A network of 21 experiments was established across nine countries on four continents and spanning both hemispheres, to evaluate the relative performance of early generation perennial cereal material derived from wheat, rye, and barley and to inform future breeding strategies. The experimental lines were grown in replicated single rows, and first year production and phenology characteristics as well as yield and persistence for up to three years were monitored. The study showed that the existing experimental material is all relatively short-lived (≤3 years), with environments that are milder in summer and winter generally conferring greater longevity. No pedigree was superior across this diverse network of sites although better performing lines at the higher latitude sites were generally derived from Thinopyrum intermedium. By contrast, at lower latitudes the superior lines were generally derived from Th. ponticum and Th. elongatum parentage. The study observed a poor relationship between year 1 performance and productivity in later years, highlighting the need for perennial cereal material with greater longevity to underpin future experimental evaluation, and the importance for breeding programs to emphasize post-year 1 performance in their selections. Hybrid lines derived from the tetraploid durum wheat generally showed greater longevity than derivatives of hexaploid wheat, highlighting potential for greater use of Triticum turgidum in perennial wheat breeding. We advocate a model in future breeding initiatives that develops perennial cereal genotypes for specific target environments rather than a generic product for one global market. These products may include a diversity of cultivars derived from locally adapted annual and perennial parents. In this scenario the breeding program may have access to only a limited range of adapted perennial grass parents. In other situations, such as at very high latitude environments, perennial crops derived from barley or rye may have a better chance of success than those derived from wheat. In either case, development and selection of the perennial parent for adaptation to local environments would seem fundamental to success.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We fondly remember the late Norberto Pogna, formerly CREA, Italy, for his enthusiastic support of this research. Resources to conduct this study were provided by the many agencies around the world that contributed the time of their staff to this initiative. We acknowledge the many other researchers around the planet that were initially involved with this initiative but, for a variety of reasons, were unable to continue to monitor their experiments. We are grateful for the efforts of the institutions that developed the lines that were evaluated, especially The Land Institute, Kansas, andWashington State University, USA, who shared their material freely. We thank the numerous technical staff that assisted with the management of the field experiments and collection of data, including S. Langfield (Cowra), P. Cacciatori (Inviolatella & Montelibretti), K. Foster (Manjimup), K. Schirmer (Wagga Wagga), L. Smith (Urbana), A. Slama (Carman) and J. Mai (Salina). We thank Eddy Archer (NSW DPI) for assistance with the graphics in Figure 1. The financial support from the Perennial Agriculture Project, a joint project between The Land Institute and The Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation, is gratefully acknowledged. The experiment in Konya (Turkey) was conducted on the field of Bahri Dagdas International Agricultural Research Centre and its staff contribution is acknowledged. CIMMYT-Turkey is financially supported by CRP WHEAT and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Turkey. The demonstration site at Omsk State Agrarian University was supported by Russian Science Foundation. (Project No. 16-16-10005 signed 10.05.2016)
© 2018 by the authors.