Activity 6

Breeding of winter cereals to benefit no-till organic production systems


Project Introduction

Frequent soil disturbance is one of the key tools for farmers to manage weeds in organic production systems. For Canadian producers, especially in western Canada, this leads to significant soil health issues including soil erosion, soil compaction, nutrient loss and most importantly, loss of soil moisture which limits yield. Adoption of zero tillage in organic production systems is one method to limit some of these issues. Organic no-till is typically facilitated using a mulch crop of fall or winter rye. The rye is generally rolled and crimped in the spring or early summer to produce a thick, weed suppressing mat which is then seeded into. Research has shown that, in this system, differences between rye varieties exist with early flowering being one of the critical components.

Through evaluation of germplasm and breeding activities in the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada fall rye breeding program at Lethbridge, variation for days to flowering among rye varieties has been observed. Furthermore, other traits like reduced propensity for regrowth and thin stems have also been observed. This activity proposes to combine all of these traits into Canadian cold tolerant fall rye germplasm. Through breeding and selection of lines that work well in roller crimper testing, useful varieties will be released to producers that facilitate no-till production organic systems. Winter triticale possesses a number of traits which are similar to rye that could facilitate no-till agriculture production systems, including early flowering and high biomass productivity. Winter triticale in a roller crimper system remains under-researched from this perspective and varieties selected to meet this system could be beneficial to farmers, as well as open new areas of research. Similar to fall rye, early winter triticale varieties will be developed, selected under roller crimping testing and released to farmers by the end of this project.

Final Report Summary

Coming soon!


Activity researchers

Name Affilliation
Jamie Larsen (Activity Leader) AAFC Harrow
Raja Ragupathy (Activity Leader) AAFC Lethbridge