Sweet Corn Breeding Project

Participatory Plant Breeding: Sweet Corn Project

Participants

Farmer: Martin Diffley, Organic Farming Works

Breeders

William Tracy, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin – Madison
John Navazio, Organic Seed Alliance and Washington State University

Collaborators

Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance
Adrienne Shelton, Graduate Student, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Funding

Organic Farming Research Foundation (Link to Project Summary OFRF)
USDA-OREI through the NOVIC project

Length of Project: 2008- 2013

Objective: Develop a sweet corn variety uniquely adapted to the climate and field conditions at Organic Farming Works. Desired characteristics include good cold soil germination and vigor with great flavor, sweetness, standability, resistance to common rust and corn smut, and yield large, well-filled ears.

Bill Tracy (left), a noted plant breeder from the University of Wisconsin, has a Participatory Plant Breeding project going with Martin Diffley. The two are seeking a sweet corn with good early vigor, good flavor and weed resistance. Photo courtesy of Bill Tracy.

Sweet corn is a mainstay crop for Martin Diffley, but the challenge is to find varieties that combine good cold soil germination and vigor with great flavor, sweetness, standability, resistance to common rust and corn smut, and yield large, well-filled ears. Farmer-breeder Martin Diffley is collaborating with the University of Wisconsin (UW) and OSA to breed his own variety that combines these crucial traits. Dr. Bill Tracy of UW selected parents with variability for these traits and made a series of crosses as starting populations for the project. These crosses are the parents and the breeding will continue until a variety is created that meets GOE