MSU develops new spring wheat variety

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BOZEMAN — A new Montana State University-developed spring wheat that's already attracting attention because of its potential for excellent yields and superior bread-making qualities is making its way through the pipeline toward Montana growers.

Lanning hard red spring wheat was increased from breeder seed to foundation seed this season, and farmers are already requesting it, said Doug Holen, manager of the MSU Foundation Seed Program.

Holen explained that breeder seed is the initial source of the new variety grown by the plant breeder and deemed pure and true to the variety description, while foundation seed is derived from planting and harvesting breeder seed after it passes field inspection and seed purity certification.

Lanning has higher grain protein and stronger gluten than Vida, the most widely grown spring wheat in Montana from 2010 to 2015. It is a hollow-stemmed wheat and has a grain yield that's equivalent to Vida, according to the Journal of Plant Registrations.

MSU wheat breeder Luther Talbert said the new spring wheat combines the best traits of two varieties known as Glenn and MT0747. Glenn has "very, very high-end use quality. Flour made from Glenn makes really good bread," Talbert said. He added that the leaves of MT0747 stay green for an extended period after heading. That means that growth continues and yields increase.

"The big issue of growing spring wheat in Montana is it gets hot and dry," Talbert said. "For traditional varieties, that shuts down photosynthesis." Lanning's longer growing season can mean larger profits for growers.

The Montana Agricultural Experiment Station released Lanning in 2016, but it takes a year to increase the initial 18 bushels of breeder seed to foundation seed, after which it is then available to seed houses to produce registered and certified classes available to the general farming community. Holen said the goal of the MSU Foundation Seed Program is to keep seed genetically intact so that when farmers grow it, it exactly represents what the breeder intended it to be.

Talbert, who is "quite optimistic" about Lanning, said it was named after Susan Lanning, a longtime team member who retired after making significant contributions to wheat improvement at MSU. Lanning worked for 29 years as a research associate with the MSU spring wheat breeding program.