Evaluation of Heirloom and Commercial Cultivars of Small Grains under Low Input Organic Systems


A cultivar trial, including commercial and heirloom cultivars of major cereals and grain legumes was conducted in Vancouver, BC, under low input organic conditions. We assessed 19 wheat (6 commercial and 13 heirloom), 17 barley (8 commercial and 9 heirloom), 5 pea, 5 favabean, 5 kidneybean, 2 lentil, and 2 soyabean cultivars for plant performance metrics, and their potential in a small grain:legume intercropping system. Heirloom wheat cultivars showed notable response in a number of parameters including late maturity, taller plants, greatest number of spikes per m2, longest spike, highest number of seed per spike, greater seed weight to volume ratio, and resistance to stripe rust compared with commercial cultivars. For the heirloom-type, 6 of 14 wheat cultivars, (i.e., “Reward”, “Glenn”, “Cerebs”, “Red Bobs”, “Sounders” and “Black Bearded”) produced yields comparable to the commercial cultivars (i.e., nearly 5 t/h or higher). Also, heirloom cultivars typically contained higher protein levels most suitable for baking and blending purposes with “Einkorn” displaying the highest level (16.2%). Heirloom and commercial barley cultivars did not differ significantly with respect to plant height, spike length, and seed weight to volume ratio. However, a number of heirloom cultivars (e.g., “Jet”, “Dolma”, “Andie” and “Himalayan”) displayed greater responses on earliness, number of spikes per m2, grain yield, protein content and seed weight to volume ratio. Pea and lentil yielded lower than the national average under trial conditions. However, heirloom peas “Corgi”, “De Grace”, “Snowbird”, and “Golden” were earlier compared to the commercial cultivar “Reward”. All kidney bean cultivars yielded ~3 t/h with the highest yield from “Red Kidney” (3.8 t/h). Fava and soyabean appeared as promising crops as the cultivars produced good growth and yields. Neither lentil (“Crimson” and “Essex”) produced satisfactory responses though they had excellent vegetative growth and flowered. Therefore, significant variation was observed including several heirloom cultivars displayed great potential in terms of yield, protein content, and disease resistance and that specific cultivars were better suited for an intercropping system.

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T. Chapagain and A. Riseman, "Evaluation of Heirloom and Commercial Cultivars of Small Grains under Low Input Organic Systems," American Journal of Plant Sciences, Vol. 3 No. 5, 2012, pp. 655-669. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2012.35080.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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