AMARILLO – Until Nov. 24, it was simply known as TX02A0252, one of hundreds of wheat varieties being tested in regional field trials throughout Texas for the past five years.
On Nov. 24, it became TAM 113, the latest in a long line of Texas AgriLife Research wheat variety releases, according to Dr. Jackie Rudd, an AgriLife Research wheat breeder in Amarillo.
A wheat variety can only take on the TAM moniker after being reviewed by scientists both within and outside The Texas A&M University System, and has been approved for release by AgriLife Research officials, Rudd said.
The announcement of the variety’s release opens it up to be marketed by private industry, as AgriLife Research is in the business of developing new varieties but is not a commercial seed company, said Steve Brown, Texas Foundation Seed Service program director in Vernon.
Brown said Texas Foundation Seed Service’s role is to take the product from the research program and expand the seed to a large enough quantity to make it available to a commercial seed company.
Currently, a Texas Foundation Seed Service grower has 80 acres of TAM 113 seed planted for the first Foundation increase.
“While that crop is growing, we’ve sent out a request for proposals to parties who have indicated an interest in licensing the variety,” Brown said. He said anyone else who is interested in submitting a proposal should contact him at 940-552-6226 or email@example.com for more information.
TAM 113 has been submitted to the State Seed and Plant Board for consideration and acceptance into the Seed Certification Program operated by the Texas Department of Agriculture and has been submitted for plant variety protection, which is similar to a patent, Brown said.
The license packet will include a protected variety that has to be produced in the certification program and the right to produce and sell that seed, Brown said. It is typical, then, for the licensee to sub-license that variety throughout the area of adaptation to other seed companies who would then produce TAM 113 and sell to producers in their area.
“For the producer, TAM 113 will probably be available on a broad basis in 2012 and 2013,” he said.
It takes any new variety approximately 12-15 years to make it from the initial cross through the selection, testing and purification process before it can be considered as a possible release, Rudd said.
The TAM 113 cross was made in 1995 in Vernon, with the final selection made in Amarillo by Rudd in 2002. Along the way, it was recognized for its High Plains’ adaptation, yield and exceptional bread-baking quality under both dryland and irrigated trials, he said.
Further testing indicated superior disease resistance, which moved it from one of thousands of experimental lines to one of five that were tested in Great Plains’ regional trials, Rudd said. This means it demonstrated growing ability through the hard-winter wheat area from Texas to South Dakota.
While the final recommendation for its growth is for Texas, Rudd said that does not mean it will not thrive in similar wheat-growing areas in other states.
“For instance, TAM 111 was also released for this region and is currently the No. 1 variety in Texas, but it is also No. 2 in Kansas; No. 3 in Colorado and No. 4 in Nebraska,” he said.
The cross to make TAM 113 includes TAM 105, TAM 200 and TAM 202 as well as experimental germplasm, Rudd said. The 100s series releases were from the Amarillo/Bushland wheat breeding program, while the 200s series were released by the AgriLife Research program at Vernon. The two programs have subsequently become one under Rudd and serve both regions, but maintain the numbering system.
“We build upon success. We bring in variability, but keep the best qualities from our other releases – that’s how we succeed.”
He said the quality of TAM 113 was tested by the Wheat Quality Council, a national organization made up of millers and bakers from throughout the U.S. They rated it very high for its bread-baking quality, saying it provided better internal texture and higher loaf volume.
TAM 113 has similar yields in dryland and irrigated trials to TAM 111 and TAM 112; it has better leaf rust resistance than both; and it has better stripe rust resistance than TAM 112, Rudd said.
Dr. Ravindra Devkota, AgriLife Research associate scientist, is an integral part in that process. He has spent the past seven years evaluating data gathered from hundreds of yield trials and locations and helped identify varieties for possible release.
In his data mining, he compares yield, quality and disease data from multiple locations throughout Texas.
“Early in the process, this line started showing promise with its high yields, which got it recognized,” Devkota said. “Then the quality data started coming in and made it even more attractive.”
Rudd said the team has made a conscious effort to breed for quality.
“At one time, Texas did not have a good reputation for quality wheat,” he said. “But TAM 111 is significantly better than the highly recognized TAM 107, and TAM 113 is better than TAM 111 for baking quality.
“This is a real positive step for us. Our goal is for millers to source or look to the Texas High Plains for the best quality wheat.”
TAM 113 is the latest of approximately 25 releases that have been developed by the AgriLife Research Center of Excellence wheat breeding program based in Amarillo and Vernon, Rudd said.
“Our research directly benefits the producers and the entire wheat industry, as well as the consumers,” he said, adding that an important part of the funding for the wheat breeding program is provided by the Texas Wheat Producers Board.
Over the years, the increased grain yield of more than 1 percent a year has meant that Texas has gone from producing an average of 23 bushels per acre with varieties like Scout 66 in the 1970s to producing an average of 31 bushels per acre with the newer varieties, Rudd said.
And for the consumer, that is the difference of putting an average of 1,679 loaves of bread on the table from one acre of wheat in the 1970s to 2,482 loaves of bread from each acre of wheat during the past decade, he said.