Wheat Breeding

Kansas is often the top-wheat producing state in the nation. This puts the wheat breeding programs at Kansas State University at the heart of wheat production in the U.S. The wheat breeding programs have responded by producing the most widely planted hard red/white varieties in Kansas.

The main goal of the wheat breeding programs is to develop and release new public hard red/white winter wheat varieties marketed by the Kansas Wheat Alliance. Some germplasm lines are also released for certain traits of interest. The program focuses on the following traits:

  • High grain yield
  • Minor gene, durable resistance to leaf rust and stripe rust
  • Heat and drought tolerance
  • Resistance to Fusarium head scab, wheat streak mosaic virus, barley yellow dwarf virus, stem sawfly, and Hessian fly
  • Pre-harvest sprouting tolerance
  • High quality for pan bread and noodle making

There is an extensive team of cooperators in the wheat breeding efforts at K-State. The breeding teams work with the world-class USDA Small Grain Genotyping Laboratory on genomic selection and marker-assisted breeding. This genotyping lab is housed in Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center on the main campus in Manhattan. Other cooperators include the Wheat Quality Laboratory in the Grain Science Department and wheat disease and insect programs in the Plant Pathology and Entomology Departments.

Wheat breeding receives generous funding from the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Wheat Alliance, and Kansas Crop Improvement Association. There is tremendous producer support in the state and region for K-State’s wheat breeding programs. The programs have extensive greenhouse space, growth chamber facilities, and research plot acreage for screening of preliminary and advanced lines at 20 over locations.

Research Faculty