Winter Wheat Gets New Resistance to
About one-eighth-inch long, the female Hessian fly emits a sex pheromone from
her ovipositor to attract males.
The Southeast's warmer climate allows up to six generations of the Hessian
fly to breed each season, and that spells trouble for soft red winter wheat
The Hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor, is considered wheat's most
damaging pest. In 1989, damage from the pest was estimated at $28 million in
Plant breeders have been able to give wheat some natural resistance to the
Hessian fly for many years. Now Agricultural
Research Service entomologist
Roger H. Ratcliffe in West
Lafayette, Indiana, in cooperation with researchers at Purdue University, has
developed and tested a new cultivar, a variety called Grant, and eight
experimental wheat breeding linesCarol, Erin, Flynn, Iris, Joy, Karen,
Lola, and Mollyderived from Newton, a commercial hard red winter wheat
susceptible to Hessian fly. All show improved resistance.
"Grant, a soft winter wheat, offers high yields, improved disease
resistance, and better cold hardiness. It has been performance-tested in
Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio and in the Uniform Eastern Winter Wheat
Nursery in West Lafayette," says Ratcliffe. "Grant's soft wheat
milling and baking scores resemble those of Caldwell, one of the leading
varieties grown in Indiana."
In 8 years of testing, Grant outyielded Caldwell by 4,630 pounds per acre.
It also heads, or starts grain formation, 1 to 2 days later, has shorter,
stronger straw, and is more likely to survive harsh Indiana winters, Ratcliffe
Besides leaf rust and powdery mildew, the new wheat variety resists wheat
soilborne mosaic, wheat spindle streak mosaic, and take-all diseases.
Infestation with Septoria leaf blotch and glume blotch was less severe on Grant
than on Caldwell.
Ratcliffe says the eight breeding lines proved resistant to one or more of
four Hessian fly biotypes in tests using seedling wheat plants. All the lines
resemble Newton but can be up to 4 days later in heading and from 4 inches
shorter to 2.5 inches taller.
The new lines have adequate winter hardiness for growing in field trials in
many areas of the United States. The lines should prove useful for breeding
Hessian fly-resistant cultivars or for genetic studies.
Wheat breeders will use this germplasm to develop improved wheat cultivars
adapted to the eastern and southern states. Seed is now available from Purdue
University and will be available in 1998 from the ARS National Small Grains
Collection in Aberdeen, Idaho. By Hank Becker, ARS.
Roger H. Ratcliffe was in the USDA-ARS
Production and Pest Control Research Unit, Purdue University, West
Lafayette, IN 47907-1158.