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.
Annual ASA meeting was a Success
The annual symposium held this year (November 2-5) in Long Beach, CA was a success drawing speakers and attendants from a variety of backgrounds. Presentations covered a range of developmental topics in the growing world of perennial grain. This year’s program details are available, and recordings of the ASA presentations will be available mid-December.
During the community business meeting, which followed the symposium, Dr. Steve Culman (Ohio State University) was elected vice-chair of the community for 2014-15. In addition, topics for next year’s meeting in Minneapolis were discussed. Two topics generated significant buzz among the attendees:
- Breeding and genomics of perennial crops:
As breeding work on perennial grain crops is progressing and more genomics analyses are being undertaken.
- Applications of perennial grains:
An area requiring research, perennial grain might be used in different agricultural and market contexts.
New: NOVA on Perennial Wheat
Read the article.
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.
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?
Perennial Wheat Fields at KBS
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