the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Issues 400, pp. 2-3 (Oct 26, 1916)
C. E. Saunders
A few details in regard to the origin and characteristics of Marquis wheat were given in the report of the Experimental Farms for the year 1906. It seems necessary, now, to treat this subject at somewhat greater length, in view of the exceptional interest which has lately been aroused in this wheat.
|1 Saunders, C E. Marquis wheat. In Canada Exp. Farms Rpts, [1911-1912], p. 118-120. 1912|
Among the crosses made by the director of experimental farms and his assistants during the first few years after the farms were established, several were effected between Red Fife and various early-maturing wheats from Europe and Asia. All the details in regard to the origin of Marquis are not available, but it is one of the descendants of a cross between an early-ripening Indian wheat, Hard Red Calcutta (as female) and Red Fife (as male). The cross (as appears from unpublished notes) was made by Dr. A. P. Saunders, probably at the experimental farm at Agassiz, in the year 1892. The crossbred seeds, or their progeny, were transferred to Ottawa and when the writer of this report was appointed in 1903 to take charge of the work of cereal breeding, he made a series of selections from the progeny of all the crossbred wheats which had been produced at Ottawa up to that time. Some of these had been named and others were under numbers. Though they had all been subjected to a certain amount of selection, each of them consisted of a mixture of related types. In some cases all the types present were similar. In other instances striking differences were observed. The grain which had descended from the cross referred to above was found by careful study of individual plants (especially by applying the chewing test to ascertain the gluten strength and probable bread-making value) to be a mixture of similar-looking varieties which differed radically in regard to gluten quality. One of the varieties isolated from this mixture was subsequently named Marquis. Its high bread-making strength and color of flour were demonstrated in the tests made at Ottawa in the early months of 1907, and all the surplus seed was at once sent to the Indian Head Experimental Farm for propagation.
It will be clearly seen from the above account that the question, "When was Marquis wheat originated?" can never be answered. It came into existence probably at Ottawa between the years 1895 and 1902. It remained, however, mixed with other related sorts until discovered by the writer in 1903. It was first grown in a pure state in 1904, when a few seeds were sown in a sheltered garden on the Central Experimental Farm. Even then, however, its fine qualities were only partly known, and it was not until the cerealist's baking tests of 1907 were completed that he decided to send out this wheat for trial in Saskatchewan. Its success in the prairie country was phenomenal.