By Norm Herdrich
In Eastern Washington's dryland small-grain production area, small-grain
cereals have a long history as alternate crops. These include barley,
triticale and oats. These were frequently planted on allotment ground
when wheat acreage was limited under government programs. Barley
and oats qualified for payments under the feed grain program. Triticale
is a more recent development in that it is a man-made cereal created
by crossing wheat and rye. Compared to oats and barley, which have
long histories, triticale is between 40 and 50 years old.
a man-made crop developed by crossing wheat and cereal rye. It is
probably the only new man-made crop in commercial production. According
to Matt Kolding, a retired Oregon State University plant breeder,
triticale probably occurred naturally due to crossing between wheat
and rye, but likely did not produce much, if any, second generation
seeds. In the early 1900s, durum wheat and rye were also crossed,
but this wasn't developed commercially. This parentage, however,
is still being used in some breeding programs in Canada and the
One of the
first commercial varieties was Rosner, a spring triticale which
was released by the University of Manitoba. However, it had a very
narrow range of adaptation.
introduced to the Pacific Northwest in the late 1960s and early
1970s, but it got a black eye because growers couldn't find a market
for their crop. Kolding says triticale germplasm was and is shared
worldwide among the 150 to 200 breeders who are working on the crop.
has plump, hard, amber kernels. It has higher lysine content than
triticale is reported to yield higher than wheat, durum and barley,
especially in areas infested with Hessian fly and under saline conditions.
In that country, it is used for livestock and poultry feed. The
variety Flora has proven to be very tolerant to alkaline conditions
and is an excellent poultry feed.
In India, triticale
flour has low dough development time, low water absorption capacity,
and stability. Mixtures of triticale and wheat flour at a 1:1 ratio,
produce bread and chapaties as good as their wheats. Cookies from
triticale flour are reported to be crisper and better liked than
those from the mixed flours.
trials in India, chickens feed triticale had a higher rate of gain
than did those fed wheat and corn. Triticale also improved egg yield
and mass, but not egg weight. Triticale was found to be more efficient
than wheat in utilizing and absorbing nitrogen from the soil. It
also produced a 30% higher yield on acid soils, and was superior
to wheat on copper-deficient soil.
As a forage
crop, triticale has been reported to be superior to rye and had
a higher tolerance to lower fertility levels.
PROBLEMS OF TRITICALE
There are several
diseases which can affect triticale. One of these is fusarium head
blight, or scab. Kolding said it appears more frequently on the
winter triticales he has studied in North Dakota. They appear to
have nearly a zero tolerance to the disease. Some spring varieties
developed in Manitoba do appear to have some tolerance to the disease.
a special problem because, in addition to yield loss caused by damage
to the kernel, grain is rejected for food and feed because of a
toxic product, deoxynivalenol, which can appear at toxic levels
even in plants that appear to be quite tolerant to scab, Kolding
North Dakota, he notes, several decades of reduced tillage appear
to have aggravated the head scab problem. Surface residue provides
a reservoir for the sparophyte stage of the fusarium.
varieties are very susceptible to bacterial head blights, while
others appear to be resistant to tolerant. Kolding says this may
be due in part to a waxy leaf surface on some varieties. Head blight
leaves a white, empty head.
or leaf rust can be a problem in some triticales. He says breeders
have sometimes inadvertently used a susceptible variety of rye when
developing the new variety, and then found they have a problem later.
Ergot can be
a problem in triticale, as it can in wheat, barley and rye. Ergot
often forms when a frost kills the stamens of the flowers. The resulting
opening into the kernel can be infected with ergot by insects that
are attracted to the sugar from the flower.
stripe is found in triticale when there is damage to the roots in
the fall and winter. Kolding said one experimental variety which
is a cross between a Chinese white octaploid type and a hexaploid
triticale has either resistance or tolerance to cephalosporium,
or has a superior root system.
As for viral
diseases, Kolding says some triticale lines appear to have resistance
to Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus. He also notes that the variety Flora
does not exhibit symptoms for Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus, but it
is a carrier of the disease and may serve as a reservoir.
triticale production is much like what production, and the same
practices are used, Kolding notes. He suggests getting into the
crop slowly if you have not grown it before. Also, he points out
that some triticale kernels may have dormancy, so caution is needed
if following triticale with a crop grown for certified seed wheat.
One triticale plant in the field may be cause to have the field
are nearly the same as those for wheat or rye. Caution is advised,
and reading labels is strongly recommended. Don't assume that just
because a material is registered for either wheat and/or rye, it
is labeled for triticale.
In a forage
test, Kolding harvested triticale at three growth stages: late boot,
anthesis and between a quarter and three-quarters filled. Early
cutting produced the highest protein levels in the forage. Cutting
at flowering or anthesis produced the most protein per acre; and
cutting after the heads had started to fill produced the highest
nutrient levels. The varieties used in this trial were Pika, Bobcat,
KT940488 and KT941864. According to Kolding, a thick stand is better
for triticale planted as a forage crop.
that a beardless triticale variety has been developed in Canada
especially for use as a forage crop. The Canadians have also developed
a triticale variety that is extra leafy.
One of the
drawbacks of triticale grown for grain is that it is prone shatter,
says Kolding. He explains that there is a spot about a quarter to
a third of the way down from the tip on the rachis that is very
weak. This is genetically controlled, Kolding says, and some varieties
are stronger than others.
stripe can be a problem in triticale. Existing varieties do not
have a tolerance to cephalosporium stripe, but Kolding says a new
breeding line using the China White parentage shows promise.
can be a problem in triticale, and bacterial blight will cause white
of triticale plants are either a flat or more prostrate type, or
a vertical type. The vertical types are better for fall grazing.
developed in Poland are doing very well in parts of the United States.
One of these is Bobo which did very well in trials at Corvallis.
grown for both forage and grain, although growers in Washington
are looking at it more from the grain aspect, Nelson says. The high
lysine content of triticale, compared to other cereal grains, is
a plus for livestock feeders. It means they don't have to buy supplemental
lysine to add to their formulated rations, Nelson explains. Triticale
is used more in the poultry, swine and dairy industries. While triticale
is used mostly for animal feed, there is an organic and health food
market as well.
There is very
little triticale grown in the United States at the present time,
and this means that most of the triticale used in this country is
imported from Canada. In the United States, Nelson said that Resource
Seeds based in California has a breeding program. As far as marketing
of triticale goes, Nelson says they really haven't really figured
out how it will be done, but the price will likely follow the corn
One of the
problems with a new crop, Nelson says, is getting a market established.
To do this, generally large quantities of product are needed so
livestock or poultry producers can work it into their rations.
line is that livestock producers need the quantities to work with.
However, growers are reluctant to plant the crop unless they have
a good return. This means that the triticale market will probably
start with the swine industry because ration changes are not as
critical for pigs.
TRITICALE - Curtis Hennings, Ritzville
has been growing some triticale for several years. The varieties
have included San Juan and 6600 from the Resource Seed operation
in California. For Hennings, the 6600 always outyielded the highest-yielding
winter wheat, and always by a significant amount, he says. He did
his calculations using a 60-pound test weight, and the triticale
yields were usually 8 to 10 bushels per acre higher than the winter
wheat. Hennings has also noticed that no matter how cold the weather
gets in the fall, the winter triticale was also green still when
the winter wheat had turned brown. He said that the triticale seems
to be more winter hardy.
Part of Hennings
operation is a conventional small grain-fallow rotation and the
rest is direct-seeded. He was looking for a winter crop he could
plant late in the fall which had the vigor to compete with goatgrass
and other weeds, including cheatgrass. At the same time, he wanted
a marketable crop.
that his experience with direct-seeded crops has led him to the
opinion that there is no such thing as an ideal drill. The different
makes, types and styles all have their advantages and disadvantages.
that triticale production is all starting to come together for him
right now, but he still isn't sure of all the aspects. He notes
that 60 acres of fall triticale is the most he has had. Hennings
says there are some new markets for triticale which are coming into
the area. One of these is the new poultry operation at Lind. When
it is up and running at full capacity, it will use a million pounds
of feed a day. With a reliable supply, they would consider using
triticale. If the triticale is 20% of the ration, this would mean
a requirement of 100 tons per day.
to the operation at Lind, Hennings says Foster Farms out of California
is one of the largest poultry operations on the West Coast, and
they are looking to put in a feed plant somewhere in the Northwest,
probably around Portland. As of right now, there is not enough corn
grown in the Pacific Northwest to supply the new poultry operations,
let alone any swine operations which start up. Hog operations now
using corn would probably consider switching to triticale if it
is available, partly because of the higher lysine content.
triticale prices are or will likely be based on corn, hopefully
with a premium for the higher protein content.
He says two
winter varieties developed in the Pacific Northwest - Bojo and Aljo
-- have produced significantly higher yields that winter wheat in
trials in Oregon. In one trial at Corvallis, Bojo yielded 141 bushels
per acre while the yield of Madsen winter wheat was 68 bushels per
acre. The Bojo has yielded a lot higher than the varieties Hennings
grew himself, and Aljo is reported to have an even higher yield
potential than Bojo. Hennings
said that yields at this level could offset lower prices compared
to wheat on an economic basis.
to the winter triticales, spring varieties are also available. In
trials at Prosser, it appears they have a yield potential much higher
than that of barley. These are under development by Pro-Genes which
is also working with hog operations and has conducted several feed
trials under way fairly constantly. Hennings said some trials indicate
another advantage for triticale over other feed grains when used
in dairy rations, and this is that cows fed triticale appear to
produce manure with a lower nitrogen content, and this may be important
in some parts of the country, including the dairy regions of Western
to have good emergence, and the straw seems to tougher than that
of wheat. It is more like rye straw. This, Hennings says, can vary
with variety. For farmers using on-farm storage, it is essential
that the crop be dry going into storage to maintain quality.
Agencies: Washington State University Cooperative Extension, United
States Department of Agriculture, Eastern Washington Counties. Cooperative
Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.
Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Cooperative