Disease resistant winter wheat developed

Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a new strain of soft white winter wheat suitable for baking applications that is both higher yielding and resistant to stripe rust.

When used in cookies and crackers, the new variety known as Kaseberg has shown itself to be superior to existing breeds because of its weaker gluten and finer milled flour particles.

The new cultivar also has proven itself able to thrive in high-moisture conditions, such as areas with abundant rainfall or irrigation. Field trials showed the variety was able to grow well in eastern and western Oregon, southern Idaho and south central Washington.

Kaseberg has demonstrated resistance to stripe rust, a devastating fungal disease that can cut wheat yields in half. Stripe rust has been mutating at a faster pace than in the 1970s to 1990s and plant breeders have had to upgrade resistance rapidly, says Bob Zemestra, a wheat breeder at OSU.

In addition to better protection against stripe rust, the new soft white winter wheat has shown impressive yield gains compared to similar Oregon wheat varieties. During two years of testing, Kaseberg averaged 136 bus an acre on land with high rainfall or irrigation, compared with 122 bus per acre for a similar Oregon variety, Stephens, and 106 bus per acre for Tubbs 06.

Under low rainfall conditions, Kaseberg outpaced Stephens at 91 bus per acre compared with 85 bus per acre. Similarly, Kaseberg beat the 81 bus per acre for Tubbs 06 under drier conditions.

Kaseberg also was reported to be mildly resistant to the disease Septoria, but it showed susceptibility to strawbreaker foot rot, soilborne wheat mosaic virus and crown rot.

The creation of a new wheat variety can take more than a decade. After that, breeders need an additional three years to generate enough seed for farmers.

Kaseberg, named for a leading wheat-growing family in Eastern Oregon, is not the only new disease-resistant wheat variety coming on-line in the Pacific Northwest.

During 2013, OSU is releasing a new cultivar called Ladd. It is the first soft white winter wheat produced in the region that is resistant to soilborne wheat mosaic virus. It is also resistant to strawbreaker foot rot and is moderately resistant to stripe rust.

Ladd, named for Sheldon Ladd, head of OSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Science from 1985 to 2000, is targeted toward irrigated areas in Oregon and central Washington where wheat mosaic has been found to thrive.

Both Kaseberg and Ladd are open cultivar releases from Oregon State University and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. Registered seed of both varieties and a small amount of certified seed of Kaseberg will be available this fall.