Brassica is a genus within the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae), commonly known as the mustard family. The family of about 375 genera and 3,200 species includes crops, ornamentals and many weeds. Brassica contains about 100 species, including rapeseed, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnip, various mustard and weeds.
The Brassica breeding program at the University of Idaho conducts ongoing research for alternative crop use and other reasons within the Pacific Northwest dryland (no irrigation) farming. We work with a number of other disciplines within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences including, plant pathology, horticulture, engineering, agronomy, soil science, entomology and economics. Our primary research area in northern Idaho extends from Bonners Ferry to Grangeville. We also conduct research or collaborate with other researchers in central and eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and in Kalispell, Montana.
Crop varieties include — Brassica napus, Brassica rapa, canola/rapeseed; Sinapis alba, yellow mustard (condiment); and Brassica juncea (yellow and brown, condiment and canola-quality) and Oriental Mustard. Farming systems throughout the Palouse and prairie, mostly northwest and central Idaho and northeast Washington are primarily dryland, some areas within central Washington and north-central Oregon are irrigated systems.
- Investigate breeding methodologies and inheritance of important traits in developing new and improved varieties of Brassica crops.
- Examine and develop procedures to increase breeding efficiency in developing superior Brassica oilseed and condiment cultivars.
- Develop oilseed Brassica cultivars that produce oil suitable for industrial processing, including high quality biodiesel.
- Broaden genetic base and introgress insect and disease resistance and other desirable traits into Brassica crops using interspecific and intraspecific hybridization.
- Develop genotypes of yellow mustard (S. alba) with modified fatty acid oil content, improved oil content and with low glucosinolate content in residual seed meal, i.e. a canola-quality mustard.
- Develop interspecific and intraspecific hybrid genotypes with designer glucosinolate content and quality suitable as an alternative to highly toxic synthetic soil fumigants.
- Develop seeding techniques specific to the Pacific Northwest conventional tillage and direct seeding farming practices.