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Future Wheat Varieties May Be Tailor-Made for Foreign Markets

By Linda McGraw
November 2, 1999

In the future, U.S. hard red winter wheat varieties may be tailor-made to meet the quality needs of foreign markets, thanks to a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). The agreement allows the Agricultural Research Service, the American Institute of Baking, and Kansas State University to act as liaisons between U.S. wheat breeders and foreign buyers.

In the past, traditional wheat breeding has emphasized higher yields. But that’s no longer enough to attract more business. Today’s wheat producers need new, targeted wheat varieties to expand their markets overseas, according to Don E. Koeltzow, director of ARS’ Grain Marketing and Production Research Center in Manhattan, Kansas.

Researchers at the Kansas-based research facility will analyze the milling and baking qualities of hard red winter wheat grown in California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. Then the researchers will match those quality traits with the needs of foreign buyers. Flour samples from U.S.-grown hard red winter wheat varieties will be provided to 12 foreign cooperators. The cooperators will provide feedback about how well these varieties meet the quality traits desired by buyers in their respective countries.

More hard red winter wheat--the kind used to make white pan bread and hot dog and hamburger buns--is grown than any other kind of wheat in the United States. Fifty-percent of all U.S. wheat is currently exported. The CRADA joins federal and state research expertise with industry’s ability to market a product. The expected outcome: a higher demand for U.S. wheat in foreign countries.

ARS operates four wheat quality laboratories located in Manhattan, Kan.; Wooster, Ohio; Fargo, N.D.; and Pullman, Wash. The labs were established to help breeders improve the quality of wheat varieties grown in their respective regions. ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Don E. Koeltzow, ARS Grain Marketing and Production Research Center, 1515 College Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502, phone (785) 776-2701, fax (785) 776-2792,