Texas wheat offers high quality when it comes to baking and milling characteristics, said Texas Agricultural Experiment Station's state wheat breeder.

Dr. Jackie Rudd, Experiment Station wheat breeder at Amarillo, received the annual Millers' Award from Tim Aschbrenner of Cereal Food Processors at the recent Wheat Quality Council annual meeting in Kansas City.

The award is presented annually in appreciation of breeders who develop a top quality wheat that is recognized by the milling industry, according to the Wheat Quality Council.

"This just shows the High Plains can produce high quality wheat and Texas A&M University varieties are among the best," Rudd said.

The annual meeting provides a networking opportunity for wheat breeders and industry personnel to discuss preferred wheat characteristics and new wheat varieties, Rudd said.

In addition, breeders submit wheat lines for evaluation in baking, milling, tortilla and noodle quality, he said. This year 51 breeder-submitted wheat lines and checks were submitted for evaluation.

The two most recent Texas A&M variety releases, TAM 111 and TAM 112, were entered as comparison varieties, along with three experimental lines, Rudd said. The two varieties were entered to demonstrate their baking and milling quality.

TAM 112 was released two years ago and TAM 111 was released in 2003, he said. TAM 112 was selected as a good replacement for TAM 110 with greenbug resistance. It has also shown drought and wheat streak mosaic tolerance.

TAM 112 and an experimental hard white wheat, TX01A5936, had two of the highest scores in both baking and milling, he said. For overall quality scores, the white wheat was rated the best and earned the Millers' Award.

Only seven of the experimental lines were considered good tortilla quality, and three of those were Texas A&M lines – TAM 111, TX01A5936 and another experimental, TX01V5314.

TX01V5314 has been proposed for release, Rudd said. It has above-average baking quality and is recognized for disease resistance and high grain yield from South Texas to Nebraska. It is expected to be released this summer.

The excellent showing of the Texas-submitted wheats can be attributed in part to a good growing environment in 2006, Rudd said. The samples submitted by Texas A&M were harvested from strips planted adjacent to irrigated yield trials on Experiment Station land near Bushland.

Temperatures were above average and rainfall was below average, he said, so the crop was flood irrigated four times from early March to early May. Also, no significant diseases infected the wheat varieties.

Information gained through the Wheat Quality Council program helps breeders, such as Rudd, determine if they are working in the right direction and what markets the different wheats should or could be targeted toward.

"It takes, typically, about 15 years for a variety to go from the crossing stages to the commercial planting," Rudd said. "For example, the cross for TAM 112 was made in 1992 and the release was made in 2005."

The cross for the hard white wheat which was recognized this year was made in 1995, so Rudd estimates it should be nearing a release date in the next year or so.

When breeding and selecting wheat varieties for quality, a line is tested in the first year for visual kernel characteristics and is characterized as hard or soft, he said. In the second year of testing, hardness, kernel size and protein content are checked.

The third year of testing adds dough mixing characteristics to the list of qualities undergoing scrutiny, and in the fourth year, bread baking and tortilla making are added, Rudd said.

Testing for hardness, protein content and dough strength is conducted by Dr. Lloyd Rooney, professor of food science at the Texas A&M Cereal Quality Laboratory at College Station.

The bread-making quality tests are conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service's Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory in Manhattan, Kan.

And Dr. Ralph Waniska, a professor of food science and technology in the Cereal Quality Laboratory, performs the tortilla-making tests.

Throughout the process, the research is supported by the Texas Wheat Producers Board, Rudd said.

Info Box About the Experimental Lines:

– TX01A5936: This hard white winter wheat line is resistant to stripe rust, susceptible to leaf rust, and offers some wheat streak mosaic virus resistance. It performs best under High Plains dryland and limited irrigation conditions. It's relatively large seeded with a good test weight. Baking data indicates a short mixing time, average stability and good loaf volume.

– TX01D3232: This hard red winter wheat variety will be released as TAM 304 this summer. It is resistant to leaf rust and moderately susceptible to stripe rust. It performs best in the Blacklands and South Central areas of Texas, but it also performs well under irrigation in the High Plains. It is relatively small seeded with less-than-average test weight. The baking data indicates a long mixing time, good stability and good loaf volume.

– TX01V5314: This hard red winter wheat is resistant to leaf rust and stripe rust. Performance has been excellent throughout the Great Plains. Due to its high level of foliar disease resistance, it is well suited for the warmer and more humid wheat growing areas of Texas. It has an average seed size and less-than-average test weight. Its baking data generally indicates a short mixing time, average stability and average loaf volume.