Wheat gains major ground in research
In recent years, buoyed by growing worldwide demand for the cereal crop that provides the “staff of life” to millions of people, a growing world population and higher prices, wheat research has gained ground.
It still lags far behind the billions that have gone into corn and soybean research over the past three decades, but interest in wheat and other cereal grains is definitely picking up.
Kansas State University at Manhattan and its western Kansas research station at Hays continue more than a century of wheat breeding research in the public sector. K-State also has a growing number of collaborations with private companies to help advance the pace of wheat research.
• Wheat research gains ground as food demand increases.
• Public, private research devoted to improved yields and traits.
• Research includes both GM and traditional breeding.
Private companies, in addition to the vibrant Syngenta program featured on this month’s cover of Kansas Farmer, are also making big investments in wheat research and wheat breeding programs, many of them aimed at finding the “hybrid vigor” that has long eluded researchers.
In the Great Plains, Syngenta AgriPro, Limagrain Cereal Seeds, Monsanto and Bayer CropScience are all researching winter wheat.
All have research plots in Kansas, and some have advanced to the point of having contract growers to establish foundation seed for new traditional varieties.
Hybrids are in the pipeline, and at least some of the companies are conducting advanced breeding researching on genetically modified, or GM, wheat.
DuPont Pioneer and the German company KWS have wheat breeding operations primarily in Indiana.
FORAGE WHEAT: Marla Hall, wheat breeder for Limagrain Cereal Seeds, stands among the plots of forage wheat and triticale she is growing at the company’s Valley Center research station.
RENEWED RESEARCH: Monsanto wheat breeder Sid Perry talks about the company’s research efforts during a wheat tour in May.
This article published in the December, 2012 edition of KANSAS FARMER.