The National Thatching Straw Growers Association (NTSGA), launched in May 2011 aims to promote the production of top quality straw suitable for either ‘Combed Wheat Reed’ or ‘Long Straw’ thatching, grown and harvested according to established, traditional principles.

This pilot project will be focused on long straw thatching in the east of England, which it is hoped will serve as the basis for larger trials which can then be rolled-out in other areas, particularly in the Midlands & SW England. Further trials should also include combed wheat reed. Additional research will include the chemical analysis and physical properties of thatch samples over several years.

The aims of the project are:

1. To provide evidence based recommendations and advice on long strawed wheat varieties and their cultivation, initially in the east of England and thence beyond.

2. To make a greater range of long strawed wheats commercially available to growers by registering the best as ‘Conservation Varieties’.

3. To provide information on crop husbandry, thatching methods, and thatch longevity and to publish technical guidance.

4. To provide a greater understanding of the chemical changes that occur in thatch over time.

The project will consist of two complementary and linked Work Packages (WP) activities:

WP1 - Growth trials to monitor and evaluate a range of varieties, while carefully monitoring plots grown under a range of different husbandry methods at 4 sites for 4 years.

WP2 - The long term annual monitoring of the completed thatch (from year 1 trials of  WP1) to assess its longevity on tests panels and rethatched roofs. The assessment will also include FTIR chemical analysis to quantify a range of chemical components of the straw (with scientists at IFR Norwich).

 

The first report has been published in January 2016. To view the full report, click here.