The primary objective of the wheat breeding effort at SDSU is varietal development and release. The breeding objectives of the programs include: high yield and stability of yield, superior end-use quality (milling and baking), desirable agronomic characteristics (optimum maturity and plant height, long coleoptile, standability), disease and insect resistance (various fungal and viral pathogens and cereal aphids), and environmental stress tolerance (freezing, drought, heat). While it is virtually impossible to combine all of these characteristics into a single “perfect” variety, continuous work toward these objectives will ensure that new varieties possess as many desirable characteristics as possible.
Major breeding and genetics programs are in place for spring wheat, winter wheat, and white wheat. In addition to new varieties, emphasis is also placed on inbred lines and other germplasm development. Techniques range from conventional plant breeding to molecular biology. The Crop Performance Testing Program generates data on the performance of potential South Dakota varieties along with those from other states. The Foundation Seed Stocks Division and the Seed Certification Program play vital, fundamental roles in the propagation and distribution of seed stocks to producers.
Breeding programs pay dividends to South Dakota producers. New varieties in spring wheat yield an average of 4 bushels per acre greater than the varieties that are being replaced. In addition, the new varieties have better bread-making quality that will increase the value of South Dakota wheat to domestic and international buyers. For example, the success of the spring wheat breeding program illustrates the value of a continuous, long-term investment into an applied plant breeding program. State, federal, Commission and commodity group funding has been roughly $250,000 annually for the past 20 years. This investment is now returning $70 million annually.
For more details on South Dakota Wheat Commission funded research projects in the breeding and genetics area, click on the project title.