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origin:Norfolk, United Kingdom   first record:1844   habit:Winter   grain colour:red/brown  references >>>


Browick is a prominent example of the "squarehead" style of early cultivar that came to replace in cultivation earlier landrace millable wheats in the British Isles during the early to mid 19th Century.

The "squarehead" or "prolific" type of English early cultivar characteristically has a square cross section to the ear with close packing of spikelets compared to more spaced out "lax" ear of earlier wheats see Varietal innovation and the competitiveness of the British cereals sector, 1760-1930 . Yield increased due to weight of ear and number of ears but quality decreased and the grain of the "squareheads" is more suitable for animal fodder or biscuit making than milling for bread baking. This reflected changes in English land ownership and agriculture with the progress of "Enclosure", small peasant farmers being forced off "common" land which was then "enclosed" and "improved" by local landlords orientating on stock rearing to feed the emerging urban populations of early industrialization. Coincidentally the bakers and millers of the expanding port cities of the UK started to adopt use of imported grain with its dependable quality control at source in North America, Argentina and Australia.

Note that the correspondent in the North Otago Times relates the discoverer of "Browick", Mr Banham chose the founding plant amongst a crop of Spalding precisely for its finer and squarer ear.

The Victorian period wheat "Prince Albert" was reputedly a selection from within Browick. "Prince Albert" is an important element in the breeding programme of French seed company Vilmorin alongside Chiddam Red and White, for instance "Dattel"

As one half of the Cambridge Plant Breeding Institute’s second big wheat success "Yeoman" together with the Canadian (originally Polish) wheat Red Fife, Browick is through this important in other late period UK wheats such as "Holdfast" and "Meteor".

Reference #1

North Otago Times by , 1878 LINK
notes: NZ newspaper clip with story of origin of Browick wheat
"ln 1844 Mr Banham was living at Browick (hence the name), a few miles from his present residence, Flordon Hall, and in the fine harvest of that year his wheat consisted chiefly of the old-fashioned " Spalding" variety. Well, in a field his Irish reapers were cutting Mr Banham’s eye detected a couple of fine square ears finer and squarer than the rest of the crop, and on a taller, stiffer straw. He carefully gathered and took thorn home, rubbed them out, dibbled the grain singly in the garden, sowed the following year’s produce, and by 1848 was enabled to sow a large breadth himself, as well as to supply some of his neighbours, who were anxious to test."

Reference #2

Les meilleurs blés by Henry de Vilmorin, 1880 LINK
notes: with copperplate illustration and informative text (as usual)
"Le blé Browick est d'origine récente: il a été découvert par M. Browick, de Banham (Norfolk), qui, frappé de son apparence vigoureuse, l'a récolté à part, multiplié et adopté pour sa propre culture. Il s'est répandu assez rapidement de là dans les environs et dans toute l'Angleterre et a été introduit pour la première fois en France en 1865. C'est une variété facile à reconnaître à la forme trapue et compacte de son épi, qui est porté sur des chaumes très gros, droits, raides et abondamment feuillés. On pourrait décrire le blé Browick comme une forme plus raccourcie et plus compacte du blé Prince-Albert, le raccourcissement portant sur la paille aussi bien que sur l'épi. En Angleterre le blé Browick est estimé à cause de sa grande production et de sa résistance à la verse; il lui faut de bonnes terres, saines et bien fumées, autrement le rendement en grain n'est pas en proportion de la quantité de paille obtenue. Le blé Browick doit absolument être semé avant l'hiver, et autant que possible pas plus tard que le milieu de novembre."

Other references

Cultivated Plants of the Farm by G. D. H. Bell, 1948 LINK
notes: remarks on high yield and poor milling qualities of Browick as well as its role as one side with Red Fife of parentage of Yeoman, one of first attempts to create a higher yielding but good milling wheat for UK growing.

The Agrarian History of England and Wales by edited by Joan Thirsk, Edward John T. Collins, 1967 LINK
notes: origins of Browick and other early cultivars

Wheat in Great Britain by John Percival, 1934 page 110 edition 1943
notes: Percival perpetuates the story that Browick found in field of "Scottish Annat wheat" but more likely to be "Spalding Prolific" as reported in North Otago Times

Wheat: Its History, Characteristics, Chemical Composition and Nutritive Properties by Samuel Copland, 1865 LINK

Germplasm link

Browich Red Spike (Selection) NORDGEN (SWE) #NGB23636

Browichs (Selection) NORDGEN (SWE) #NGB22515

Browichs Rod CIMMYT (MEX) #CWI 42582

Browichs RØD NORDGEN (SWE) #NGB8945

Browick VIR (RUS) #k6031

Browick CGN (NLD) #CGN04304

Browick GRU-JIC (GBR) #W0492

Browick USDA-ARS (USA) #PI 167408

Browick USDA-ARS (USA) #PI 278573

Browick Old True CGN (NLD) #CGN04305

Browick Old True GRU-JIC (GBR) #W1001

Browick Red RICP (CZE) #01C0100797

Browick RED IHAR (POL) #2854

Red Browick USDA-ARS (USA) #PI 192585

Red Browick CIMMYT (MEX) #CWI 8162