In 2013, the University of Kassel (KU), Germany, received seed of the 8 cycling populations from each partner, as well as of the home populations maintained in Hungary and the UK. At the University of Kassel, three home populations have also been maintained and were used in the COBRA experiment. In addition, three modern pure line varieties (Achat, Akteur and Capo) were used as references. These 16 treatments (13 CC populations + 3 references) were planted in a randomised, complete block design with four replicate plots (approximately 50m x 18m). Each population within each replicate plot had an area of 17.6m2 (1,6m x 11m). The experimental field is organically-managed and information on yield, additional yield parameters such as harvest index, protein content, foot and leaf disease and phenotypic variation was recorded.
Preliminary results from the 2014 harvest of the Composite Cross populations at KU indicate some significant differences between the populations for a number of traits such as thousand grain weight (TGW), harvest index (HI) and number of kernels per tiller. In spring of 2013 and 2014, an unusually strong epidemic of yellow rust occurred with many wheat fields being completely yellow and even triticale suffering considerably. In contrast to some of the reference varieties, the CCPs at KU looked almost completely healthy with no problems with yellow rust. In addition to the significant differences found for a number of agronomic traits, the populations were also variable with regards to morphological characteristics such as stem and ear length, and the molecular analyses of the populations should give further insight into the genetic differences between the populations.
Molecular analysis is currently being completed and results will be available mid-2015. An additional experiment has been carried out for the 2014/2015 season. Original saved seed received in 2013 from the 13 CCP populations was planted together with seed from the 13 populations harvested at KU in 2014. In addition to these 26 populations, 6 CCP populations grown by a number of participating German farmers and 7 currently popular winter wheat reference varieties, will be compared for a number of agronomic and morphological traits, as well as assessment for leaf and foot disease.
The slideshow gives a brief overview of some of our activities over the 2013/2014 season.