Our Focus for Wheat Breeding: The limiting factor for organic wheat production in the Southeast is Italian ryegrass. Once this non-native weed becomes well established in an organic field, wheat must be removed from the rotation. One of the most promising solutions to this problem has been developed by researchers in Australia, where protocols have been developed that could be used for selecting allelopathic wheat lines active against ryegrass. Allelopathic wheat lines exude chemicals from their roots that prevent the germination and growth of weeds. Breeding programs in which herbicides are used as part of the system would not allow for identification and selection of such a trait. Needs Identified By Farmers:
- Ryegrass Resistance. There are no organic options for resistance to ryegrass infestation.
- Dr. Paul Murphy, small grains breeder at NCSU, has begun screening protocol development to discover wheat genotypes that are more competitive both above and below ground. Screening tactics such as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), overhead imaging, and visual ratings will be tested for correlation with actual weed biomass suppression. The best tactic will be utilized by breeders to select and advance weed-competitive wheat genotypes.