Perennial plants—those that live for two years or longer—are a staple of modern food. Recently, researchers at The Land Institute have been testing ways to make perennial crops more hardy and regenerative, and they successfully created 14 new wheat variations which are now being tested internationally.
According to The Land Institute’s 2022 report, wheat isn’t the only crop being revamped. Researchers are working on several crops, including wheat, silflower, sorghum and more.
- “New DNA tools allowed the Perennial Oilseed Program, in collaboration with long-time partners at HudsonAlpha, to sequence the large, complex genome of two wild silphium species. A genome map helps accelerate the de novo domestication of wild perennial plants, assisting researchers to maintain genetic diversity and “wild traits,” like deep roots and drought tolerance, while improving desirable agricultural traits like high yields.” – The Land Institute, Perennial Impact 2022 Report
Modifying food crops is an understandably hot-button topic and the work must be handled with care. That’s why producing regenerative variations that create “maximum ecological benefits” and “more just and enduring human cultures integrated with and sustained by diverse, perennial grain agroecosystems” is key.