Writers: Pam Dillard (806) 677-5600,
Tim McAlavy (806) 746-6101,

Contacts: John M. Sweeten (806) 677-5600,
Don Robinson (940-552-9941),

AMARILLO — Dr. Jackie Rudd has joined the Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program and the state’s small grains research and education team.

He fills a new position within the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and Texas Cooperative Extension, and is part of the extensive wheat breeding programs at Amarillo and Vernon.

The scientist will be responsible for breeding new wheat varieties for production in the High Plains and Rolling Plains of Texas. His work will originate from nurseries and laboratories in research farms in Amarillo, Bushland, Etter, Chillicothe and Vernon.

Rudd and other members of a statewide wheat breeding team are meeting with area farmers and ranchers on Thursday (April 18) at a field day hosted by the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center at Vernon.

Research objectives in the team’s small grains work are focused on insect and disease resistance and environmental stressors such as high temperature, and drought.

Rudd said his specific challenges within the breeding program will include an emphasis on enhancing grain yield and strengthening marketability, or baking quality.

“Forage production will be a high priority as well,” said Rudd, who cited the extensive grazing for livestock across the region–unique to Oklahoma and Texas, states with dual-purpose grain and forage production.

A&M’s wheat breeders planted their next group of primary field nurseries last fall with decisions based on data derived from this past harvest. Experimental lines are being developed in research greenhouses. New varieties take between 10 to 12 years to reach the farmers fields.

“The success of any breeding program is built upon prior achievements of others,” said Rudd, who has joint responsibility for wheat breeding with Dr. Mark Lazar, Experiment Station wheat breeder at Amarillo.

Lazar’s work is focused on germplasm enhancement, including specialty traits and targeting niche markets for wheat products.

A large team of scientists is working to add profitability to wheat produced in Texas. Besides the wheat breeders, the team includes entomologists, plant pathologists, plant physiologists, cereal chemists, agronomists and molecular biologists.

Approximately 80 percent of Texas’ wheat acreage is located in the High and Rolling Plains regions. Much of the work carried on by the current wheat breeding team is based upon the pioneering efforts of Amarillo and Vernon scientists, Drs. Kenneth Porter, Earl Gilmore and David Worrall.

Funding for this research primarily comes from the Texas Wheat Producers Board and through state funding of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, part of the Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program.

Previously, Rudd was associate professor and spring wheat breeder at South Dakota State University in Brookings. A native of Big Spring, Rudd earned the bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Tarleton State University. He holds the master of science in agronomy from the University of Arkansas with emphasis in plant breeding. He earned his doctorate at Kansas State University in agronomy with an emphasis in wheat breeding under R. G. Sears.

Rudd worked for a number of years as an agronomist and plant breeder with seed industry affiliates in Lubbock, first with the Growers Seed Association and later with the GroAgri Seed Company.

“My main goal is to build upon past progress and achievements within the Texas small grains effort. We have a solid foundation and an excellent team of scientists in place. We have very strong support from A&M administration and industry,” added Rudd, “It’s a win-win situation to be part of.”

Registration for Thursday’s field day begins at 8 a.m. at the Texas Foundation Seed facility next door to the Vernon Center. Wheat production, grazing and tillage systems, cool-season forages and stocker cattle management will top the field day agenda. Contact Rudd or Lazar in Amarillo at (806) 677-5600 for more details or the Vernon Research and Extension Center at (940) 552-9941.


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