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

2002 Annual Report for 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

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


Perennial wheat and wild wheat relatives that will serve as parental lines were planted and harvested in seven fields in four locations in Washington State. Two of the locations are in farmer fields. The wheat was observed during the growing the season for agronomic and disease resistance performance. Many of the wild wheat relatives were also planted in the greenhouse and were crossed to modern wheat cultivars (using natural methods). One of the locations had perennial wheat intercropped with perennial chickpeas at various planting densities to evaluate how intercropping can be perfected with these species. Breeding and agronomic studies continue.

Objectives/Performance Targets

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.


This is the first year of a multi-year project. The first year involves mostly the establishment of the field trials. All of these were planted in a timely manner and have emerged and are looking good. The evaluation of wild perennial wheat relatives has led to many species identified as parental lines in the crossing program. The entire project is on time according to the time-line narrative submitted with the initial grant.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

This research will benefit producers in the Western Region by giving them a crop that will help hold the soil and reduce wind and water erosion. Less erosion means a greater sustainability for the farmers and a healthier and cleaner environment for us all. The crop also will be beneficial to wildlife as habitat and to fish and water dwellers in reduced sedimentation in waterways. Rural communities will be helped in that this is an alternative to CRP so that some marginal land will be brought back into production at no environmental cost.


Timothy Murray
Professor and Plant Pathologist
Dept. of Plant Pathology, WSU
Pullman, WA 99164-6430
Office Phone: 5093359541