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Wheat cultivar yield response to some organic and conventional farming conditions and the yield potential of mixtures

  • A. C. NEWTON (a1), D. C. GUY (a1) and K. PREEDY (a2)

A range of wheat cultivars, including elite cultivars, older cultivars and some preferred by organic growers, were trialled under high and low nitrogen (N) conventional and organic conditions to determine whether cultivars that yield highly under organic conditions have the same relative yield under conventional conditions. A range of cultivar mixtures was also assessed to see whether these gave yield advantages or superiority in either farming system. The conventional trials were grown with and without full fungicide programmes, which largely controlled disease. Amongst the cultivars, Alchemy showed superior yield under organic conditions as did Pegassos, but under conventional conditions Pegassos was always one of the low-ranking cultivars. Under conventional conditions the more recent cultivars Alchemy, Glasgow and Istabraq yielded highly, while an older one, Consort, yielded highly under low fertilizer conditions, and both Ambrosia and Deben also yielded highly generally. Fungicide and high N favoured the disease-susceptible, high-yield cultivars such as Glasgow whereas Consort, an older susceptible cultivar, was favoured by fungicide and low N. Together this demonstrates that whilst the yield characteristics of some elite germplasm are also expressed under organic conditions, at least one cultivar that yielded poorly under conventional conditions showed adaptation towards the organic conditions of these trials. Other cultivars yielding poorly under conventional conditions also gave poor yield under organic conditions. The equal proportion mixtures of cultivars grown under conventional conditions showed no evidence of differences in yield from the mean of the component cultivars grown separately, but combinations of Glasgow, Alchemy and Istabraq gave consistently high yield.

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