He said breeding efforts attempt to eliminate low quality performers early in yield trials. “We want to maintain good pan bread quality and enhance health characteristics such as antioxidants.”

Breeders typically get to yield trails before they do any significant quality testing. “We have inadequate screening for quality early in the process,” Fritz said. “It takes 10 to 12 years to develop a new variety.”

Biotechnology may streamline the process a bit. DNA markers, for instance, show breeders where certain characteristics are located. “We have markers available for some key traits.”

Herbicide resistance may be close, as well. “Commercially viable cultivars with herbicide resistance are available but have not been released,” Fritz said. Other targets include disease resistance and stress tolerance.

“We’ve come a long way in the last eight years.”