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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

2012 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:

We contributed five populations to the breeding germplasm catalog, which contains populations from all cooperators and totals about 40 populations. These populations were evaluated at two organic sites in Iowa and other cooperators coordinated their evaluation in Wisconsin, Illinois, New York and New Mexico. Data on yield and agronomic performance were collected. Breeding populations were advanced and new inbred lines were evaluated in hybrid combinations in organic and conventional field trials. In addition, an organic winter nursery in Puerto Rico was used to produce test-cross seed and advance breeding material. Grain quality traits including protein, oil, starch, lysine and methionine content were evaluated by Near Infrared (NIR). Seed was produced for a cooperative Design II breeding experiment. Cooperators met face-to-face and held a field day to share their results with each other and with the public. In addition, cooperators held monthly conference calls and e-mail/phone conversations as needed.


Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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