Relative performance of Canadian spring wheat cultivars under organic and conventional field conditions

Atif Kamran • Hiroshi Kubota • Rong-Cai Yang • Harpinder S. Randhawa • Dean Spaner - Euphytica (2014) 196:13–24

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

The data presented here is from first hand experiment results but in relation to a previously published study proving that some cultivars can tolerate nutrient, weed and disease pressure better than other cultivars.

Crop production without the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals is called organic farming. Producing higher yields under organic conditions is generally hampered by weeds and lesser nutrient supply.

In wheat, certain adaptive traits like early season vigor, taller plants, and shorter life cycle have been reported to help plants compete with weeds and produce satisfactory yields.

The objectives of the study were:

  • To study the differential behavior of vernalization genes in days to flowering and maturity under organic and conventional management systems.
  • If the reduction in days to maturity due to insensitive Vrn genes confers grain a yield advantage under organic field conditions.
  • To identify the genotypes/cultivars that are better suited to organic production.

The genotyped 32 cultivars for their vernalization gene composition (Vrn-A1a, Vrn-B1 and Vrn-D1) and studied these cultivars in organic and conventional management systems. They found 88 % of the cultivars possessed vernalization (Vrn) insensitive allele Vrn-A1a either alone or in combination with Vrn-B1.

There was no differential effects between the cultivars having insensitive Vrn allele at either single locus (Vrn-A1a) or two (Vrn-A1a, Vrn-B1) under organic and conventional field conditions; except for days to maturity, where cultivars having only Vrn-A1a allele matured earlier.

This earlier maturity did not translate to any yield advantage under organic field conditions.

Overall, the cultivars grown under organic conditions were earlier flowering, lower yielding with lower test weight compared to the conventional management system. Significant cultivar × environment interactions were found for grain yield, grain protein content and grain fill rate. For grain protein content, cross-over interactions of the cultivars between the management systems were observed. Three cultivars (Marquis, Unity, and Minnedosa) exhibited a minimal comparative loss in grain yield and grain protein content under organic field conditions, and hence could potentially serve as parents for organic wheat breeding programs.

Overall, we found the significant interaction of the cultivars with management system; therefore, breeding for organic production should be conducted on organically managed land.

2014 - Canada - Atif Kamran • Hiroshi Kubota • Rong-Cai Yang • Harpinder S. Randhawa • Dean Spaner - Euphytica (2014) 196:13–24
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