Katherine Frels1, Kayla Altendorf2, David Marks3, Donald L. Wyse4 and James A. Anderson4, (1)1991 Upper Buford Circle, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN (2)1991 Upper Buford Circle, University of Minnesota, Lauderdale, MN (3)Plant Biology, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN (4)Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN
The conventional agriculture system in the U.S. faces major challenges including the need to increase production on less land while managing a changing climate and improving sustainability. In order to face these challenges, we must increase the productivity and profitability of our current agriculture system in ways that are easy and useful for farmers. For example, a cover crop that protects the soil over the winter and produces a marketable crop could be a major incentive for farmers to prevent soil erosion and water pollution. The winter annual oilseed, field pennycress, could be easily integrated into our production systems to protect the soil from fall to early spring when it can be harvested to provide an early cash crop. The University of Minnesota Pennycress breeding program began in 2013 with the goal of developing high yielding, non-shattering, fast germinating, and winter hardy pennycress varieties. The foundation of this breeding program is 126 spring and winter annual pennycress accessions collected by the by the National Genetic Resources Program and faculty at UMN. Genomic selection models are being developed to speed the breeding cycle as well as reduce the need for field evaluation. In addition to natural accessions, we are also utilizing mutation breeding to quickly recover domestication traits as well valuable traits to improve the oil content and components of the seeds. This combination of traditional and advanced breeding tools will allow us to rapidly develop a new cash cover crop for the Upper Midwest.