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

Kamran, A., Kubota, H., Yang, R.-C., Randhawa, H.S., and Spaner, D.M. (2014). "Relative performance of Canadian spring wheat cultivars under organic and conventional field conditions.", Euphytica, 196, pp. 13-24. doi : 10.1007/s10681-013-1010-3  Access to full text

Abstract

Producing higher yields under organic conditions is generally hampered by weeds and lesser nutrient supply. In wheat certain adaptive traits like early season vigour, taller plants, and shorter life cycle have been reported to help plants compete with weeds and produce satisfactory yields. In this experiment we tested the hypothesis 'that early flowering and maturity conferred by insensitive vernalization alleles Vrn- A1a and/or Vrn- B1 has a yield advantage under organic conditions' in Canadian spring wheat germplasm. We 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. We found 88 % of the cultivars possessed vernalization ( Vrn) insensitive allele Vrn- A1a either alone or in combination with Vrn- B1. There were no differential affects 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 x 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 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.

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