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Published August 03, 2010, 09:21 AM

NDSU to hire winter wheat breeder by fall

FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota State University in Fargo is hiring a new winter wheat breeder by mid-fall as part of a public-private partnership to increase winter wheat production in the region and enhance waterfowl habitat at the same time

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota State University in Fargo is hiring a new winter wheat breeder by mid-fall as part of a public-private partnership to increase winter wheat production in the region and enhance waterfowl habitat at the same time.

NDSU, in cooperation with the University of Minnesota, are now part of the so-called Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action initiative. WCSIA program was announced more than a year ago by Bayer CropScience and Ducks Unlimited. The agreement was announced July 26 in Fargo. South Dakota State University recently announced a similar agreement with the private groups.

Increased winter wheat production would benefit Bayer CropScience because many of its crop protection programs are aimed at cereals. DU wants more winter wheat because fall-seeded crops are beneficial to breeding waterfowl.

Where to start

NDSU and the U of M will use their share of the $1 million program in the next 4.5 years to resume winter wheat breeding and beef up extension and agronomic help on the crop, says D.C. Coston, NDSU vice president for agriculture and outreach.

Once the breeder is on board, NDSU will start evaluating existing materials and will be looking to make crosses. The U of M will be operating as subcontractor to NDSU on this project, evaluating NDSU materials in Minnesota locations, Coston says. John Lukach, an NDSU Extension agronomy specialist, has been working on the project at the Langdon (N.D.) Research Extension Center.

It typically takes 10 years to get a new variety from an initial cross to commercial use, Coston says. “We hope we’ll have some success between now and then,” he adds, noting there will be increased testing on materials already available.

He says the priorities will be on quality — protein and other attributes — and then cold-hardiness, as well as incorporating disease resistance that is available in other small grains.

NDSU’s winter wheat breeding program had been dropped several years ago as resources were shifted to spring wheat and other priorities. He says that if it weren’t for the Bayer/DU support, the program might not have been resumed.

Coston says the project also has support from both the North Dakota Grain Growers Association and from the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

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