Developing new wheat varieties with improved nitrogen and water use efficiency, along with increased resistance or tolerance to plant disease, while maintaining or improving agronomic and milling qualities offers a big trial for researchers.

But Brett Carver, Oklahoma State University wheat genetics and breeding, and Bryan Arnall, OSU precision nutrient management, are taking on the challenge, working together at the Tipton Valley Research Center to identify more efficient wheat varieties.

Funding from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is aiding researchers in finding more efficient wheat varieties, Carver said. “The big focus issues are water use, nitrogen use and disease resistance,” he said during a recent research center field day.

 

 

Arnall said the Tipton station provides a good site for nutrient studies since the soil has little residual fertility, allowing researchers to evaluate various levels of nitrogen use.

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Carver said molecular technology will be crucial to his variety selection process. “We’re moving toward a more DNA approach,” he said. “We are also teaming up with the University of Nebraska in the effort.”

The project has been ongoing for several years but has been dogged by calamity, including a 2011 tornado that destroyed the research facility. “But the plants survived,” Carver said. Drought has been a constant stress for the past three years as well.