Cornucopia’s Take: Organic farmers, who do not use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetic engineering, strive to grow crops with the assistance of nature. Plant breeding provides seeds adapted to local climates and conditions while minimizing pest and disease pressures. These reports identify plant traits desired by farmers in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.
Reports Describe Plant Breeding Priorities for Organic
Organic Seed Alliance
Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and Cornell University today announced the release of two reports that detail plant breeding priorities for organic agriculture in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast, respectively. The assessments are a result of surveys and regional working groups that gathered input from organic farmers, organic seed and food distributors, and public and private plant breeders.
“The long-term goal of this project is to increase farmers’ access to regionally appropriate seed well-suited for organic production,” says Micaela Colley, program director of OSA and co-author of the organization’s Pacific Northwest report. “Farmers who use organic practices focus more on prevention and resistance because they have fewer inputs at their disposal. They need crop varieties developed specifically for low-input systems – crops that mitigate pest and disease pressures, and that are adapted to their local conditions and climates.”
To date, plant-breeding efforts focused on organic production have been minimal, and organic farmers remain underserved in seed adapted to organic conditions. Research demonstrates that varieties developed under non-organic growing conditions are not always successful in organic and other low-input systems. The two reports announced today provide recommendations to inform plant-breeding efforts by ranking crops and traits most important to organic farmers.