Kansas Wheat Alliance Formed

Group will enhance genetic technology in wheat.

Published on: Sep 24, 2007

That wheat farmers will continue to receive valuable new wheat varieties is one goal of a new group called the Kansas Wheat Alliance.

"The Kansas Wheat Alliance has a mission of managing the release of K-State wheat varieties inside and outside Kansas in a way that will allow us to deliver farmer-preferred traits to farmers," says Forrest Chumley, Associate Director for Research in K-State's College of Agriculture. "We have traits in the pipeline, such as the Clearfield(r) trait, that farmers want to see in our new releases. We have to be able to manage new releases in a way that complies with the requirements of the trait provider, gives farmers what they need, and ensures we're good stewards of the trait, and everybody benefits."

The costs of breeding new wheat varieties continue to increase, and public funds available to support the program have been level or declining for years. KWA offers a way for the wheat-breeding program to receive additional support in proportion to the value it adds to the Kansas wheat industry.

The Kansas Wheat Alliance will operate as a broker for the licensing and marketing of value-added wheat technology, such as varieties with farmer-preferred characteristics such as novel genes for heat, drought, disease or herbicide tolerance, as well a proprietary traits that meet specific needs of end-users. Before the creation of the Kansas Wheat Alliance, technology transfer mechanisms in Kansas did not provide adequate means to insure effective delivery of public wheat varieties with value-adding proprietary technologies.

"This organization has come together as a result of a process that's taken about a year and a half," Chumley says. It was driven by stakeholder groups, which include six Founding Members, each of which have a representative on the Alliance's board of directors. Chumley was elected to serve as Chairman of the Alliance. Other officers are Vice Chairman, Herb Mattson, a Colby wheat producer and Kansas Association of Wheat Growers Director; and Secretary-Treasurer, Jim Sipes, Manter, a seedsman and member of the Kansas Seed Industry Association. Other board members are Marcia Molina, KSU Research Foundation; Tim Oborny, Bison, Kansas Crop Improvement Association; and Tom Morton, an Oxford wheat producer and Kansas Wheat Commissioner.

"This is a membership organization, and individuals, public organizations, and private companies are all encouraged to join the original founding members," Chumley said. "We want others to join and help us make progress.

For more information or to join the Kansas Wheat Alliance, contact Jim Sipes (jksipes@pld.com or 620-493-4693) or Forrest Chumley (fchumley@ksu.edu or 785-532-6148).