The general objective of this project is to improve linseed competitivity as a european crop and thus to lead to an increase in linseed production and a decrease in seeds and oil imports. Two main constraints limit linseed yield and extension : poor disease control and poor technical data for crop management. The project aims to solve these two problems.
The project aimed to increase linseed yield and production by genetic improvement of disease resistance and through the acquisition of agronomic data for proper crop management. Crosses were performed between varieties showing substantial disease resistance or tolerance. Another culture of F1 hybrids was used for the production of different homozygous lines. The haploidy technique, using microspore culture, and protoplast fusion has been applied successfully, with plant regeneration in both cases. Inheritance of resistance to fusarium appears to be controlled by a few major genes. The results of crossing, indicated that the resistance systems differ among the resistant lines. Some resistant lines for fusarium are already available but the reliability of alternaria bioassays is still to be established. With respect to frost tolerance, it appears that selection can be effective and that some winter lines show promise of increased yields. From field trials carried out in England and France, great variability was observed in yield of from 1 ton per hectare to 3.5 tons per hectare. High yield can be reached only if the crop is carefully managed. Factors such as nitrogen fertilization, irrigation, growth regulators, fungicides and harvesting methods can decisively influence the yield. The data collected is being used for the development of models of growth and yield.
Genetic improvement of disease resistance
Chemical treatments are not available neither for flax nor for linseed, and we have no optimistic prospect at short term. Breeding for resistance is therefore the most promising way, as some registered cultivars already show some tolerance. The resistance mechanisms of Alternaria will be studied in order to determine the photological and biochemical basis for resistance and susceptibility. Technics like mutagenesis or embryoculture will be used to create new sources for resistance and to use resistance from wild species. In addition, practical laboratory tests will be developed by the conclusion of the project, in order to identify and screen new lines of linseed for resistance to these diseases. Lines from different existing collections will also be characterized and tested according to available methods in this lab for disease resistance and agronomic value (yield, oil content, lodging susceptibility, frost tolerance, 1 000 seeds weight).
Crop management musts be improved through technical data about yield elaboration and about the effect of some cultural practices. As a matter of fact, results obtained for flax cannot be extrapolated to linseed. From precise observations (development stages, dry matter, leaf area index, mineral absorption, ...) in variable canopies (one place during three years where sowing density, water availability and nitrogen fertilization are combined), a model will be elaborated for linseed development, growth and yield elaboration. To complete these studies, experiments under controlled conditions will precise development stages, minimal temperature for growth and development, drought sensitivity periods, ... . From this research, at the end of the project, we shall be able to elaborate an optimal "technical way" and to have diagnosis criteria to adapt our advice according to growing conditions. A general synthesis of the work about disease control and crop management will be available at the end of the project, as a booklet for agricultural advisers and for agricultural teachers, to provide them an efficient information about this subject. New cultivars will be available for farmers soon after the end of the project.
WV6 8TQ Wolverhampton
KA6 5HW Ayr