Drought, Disease Resistance Research Discussed At Small Grains Meeting

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DALLAS –- Drought, water use efficiency and disease resistance were a few of the issues discussed recently at the annual small grains workers meeting at the Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Dallas.

Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas Cooperative Extension State small grains specialist, leads a discussion at the annual small grains workers meeting in Dallas. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Blair Fannin).

Collectively, researchers and the Texas Wheat Board are hoping for a better weather outlook to not only increase producer profitability, but increase research dollars allocated for projects across the state, industry officials said.

“One of the largest challenges is funding due to drought,” said Rodney Mosier, executive vice president of the Texas Wheat Producers Board and Association.

In 2005, the organization allocated more than $211,000 for research projects from harvested wheat across the state. However, drought has reduced that amount to $42,000 this year.

“Going into last February when we were doing our budget planning, we certainly hope to see some rain by then and hoped to increase funding for research projects,” he said. “We’re also concerned right now about the shortage of seed wheat.”

“Of course the issue that keeps coming up is drought, and a lot of our research trials we didn’t get to harvest,” said Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas Cooperative Extension state small grains specialist.

Drought and insect management in variety development, managing water and weed control are a few of the issues research is investigating, he said.

“A majority of the research is funded in part or in full by the Texas Wheat Producers Board,” Morgan said. “Without their support, most of this research wouldn’t be going on. The check-off dollars that went to research, there are a lot of people in the middle of one- or two-year projects. But we’ll make do and the work will likely continue. That research covers a broad spectrum, from variety development, seed quality, and grain quality for bread and tortillas.”

The Small Grains Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from Extension, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Texas Wheat Producers Board, continues to focus on enhancements in grain yield and quality, forage production, rust and greenbug resistance.

Dr. Jackie Rudd, Experiment Station state wheat breeder, gave an overview of the research efforts statewide:

– High Plains – Initiatives include drought resistance varieties, water use efficiency and resistance to the Russian wheat aphid and greenbug.

– Central/South Texas – High temperature tolerance, disease and the Hessian fly resistance.

– Rolling Plains – Drought and high temperature tolerance, Hessian fly.

“We have a big list and some things we need to do more than others, but all of this is important,” Rudd said.

“Every one of our projects is addressing needs statewide,” said Dr. Don Robinson, resident director at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center at Vernon.

Research and Extension efforts continue to be ramped up across the state, Robinson said. A small grains pathologist position in Amarillo and a small grains breeding position based in College Station should be filled by early 2007, he said. A full-scale cereal chemistry laboratory is also being pursued in College Station, he said.

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