BBA wheat portal

Kent Old Hoary

origin:Kent, United Kingdom   first record:1744   habit:Winter   grain colour:white yellow  references >>>  ID images >>>


BBA Kent Old Hoary


Kent Old Hoary has many synonyms. Percival in his 1934 edition of the "Wheat in Great Britain" lists "Rough Chaff White", "Velvet Chaff", "Hedge wheat", "Kent Woolly Eared", "Hoary White" and "Tunstall" noting that commonly grown in Essex, Kent and Sussex and other southern and south-midland counties. Most surviving examples are via the Vilmorin seed company and therefore France - the Vilmorin 1880 book "Les meilleurs blés" gives two examples "Blé à duvet" and " Blé Tunstall ou Blé de haie" making clear English origin. Despite this many European genebank accessions wrongly give origin as France (and make multiple spelling mistakes of the French names).

It has a relatively long ear with furry or velvet chaff. In 1753 Ellis in his book of Farm Husbandry when reviewing the wheat grown at the time stated the typical London loaf of the time was a third Red Lammas with two thirds Kent Woolly Eared.

Reference #1

The Modern Husbandman, Oct - Dec by William Ellis, 1744 LINK
"White Wheat . This white Wheat has a white Straw, and a white bunchy Ear; it kernels as big as Pirks, grows closer together than the red or yellow Lammas, and thus is better secured from Strokes and Blights than they are. Now this Corn is mostly defended against these Incidents by Means of its rough Chaffs as for the right Sort of white Wheat has two or three that encompass each Kernel, which also preserve it in a great Measure from the Damage of Flies, and other Insects, which are apt to spoil Wheats while it is growing in the Ear. When this excellent Wheat is near ripe, its true Sort may be known by its Aspect, for then it will appear, as if it were hoary all over its Ear. About us, it is more and more sown, as being a Sort that thrives well in our inclosed, poor, gravelly, chalky, and light loamy Soils ; and, by many, this, or any other of the white Wheats, is much sown in a Mixture with red or yellow Lammas, because this Wheat will help to keep off Blights from that, but is a most proper Sort to sell and grind with the red or yellow Lammas, by Reason one is of a short, brittle Nature, and the other tough ; which prevents the White from running too much into small. Bran, as it is apt to do, if ground alone, and then its Flour will be the coarser. This Wheat weighs rather lighter than either the red or yellow
Lammas or Pirks, yet makes more Stuff or Flour than they do, because its very small Bran, remaining among it, is not easily perceived, for, as its Coat, or Skin, is of a light Colour, it gives the Meal and Bread a pleasing yellowish Cast."

Reference #2

Les meilleurs blés by Henry de Vilmorin, 1880 LINK
"Blé à duvet
Syn. : Blé velouté; woolly eared wheat; rough chaff white wheat.
D'automne et de février. [d’hiver]
Paille blanche, assez courte, droite, forte et raide.
Épi court, compact surtout à la base, presque carré et effilé vers la pointe, velu.
Grain blanc, bien plein, renflé, arrondi, de très belle apparence.

Comme le blé Tunstall, le blé à duvet est d’origine anglaise, seulement il vient du midi de l'Angleterre, où il est cultivé depuis longtemps, principalement dans les comtés d’Essex et de Kent. Il s'est répandu de là dans les Pays-Bas et en France. C'est une variété recommandable, qui talle beaucoup, résiste bien à l'humidité, craint peu la verse et donne un produit très abondant. Elle convient aux terres fortes, argileuses, et aux sols riches et frais; le voisinage de la mer paraît lui être favorable, car elle est surtout en faveur près des côtes et dans les plaines basses qui en sont peu éloignées. On reproche à cette variété d’être un peu dure à battre, mais c'est là plutôt une qualité qu'un défaut au bord de la mer, où les blés risquent d’être égrenés par les grands vents. Le peu de longueur de sa paille est aussi un avantage au même point de vue, et sous le rapport du rendement il est compensé par le grand nombre des montants. Le blé à duvet se sème en novembre et même en décembre, quand les conditions atmosphériques sont favorables. On peut le traiter aussi comme blé de printemps, mais il n'est pas très hâtif, et l'on ne doit pas compter beaucoup sur le bon succès des semis faits après le 1er mars."

Other references

Agricultural Surveys: Kent by John Boys, 1805 LINK

"The new sorts of wheat which have been introduced into this county within these last twenty or thirty years, are the Hoary White, the Nonpareil, the Pilbeam, the Square Ear, and the Hoary Brown; with a variety of other sorts very lately introduced, and but little known.
The Hoary White, by some called the Velvet Eared, is by far the most valuable, because it is very productive, and the best for the millers' use. The straw is white and short, the chaff0 is covered with a thick fine down, somewhat of a brownish hue; the grain is remarkably small, and of a dull white colour; the bran very thin, so that some grains are almost transparent when held up to the light. It grinds very mellow, and makes a beautiful fine white flour. From the quantity of down upon the chafF, and its small ears binding up very close in the sheaf, this kind, in a rainy season, is apt to vegetate very freely in the field ; on which account it is not so proper to cultivate in a moist climate, and in small enclosures, that are not open to the winds and sun.
[This sort of wheat is now entirely lost in East Kent, very much to the regret of the millers, and many farmers. It was a good sort for producing quantity as well as quality; and was said to have been originally introduced into this country from Dantzic; but I have examined many parts of cargoes of wheat from thence, and have made many inquiries to get some of it again, without success.
We have a new Hoary White, introduced within these few few years, which grows in a larger ear, has a larger grain, and is thence by some called the Great Hoary; but by others the New Hoary: it is a very good sort, and earlier ripe than the Old Hoary, but it has not quite so thin a bran.]"

Les meilleurs blés by Henry de Vilmorin, 1880 LINK

"Blé Tunstall ou Blé de haie
Syn. : Blé Blanchard.
D'hiver.
Paille blanche, souple et forte, très creuse, de hauteur moyenne.
Épi blanc, carré à la base et s'effilant en pointe, assez long et très souvent courbé, revêtu sur les glumes d’un duvet court qui donne à tout l'ensemble un aspect laineux.
Grain blanc, long et effilé, aminci aux deux bouts, de très belle qualité.

Le blé Tunstall est originaire du comté de Norfolk, en Angleterre; il a été introduit en France à diverses reprises et jouit encore d’une certaine faveur. Le duvet dont les épis sont couverts a passé souvent pour retenir l'humidité et nuire à la qualité du grain. Nous croyons qu'il a une influence tout opposée, et qu'il tient l'eau à distance du grain. Dans les années humides nous avons vu souvent des blés à épi lisse plus endommagés par l'eau que ceux à épi velu, et d’autre part il semble que ce même duvet soit aussi un préservatif contre la trop grande chaleur, car le grain du blé Tunstall et du blé velouté reste souvent bien blanc et bien plein dans les saisons où celui des autres blés blancs devient retrait et presque corné. Le blé de haie convient aux terres argileuses moyennes, il réussit bien aussi sur les terres calcaires. Dans les sols frais et riches il est sujet à verser; on le sème en octobre et novembre, il est de précocité moyenne."

On pure and improved Varieties of Wheat lately introduced into England. by Colonel John Le Couteur, 1840 LINK

"The mode of procuring the sorts of wheat described. — One of the best varieties of wheat in general cultivation, from which I have raised large crops, is the " White Downy," or hoary — the "Veloute" of the French — described in my work on Wheat. This excellent variety is believed to be the same that is so well described by Boys, in his ' General View of the Agriculture of Kent,' as the " Hoary White," or " Velvet-eared ;" said by him to have been much prized by the millers, but then entirely lost."

On the varieties, properties, and classification of wheat. 2nd Edition by Colonel John Le Couteur, 1872 LINK

The agriculturist’s manual, forming a report of Lawson’s agricultural museum in Edinburgh by Lawson seed and nursery Co. Ltd., 1836 LINK

"13. White Velvet Or Woolly-eared Wheat. Also known in Sussex and Kent, where it is much cultivated, by the names of Hoary, White, and Stuffed wheats; also by the name of Hedge wheat (Blé de Haie, Fr.); but this latter is also applied to other varieties. Straw short, ears small, but close and compact; chaff white, covered with a fine velvety-like down; grains middle sized, well formed, of a semi-transparent whitish colour. This is a favourite variety with the London millers, on account of its yielding little bran and a fine white flour. In Scotland its cultivation has often been attempted, but never carried to any great extent, from an opinion being prevalent amongst growers, that its woolly chaff is apt to retain the moisture in damp seasons, thereby materially injuring the sample, by discolouring it, and causing it to sprout. It is therefore seldom met with in this country, except when mixed among the common white (No. 1). Sample in straw and grain by Messrs Drummond and Sons, Stirling, under the name of Downy Kent wheat; and in grain by Messrs Vilmorin and Co., Paris, under the names Blé de Haie ou Froment blanc velouté .
Introduced into France from the south of England upwards of twenty years since, and is now cultivated pretty extensively in that country."

The Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England Volume I by John Murray, 1840 LINK

Identification images

Ble Blanc A Duvet ou Velute TRI25830 (DE) link
Ble Blanc A Duvet Veloute INRA 1410 link
Ble d’Haie link
Ble Blanc a Duvet Veloute TRI1179 link
Ble Blanc a Duvet Veloute CZ 100773 link





Germplasm link

Ble Blanc a Duvel Veloute VIR (RUS) #k41049

Ble Blanc A Duvent Veloute IHAR (POL) #98

Ble Blanc A Duvet ou Velute IPK (DEU) #TRI25830

Ble Blanc a Duvet Veloute RICP (CZE) #01C0100773

Ble Blanc A Duvet Veloute INRA (FRA) #1410

Ble Blanc a Duvet Veloute IPK (DEU) #TRI1179

Ble Blanc a Duvet Voloute RCA (HUN) #RCAT003380

Ble de Haie INRA (FRA) #1429

de Haie on Tunstall RICP (CZE) #01C0100893

Essex Fluweelkaf CGN (NLD) #CGN05442

Essex Fluweelkaf USDA-ARS (USA) #PI 342606

Thunstall VIR (RUS) #k40511