Grain News: Make your own seed initiative enters its ninth year
The University of Manitoba’s Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) program, now in its ninth year — brings together farmers and plant breeders as partners in the plant breeding process. The program is particularly useful in crop production systems that traditional breeding programs aren’t always geared for, like organic or under unique growing environments.
The aim of the PPB program is to give farmers more control over seed resources by developing their own wheat, oat and potato cultivars to meet their specific needs through selection in local, on-farm environments.
Farmers have been involved in this program right from the beginning, starting with selection of parental lines by former Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada plant breeder, Dr. Stephen Fox and former PPB program coordinator, Anne Kirk of the University of Manitoba. Crosses are made with input from farmers into which parents to use. Seed resulting from the initial cross is increased at the University of Manitoba, then distributed to farmers, who select within the same population for three years. Farmers choose the populations that they would like to grow based on the characteristics of the parental lines used to make the cross.