“For some reason, when you combine rye with wheat, the winter hardiness of the rye changes”
The contributions of two early developers of triticale will now live on in the names of two new winter varieties.
Luoma is named after Sulo Luoma, a seed grower from Three Hills with a lifelong love of agriculture and learning. He was a long-time grower of triticale who began producing it in the 1970s.
Metzger recognizes Dr. Bob Metzger, a cereal breeder who brought in genetic material for the early winter triticales from Poland. He crossed the Polish material onto the North American species and was a source of early germplasm for Alberta Agriculture’s Lacombe Field Development Crop Centre.
“I first met him when he was already retired back in the 1980s,” said Don Salmon, winter wheat and triticale breeder at the Lacombe Field Crop Development Centre. “He never really quit. I think he was out in the field until the last day he was alive.” Metzger is a short plant in honour of its namesake, while Luoma is similar to Pica, but without awns. Both varieties have good levels of winter hardiness. Metzger is unique since it uses rye as the female parent and wheat as the male. Musketeer fall rye, a Canadian variety, was used as the female parent. Most varieties of triticale use wheat as the female parent and rye as the male which allows researchers to trace back the genetic lines using the female plant.
Winter hardiness is a challenge for triticale breeders. “For some reason, when you combine rye with wheat, the winter hardiness of the rye changes,” said Salmon.
Triticale generally has better winter hardiness than wheat in most cases, but is not as good as Musketeer fall rye in extreme conditions, said Salmon.
Researchers are currently trying to create new varieties using Musketeer as the male parent to improve winter hardiness.
Metzger and Luoma are currently available to producers. Salmon says both varieties thresh easily and do not shatter. The new varieties of triticale tend to be shorter, but high yielding with a high-leaf area.
To speed maturity, Salmon advises to seed at the same rate as any other crop, allowing for approximately 22 plants per square foot. Triticale should be seeded about an inch deep into moisture.