The objectives of the Pulse Research Group Physiology Program is to investigate whole plant and field responses of crops, particularly pulse crops, to nutrient, water and weather.  To understand and improve yield formation in pulse crops in a warming climate.  To investigate and improve nitrogen fixation and nitrogen partitioning in pulse crop growth and yield.

Plan to achieve objectives

Crop Physiology is a modest sized program with one program leader (Dr Rosalind Bueckert), a technician and two graduate students.  Rosalind Bueckert has a collaborative project with Dr Lynne Seymour, University of Georgia, which investigates weather variables on yield response for historic yield records across the prairies.  Rosalind Bueckert, in collaboration with Pea Breeding, is also analyzing the pea variety trials for yield response to warmer weather patterns.  Graduate student Hossein Zakeri is investigating nitrogen partitioning in lentil, and graduate student Adil Choudhry is investigating various management strategies to control indeterminate growth in lentil.  Both students work on a collaborative project with Lentil Breeding and Soil Science.  Janet Pritchard is currently screening a commercial rhizobia collection to select for earlier nitrogen fixing combinations of inoculant and lentil.  She is also working with Rosalind Bueckert on screening 15 genotypes of faba bean to measure nitrogen accumulation and to develop a method to select for high nitrogen accumulating types (in collaboration with Faba Breeding).

Expected Outcomes

We expect to characterize the yield response of pea to temperature and rainfall, and to predict sensitive growth stages and yield response when certain weather occurs during specific stages.  We can identify what needs to be improved in future pea cultivars to better withstand a changing climate.  For lentil, we will have characterized nitrogen accumulation and nitrogen-related growth responses in this indeterminate crop in inoculated, non-inoculated or fertilized environments, so growers can manage crop growth for better earliness and yield.   The faba project outcome is two-fold: to provide information on the amount of nitrogen in faba stubble which will be available to succeeding crops in a rotation, and to screen for high nitrogen fixing and high nitrogen accumulating genotypes so Faba Breeding can supply good nitrogen accumulating varieties.

2006 to 2011
In this research, we plan to investigate how lentil indeterminacy can be managed by four strategies. The first is to test if lentil maturity can be controlled by soil N supply in zero tillage and conventional tillage soils. The second is to test if a desiccant at low concentrations can trigger senescence and maturity under high N conditions. The third strategy is to test if nine lentil genotypes that are commercially grown vary in N uptake, N fixation, or N redistribution within the plant during reproductive growth. Finally, the fourth strategy is to identify earlier establishing and earlier senescing rhizobia strains so N fixation will only occur up to mid-reproductive growth. Together, all these strategies will give us a detailed understanding of how N is partitioned in lentil in order to have satisfactory crop maturity.
2009 to 2011
A detailed analysis of pea, spring wheat and canola and other praririe crops is part of a current collaboration (2009-2011) with Dr Lynn Seymour, Department of Statistics, University of Georgia, USA. The aim of this project is to explore and relate the variability in yields for Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba crop districts to 30 years of weather. The objectives are to identify the effect of changed weather on crop adaptation, identify the threshold temperatures and rainfall requirement for stable yield, and develop a strategy for improving future cultivars to keep pace with climate change. At the cropping district level, researchers and growers will be able to connect how much change in yield for wheat, pea or canola will result when certain weather measurements deviate from monthly averages or extremes for the actual months within a cropping season. When we know how yield performs when several weather factors change together, we can change crop management accordingly, and we can provide future varieties that can tolerate a shifting climate.
2004 to 2010
Pea yields on the prairies are not consistent in amount from year to year due to stress in the growing season. Pea yields are substantially reduced in warm summers. A preliminary analysis of the check varieties, as well as newly released varieties (cultivars) from the Saskatchewan and Western Canada Cooperative pea yield trials (2000 to 2009) shows that days to maturity and length of reproductive growth are both reduced in warm or dry summers, resulting in low yield. With a warming climate, the pea crop is going to be stressed more often, resulting in shorter times of growth and substantial reductions in yield amount and quality. An analysis of the COOP yield trials should be completed by late 2010.
Double haploids are plants developed from either a male or female gamete, n=1 cell, and therefore are completely homozygous at all loci. Because all traits are visible within one generation, this methodology adds speed and efficiency to breeding programs. The goal of our research is to improve all aspects of the field pea anther culture protocol including: increasing the number of immature pollen grains initiated to become embryogenic, improving the regeneration of haploid embryos, and regenerating plants from those embryos.