2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
a) To assemble a catalog of corn breeding germplasm for organic production in the major U.S. corn-producing areas; b) To build a sustainable corn breeding effort that can reliably provide varieties to an emerging seed industry dedicated to organic markets; c) To build a cooperative network including farmers, small seed companies, winter nursery providers, organic grain users, and others that ensures that organic farmers have access to elite corn varieties; d) To develop cultivars that are targeted for organic needs and adapted for seed production and grain production under organic conditions through on-farm testing, stress nurseries, and grain quality testing; and e) To disseminate our results through farmer meetings, seminars, booklets, scholarly publications, by working with seed, retail, and end-user companies, and by putting information on the internet.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Our project will strengthen the various components of this team effort, enabling us to develop, test, multiply, and release high yielding corn cultivars to small seed companies for development for organic farmers as soon as possible. It will involve accelerated breeding, testing, and multiplication utilizing testing sites in Iowa, Wisconsin, New York, Ohio, and Illinois, and winter nurseries. The project will include educational work with farmers and cooperation with industry partners.
During the reporting period, ARS scientists established cooperative agreements with the project co-PIs. Traits of interest were identified that would provide the most benefit to organic producers and low-input farmers and metrics were put in place. A certified organic winter nursery was established at the University of Puerto Rico. A winter nursery was grown and used to advance breeding populations and to perform testcrosses. Delay in funding resulted in the winter nursery being planted in January. Nevertheless, a concerted effort was applied and corn germplasm was harvested, processed and shipped so that advanced populations could be grown Summer 2011. Summer nurseries were grown throughout several locations in the United States to advance corn breeding populations and to conduct multiple location yield trials. Progress on this project has been monitored during two meetings, three conference calls, face-to-face collaborative efforts at the winter nursery and via a monthly teleconference with all project PIs and collaborators.