Hen Gymro

Andy Forbes emails the forum to explain he wants to attend the next meeting:

“As I think most of you know Brockwell Bake more or less by chance had been bulking up the Hen Gymro S70  selection from the Welsh landrace “Hen Gymro” since 2011 alongside various other British Isles wheats, other than our own local Suth East England lines, always with hope of returning them home. So its been very fortuitous that Welsh Grain Forum as well as Scotland The Bread have got started up in recent times. The majority of the Hen Gymro S70 seed stock (in the world) went to Rupert at Torth Y Tir last season.

In case you haven’t seen before this link details what we know about Hen Gymro and the extant accessions in genebanks. I’m pretty envious as Hen Gymro almost certainly was last landrace wheat in use in British Isles, in the 1920s, whereas the main landrace origin good milling wheats we have for South East England were last in popular use in the 1830s.

What we haven’t had growing of extant Hen Gymro germplasm before now was the accessions held by the Vavilov Institute in Russia despite several years of trying to get samples from them. Thanks to meeting of myself and Andrew Whitley with VIR people in Finland last summer, Andrew was invited to St Petersburg and amongst other things brought back the missing Hen Gymro (Hen Gimro) accessions last year – produce of which I harvested from my London allotment yesterday.http://brockwell-bake.org.uk/gallery_s.php?search=2nd&gall=103

Hen Gymro (Hen Gimro) S72 #k40070 is all white when ripe, much shorter than S70 and also seems later to ripen. Hen Gymro (Hen Gimro) #k40069 is especially interesting as it seems to contain at least 5 morphological types with a variety of heights but similar ripening time – hopefully therefore it is a genuine sample of an original field of the landrace rather than the other selected out types chosen by the Aberstwyth Welsh Plant Breeding Station.

Coincidentally also have the produce of one plant from last year which is a cross between Hen Gymro S70 and a cross between purple grained Ethiopan emmer and spelt – purple naked spelt – provisionally named the “Welsh Purple Mutt”.


one thing would like to discuss at meeting is how best to manage the new Hen Gymro lines for next season. Could start a composite population or wait to do that. Possibly we can send at least some to Edward Dickin at Harper Adams University for enhanced bulking up in greenhouse with artificial vernalization.
which kind of comes to other question would like to ask people which is how to reward those who do bulking up – without immediate revenue resulting and how to manage heritage cereal line germplasm into the future. I would suggest some kind of online register shared between yourselves, Scotland the Bread and either Brockwell Bake or some as yet unformed English group. Also that through that tracking of germplasm new users of seed pay some percentage of seed value for the number of years that the given line took to bulk up from genebank accessions without revenue to whoever did whichever year(s) of that bulking up. People producing grain/flour/baked goods from the lines within this tracking and agreements could then display some kind of mark on products as assurance to consumers that product as described in terms of being from heritage lines. Using that mark might incur some subscription to support our respective groups and ongoing heritage line research.
also copying to Andrew Whitley at Scotland the Bread
hoping to be accompanied to meeting by pioneer organic baker Syd Aston who currently bakes on Sheepdrove Farm Berkshire but I know has plans to bring his baking skills and immense experience back home to Wales in the future

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