Winter Wheat Trials with Response to Composts for Maine

Final Report for FNE99-244

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1999: $4,900.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $3,525.00
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
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Project Information


Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE99-244

In the growing season of 2000, five winter wheat varieties and common spelt were broadcast sown in the last week of September on one acre of fairly uniform but mediocre soil. Soil was sampled, as was the compost, and the two tests gave an accurate picture of what was missing in both soil and compost samples that could be amended locally.

The timing of the compost application was intended for an established young wheat stand that is just starting to develop a crown and has good sod to drive over without damage. Six cubic yards of compost and 550 pounds of amendments were applied to one-half the trial acre. This seemingly low application rate is a realistic investment for a first year with a low per-acre-value crop.

Six plots were sown to common spelt, Cayuga, Seward, Rose, Golden 50, and New Brunswick.

The spelt seed was not viable and common spelt was dropped from the trial.

Cayuga and Seward were not tested for crude protein, but were clearly more robust, with 40 to 50 percent larger heads, especially the Cayuga, which appears to be a potentially heavy yielder. Seward also yielded well, but the flavor was not very good, it lacked the gluten to rise well, and did not perform well as a pastry flour. It has potential as a feed grain.

Rose, Golden 50, and New Brunswick were tested for crude protein and Rose was tested further for complete nutritional comparison between compost and treatment. All three were weighed after threshing and cleaning to determine yield.

Rose proved the best variety for overall habit, yield, flavor, and bread baking qualities. Without compost, Rose yielded 1708.20 pounds per acre; with compost, Rose yielded 2220.66.

Golden 50 was a disappointment on the control plot but yielded 14 percent crude protein with the compost treatment. Golden 50 is a flavorful, nutty-tasting wheat good for pastry, quick bread, or risen yeast loaves. Without compost, Golden 50 yielded 571 pounds per acre; with compost, the yield was 956.86.

One key finding of the project was economic: The cost of compost can be simply too high if the farmer must purchase compost from off the farm; this is especially true with a slim-profit-margin crop like wheat. On-farm composting will help the economics, and soil amendments can help maximize the effect of the compost.


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  • Will Brinton


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.