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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Strengthening Public Corn Breeding to Ensure Organic Farmers' Access to Elite Cultivars

Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research

2013 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.


3.Progress Report:

Toward the goal of developing new germplasm specifically tailored to organic producers, including blue corn, Quality Protein Maize and maize selected for early season cold stress together with foliar diseases, we advanced breeding germplasm in summer and winter nurseries and evaluated test hybrids at four organic locations. Composition of cooperators’ grain was analyzed by near infrared spectroscopy and samples that were poorly predicted were flagged to be used to improve our calibration. Toward the goal of developing gametophytic incompatibility systems for control of pollen contamination, we developed and tested molecular markers for the Ga1 locus. In addition, we developed and tested a method for determining the extent of pollen exclusion by Ga1, Tcb1 and Ga2. We began to develop a series of inbred lines carrying each of these loci and lines carrying combinations of these loci as well.


Last Modified: 12/24/2014
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