, Volume 196, Issue 1, pp 13–24 | Cite as

Relative performance of Canadian spring wheat cultivars under organic and conventional field conditions

  • Atif Kamran
  • Hiroshi Kubota
  • Rong-Cai Yang
  • Harpinder S. Randhawa
  • Dean SpanerEmail author


Producing higher yields under organic conditions is generally hampered by weeds and lesser nutrient supply. In wheat certain adaptive traits like early season vigour, taller plants, and shorter life cycle have been reported to help plants compete with weeds and produce satisfactory yields. In this experiment we tested the hypothesis ‘that early flowering and maturity conferred by insensitive vernalization alleles Vrn-A1a and/or Vrn-B1 has a yield advantage under organic conditions’ in Canadian spring wheat germplasm. We genotyped 32 cultivars for their vernalization gene composition (Vrn-A1a, Vrn-B1 and Vrn-D1) and studied these cultivars in organic and conventional management systems. We found 88 % of the cultivars possessed vernalization (Vrn) insensitive allele Vrn-A1a either alone or in combination with Vrn-B1. There were no differential affects between the cultivars having insensitive Vrn allele at either single locus (Vrn-A1a) or two (Vrn-A1a, Vrn-B1) under organic and conventional field conditions; except for days to maturity, where cultivars having only Vrn-A1a allele matured earlier. This earlier maturity did not translate to any yield advantage under organic field conditions. Overall, the cultivars grown under organic conditions were earlier flowering, lower yielding with lower test weight compared to the conventional management system. Significant cultivar × environment interactions were found for grain yield, grain protein content and grain fill rate. For grain protein content, cross-over interactions of the cultivars between the management systems were observed. Three cultivars (Marquis, Unity and Minnedosa) exhibited minimal comparative loss in grain yield and grain protein content under organic field conditions, and hence could potentially serve as parents for organic wheat breeding programs.


Spring wheat Organic Conventional Vernalization 



Canada western red spring


Canada western soft white spring


Canada prairie spring


Canada western hard white spring


Grain fill duration


Grain fill rate


Near-infrared reflectance



The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Klaus Strenzke, Glen Hawkins, Lisa Raatz, Fabiana Dias, Alex Pswarayi, Joe Back, Ivan Adamyk, Henry Song, Graham Collier, Hua Chen, Muhammad Asif, Neshat Pazooki, and Rachelle Rimmer for their technical assistance. This research was supported by grants from the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund, Western Grains Research Foundation Endowment Fund, the Organic Cluster of the AAFC Cluster grant, and an NSERC Discovery Grant to D. Spaner. The study was partially supported by a Canadian Wheat Board fellowship to the first author who also received a scholarship from the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 11 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atif Kamran
    • 1
    • 3
  • Hiroshi Kubota
    • 1
  • Rong-Cai Yang
    • 1
  • Harpinder S. Randhawa
    • 2
  • Dean Spaner
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Agricultural Food and Nutritional ScienceUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaLethbridge Research CentreLethbridgeCanada
  3. 3.Seed Centre, Department of BotanyUniversity of the PunjabLahorePakistan

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