University of Manitoba: Natural Systems Agriculture: Participatory Plant Breeding
University of Manitoba Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Department of Plant Science

Participatory Wheat
Breeding Program

This program started in 2011 with 11 participants growing and selecting 33 early generation (F3) wheat populations on farms across Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In 2014 there were 24 farmers growing 69 wheat populations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Locations of farmers growing wheat populations in 2014.
Wheat populations planted on a farm near Radville, Saskatchewan in 2014.

Farmers choose three wheat populations that they are interested in growing. Populations are planted by hand, with a push garden seeder, or modified field equipment, using typical row spacing and seeding rates. Plot size is approximately 20 m2. Selections can be made shortly before harvest or throughout the growing season. The participant selects 300-500 of the best spikes in each population at maturity. These spikes are then threshed together to form a bulk population for planting the following year. Seed is returned to the University of Manitoba for threshing and cleaning then sent back to the farmer for planting the next year. Participants make selections on the same populations for a period of three years. After three years of selection a portion of their population is sent to the University of Manitoba for further agronomic and quality testing. The participating farmer may also retain a portion of the seed for further testing and commercial production on their farms.

Farmer selected populations in the common experiment at Carman, Manitoba.

The populations that were distributed in 2011 are now being tested for agronomic and quality characteristics in a common experiment at the Organic Crops Field Laboratory in Carman, Manitoba. In 2015 testing will occur both on-farm and on a research station.

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Copyright and Liability

This page created January 2015.
Last update March 2015.