Proc. Soc. Prom. Agric. Sci. 24: 56-59. (1903)
Some Results of Cross-Fertilizing
William Saunders

Director of Canadian Experimental Farms, Ottawa, Canada.

The experiments which have been conducted in connection with the work of the Canadian Experimental Farms during the past fifteen years have covered a wide range.

The first, perhaps, in importance have been the experiments with cereals. Those have followed along several lines. The growing season over the larger area in Canada is short, hence there is a need of early ripening sorts which will mature in the more northerly sections early enough to be harvested before the first autumn frosts occur. To produce early ripening sorts which would be acceptable to the farmers they must be productive and in quality about equal to the best sorts now in cultivation. Among wheats the Red Fife possesses all the qualifications needed excepting the important characteristic of earliness in ripening. Hence it was early planned to use the Red Fife largely in these experiments and cross that grain with earlier maturing sorts.

These were sought mainly in the northern parts of Russia and in India at different altitudes in the Himalayan Mountains. From Russia there was obtained along with other sorts the Ladoga wheat, a bearded grain grown on the shores of Lake Ladoga near St. Petersburgh. and the Onega, a small sized wheat grown on the Onega River near Archangel, a district said to be the most northerly of be wheat-growing districts in Russia.

By crossing the Ladoga with the Red Fife, using the Red Fife sometimes as male and sometimes as female, a number of new sorts have been obtained, among the most promising of which are Preston, Huron and Stanley. The Ladoga with White Fife has given another promising sort named Percy. The Ladoga is about a week earlier in ripening than the Red Fife and the crosses which have been effected between it and the Fifes have made a gain in earliness of about four days and have retained their productiveness and, it is believed, their quality also.

The best of the crosses of Onega in point of earliness are those with Gehun, a variety of wheat brought from a high altitude in the Himalayan Mountains in India. The Gehun is grown at various altitudes. The sample from which the cross referred to was made was obtained from an altitude of about 11,000 feet. The two best sorts obtained from this cross are Early Riga and Harold and both of these are a full week—sometimes ten days—earlier than the Red Fife. Such a gain in earliness is, however, always in our experience at a sacrifice in weight of crop. To obtain a heavy crop of spring wheat the time required to mature our best varieties seems to be fully needed to fill the heads with large plump kernels. Early ripening sorts have, however, this advantage that they are usually less injured by rust.

With the view of producing sorts more rust-resistant, varieties of Triticum durum known as Roumanian and Goose have been crossed with Red Fife. Varieties of Emmer have also been similarly crossed. With the object of increasing the size of the kernel Red Fife has been crossed with the Polonian Triticum polonicum. In our experience we have found that as a rule the plant resulting from the crossbred kernel closely resembles the female used in the experiment and such modifications as are brought about by introducing the blood of other sorts are not very distinctly manifest until the second generation when the plants vary to a degree which is remarkable.

In this instance, however, the head was much modified in the first generation and the plant produced from the Red Fife kernel fertilized by Polonian pollen gave heads which were quite unlike those of Red Fife, with kernels considerably larger than are ever found in that variety.

These kernels sown in the spring of 1902 produced a great variety of forms, the most striking of which are contained in the accompanying photograph.

Heads of Red Fife and Polish wheats (upper left hand corner). Head of hybrid (lower left hand corner). The remaining heads are progeny of this hybrid.

In the efforts to produce apples hardy enough to endure the climate of the Canadian Northwest, the hardiest forms of Siberian Crabs, Pyrus baccata and prunifolia have been crossed with some of the hardiest sorts of apples in cultivation in the east. About 400 of such crosses have been produced and of these about 100 have fruited. Fourteen of these have been found of such satisfactory size and quality as to justify their being grown in a larger way for general use.

Experiments in this direction are being carried on along three different lines.

First, the multiplication and distribution for test of such varieties among the first crosses as give greatest promise, so that they may be thoroughly tried in different parts of the country and at different altitudes.

Second, the raising of a large number of seedlings from the best of these crosses and planting these in large orchards at the Experimental Farms and elsewhere in the Northwest with the object of obtaining larger and better sorts from such of these seedlings as may sport towards the male in the cross.

Third, the best of the cross bred sorts are being again crossed with the best of the larger apples of the east for the purpose of still further improving the character and quality of these fruits and of finding out whether such further introduction of the blood of the larger apples can be made without lessening the hardiness of the crosses.