Mountaineer Perennial Rye

Back in the 2000s most of the interesting amateur plant breeding work was discussed on the Homegrown Goodness forum. That was the first time I heard about work on developing perennial grains through crossing modern day varieties of rye and wheat with perennial relatives. In particular, there was Tim Peters’ Perennial Grain Project in Oregon and one of the first releases was his Mountaineer Perennial Rye developed through crossing perennial wild mountain rye Secale montanum with modern rye Secale cereale.
Although I had no ambitions to work on breeding grains, but along with perennial vegetables, it opened new possibilities for climate-friendly grain production with plants that could potentially produce over several successive seasons, requiring much less energy input, and with their extensive root systems requiring both less fertiliser and irrigation and hence more robust to climate extremes with less erosion.
Reports were that although lower yielding, they were shatter resistant, easily threshed and good for poor soils: it was reported that it tends to live longer on poorer soils (2-4 years on rich soils, 7 to 8 on poorer soils).

I was keen to try Mountaineer in my climate with significantly colder winters than in Oregon and where it had been tested in France and the Netherlands in Europe. I finally got hold of seed in 2013, but didn’t get round to sowing the seed until spring 2015 (in retrospect, I could have autumn sown) and planted 7 plants in June 2015. The plants proved hardy enough and overwintered twice, flowered well but all the plants seemed to be sterile. They died winter 2017-2018. I decided to try again and about 10 new plants were planted in May 2018. Now this autumn I finally got a small yield (pictures). I will offer a few seeds to members of Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN) through our yearbook in February and plant a larger number of plants in KVANN’s Vegetable Sanctuary at Væres Venner next autumn!
I don’t know what the status is today with Tim Peters’ grain breeding work. He was also working with wheat and sorghum. Let me know if you know!


11 thoughts on “Mountaineer Perennial Rye”

  1. Hi Stephen, Tim Peters here… out trying to find any remnants of my perennial grain work I can. …I would appreciate a sample from any of you that would care to share some back to me. …I am hoping to reconstitute some of that work and forge forward. …2020 when I went out west to look for things that may have survived my 20 years absence, I was locked out because of fires … This year, 2021, during August, which is the brief period when you can spot the plants before the chipmunks, squirrels, voles and woodrats cut them down like timber fallers ….and eat up all the seed, …fires were everywhere for over a thousand miles of the trip,… but I was able to get to a few areas and get some of the surviving genetics of a few decades on their own… a lot of the larger seed, and shatter resistant traits were hard to find… I will start coalescing those out of these pools… hope to have a nice pool to offer 2023 or 4, maybe something 2022 but doubt it, breeding, selection work is hard to speed up.
    My contact and delivery:
    Tim Peters
    915 Austin St.
    Arlington, TX 76012

    cell and text: 1-678-949-1351 …(that was from my years in Georgia)

      1. Stephen,
        …you don’t know how much I appreciate your offer, and the fact that you have even made it possible to find you. …As I was out on a landscape job today meditating on all of this I thought of some caution, please do not send me more than half of what you intend… and make sure that gets here safe before you risk the rest, if it is even necessary. Disasters happen, and this variety is at an extinction level of existence, as best I can tell.

  2. Got it.
    Ok. …
    Here is my Contact and if you have any seed to share, please do, to enhance my 2 decade absence from this work, and push it forward to better things.
    2020 tried to get back into the mountains of the west were there may have been surviving pockets of my perennial grain work. Fires were everywhere. They were in lock-down. I didn’t have time to get in the hard way. …2021 summer when I did get in showed that the burning was so intense most grasses were reduced to nothing, no surviving crowns.
    2021 got into some areas where I did find some useful survivors/descendants from decades ago. …I have put a few thousand into this effort already the last year and half, and plan to revive this work and push it to real usefulness, if at all possible.

    Tim Peters
    915 Austin St.
    Arlington, TX 76012

    cell and text: 1-678-949-1351
    twitter: Tim Peters @TimPete13441145 …am new to this

  3. Stephen.
    merry postal people… cost me $40 + to get you a few hundred seed of that perennial chicory x Sugar Loaf, Frisee endives, etc gene pool. …hope it arrives and you have some luck with it.
    Pool interesting and best looking, do a seed production, then come down hard with selection pressures

  4. Stephen
    keep that perennial rye seed, share over there… and hope I don’t need it. I managed to get a couple hundred plants of Mountaineer started, along with some of the selections from 2021 out of the western mountain spots that weren’t burned into the ground, or killed out from forest ‘shade-out’.

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