To highlight the crop of the year, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is growing three cultivars of red wheat in a planter as part of a display on the project. The selected cultivars are Red Fife, Marquis and Furano. The display is on view for visitors in the museum's Discovery Park and compliments other nearby educational panels on plant genetics.
Red Fife is Canada's oldest wheat. It was imported to Ontario from Europe in 1842. Renowned for its good yields and great baking quality,Red Fife was grown across Canada by the 1860s, and it remained the most popular cultivar in the country until the early 1900s.
Growing Marquis wheat here at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is special. The Museum is located on the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, Canada, where the Cereal Division conducted research on cereal crops such as wheat until the 1970s. By crossing Red Fife with Hard Red Calcuta, a wheat from India, researchers created Marquis wheat in 1906. This new cultivar matured 7 to 10 days earlier than Red Fife, produced high yield and had excellent baking quality. Marquis wheat, along with other cultivars such as Garnet and Reward, contributed to making Canada one of the world's leading wheat producers.
Furano is a modern late-maturing wheat well-suited to eastern Ontario. This tall cultivar is popular with dairy farmers. It has good yield and produces large quantities of straw.
Growing these three wheats in a planter proved to be challenging yet interesting. All three cultivars had to be resown after the seedlings were destroyed in a historical storm in late May which ravaged most farms in the area. An added challenge for the Furano planting, grown in the lowest section of the planter, was ravaged by a hungry squirrel or grounhog and had to be sown a third time. These challenges have now become part of our interpretation story for this display as it demonstrates the many variables that impact wheat production in this area of Canada.
It is interesting to observe the differences between Marquis and Red Fife. Even if they where sown at the same time, we noticed on July 13 a few spikes with florets on the Marquis, but none on Red Fife. It is easy obvious that Marquis matures faster and it was interesting to know that 116 years later, we were reproducing similar results as the researches and farmers that pioneered this study in almost exactly the same spot over a century ago..
We are curious to see how the crop will change over the summer and we will keep on observing the differences between the three cultivars. Author: Nadine Dagenais Dessaint
Manager, Education and Exhibition Interpretation/Gestionnaire, Éducation et interprétation des expositions
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum / Musée de l'agriculture et de l'alimentation du Canada