXV. p. 49, 1888. See also T. XXVII. p. 73 and p. 856, 1880.

page 24 note 1 Vries, De, Mutationstheorie, Band II. p. 40.

page 25 note 1 The figures for Polish × Rivet and its reciprocal have not been ascertained yet.

page 30 note 1 loc. cit.

page 30 note 2 loc. cit.

page 30 note 3 loc. cit.

page 31 note 1 Spillman, loc. cit.

page 35 note 1 W. L. B.

page 38 note 1 No actual proof of this has been given in the case of wheat, but Guignard has shown that this double fertilization occurs in maize.

page 38 note 2 Some 200 individuals examined.

page 39 note 1 Presidential Address, Zoological Section, British Association Meeting, 1904.

page 40 note 1 The difference between these types of endosperm is too subtle for me to attempt to describe. They are the slight differences which can only be appreciated by those who continually handle grain.

page 40 note 2 As far back as 1815, Thomas Andrew Knight suggested that varieties proof against the mildew (or rust) should be raised. Pamphleteer, Vol. VI. p. 402.

page 40 note 3 Cf. Eriksson, Die Getreideroste.

page 41 note 1 Farrer, , Agric. Gazette of New South Wales, 1889, Vol. IX. p. 131.

page 42 note 1 Eriksson, , Ann. d. Sc. Nat. T. XIV. p. 107, 1901.

page 42 note 2 For negative evidence see Klebahn, Die wirtswechselnden Röstpilze, p. 79, 1904.

page 42 note 3 Ward, Marshall, Proc. Roy. Soc. Vol. LXXI. p. 353, 1903, andPhil. Trans. Vol. CXCVI. p. 29, 1903.

page 42 note 4 Eriksson, , Comptes Rendus, 1903.Cf. Archiv für Botanik, Band I, p. 143, 1903.

page 42 note 5 Ibid. and Rev. gén. de Bot. 1898, T. X. p. 44.

page 43 note 1 Ward, Marshall, Anns. Bot. Vol. XVI. p. 233, 1902.

page 43 note 2 Cf. Hartig's Diseases of Trees, Engl. edit. 1894, p. 171, where the cultivation of a woolly-leafed willow hybrid is recommended in place of its glabrous-leafed parent in districts where Melampsora hartigii is abundant.

page 45 note 1 It is perhaps worth pointing out here that in spite of the complexity of the parentage of these two varieties they are indistinguishable from pure varieties even on further crossing—a fact Mendel's work would lead one to expect.

page 46 note 1 Where Bough Chaff is the felted parent.

page 47 note 1 Where Rivet wheat is the felted parent.

Mendel's Laws of Inheritance and Wheat Breeding

  • R. H. Biffen (a1)


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