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USDA Invests in Hybrid Wheat Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the International Wheat Yield Partnership are jointly backing a three-year, $1 million grant titled “Developing the Tools and Germplasm for Hybrid Wheat” to fund the continuation of the development of hybrid wheat varieties.

The project is being led by Dr. Stephen Baenziger, a small grains breeder at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and will include Dr. Bhoja Basnet, a hybrid wheat breeder with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Dr. Friedrich Longin, a wheat breeder at the University of Hohenheim, Dr. Jesse Poland, a geneticist with Kansas State University, Dr. Jochen Reif, department head at the Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Science, and Dr. Amir Ibrahim, a wheat breeder in College Station, and Dr. Jackie Rudd, a wheat breeder in Amarillo.

The team believes that the project will play a role in launching the hybrid wheat industry in the U.S. by building scientific and germplasm foundations through the use of in-house germplasm, chemical hybridizing agents, breeding, phenotyping, genomic selection and quantitative trait loci mapping.

Dr. Ibrahim states that several years are needed before hybrid vigor is maximized through the program, however, the first affordable hybrid wheat seeds generated from the project should be commercially available to growers in the near future.

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