CWAC Invests $387,000 of Producer Funds in Research for 2009-2010

Centennial, Colo. Colorado wheat growers have indicated their top priority for Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee (CWAC) assessment funding is research. CWAC has emphasized that priority by not only increasing the research investment at Colorado State University (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.

“Additional funding from the increased check-off has allowed dramatic changes in the breeding program,” said Richard Starkebaum, CWAC president, Haxtun, Colo., “From the addition of new field trials, the implementation of a drought and high temperature stress tolerance research program, and the use of DNA molecular marker screening technology to develop new traits more quickly, we are able to continue to support a world-class wheat breeding program at CSU.”

For fiscal year 2009-10, 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. Royalties from the sale of Colorado Wheat Research Foundation seed varieties developed by the CSU Wheat Breeding program contribute another $265,969.

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

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 has 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.

The majority of the funding to CSU is designated for wheat breeding. The hard red and hard white winter wheat breeding program is funded at $61,732. This program continues to work to develop varieties with improved quality, yield and pest resistance for Colorado. This is the 41st year of the program which has developed such varieties as Hatcher, Ripper, Thunder CL and Snowmass.

Wheat breeding research also includes $65,000 for development of drought and high temperature tolerance traits in wheat varieties; $50,060 for the marker-assisted selection program, which supports more rapid development of breeding lines through DNA marker assisted selection, $25,321 for Targeted Induced Local Lesions in Genomes (TILLING), a breeding technique based on the mutation induction technique used to create CLEARFIELD* technology, which 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. Wheat quality improvement is funded at a level of $16,670, which improves wheat quality through the milling and baking performance evaluation of Colorado wheat varieties and experimental lines. A Russian wheat aphid research associate is funded at $16,670. This researcher studies genetic resistance for Russian wheat aphid (RWA) with the aim of introducing resistance into all hard red winter (HRW) and hard white winter (HWW) wheat germplasm.

The Crops testing program received $6,500 for wheat variety testing, supporting testing of improved quality, high yield and disease resistant hard red and hard white winter wheat germplasm for Colorado, with an additional $1,500 for winter wheat testing specifically in northwest Colorado.

Wheat pathology research and extension received $17,860 in support, weed science research received $25,000, and entomology received $16,685 to support brown wheat mite research and $25,000 for salary support for a Russian wheat aphid research associate.

The wheat foundation seed program received $12,000, for maintenance and repair of wheat breeding program planters and combines.

Finally, the cancer prevention laboratory received $47,055 to support wheat crops for health research. This program works on identifying various bio-active components in wheat grain, confirm that these have anti-cancer or other unique health properties in mice, rats, and humans and develop rapid screening methods to determine the levels of these components in experimental wheat lines.

Photo cutline: Dr. Scott Haley, CSU, answers questions about CSU-developed and other High Plains varieties at the Lamar location of the 2010 Colorado Wheat Field Days. CWAC funding supports the development of varieties at CSU as well as the testing program.

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