Montana State University is the major supplier of new wheat varieties for Montana growers with approximately 2.5 million acres of MSU varieties grown in the state in 2010, to the Montana Agricultural Statistics Service.
Duclair spring wheat was selected from a cross between Choteau and experimental line MT0249, according to MSU spring wheat breeder, Luther Talbert. The name was chosen from an old Montana map, showing Duclair as a postal site in the heart of sawfly country near Turner. Duclair inherited solid stems for sawfly resistance from the popular variety Choteau. Wheat varieties with solid stems make life difficult and often short for the wheat stem sawfly.
Wheat stem sawfly feed on the inside of wheat and other cereals. The most obvious damage caused by the sawfly is the breaking over of stems that have been weakened by larval tunneling. Talbert estimates that damage from the wheat stem sawfly costs Montana wheat farmers $25 million dollars per year, making it the most destructive agricultural pest in the state.
Duclair gets its high yield due to long green leaf duration from MT0249. The longer the leaves remain green, the more time there is for seeds to grow, resulting in bigger grain.
"Duclair has shown excellent yield potential in dryland areas, especially in trials which faced significant sawfly pressure," Talbert said.
MTS0713 winter wheat is being released as a potential replacement for Genou, according to MSU's winter wheat breeder, Phil Bruckner. MTS0713 resulted from a cross between a Vanguard derivative and the semidwarf AgriPro line NuHorizon. Relative to Genou, MTS0713 is about four bushel per acre higher in yield, has significantly higher stem solidness, and is about three inches shorter. MTS0713 has good stripe rust resistance and excellent milling and baking quality. Winterhardiness of MTS0713 is similar to that of Genou.
"We propose the name 'Judee' for MTS0713 in honor of long-term Extension agent Judee Wargo," Bruckner said.
Wargo worked for 35 years as an MSU Extension agent in Choteau County before she passed away in 2009.
The third wheat variety being released is another winter wheat, MTS0721. It is a potential replacement for Rampart. MTS0721 resulted from a composite cross of multiple lines and has primarily Rampart parentage. Relative to Rampart, MTS0721 is about seven bushels per acre higher in yield, has similar high stem solidness and low cutting by wheat stem sawfly, is of similar winterhardiness, and is about three inches shorter. Protein content and baking quality of MTS0721 is average, but not as high as Rampart. MTS0721 has higher stem solidness and lower cutting by wheat stem sawfly than MTS0713, so MTS0721 should fit better in environments most heavily infested by wheat stem sawfly, according to Bruckner. 'Bearpaw' is proposed as the name for MTS0721.
The MAES Research Centers and Montana farmers are important partners for the wheat breeding projects. Though initial crosses are made in Bozeman, selection of the best lines for release to growers depends upon testing in target environments throughout the state. The breeders are also working closely with MSU entomologists to develop new forms of sawfly resistance.
Montana varieties not only must perform well for growers, but must also produce flour with desirable characteristics for buyers. The breeding programs work cooperatively with the Montana Cereal Quality Lab in Bozeman to insure that new varieties meet industry standards for milling and baking. The breeding programs are funded by the MAES and the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. The Montana Board of Research and Commercialization Technology also provided funding for special variety development projects.