Participatory Plant Breeding: Sweet Corn Project
Farmer: Martin Diffley, Organic Farming Works
William Tracy, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin – Madison
John Navazio, Organic Seed Alliance and Washington State University
Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance
Adrienne Shelton, Graduate Student, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Length of Project: 2008- 2013Objective: 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.
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’s needs.
Long-term objective includes distribution of the open pollinated cultivar as Open Source stock 1) any person can use the seed for on farm use and save the seed 2) no one can patent it or any of its traits, 3) no one can take the variety and resell it without having an open source agreement with the breeder 4) seed would be available for breeders under lease to use as breeding stock.