Seed of the ORC Wakelyns Population will be on sale for the next season. This is a good opportunity to get a new concept of wheat into your field.
What is it?
It is not a variety, as individual plants are not identical, and it is not a mixture either. Think of it as a crowd, in which each plant is different from each other. It is the outcome of 107 crosses between 20 parents, selected to be either high quality or high yielding, bulked and reproduced year after year in organic farms.
How does it work?
Its performance builds upon “four Cs”: “Capacity”, as it has high phenotypic variation; “Complementation”, as different individuals can complement each other; “Compensation”, as, if some fail, others will take their place and the whole will recover; “Change”, as evolutionary changes make the best performing types to be prevalent in response to environmental selection.
How does it grow?
Thanks to the “four Cs”, it performs well in organic farms, because that’s where it has been reproduced, being productive, stable and resilient. In fact, the Wakelyns population is able to withstand stresses thanks to its diversity. For instance, it resistances to pests and diseases for two reasons: first, being a crowd of different types, it does not offer a uniform breeding ground for pests and diseases to spread; second, having been reproduced in organic farms in the UK, it “knows” the local pests and diseases it has been exposed to better than us, as it selected itself to be resistant to them. It is also able to withstand all those unpredictable stresses that commonly threaten the performance of common varieties. Several times we have seen it performing very well when sown in suboptimal conditions, e.g. much later than recommended, whereas common, uniform varieties sown in the same place and in the same way have completely failed.
How does it taste?
It has a good baking quality, it is as nutritious as most common milling varieties and it is suitable for animal feed as well. As for all organic wheat, it is difficult to standardise a bread-making process, and it is more relevant to know the flour and build the processing on this knowledge. That is what some innovative bakers have done, being now able to produce wonderful loaves that will be available for tasting at the NOCC’17