Welcome to Perennial Grains

That root system represents something far bigger than itself: Soil health. Perennial plants build soil and protect against erosion in ways annual plants and their skimpy root structures simply cannot.

The Roots of Perennial Wheat

below: PERENNIAL WHEAT fields at KBS

Who We Are
This blog is a place for the Perennial Wheat Team to share resources with one other. Members of this group include world-wide researchers and specialists, but are primarily composed of the following institutions:

What We Do
Please share your research, academic, and educational materials with others in the field through the Perennial Wheat blog. Please email blog administrator Vicki Morrone, MSU Organic Outreach Specialist, at sorrone@msu.edu with materials that you are willing to share on the blog. And please comment on others’ posts by clicking the green speech bubble next to each post.

What is Perennial Wheat?
Perennial wheat lines are formed using the conventional breeding technique of selecting varieties of perennial wheat and crossing them with perennial rye. The goal is to achieve a crop that establishes well in the field while also producing a marketable head of grain. Please see the research poster Perennial Wheat: A new option for organic and sustainable farm systems, which provides an overview of research being conducted by the major institutions in this endeavor.
4 Seasons of Wheat
Perennial wheat is highly relevant to Michigan farmers, as well as other areas of the northern United States, because of its multi-season use, ability to prevent erosion and protect fragile soils, and longevity in terms of growth. The participation and support of farmers, such as through a willingness to test the crop in cultivated fields and share their experiences, is essential to the success and improvement of this crop.

Currently, there are over 100 lines of perennial wheat, however, only a handful of lines show promise to grow as a perennial crop. Ongoing efforts continue to make crosses in pursuit of hardy varieties of perennial wheat that thrive in many conditions. There are many answers to be found, and more questions to be asked, regarding perennial wheat:

  • Field Establishment: Is perennial wheat able to compete with weeds? Can it grow with other crops?
  • Regrowth: Since it is a perennial, can it withstand temperate winters and produce growth the following season?
  • Grain usage: Is the grain of a food-grade flour quality?
  • Stalk and stover: Is the quality adequate as animal feed?
  • Processing: Can the grain be hulled and cleaned to a millable quality?