Principal Investigator: James Anderson
Organization: University of Minnesota, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics 
Award Amount: $215,930 
Start Date: 7/1/2014 | End Date: 12/31/2017 
Project Manager: Jeff Berg (
FINAL PUBLISHED RESEARCH PAPER is available in Agronomy 2019, Volume 9 Issue 6
Field Pennycress Overview Factsheet (Forever Green Initiative, PDF) 


Research Objectives

Improve the overall agronomic performance of pennycress by selecting and breeding plants that express desirable traits for it to be grown as a cash crop.

  • Early maturity
  • High yielding and profitable
  • Large basal width (high amounts of above-ground biomass)
  • Maximum crop water use efficiency
  • Very winter-hardy

Based on the outcome of the breeding program, a genomic selection model* will be created. The gene selection model will help speed up future pennycress breeding programs by allowing specific (desirable) gene sequence to be easily identified for future breeding activities.


Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) is a winter annual with the potential to be an outstanding cover crop and profitable alternative oilseed crop within Minnesota’s traditional corn/soybean rotation. Cover crops, in general, provide crucial environmental services including nutrient scavenging, weed suppression, soil erosion protection and runoff reduction. Field pennycress may offer Minnesota farmers all of those benefits as well as being a profitable oil seed crop that can be harvested right before planting a soybean crop.

Project Description, Methods and Data Collection



Within three years the following items will be completed:

  • Seed stock from the five field pennycress lines that were identified for expressing early maturity, high yield, large basal width (crop water use efficiency), and superior winter hardiness.
  • In conjunction with Forcella et al. (another Clean Water funded project), conclusive evidence on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus uptake by field pennycress and amount of nutrient loss due to water runoff.
  • A peer-reviewed journal article on desirable field pennycress traits for cover crop and oilseed production and one peer-reviewed journal article on field pennycress varieties that are viable agronomic options for double-cropping.
  • A gene selection model specifically targeted towards seed yield

Education and Outreach


  • The University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Centers will host three field days focusing on the field pennycress double-crop system. The locations include Morris, Lamberton, and Waseca.
  • Development and distribution of a field pennycress grower’s guide on how and when to plant field pennycress.


  • Support of a postdoctoral research associate who will be directly involved in the field pennycress research.
  • Host on-campus seminars for students and the public to attend

Scientific community:

  • Publication of peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Presentations at scientific meetings

Genomic selection is a new approach for improving quantitative traits in large plant breeding populations that uses whole genome molecular markers (high density markers and high throughput genotyping)