Wheat research still a priority

By Matt Reese

Private industry has taken corn and soybean breeding efforts and run with them, but the same trend

Dana Peterson, with the National Association of Wheat Growers, talks with Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association members.

has not taken place with wheat. While private interest in wheat is on the rise, public efforts such as the wheat breeding program at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster are still crucial to wheat variety improvement.

“We are seeing the USDA Agricultural Research Service dramatically cutting facilities and funding,” said Dana Peterson, with the National Association of Wheat Growers.

And, with the tight federal budgets, the funding situation does not look great for the necessary expanded continued research efforts in the future, but NAWG is speaking up for the nation’s wheat farmers about the continued importance of public wheat research in Washington, D.C.

“The message for the Hill on wheat research is that how vitally important these efforts are,” Peterson said. “It is hard for the staff people in Washington to connect the dots with this.”

Along with general improvement of wheat varieties, there are some key challenges with Fusarium, evolving insect problems and a virulent rust strain that is spreading around the world.

“Ug99 stem rust is a growing world concern,” Peterson said. “The idea is to stop it before it gets to the U.S. We have to tell the story that it takes 10 or 12 years to develop a new wheat variety. It is spreading and intensifying in the Middle East and Africa and we need to stop it. This makes wheat research a priority for the whole world.”

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