Kansas is often the top-wheat producing state in the nation. This puts the wheat breeding program at Kansas State University at the heart of wheat production in the U.S. Led by wheat breeder Allan Fritz, the wheat breeding team at Manhattan has responded by producing the most widely planted varieties in Kansas in 9 of the past 10 years.
The goal of the wheat breeding program is to develop and release new public hard winter varieties through the Kansas Wheat Alliance. Some germplasm lines are also released, in conjunction with the USDA wheat genetics program based on the K-State campus. The program focuses on the following traits:
- Heat and drought tolerance
- High grain yield
- High quality for pan bread and noodle making
- Minor gene, durable resistance to leaf rust and stripe rust
- Resistance to Fusarium head scab, barley yellow dwarf, and Hessian fly
There is an extensive team of cooperators in the wheat breeding efforts at K-State. The main breeding team works with the world-class Wheat Genetics and Genomics Center on genomic mapping and marker-assisted breeding. This Center is housed in Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center, along with the wheat breeding team. Other cooperators include the USDA wheat genetics program, also housed in Throckmorton, the Hard Red Wheat Quality Laboratory, wheat programs in the Plant Pathology and Grain Science Departments, and an associated wheat breeding program at K-State’s Agricultural Research Center-Hays.
Wheat breeding receives generous funding for its efforts from the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Crop Improvement Association. There is tremendous producer support in the state and region for K-State’s wheat varieties and breeding program. The program has extensive greenhouse space, growth chamber facilities, and research plot acreage for screening of preliminary and advanced lines at 9 locations in Kansas and one location in Texas.
- Andy Auld, Assistant Scientist
- Robert Stelle, Assistant Scientist