MN Impact: Advances in Wheat Help Secure Our Food Supply
Spring wheat is grown on more than 1.5 million acres in Minnesota, making it our third most popular crop. But wheat varieties in the region have become vulnerable to Fusarium Head Blight (FHB), leaf rust, stem rust, and bacterial leaf streak, destructive diseases of wheat and barley that put crops, and thus our food supply, at risk.
What has been done
University wheat breeders are focused on breeding new disease resistant cultivars that remain high yielding and provide a good end-use quality. Genetic studies are being used to identify chromosomal locations and DNA markers for genes influencing disease resistance disease resistance and grain quality. Additionally, food quality experts at the Department of Food, Science and Nutrition are collaborating with breeders early in the selection process to help select varieties that provide a great tasting end product.
One advanced experimental line, MN08165, was released as 'Bolles' in 2015. Bolles features very high grain protein content, competitive yields, and good straw strength. It has excellent leaf rust resistance and moderate resistance to FHB as well as exhibiting excellent end-use quality characteristics. Notably, 'Linkert', our last wheat release, is now the third most popular variety in the state and is grown on 13.5 percent of wheat acres planted statewide. Early results show 'Bolles' will also be a top variety -- our seed stock sold out within months of its release.