Participatory variety trialing and breeding for commercial organic vegetable growers and seed producers in Canada
Dr. Solveig Hanson presenting in radicchio variety trial plots at a 2022 Radicchio Field Day and Taste Test at Poplar Bluff Organics, AB (Photo Credit - Tierra Stokes)
Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement (CANOVI)
Growing collaborations for vegetable crop research in Canada
This project contributes to the resilience and growth of Canada’s organic vegetable sector through the characterization and development of varieties that excel in regional organic farming systems. Canadian organic vegetable producers primarily use seed varieties that have been bred for conventional, high-external input systems, yet these varieties often lack traits important for organic production and markets. This situation presents a strong need to develop domestic seed systems that improve the ability of Canadian organic vegetable growers to access varieties that suit their needs. It also creates new economic opportunities by helping Canadian seed producers to capture the market niche of domestic organic vegetable seed. Engaging organic vegetable growers in developing unique new varieties through participatory plant breeding can serve both these ends by introducing varieties that are developed by and for the Canadian organic vegetable sector.
In order to build the capacity for vegetable breeding focused on organic systems in Canada, the proposed research will engage directly with organic farmers to develop new varieties, while also advancing broader understandings of the factors that contribute to variety performance in organic systems. We will build on a collaborative varietal development research network consisting of organic farmers, university researchers, and industry stakeholders to 1) evaluate existing commercial varieties and breeding lines of select vegetable crops for agronomic and quality traits well-suited to Canada’s heterogeneous organic farming conditions; 2) collect crop functional trait data that will be used to assess crop trait response to environmental stimuli and key traits for performance in organic systems; and 3) implement an on-farm participatory plant breeding program to create new breeding populations and finished varieties of three crops, including carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus, bell pepper (Capsicum annuum), and either tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) or squash (Cucurbita spp). In addition, the data on crop functional traits gathered from the variety trials will permit identification and selection of genotypes that can serve as donors of favorable traits in future participatory breeding programs.
These activities will support a comprehensive knowledge transfer program on variety performance and in-depth training in on-farm plant breeding, improving the ability of organic farmers to engage in future variety development. This will support the organic sector goals of increasing competitiveness, productivity, and resilience to climate extremes through improvements in regional organic vegetable variety breeding efforts, as well as advancing public good through increasing the regional agricultural biodiversity of Canada’s seed system. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to ensure that Canadian organic vegetable farmers and seed producers have access to high quality vegetable seeds that can perform competitively in Canadian organic farming systems.
Final Report Summary
Canadian organic vegetable producers primarily use seed varieties that have been bred for conventional, high-input systems, yet these varieties often lack traits important for organic production and markets.
Moreover, the vast majority of the vegetable seed planted in Canada is imported. This situation presents a strong need to develop domestic seed systems that improve the ability of Canadian organic vegetable growers to access varieties that suit their needs. A growing body of evidence shows that when varieties are developed, selected, and tested by the farmers who will be using them – through participatory plant breeding and on-farm variety trials – there is greater varietal adoption upon release...
Keep Reading [PDF 2.30 MB]
Publications and Other Resources
Producer Bulletins: Organic Seed Breeding and Variety Trials- Finding the Right Seed for your Organic Farm
Part 1: Crop Varieties for Canada’s Organic Farmers
Download [PDF 7.61 MB]
Part 2: Developing Vegetable Varieties for Canada’s Organic Farmers- Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement (CANOVI)
Download [PDF 11.9 MB]
Part 3: Beyond Yield- The Many Goals of Organic Plant Breeding
Download [PDF 18.8 MB]
Keeping Our Seed Pathogen-Free (Presentation- Video)
|Dr. Solveig Hanson (Activity Leader, Year 3-5)||University of British Columbia- Vancouver, BC|
|Dr. Alexandra Lyon (Actvitiy Leader, Year 1-3)||Kwantlen Polytechnic University|
|Dr. Loren Rieseberg||University of British Columbia, Botany and Biodiversity Centre, Vancouver, BC|
|Dr. Andrew Riseman||University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC|
|Dr. Marney Isaac||University of Toronto Scarborough, ON|
|Dr. Helen Jensen||USC Canada, Ontario|
|Dr. Michael Mazourek||Cornell University, Ithaca, NY|
|Laurie McKenzie, MSc||Organic Seed Alliance, WA|
Micaela Colley, MSc
|Organic Seed Alliance, WA|
|Dr. Lindsey du Toit||Washington State University Extension, Mt. Vernon, WA|
|Aabir Dey, M.S.||USC Canada, Ontario|