Grain Science and Industry
Kansas State University
201 Shellenberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506

785-532-6161
grains@k-state.edu

Evaluations for the KSU Wheat Breeding Program 

 

It takes about 12 years from the initial cross to the release of a new wheat variety.  A wheat breeder may make over 1000 crosses each year.  The new plants produced are called experimental lines.  Of all those experimental wheat lines created each year, only 1 might end up being released as a new variety a decade later.

Here is an overview of the basic procedure used by Dr. Fritz and the role of the WQL in the KSU Wheat Breeding Program.

 

Year 1 

Crosses are made in the green house to create over 1000 new experimental lines.

 

Year 2

Seeds produced in year 1 are planted in locations that are known to have certain wheat diseases.  This is done to identify experimental lines that are resistant to those diseases.  Only about 60% (600 or so) of the experimental lines will be selected to remain in the program.  Lines may be eliminated because they were not resistant to the disease, did not survive or did not perform well for other agronomic reasons.  At this step, only about 30 to 90 seeds will be harvested from each plant. 

 

Year 3 

Selected lines are planted in different locations which have different disease pressures.   This step identifies lines with more disease resistances and increases the number of seeds of each line.  About 400 of the experimental lines will be selected to remain in the program.

 

Year 4 

Selected lines are planted in different locations which have different disease pressures.   This step identifies lines with more disease resistances and increases the number of seeds of each line.  About 300 of the experimental lines will be selected to remain in the program.

 
Year 5 

Selected lines are planted in different locations which have different disease pressures.   This step identifies lines with more disease resistances and increases the number of seeds of each line.  In this year, other issues like drought tolerance, shatter tolerance and field performance also start to be evaluated. 

 

Year 6 --IPSR

Each line selected to remain in the program is planted in a single row in one location.  Dr. Fritz calls these IPSR (Individual Plant Short Rows).  The number of seeds harvested from each row is now enough for us to start doing some initial flour quality evaluations in the WQL.  We receive 50 to 100 grams (0.1 to 0.2 lbs) of about 500 lines.  We start the in mid to late July and finish by the first week of September.  At this stage in the timeline and with the small amount of sample, we are only able to do wheat tests and a mixing test.  In the mixing test, a curve is made that shows how much water and the mixing time that is needed to mix a nice dough.  We can also see if the flour makes a weak or strong dough.  The mixing curve helps Dr. Fritz select which lines to keep and which have poor quality and need to be eliminated.  He usually eliminates about half of them based on poor mixing quality in this step. 

               

IPSR Tests

WHEAT

FLOUR

Kernel DiameterProtein Content
Kernel Weight

Mixing Properties

Kernel Hardness 
Protein Content 
Flour Yield 

 

Years 7 to 12 

Starting with year 7 the number of seeds harvested is now large enough that we get about 1200 grams (~2.5 lbs) of each line and can do more extensive quality evaluations for both the Manhattan and Hays programs.  These samples, called Advanced Lines, are evaluated from September through December.  The data generated is used to select lines to keep in the program and also to identify lines to be used in making new crosses.  We do the same tests on the samples from years 7 through 10.  Each year the lines are grown in different sets of locations called nurseries.  Each year lines are eliminated by disease, pests, plant characteristics and end use quality evaluations.

 

Advanced Line Tests

WHEAT

FLOUR

Test Weight
Protein Content
Kernel Diameter
Ash Content
Kernel Weight
Color
Kernel Hardness
Mixing Properties
Protein Content
Bread Baking 
Flour Yield
Noodle Color (HW only)

                 

Year 7

In year 7 the selected lines (~300) are grown in 2 replicates in 3 locations in what is called the Preliminary Yield Nursery (PYN).  

 

Year 8

In year 8 the selected lines (~50) are grown in 3 replicates in 7 locations in what is called the Advanced Yield Nursery (AYN). 

 

Years 9 - 11

In year 9 the selected lines (~15) are grown in 4 replicates in 17 to 20 locations in what is called the Kansas Intrastate Nursery (KIN).  Lines selected to advance are grown in the KIN again in year 10 and sometimes again in year 11. 

 

SRPN 

Lines that perform well in the KIN for 2 or 3 years are entered into the Southern Regional Performance Nursery (SPRN) which is made up of 34 locations in 7 states.  The SRPN samples are evaluated by the USDA ARS Hard Winter Wheat Quality Lab.

 

Wheat Quality Council 

Lines that have been grown in the KIN for 2 years and are being proposed for release as a new variety are entered in the Wheat Quality Council'sMilling and Baking Test Program where they undergo extensive testing for many aspects of wheat and flour quality.  The tests are conducted by the USDA ARS Hard Winter Wheat Quality Lab. Additionally each flour sample is sent to several baking labs where it is baked into bread and evaluated using that lab's normal procedure and evaluation techniques.  The KSU WQL participates as a collaborative test baker. The experimental line is compared to a popular, well-known variety submitted by the breeder from their program.   Wheat Quality Council Milling and Baking Test evaluation is open to all private and public breeding programs. The experimental line should have the same or better quality than the popular variety.  Additionally the Wheat Quality Council has set quality targets that should be met by the experimental line.   Quality targets are set for both  hard red and hard white winter wheat.