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Clearfield on list of new Idaho wheats

Idaho’s first Clearfield hard white winter wheat is coming to growers.

Expect seed to become available this year, says University of Idaho wheat breeder Jianli Chen. “Adapted to dryland and low rainfall areas, ... the new UI introductions will be popular, and replace some existing varieties in the field,” she says.

Two newcomers will make their debut this year. The variety Grace provides growers in Idaho with a Clearfield choice that fits their environment. “The fact it is Idaho’s first Clearfield wheat makes this release very unique,” says Chen. “Our producers have been waiting for a variety they can grow using Clearfield technology for many years.”

Clearfield wheats allow growers to use the herbicide imazamox with little or no damage to the crop.

The selection will fit dryland and low-rainfall cropland use not only in Idaho, but also throughout many parts of the Pacific Northwest, says Chen.

Grace also provides resistance to stripe rust and dwarf bunt. But due to the tall stature of Grace, Chen recommends that growers do not use irrigation on this variety.

With test yields comparable with Golden Spike and UI-Darwin, Grace provides agronomic pluses that meet or exceed standards we are accustomed to in those older varieties, she believes.

Key Points

• University of Idaho has two new wheat releases, including a Clearfield.

• The seed is expected to become available in the fall.

• The two varieties, Grace and Silver, are both hard white winter wheats.

Silver lining

Not only is Grace making its appearance, but another newcomer from Idaho, Silver, is also on the fast track for seed increase. “Both of these new varieties provide better baking qualities than some the growers are now using,” she says. Since they lend themselves well to characteristics Asians like in their flour, “these varieties appear to be fit well for the export market,” she notes.

Both varieties test relatively low in polyphenol oxidase, or PPO, which helps noodles maintain their bright patina longer.

Unlike Grace, the shorter stature of Silver allows it to be irrigated, says Chen, but its susceptibility to bacterial leaf blight suggests that it, too, is better adapted to dryland than irrigated production in the Intermountain West, she says.

But domestic interest is also expected to be high, she adds. It is Chen’s goal to develop more wheat varieties in the high-demand hard white winter wheat class.

What bakers like about the class of wheats is their whole-grain appeal free from the bitterness of hard reds. Silver is a “high yield” wheat in trials, reports Chen, accenting the favorable PPO also present in this starlet variety.

Silver is also considered the prime market product for noodles and buns. It’s also classified as prominent because it’s one of only a handful of U.S. varieties carrying a gene called SrTmp, which conveys resistance to a globally threatening race of stem rust called TTKS. It is also resistant to fusarium head blight.

Breeder and foundation seed for Grace and Silver will be maintained by the UI Foundation Seed program. For more information on initial foundation seed sales, contact Kathy Stewart-Williams at williams@kimberly.uidaho.edu or 208-423-6655.

“We’ll be watching these new wheats planted under commercial conditions very closely,” says Chen. “I think growers will be happy with the results.”

This article published in the February, 2010 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.