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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Strengthening Public Corn Breeding to Ensure That Organic Farmers Have Access to Elite Cultivars: Breeding for the Eastern & Southwest Usa

Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Contribute populations to and provide testing sites/evaluations for a joint experiment to catalog germplasm for orgainc production,.
2)cooperate in an inter-regional breeding effort concentrating on the eastern Corn Belt and Southwestern USA,.
3)take the lead in breeding/evaluation for biotic and abiotic stresses and enhanced grain quality,.
4)participate in USTN trials and pre-trials, and.
5)cooperate in on-farm evaluations and stress nurseries.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Conduct joint trials using locations in the eastern Corn Belt and Southwestern USA and using the improved breeding populations that each breeder has developed. In year one each breeder will submit approximately 10 populations, thereafter the best performing populations will be retested while additional populations from the breeders’ programs or acquired elsewhere are evaluated. Identify and test superior parents on a somewhat continuous basis, so there is a constant flow of our best hybrids to farmers and seed companies for testing and increase. Make numerous crosses between parents with desired traits, hybridizing those crosses with multiple testers, examining the hybrid test crosses in yield trials and thereby identifying the best crosses to work with, then selfing the best of those families to the S3 stage while systematically testing resulting lines in test crosses. The best S3 lines will be further tested, selected, and developed as inbreds for making hybrids or recombined to make synthetics which will receive additional testing to identify those that best fit the organic ideotype. Because speed is essential we plan to do early and repeated testing for combining ability in top cross hybrids allowing resources to be devoted to those populations that demonstrate the greatest potential early on. Winter nurseries will be used to make new crosses, to self F2 plants, to make necessary topcrosses, and to self the summer’s topcrosses to test their grain quality. Experimental hybrids from the breeding programs will be tested in small replicated plot trials at cooperating organic farms managed by the breeder. In addition, selected varieties from the plot trials will be tested in large strip-trial plots on farms. Breeding lines will be evaluated for stress and pest resistance in breeding nurseries and specialized testing will be done at a stress nursery in Illinois and New Mexico.


3.Progress Report:

Corn evaluation plots were carried out in New Mexico and Arizona. At the Gerald Thomas Campus Field (replicated), the yield of commercial check was 157 bu/A and the yield of a New Mexico State University (NMSU) modified hybrid (inbred/pop’n) was 131 bu/A. Average yield of populations was 73 bu/A. Top performing populations (yield exceeded 100bu/A) were: CH5N2-57.DK, UHFA-02, Caribe 2003, 11:3 76-78 OP-11-2-76, and BSSS/BSC81. At the second site, Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Farm, Patagonia, AZ (not replicated), the yield of the commercial check (BR) was 97 bu/A and the average yield of populations was 79 bu/A. Population entry UHFA-02 yielded over 100 bu/A at both locations. In the fall of 2012, we harvested a blue corn variety test with eight open pollinated varieties at four locations in New Mexico: Fabian Garcia Research Farm, Mesilla Park; Sustainable Ag Science Center, Alcalde; Farmington Ag Science Center, Farmington (obtained kernel samples only); and Los Lunas Ag Res Center, Los Lunas. Topcross evaluations of 42 entries were harvested in fall 2012 at one location, Gerald Thomas Campus Field (replicated). The Cooperative Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) population test contained 45 entries and was planted at Fabian Garcia Research Farm, Mesilla Park (replicated). The blue corn variety test with eight open pollinated varieties was planted in the spring of 2013 at five locations (three replications at all locations) including: Fabian Garcia Research Farm, Mesilla Park; Sustainable Ag Science Center, Alcalde; Farmington Ag Science Center, Farmington; Los Lunas Ag Science Center, Los Lunas; and Tucumcari Ag Science Center, Tucumcari. Topcross evaluations of early maturity germplasm consisted of 188 entries and were planted in spring 2013 at Gerald Thomas Campus Field. Mid maturity consisted of 40 entries and late maturity consisted of 32 entries. These tests were carried out at Fabian Garcia Research Farm, Mesilla Park. Advanced Lines consisted of two replications of 15 entries. Nurseries were grown in winter 2012 - 2013 in Lajas, Puerto Rico with about 450 plots in cooperation with University of Mayaguez (topcrosses and inbreeding) and in Summer 2013 in Las Cruces, New Mexico with approximately 300 plots (inbreeding) and approximately 150 plots testcross production as well as seed increase.


Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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