Modern triticale crops for increased yields, reduced inputs, increased profitability and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from UK cereal production


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 March 2012 - 03 September 2015
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
AHDB sector cost:
Project leader:
Sarah Clarke, ADAS Gleadthorpe


pr556-understanding-triticale pr556-final-project-report-ii

About this project


Recent experiments (2007 – 2011) suggested that triticale could offer opportunities for growers to improve yields whilst also saving on inputs. An Innovate UK project (101093) was set up to further investigate the relative yields, N requirements, nutritional values, and biofuel performances of wheat and triticale. It included a series of field trials (2012 – 2014), comparing yields and N requirements of two wheat (JB Diego, Beluga) and two triticale (Grenado, Benetto) varieties in two sets of paired rotational (first and second cereal) experiments per year, and comparing a wider set of varieties in a further four experiments per year.

The AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds-funded project aimed to add value to the Innovate UK project though improving the underlying understanding of the questions relevant to growers. This project reports results from both projects combined. Results from a total of 20 experiments (2011 – 2014) were used in a cross-site analysis. Triticale out-yielded wheat at 15 out of 20 sites, out-yielding wheat by an average of 0.6 t/ha. When analysed by rotational position, triticale out-yielded wheat by an average of 3% for first cereals and 8% for second cereals.

A meta-analysis of N response trials showed no significant difference between economically optimum N rates for wheat and triticale. Lodging was rarely a problem and only severe enough that it may have affected yield in 3 of the 21 experiments. Measurements carried out to understand the basis for the higher triticale yields showed that it was due to achieving a higher biomass (1.5 t/ha higher at harvest, on average) rather than through greater portioning to the grain. This greater total growth may be in part due to earlier development in triticale, starting stem extension earlier (Benetto was 19 days and Grenado 8 days earlier) thus intercepting more light more quickly. Flowering was also reached more quickly in triticale, but maturity date was only slightly earlier, giving a longer duration for grain-filling. Light interception of triticale was greater than wheat, though its GAI was not always greater. This implies a higher extinction co-efficient for triticale, each unit of GAI intercepting more light than wheat.

Triticale varieties generally showed a lower incidence of take-all, but there was little evidence that triticale has a bigger or deeper root system, although Benetto did have more roots at the surface. Triticale generally had lower (0.6%) grain protein concentrations than wheat, meaning that the amino acid contents, which were generally comparable to wheat on a % protein basis, were actually lower than wheat on a dry matter basis. However, lysine contents were slightly higher in triticale. An AHDB Pork study found that pig DE and NE were very similar for the two species; DE was 14.57 MJ/kg for triticale and 14.59 MJ/kg for wheat. Triticale appeared to have a lower alcohol yield per tonne than wheat, but on a per hectare basis, triticale gave higher yields because of its greater yields. These higher yields also led to greenhouse gas savings for triticale compared to wheat on a per tonne and per hectare basis, especially when grown as a second cereal.

A gross margin analysis also showed a £27/ha advantage of triticale when grown as a second cereal. Taking account of all the results, triticale appears to be a useful option for growers, especially as a second cereal. Its performance was confirmed by growers who tested it against wheat in a series of tramline trials.