MSU professor explores perennial wheat crops

Dr. Sieg Snapp, thanks to a four-year, million dollar U.S. Department of Agriculture organic research grant is able to conduct more research regarding agronomic management and practical aspects of variety development of perennial grains at Michigan State University. 

Author: Laura Probyn
 July 2009

Every time a farmer plants a cash crop, he or she makes a substantial investment of money, time and labor resources. But what if that crop wasn’t something that had to be planted every year, but instead, sprouted out of the ground each spring and was ready for a summer harvest?

Sieg Snapp, associate professor of crop and soil sciences at the Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, is addressing that question. She’s conducting this work thanks to a four-year, million dollar U.S. Department of Agriculture organic research grant.

Her team is studying the possibilities for developing perennial wheat as a crop for environmentally friendly agricultural production. Team members include Scott Swinton, MSU professor of agriculture, food and resource economics; Vicki Morrone, MSU outreach specialist; Janet Lewis, MSU wheat breeder; Michigan farmers; and colleagues at Washington State University. Their work builds on research that leads to a new type of perennial grain crop. Read full story here. 


Perennial Wheat: A new option for organic and sustainable farm systems

Author: Sieglinde Snapp, Steve Culman, Lee DeHann, John Green, Stephen Jones, Janet Lewis, Vicki Morrone, Dan Rossman, Martin Nagelkirk, Scott Swinton, Sienna Tinsley, Anne Weir
Michigan State University, Michigan State University Extension, The Land Institute, and Washington State University
Abstract: A new perennial crop is being explored for opportunities on organic and sustainable farms. The overall goal to grow this crop is to improve farms and protect the environment (Glover et al., 2010). Successful establishments crop requires it to be replanted only once in three years (see figure below). As a perennial crop, it provides greater soil coverage and an extensive rooting system, compared to an annual grain. These factors are the foundation for building soil in organic farming. The perennial wheat team integrates the work from plant breeders, economists, cropping systems scientists and ecologists with farmers and Extension educators to identify useful plant lines and management approaches with the greatest potential for success in a Upper Midwest organic farm systems. The team has set a goal to find stable varieties within five years, depending on plant regrowth and seed production. We are evaluating this crop for multiple uses including grain, forage and environmental services.