Participatory breeding of high-value wheat for the Northeast

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2015: $14,996.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Grant Recipient: Cornell University
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Heather Darby
University of Vermont Extension
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Mark Sorrells
Cornell University

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, plant breeding and genetics, seed saving, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: value added
  • Pest Management: genetic resistance
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    Abstract: Small grains provide multiple benefits to farms, but are often underutilized because of their relatively low economic value compared to other crops. This proposal aims to increase the use of small grains on farms in the Northeast by developing wheat varieties for organic agriculture and value-added markets. I propose a participatory plant breeding program to select superior winter wheat genotypes for organic production, incorporating traits such as Fusarium head blight resistance, high protein content, and weed competitive ability. Selection for free-threshing ancient grain genotypes will increase farmer adoption and profitability of these high-value grains. Rigorously testing the performance of farmer-selected spring wheat lines across diverse agroecoystems of the Northeast will identify advanced breeding lines for variety release. This work will bolster agricultural sustainability and rural economies by developing superior wheat varieties that command high prices in the marketplace.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    1. Conduct participatory breeding of wheat, spelt, and einkorn on farms and research stations according to traits that are most important to farmers;
    2. Breed free-threshing populations of emmer, einkorn, and spelt;
    3. Test homozygous F7 farmer-selected wheat populations for performance throughout the Northeast, and compare selected populations for local vs. broad adaptation;
    4. Develop a roadmap with farmers and the seed industry to release top-performing varieties.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.