Episode 7

Published on:

7th May 2024

Field Pea Genetics with Tom Warkentin, Ph.D.

Dr. Tom Warkentin is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan where he is part of a team at the Crop Development Center. He has been a pulse crop breeder for about 30 years, mostly focused on field peas. Warkentin discusses the progress of his pulse crop breeding program over the decades, including varieties that have had a big impact on the industry. He also shares how he balances the need to improve genetics on multiple fronts all at once, like yield, quality, lodging, disease resistance, protein and a number of other factors. He’ll also cover what’s in the pipeline currently for new varieties and what questions and areas of research are still left unanswered. 

“Definitely yield is first and we keep pushing to improve yield. I think if we go through the records we’ve probably boosted yield 1 to 2% per year if you take the long-term average over a couple of decades. Second trait that farmers definitely like is lodging resistance, so the ability to stay upright. That has remained as probably the second most important trait in pea varieties over the last 30 years.”  - Dr. Tom Warkentin

Other priorities they focus on include protein quality and quantity, root rot resistance and ascochyta resistance. Dr. Warkentin discusses where these priorities come from including producer requests, processor preferences and consumer demands. Employing different techniques to highlight different characteristics is a lengthy difficult process in plant genetics that Dr. Warkentin’s team have been fine-tuning for years.

“So a combination of conventional breeding and marker assisted breeding and screening material with the actual pathogens, either indoors or outdoors.  All of those approaches we're using.” - Dr. Tom Warkentin

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

  • Meet Dr. Tom Warkentin, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan where he is part of a team at the Crop Development Center.
  • Discover the priorities of genetic traits that his breeding program is addressing in peas and the impact this development is having on the pulse crop industry
  • Explore the process the plant breeding team is employing to improve pulse crop genetics
  • Learn more about Dr. Warkentin’s work at the University of Saskatchewan by visiting his research webpage 

Growing Pulse Crops is produced by Dr. Audrey Kalil and hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast

Listen for free

Show artwork for Growing Pulse Crops

About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
This show features the latest in research, agronomy, and economics of pulse crops (peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.).

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

Profile picture for Tim Hammerich

Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.