North American Grain Conference Explores Provactive Research Topics

National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers gather in San Antonio next month for annual meeting. Compiled by staff

Published on: Jan 16, 2006

The National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Sorghum Producers are tackling a provocative lineup of research topics at the upcoming North American Grain Congress next month in San Antonio. The Congress is the annual joint convention of NSP and NAWG. 

Dr. Stephen Baenziger from the University of Nebraska will lead off the session with a report of progress and potential for Clearfield wheat varieties in the Great Plains. Clearfield technology provides herbicide resistance with traditional breeding techniques, which opens the door to additional options for control of problem weeds in wheat crops. Baenziger will cover the adoption of this technology to date and look at its potential for the future.

The possibility of a global wheat rust problem, and steps being taken to guard against that eventuality, will be addressed by Dr. Kay Simmons from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Simmons is the National Program Leader for ARS Cereals research, based in Beltsville, Md. A new strain of wheat rust spreading in Africa has attracted the concern of many wheat pathologists, and Simmons will report on the status of the disease and what’s being done to confront it.

Producing quality forage sorghums will be the subject of a presentation by Dr. Brent Bean of Texas A&M University. Bean will also be presenting research on forage sorghum from Dr. Ted McCollum, also of Texas A&M.

The wheat industry has invested increasing effort in sequencing the wheat genome in recent months, with a goal of gaining use of more advanced genetic technologies for wheat development. Dr. Bikram Gill from Kansas State University, a collaborator in an international sequencing effort, will speak on this topic and its importance for wheat improvements.

Market acceptance challenges to transgenic wheat traits have been widely discussed, but are there scientific risks if the wheat industry does not adopt new genetic technologies? In a related presentation, Dr. Forrest Chumley, Agricultural Experiment Station Director at Kansas State University, will address the scientific tradeoffs of failing to adopt biotechnology in wheat.

One of the most serious disease threats to wheat producers is the problem with head scab, caused by the fusarium fungus. For the past several years, the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative has been working on ways to control and reduce scab problems. Dr. David Van Sanford from the University of Kentucky is the new co-chairman of the USWBSI and will address progress made and obstacles encountered thus far in the Initiative’s efforts to find solutions for scab.

The research forum is scheduled for Tuesday morning, Feb. 7, within the Grain Congress program. It will be moderated by farm broadcaster Michelle Rook of WNAX radio in Yankton, S.D. Rook is the 2006 president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. The Grain Congress itself runs from Feb. 5-7 in San Antonio, Texas.

The headquarters hotel for the Congress is the Hyatt Regency San Antonio on the Riverwalk, a block from the Alamo and in the heart of San Antonio’s downtown Riverwalk dining and entertainment district. Online registration is available at, and an early registration discount is available until January 21.