Management of Perennial Wheat as a Sustainable Alternative Cropping System in the Pacific Northwest

Project Overview

SW01-039
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $63,641.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $6,365.00
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Stephen Jones
Crop and Soil Science Dept. WSU

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: wheat

Practices

  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, market study, risk management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: hedges - grass, grass waterways, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, competition, cultural control, disease vectors, field monitoring/scouting, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, physical control, cultivation, precision herbicide use, prevention, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, public participation

    Abstract:

    Eighty-four accessions of perennial relatives of wheat were evaluated for adaptive traits such as winter survival, drought resistance, and disease resistance in high and low rainfall zones of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Crosses were made between the most promising accessions and elite PNW cultivars. These new hybrids are now being used to develop populations for bulk selection strategies. Newly created hybrids are also being used in crosses with current perennial lines to more rapidly achieve the chromosomal stability required for full fertility. Backcrosses will proceed using both the wild perennial and current perennial wheat lines as recurrent parents.

    Project objectives:

    The overall goal of this research is to make perennial wheat a viable part of small grains cropping systems, especially in areas where soil erosion potential is high and/or where CRP is now used. Our main objective is to provide growers with basic management information for integrating perennial wheat into their cropping systems, as some advanced lines will be proceeding to the variety release stage in the foreseeable future. Other objectives are designed to increase the genetic diversity used in our program to form the basis of the next generation of perennial wheat varieties. Our specific objectives are:

    Objective 1:
    To determine best management practices of perennial wheat lines for minimizing soil loss and maximizing yield.

    Objective 2:
    To evaluate the economic feasibility of perennial cropping systems, based on yield, straw usage, and market class.

    Objective 3:
    To evaluate the agronomic potential of accessions from the perennial Triticeae genera Thinopyrum, Dasypyrum, Leymus, and Agropyron.

    Objective 4:
    To disseminate germplasm and information regarding best management practices to wheat producers on marginal lands in Washington State and to release germplasm to other breeding programs worldwide.

    We are working with farmers to evaluate accessions of perennial relatives of wheat in the field for adaptive traits such as winter survival, drought resistance, and disease resistance in high and low rainfall zones of the PNW. These lines have been evaluated for potentially useful agronomic traits as well, including flowering time and synchronous maturity. Crosses between the most promising accessions and elite PNW cultivars have been made. A primary objective of this grant was to continue to work with these new hybrids to develop populations for bulk selection strategies. Newly created hybrids are being subjected to regimes of cholchicine treatment to encourage chromosome doubling and will also be used in crosses with current perennial lines in order to more rapidly achieve the chromosomal stability required for full fertility. Backcrosses will proceed using both the wild perennial and current perennial wheat lines as recurrent parents. We are testing the hypothesis that use of the wild species as a recurrent female parent will ultimately result in a higher proportion of chromatin from the perennial parent in stabilized lines, which may result in dramatic increases in persistence and drought tolerance.
    We have established several basic agronomic principles leading to improved stand establishment to maximize stand persistence involving sowing time, seeding rate, and weed control. Our second major goal is to further refine best management practices to optimize yield, persistence, and weed control in perennial wheat stands by manipulating fertility application and chemical weed control regimes. The development of this knowledge will be critical for the successful integration of perennial wheat into small grain cropping systems in the PNW and for developing realistic economic evaluations of perennial wheat in a producer’s crop rotation scheme. We will rely heavily on the experience of our producer collaborators for direction in establishing appropriate sowing, fertility, and weed management regimes for the rainfall zones represented by their land. These manipulations will utilize both our most promising current perennial lines, bulk populations developed with the support of WSARE: USDA/ CSREES program (Grant #SW01-039), and the newly created hybrids described above.

    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.