CSU Wheat Research

CWAC Invests in CSU Research

Colorado wheat growers indicated their top priority for Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee (CWAC) funding is research. CWAC has emphasized that priority by not only increasing the research investment at CSU by nearly 500 percent from 2006 to 2009, but also by establishing a research reserve in case a poor crop year decreases assessment funding substantially.

For fiscal year 2009, CWAC established base funding for CSU wheat research in the amount of $387,053, not including additional grant-in-aid funding of $41,172 from industry partners.

In addition, CWAC also established a separate reserve of $400,000 to ensure continuous and uninterrupted funding of this research.

Success Stories

Wheat varieties developed by CWAC funded research continually rank high in yield per acre and in the variety survey of wheat planted by farmers. The yield advantage of newer varieties such as Hatcher have put millions of dollars in farmers' pockets. Colorado basis and prices have improved as customers have begun to appreciate the enhanced quality of Colorado wheat.

CSU Wheat Research Funding from Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee (FY 2009-10)


Wheat breeding

Drought and high temperature stress tolerance research


Marker-assisted selection program


TILLING* - new


Wheat quality improvement


Russian wheat aphid research associate


Hard red and hard white winter wheat breeding


Crops testing program

Wheat variety testing


Northwest Colorado

Northwest Colorado winter wheat testing


Plant pathology

Wheat pathology research and extension


Weed science

Wheat weed science research


Foundation seed

Wheat foundation seed program



Brown wheat mite research


Russian wheat aphid research associate


Cancer prevention

Wheat crops for health research laboratory

* TILLING is Targeted Induced Local Lesions in Genomes. This is a breeding technique based on the mutation induction technique used to create CLEARFIELD* technology. It allows development of novel traits that are non-GM in origin. Herbicide tolerance, drought stress tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, and human health-related traits are currently under study.

A History of Successful Investment in CSU Wheat Research

Each dollar of the $387,053 in wheat producer funding provided by CWAC is currently leveraged with an additional $5 of state and federal funding. As a result, CSU Experiment Station is providing a total of approximately $1.9 million to the wheat breeding program and wheat related research.

CWAC was instrumental in establishing the wheat breeding program at CSU in 1963 with funding from the Colorado General Assembly and CWAC. The CSU wheat breeding program has been expanded over the past 40 years to develop hard red and hard white winter wheat varieties with improved milling and baking qualities.

The CSU wheat breeding program has a strong track record of responding to the needs and problems of Colorado wheat producers: In 1988, CWAC provided supplemental funding to introduce genetic resistance to the Russian wheat aphid (RWA) into all new varieties. The CSU wheat breeding program responded by developing and releasing the first RWA-resistant wheat variety in the U.S. named 'Halt' in 1994. The CSU wheat breeding program is now in a strong position to rapidly respond to the new biotypes of the RWA that were discovered in 2003.

In 1994, CWAC provided supplemental funding to begin a hard white wheat breeding effort. The CSU wheat breeding program responded by developing and releasing its first hard white wheat variety named "Avalanche" in 2001. In 2008-09, hard white wheat varieties Thunder CL and Snowmass were released. These varieties are part of an identity-protected (IP) program with ConAgra Mills wherein growers are paid a premium per bushel, plus an additional protein premium.

In 1997, CWAC provided supplemental funding to develop non-biotech wheat varieties that are herbicide resistant to problematic winter annual grasses (jointed goatgrass, downy brome and volunteer rye). The CSU wheat breeding program responded by developing and releasing the first CLEARFIELD wheat variety in the U.S. named "Above" in 2001. Above was planted on 5.8 percent of the state's winter wheat acreage (or approximately 133,400 acres) for the 2004 crop.

Hatcher, a hard red winter (HRW) wheat variety released by CSU in 2004, has been the most popular winter wheat variety in Colorado for the last three years (2007-09). The Winter Wheat Varieties report for the National Agricultural Statistics Service said that CSU/CWRF varieties accounted for 61 percent of winter wheat acres in Colorado.

CWAC also provides funding to support weed science test plot research on winter annual grasses management in winter wheat and the CSU wheat crop testing program and test plot sites