The Oklahoma Wheat Commission has partnered with the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation to donate $100,000 to Oklahoma State University as a way to promote continued wheat improvement in the state.

When matched 2:1 under the university’s Pickens Legacy Scholarship Match program, the result will be a $300,000 endowment that will produce approximately $15,000 per year in perpetual annual funding.

Dave Porter, head of OSU’s department of plant and soil sciences on the Stillwater campus, said the donation is a much-needed and creative way to leverage funds made available through the wheat checkoff program to advance the Oklahoma wheat industry.

“We truly appreciate the tremendous support OSU has received from the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation and our Oklahoma wheat producers,” he said.

The focus of the donation is to provide a research fellowship to an OSU graduate student working on wheat improvement for Oklahoma producers. Porter said this graduate student research fellowship will help educate the next generation of wheat breeders responsible for developing the new high-performance varieties that producers expect from OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Oklahoma is the fourth-largest wheat-producing state in the nation, producing 127.7 million bushels annually between 2005 and 2009, on average. Wheat improvement research in Oklahoma is driven by an interdisciplinary team of division scientists charged with developing highly adaptable wheat cultivars with marketable grain quality.

“This source of funding is critical to help maintain the momentum of a very productive wheat improvement program for Oklahoma,” Porter said.

The OSU-developed wheat variety Endurance is the most planted variety in Oklahoma, accounting for nearly one in every five acres. Two other OSU-developed varieties, Duster and OK Bullet, were the third and fourth most utilized varieties for 2010, coming in right behind Jagger.

“Wheat is a major driver of the Oklahoma economy, and the development of new, genetically improved cultivars by our OSU Wheat Improvement Team is the lifeblood of this critically important agricultural sector,” Porter said.

Program support for the OSU Wheat Improvement Team is administered by the division’s statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system, the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation.