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Developing Small Grains Cultivars and Systems Optimally Suited for Organic Production


The long-term goal of our project is to develop small grains cultivars and cropping systems incorporating small grains that will improve the profitability and competitiveness of organic producers.<P> The specific objectives of our research are to: <OL> <LI> a. Determine if current advanced experimental wheat lines and released cultivars have potential for organic wheat production. b. Conduct workshops and provide web-based materials that explain the wheat breeding process. <LI> a. Based upon what we learn in the organic wheat trials, augment our wheat breeding program to develop wheat cultivars ideally suited to organic production and the needs of organic producers and consumers. b. Prioritize desirable traits for an organic wheat through meetings with cooperating organic farmers and organic food industry personnel. <LI> a. Develop an integrated organic soil fertility management program to supplement breeding efforts to increase grain protein content, and hence add value to the grain. b. Utilize local organic farmers in an experiment planning process that produces an organic wheat fertility experiment that includes treatments most likely to be used by producers.<LI> a. Reduce tillage or increase soil organic matter in organic systems by the use of small grains cover crops to suppress weeds, or to suppress weeds by flaming. b. Integrate the results of the experimental portion of this project into a cropping system, utilizing winter wheat that is suitable for each of the three agroecozones that this project covers.

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Non-Technical Summary: Wheat varieties developed for conventional production often do not perform well in organic production systems. This project examines breeding new wheat cultivars specifically for organic systems with an enphasis on disease and pest resistance, response to organic fertilizers, and end-use quality. <P> Approach: Objective 1. The University of Nebraska coordinates the State Variety Trials. The trials will be grown under the prevailing organic cultural practices at each site using incomplete block designs with four replications. The date of planting, flowering date, plant height, grain yield, grain volume weight (syn. test weight), disease and insect damage, and ability to suppress weeds will be measured at each site. To determine the effects of different environments, microquality assays (grain protein content, mixograph time and tolerance, and SDS sedimentation) will be done for each entry from a location in the Plant Quality Laboratory. Objective 2. Based upon what we learn in the organic testing sites in the state variety trials, we will grow the preliminary yield trial (F6 lines) at two locations (Sidney and Mead). These two testing sites were chosen because they represent diverse regions within the Great Plains. In the preliminary yield trial, there are 288 experimental lines and 4 check cultivars (the latter are replicated three times) for a total of 300 plots. The same agronomic traits will be measured as in the State Variety Trial. Quality analyses (microquality analyses and milling and bake tests) will be done on the best lines which will be advanced based to the intermediate nursery and is grown at Sidney and Mead. Approximately 25 lines will be advanced to the elite nursery. The same agronomic traits will be measured as in the State Variety Trial. Quality analyses (microquality analyses and milling and bake tests) will be done on those lines that are retained in the nursery. Select cultivars that show higher antioxidative and total phenol content relative to others will also be tested for total dietary fiber content. Objective 3. In the east (Concord) the manure would be applied after corn and before winter wheat planting. In the west (Sidney) the manure would be applied the previous spring and the ground would be kept weed free through tillage. To each of these pre-treatments an organic nitrogen source would be applied at one rate at either planting, early spring, or late spring. In addition, there would be another set of treatments that would have a half-rate applied at planting and either early spring or late spring. Objective 4. The first experiment will be planted after the spring or winter grain using four replications. We will use two methods of killing the cover crops in the spring; tillage and flaming. In the fall, we will measure emergence date, ground cover at killing frost, dry matter production, and weed density. In the spring we will measure cover crop survival, weed density, dry matter production, soil moisture content, and soil fertility. We are interested in determining wheat variety tolerance to flaming as influenced by the propane dose (e.g. flame intensity) and flaming time (crop growth stage). The hypothesis is that not all wheat varieties are equally tolerant to flaming.

Baenziger, P. Stephen
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
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