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Two Scientists - One in Texas, One in Nebraska - Are Working to Launch Hybridized Wheat

Much like what has been accomplished for corn and cotton, the hybridization of wheat, or the crossing of two genetically distinct varieties, is expected to strengthen the crop and enhance its ability to meet the demands of a growing population. To meet these needs, wheat production needs to improve by between 1.4 to 1.6 percent per year. Currently, growth in output is about 1 percent or less.

For seven years, two scientists, Amir Ibrahim, Ph.D., a wheat breeder at Texas A&M AgriLife Research in Texas A&M’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Stephen Baenziger, Ph.D., a small grains breeder at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, have been studying the hybridization of wheat in partnership.

Over that time, the two have jointly tested more than 600 varieties of hybrid wheat, and are currently developing the needed knowledge, germplasm, and trait pools from these lines to support successful hybridization of the crop.

The pair’s newest project, “Plant breeding partnerships: Continuing to develop and validate the tools for hybrid wheat,” has secured grant funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support the program toward its goal of launching a U.S. hybrid wheat industry.

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