Research Progress Reports

2017-2018 WSU Wheat & Barley Research Progress Reports to the Washington Grain Commission

Individual Reports

Weed Management in Wheat (pdf):
Executive summary: 
Weed control is one of the major challenges facing wheat growers in the PNW. To address this problem, the Weed Science Program conducts a multi-disciplinary field, greenhouse, and laboratory research project to address the critical issues that Washington wheat growers face. One aspect of this work is the evaluation of herbicides, both registered and nonregistered, for crop tolerance and weed control in wheat production systems. This work is often, but not always, conducted in partnership with agricultural chemical companies. These field studies allow us to make better recommendations to growers, and they provide us the opportunity to work with the various companies to better refine their labels for the benefit of Washington wheat growers. The results from these studies were summarized in the WSU Weed Control Report, which was shared with the Washington Grain Commission and posted on the WSU Extension Small Grains website annually. The Weed Science Program continues to look at the biology and ecology of troublesome weeds including downy brome and Russian-thistle.

Field Breeding Hard White and Red Winter Wheat (pdf):
Executive summary: One hard red winter wheat line was released in 2015. Sequoia (WA8180) is a standard height hard red winter wheat targeted to the <12” rainfall zones of Washington. This line has good end-use quality, average protein content, very good test weight, good stripe rust resistance, and good yield potential. What makes this line stand out from other lines is its ability to emerge from deep planting and dry soils. This line will be a benefit to growers in the low rainfall zones in moisture limiting conditions. This variety has replaced many of the Farnum acres and should be seen in large commercial production in 2018. Apart from this line, there are additional lines being testing in variety testing for release potential, under both low and high rainfall conditions. WA8268 is a hard red line adapted to the high rainfall zones of the state with excellent yield potential and disease resistance. In 2017 WA8268 was in the top significant group for yield with newly released cultivars LCS Jet and LCS Rocket. As such, we have begun seed increase of this line. After extensive selection of crosses targeted for the high rainfall zones of the state, the first material derived from DH is in statewide testing. This material comes through crossing to European material and is well adapted to Washington with high yield potential. We are very excited about these crosses. Continued emphasis has been placed on selecting breeding lines with superior quality and disease resistance. We also have a strong interest in developing hard lines with excellent emergence capabilities, and continually screen material to this end. Efforts have been initiated and are ongoing to develop hard cultivars with herbicide tolerance, snow mold resistance, and aluminum tolerance. We have identified lines with aluminum tolerance and are testing them for release potential. After some renewed interest in hard white wheat, we had increased our efforts for crossing, but after further discussion with the Commission, have reduced this again due to a market shift. We maintain about 10% of the hard material as hard white and apply heavy selection pressure to ensure adapted material is advanced. Some of these hard white lines have been tested under irrigation in Southern Idaho and have performed very well. There is interest to release these lines for production under irrigation in Idaho. Our next main target is to develop hard red cultivars with herbicide resistance.

Use of Biotechnology for Wheat Improvement (pdf):
Executive summary: In 2017 we continued our effort to advance breeding lines as quickly and efficiently as possible by employing both molecular marker analysis and doubled-haploid technology. The traits of the main focus for marker-assisted selection are footrot resistance, stripe rust resistance, herbicide tolerance, and end-use quality. These are our primary focus due to very good markers having been developed and the importance of these traits in Washington. Additional traits include aluminum tolerance, SBWMV, dwarfing genes, low PPO, Fusarium head blight, Hessian fly, and nematode resistance. Over 10,000 data points were collected on 200 populations to confirm the presence of desired genes based on marker profiling. These have been advanced to field testing to confirm the presence of the selected genes. Markers were also used to screen all advanced breeding lines to identify the presence of known genes. This information was used for selection and advancement purposes (in conjunction with field data) as well as for selecting lines which should be cross-hybridized to create future populations. The process of marker-assisted selection is an ongoing process, and at any given point we either have lines planted for analysis, in the laboratory undergoing marker profiling, or an increase in the greenhouse after selection to advance seed into field evaluations. Our genomic selection efforts are proceeding and we have completed our third year of phenotypic evaluations in the field and genotyping. Data is being used to validate end-use quality selection models. In the greenhouse, we made approximately 500 crosses consisting mainly of soft white and hard red germplasm. These are being advanced to the F1 generation, and then divided between our DH production and MAS protocol. We planted ~3,600 DH plants in the field in 2017 for evaluation. The remaining DH lines are undergoing an increase in the greenhouse and will have a similar number ready for yield evaluation in 2019. 110 crosses have been submitted for DH production in 2018. We also have about 100 specialty crosses to introgress traits from non-PNW adapted material.

Field Breeding Soft White Winter Wheat (pdf):
Executive summary: A new club cultivar, developed in coordination and collaboration with the USDA breeding program, was approved for release in 2015 and will be named Pritchett. This is targeted to replace Bruehl in the non-snow mold areas, with improved disease resistance, yield potential, and cold hardiness. In the 2017 VT trails, Jasper continues to be one of the top-yielding lines across >12” precipitation zones. Puma was in high demand in the fall of 2016 and was planted on ~63,000 acres in 2017. Puma continues to perform well across production zones. Otto, a 2011 release from this program, continues to maintain demand. For the past three years, it has been planted on ~220,000 acres. Nine advanced breeding lines were entered into WSU’s Variety Testing (VT) Program, four in the low rainfall zones and five in the high. One line, WA8234 is on seed increase and will be proposed for release in the Spring of 2018. This line has excellent yield potential and disease resistance, acceptable quality, and high falling numbers. WA8275CL+ is another line which has performed very well in trials, and is on seed increase as well. Over 2,000 unreplicated yield-trial plots were evaluated at either Pullman or Lind and thousands of F4 head rows and DH rows were evaluated in Pullman, Lind, and Waterville. Over 2,500 DH lines were planted for 2018 evaluation. High selection pressure is continually placed on disease resistance, emergence, flowering date, end-use quality, straw strength, etc. Multiple screening locations have been established to evaluate germplasm for: stripe rust resistance, foot rot resistance, snow mold resistance, good emergence, aluminum tolerance, soilborne wheat mosaic virus resistance, Cephalosporium tolerance, and nematode resistance. The program has also employed efforts to develop herbicide-resistant cultivars and advanced lines have been entered into Variety Testing. Many lines have been performing very well and some are on breeders seed increase in preparation for variety release proposal. We continue to put a strong emphasis on soft white wheat in the program and have begun to modify our breeding schemes to account for marker-assisted selection, genomic selection, and doubled-haploid production.

Control of Rusts of Wheat and Barley (pdf):
Executive summary: During 2017, studies were conducted according to the objectives of the project proposal and all objectives specified for the second year have been successfully completed. In addition to the major accomplishments and their impacts listed below, this project results in genetic resources and techniques for further studying the biology and genetics of the pathogens and mechanisms of interactions between the pathogen and plants.

Evaluation And Selection For Cold Tolerance In Wheat (pdf):
Executive summary: 

We used the artificial screening system in the greenhouse to evaluate:

  • Winter wheat breeding lines from the WSU and ARS breeding programs.
  • The Western Regional Winter wheat hard and soft nurseries
  • The Northern and Southern Regional Performance Nurseries
  • The Association Mapping Training Panel representing the WSU and ARS breeding programs
  • The WSU Spring Variety Trials
  • The WSU Winter Wheat Variety Trials are currently being evaluated
  • The Winter Wheat Core Nursery

We now have a dataset of survival scores from 3135 winter wheat breeding lines, cultivars, and germplasm.

We evaluated the large association mapping panels and regional nurseries for allelic and copy number variation in genes that are known to be associated with cold tolerance in wheat. Many of these alleles are segregating in our populations.

We conducted an association mapping project for cold tolerance using data available in our breeding programs. In addition to the known loci, we discovered new loci on the group 1 and group 6 chromosomes.

Club Wheat Breeding (pdf):
Executive summary: ARS Castella (ARS20060123-31C) developed by the USDA-ARS and WSU was released in 2017 an early maturing club wheat with good performance, excellent stripe rust resistance, aluminum tolerance and tolerance to low falling numbers. ARS Castella was entered into the WAVT dry trials only where yields were 109% and 115% of the trial averages in the 12-16, and <12-inch rainfall zones, respectfully.

Foundation seed of Pritchett was produced. Pritchett is targeted to the traditional club wheat growing region in the dry precipitation zones. Yields of Pritchett in the WAVT dry trials were 102% and 107% of the trial averages in the 12-16, and <12-inch rainfall zones, respectfully.

We entered the following breeding lines into 2018 trials: ARSDH08X117-83C in the WAVT Dry, North Idaho, and Oregon Wheat Elite Yield Trial (OWEYT); ARSWA2J100065C in the WAVT Dry; ARSDH08X103-102C and ARS06132-45Cin the WAVT-Wet; ARSDH08X028-9C in the WA/OR cooperative trials and OWEYT; ARSDH08X142-11L, ARSDH08X103-102C, DH08X028-9C, and ARS2J100065-C in the Western Regional Nurseries.

We genotyped all our the entries in all of our yield trials using the targeted amplicon sequencing (TAS) procedure in the USDA Western Small Grains Genotyping laboratory.We used KASP and SSR markers to select for resistance to low falling number, BYDV, eyespot, stripe rust, dough strength, cold tolerance and reduced height.

We evaluated several hundred doubled haploid lines and advanced several to our elite replicated trials. Early generation quality testing using the micro-mill, the polyphenol oxidase assay, and solvent retention capacity tests were performed. Coleoptile testing and survival from freezing were assayed on all breeding lines. All breeding lines were selected for resistance to stripe rust, eyespot, cephalosporium stripe, and Fusarium in inoculated nurseries.

Assessment of Soil Acidity on Soil-borne Pathogens, Weed Spectrum, Herbicide Activity, Yield, and Crop Quality on Dryland Wheat Production (pdf):
Executive summary: To initiate this long-term research effort, 24 x 50ft. plots were established in fall 2016 and treated with four ultrafine liquid calcium carbonate treatments (0, 600, 1200, and 2400 lbs/acre) with 4 replications. The plots were soil tested in April 2017 and successfully established different soil acidity levels ranging from pH 4.9 to pH 6.4. Micro-nutrients were applied based on soil test results and included Zinc, Boron, and Copper. The plots were established in three distinct production zones in order to make the results of this research effort applicable to a wide audience of producers, provide a robust multi-location dataset, and understand how the effects of liming and soil acidity may differ regionally. The three locations include: CBARC Sherman Station in Sherman County, OR (11 in. annual rainfall), the CBARC Pendleton Station in Umatilla County, OR (16 in. annual rainfall), and in Whitman County, WAat the Palouse Conservation Field Station and in a farmer’s field (18 in. annual rainfall). The project was initiated in 2017, most results are only initial findings and base-line establishment for continued research. In 2017, plots were established in spring wheat following fallow (Oregon locations) and re-cropping following chickpeas in Whitman County.

Evaluation of Barley Varieties (pdf):
Executive summary: In 2017, the Cereal Variety Testing Program (VTP) conducted 12 spring barley variety trials across eastern Washington. The total number of individual barley plots evaluated was 864. Entries in the trials included submissions from every major barley breeding program in the Pacific Northwest. Variety performance information is delivered to barley growers and other clientele through field tours (9 tours in 2016), grower meetings, the variety testing website, emails with preliminary results after harvest (over 200 recipients), the variety selection tool (located at smallgrains.wsu.edu), Wheat Life, seed buying guide, annual technical report, direct contact with clientele, and reports to the Washington Grain Commission. The variety trials are used by WSU breeders for variety release decisions, by pathologists to rate disease reactions, and for county Extension programming.

Evaluation of Wheat Varieties (pdf):
Executive summary: In 2017, the Cereal Variety Testing Program (VTP) conducted 24 soft winter, 16 hard winter, 18 soft spring, and 18 hard spring wheat variety trials across eastern Washington. The total number of individual wheat plots evaluated was 8,172.  Entries in the trials included submissions from 12 different breeding programs/cooperators. Variety performance information is delivered to wheat growers and other clientele through field tours (20 tours in 2017), grower meetings (5 in 2017), the variety testing website, emails with preliminary results after harvest (over 200 recipients), the variety selection tool (located at smallgrains.wsu.edu), Wheat Life articles, seed buying guides, annual technical report, direct contact with clientele, and reports to the Washington Grain from variety trials is used to generate information on end use quality, disease reactions, market class grading, and falling numbers.

Pre-breeding for Root Rot Resistance (pdf):
Executive summary: Rhizoctonia solani and R. oryzae, are soilborne fungal pathogens of wheat and crops used in rotation with wheat that cause root rot, stunting, and bare patch. Rhizoctonia root rot is one of the main disease causing green bridge problems in spring cereals in the PNW. The aim of this project is to characterize resistance or tolerance to Rhizoctonia and other green bridge- promoted diseases identified from several synthetic wheat lines and transfer the resistance to the cultivar, Louise. The cultivar Louise was selected because it already has a good root system, and enhancing its resistance to Rhizoctonia would create a valuable germplasm asset for the breeding programs. The resistances are controlled by the additive effects of several genes in each of the sources of resistance, so backcrossing the resistance to adapted germplasm takes many more generations than backcrossing a single gene trait, like many of the rust resistance genes used in the breeding programs. After each cross to Louise, the progeny lines are advanced 3-4 generations under selection for resistance to try to collect and maintain all of the genes from the resistant parent. In addition, the sources of resistance were synthetic lines; artificially generated by combining the genomes of AB and D wheats (Table 1) to reconstruct the bread wheat genome. Thus, the original sources were all poorly adapted to the PNW and exhibited many of the wild characteristics of the AB and D genome parents, (e.g. difficult threshing, poor quality). We felt that at least three crosses to an adapted cultivar would be required to develop lines that could be evaluated for performance in field trials. We also used the same cultivar, Louise, as the recipient of all of the sources of resistance so that the resistances could be compared in the same genetic background. The original sources of resistance all had very different root systems making it impossible to tell which aspects of these root systems were associated with resistance. Once the resistances are transferred into the same genetic background, analysis and comparisons of the root systems are more informative.

Extension Education for Wheat and Barley Growers (pdf):
Executive summary: The Wheat and Small Grains website was launched by the Extension Dryland Cropping Systems Team in early 2014. The website serves as a one-stop shop for all the information WSU Extension has on small grains production. In 2017, the website was transitioned to the new WSU spine, which required reformatting all of the pages. The new pages have larger text and are easier to read and navigate than the previous pages. This was a major undertaking that would not have been possible without our Communications Consultant, Blythe Howell. Some noteworthy new content for the Wheat and Small Grains website in 2017 included: 1) the Wheat Beat Podcast, 2) the Residue Production Calculator, 3) the Seeding Rate Converter, and 4) the Herbicide Mechanisms of Action (MOA) Tool for Pulse Crops. The cereal variety selection and testing pages were awarded a 2017 Certificate of Excellence for websites, blogs, and social media from the Extension Education Community of the American Society of Agronomy. The Extension Dryland Cropping Systems Team was awarded the 2017 CAHNRS Team Interdisciplinary Award. The Wheat Academy was held on the WSU Pullman Campus on December 12 and 13. Attendance was limited to 75 people. There were 42 industry participants and 33 farmers.

Quality of Varieties & Pre-Release Lines Genotype & Environment G & E Study (pdf):
Executive summary: The 2017 harvest sample analysis is nearing completion; the project also covered the 2015 and 2016 harvests (3 years). As in previous years, all quality data were/will be analyzed using the tScore statistic. The quality t-Scores for each soft white winter, club, soft white spring and club, hard red winter, hard red spring and hard white winter and spring varieties are summarized using ‘Grain’, ‘Milling’, ‘End-Product’, and ‘Overall’ Scores. Varieties in each market class/sub-class are then ranked by the Overall Score.  All varieties and advanced breeding lines with three or more years of data are included in the final listing.

Using these results and analyses, the WWQL works closely with the WGC to develop the, “Preferred WHEAT VARIETIES for Washington based on end-use quality” each year with annual updates. Completion of the variety rankings in February represents the first significant accomplishment each year we coordinate variety classification with Oregon and Idaho.

Supplemental Support for Assessing the Quality of Washington Wheat Breeding Samples (pdf):
Executive summary: This WGC support provides for about 3 months of additional technician time. The additional work is devoted to evaluating breeder samples for quality from October through mid-January. 

During this period, spring wheat samples are given priority over winter wheat samples. The aim is to coordinate with the WSU Wheat Quality Program, and complete as many analyses as possible before spring wheat planting decisions in early February. In this way, the spring wheat program is made more efficient because inferior quality lines are not planted and grown. The standing goal for WSU winter wheat breeding lines is to complete as many as possible before June 1. Milling and baking evaluations of the 2016-Crop were completed and 2017-Crop testing is well underway at the Western Wheat Quality Lab. This reporting period also covers the 2015 and 2016 harvests.

We provide breeders with SKCS single kernel size, weight, and hardness, and the variability (SD) of each; grain protein, test weight, flour yield, break flour yield, milling score, flour ash and protein, dough mixing time and type, dough water absorption, Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) Water, Lactic Acid, Sucrose and Carbonate; SDS Sedimentation, cookie diameter and score, bread volume and score, sponge cake volume, and RVA (Rapid Visco Analyzer) peak pasting viscosity or Flour Swelling Volume (FSV) (RVA and FSV are for starch quality).

Barley Improvement for Yield, Adaptation, and Quality (pdf):
Executive summary: Over the past three years (2015 to 2017), significant and substantial progress in breeding and varietal development has been achieved within each market class – feed, malting, and foodof barley. A total of five barley varieties have been released: Lyon and Muir in the conventional feed barley class, Survivor in the herbicide tolerant feed barley class, and Havener and Meg’s Song in the hulless food barley class.

Control of Strawbreaker Foot Rot & Cephalosporium Stripe in Winter Wheat (pdf):
Executive summary: Variety trials for eyespot and Cephalosporium stripe were not conducted in 2016-17. However, the trial was planted in 2017 for evaluation in 2018, and data from previous plots was used to update variety disease ratings in the Washington State Crop Improvement Association Seed Buyers Guide. A seed treatment trial conducted in 2016-17; this is the second year with no yield or disease control benefit, so this work will not be continued. A study was begun to map disease resistance genes to both of the eyespot fungi in Madsen. Although Madsen is one of the first eyespot resistant varieties in WA, its resistance to both eyespot pathogens has never been mapped to determine whether the same genes control resistance to both pathogens. In collaboration with colleagues, we are also mapping resistance to cereal cyst nematode (CCN). Spore-trapping for the eyespot fungi was conducted again at the Palouse Conservation Field Station and Spillman Farm to understand the seasonal dynamics of ascospore release, which may contribute to pathogen genetic variation; data are still being collected and analyzed. Field studies to determine the effect of variety mixtures on eyespot and Cephalosporium stripe were continued. Disease data were collected from both experiments, but the eyespot nursery was flooded by spring rains and yield was not determined.

Enhancing Resistance to Snow Mold Diseases in Winter Wheat (pdf):
Executive summary: 
Field plots were established 2016 at three locations in WA and one in Tetonia, ID to test advanced breeding lines and three new doubled-haploid populations for snow mold resistance and agronomic performance. Snow cover persisted for well over 100 days in WA and disease development was good enough to collect useful data on disease reaction. Field plots were planted again in 2017 for evaluation in spring 2018, depending on disease development. Wheat samples for fructan analysis were collected from field and growth chamber experiments. Methods for analysis of the sugars were revised and are being optimized with a goal to complete the analyses by the end of February and complete data analysis in 2018. Results of these studies will be used to improve growth chamber screening for resistance. Controlled environment testing won’t replace field testing, but it will allow us to make progress on genetic studies throughout the year and eliminate very susceptible lines from field testing.

Management of Nematode Diseases with Genetic Resistance (pdf):
Executive summary: 

  • In 2017, we concentrated our survey around the infested fields in Colton and near Colfax, to locate additional “hot” locations for testing purposes. We identified an additional field with H. filipjevi that would be suitable if monocropped to wheat or barley. We identified a field for H. avenae that was in wheat last year
  • We established greenhouse pot cultures of H. avenae and H. filipjevi. These cultures will be grown in the greenhouse to increase nematode populations and then used for screening
  • In spring and summer 2017, we developed a high throughput greenhouse technique and screened 786 advanced lines from 4 WSU breeding programs for resistance to H. filipjevi and H. avenae. This was the largest number screened to date. This method assesses roots of young plants grown in cone-tainers containing soil collected from highly infested fields in fall and vernalized at 4 C prior to planting
  • From this screening, we identified resistance in 10 to 21% of the advanced winter wheat lines, but less than 2% of spring wheat lines. Named and advanced lines resistant to filipjevi in one or more trials include ARS Crescent and Selbu, Cara, Otto, Masami, Madsen, Foote, ORCF-102, Prichett, SY605CL, and Steelhead; WA 8235, 8206, 8163, 8194; Svevo and Soft Svevo
  • Preliminary resistance to H. avenae was found in Norwest 553, Jasper, and WA 8227. Chara and WA 8235 showed resistance to both H. filipjevi and H. avenae. In addition, three HRW and 12 SWW showed resistance
  • We developed KASP markers for QTLs for resistance to H. filipjevi that were identified in a CIMMYT study and assayed the breeding lines that we evaluated above. We were not able to identify the same QTLs in our material, except in the durum Svevo and Soft Svevo. These sources of resistance may be specific to CIMMYT derived material.

Evaluation of WSU Wheat Breeding Lines for Management of Hessian Fly & Development of DNA Markers for Resistance Breeding (pdf):
Executive summary: Hessian fly (HF) infestations continue to cause significant annual yield losses in spring wheat production areas of Washington and neighboring regions of Oregon and Idaho. Hessian fly is in many ways a silent problem. Moderate infestations are not visually striking, and their occurrence is somewhat variable over space and time. Factors such as weather patterns, crop rotation, variety selection, and tillage or conservation practices can impact HF pressure. Infestation may also be a significant barrier to increased conservation tillage practices in the Palouse. Advanced breeding lines, new sources of resistance genes H13, H26, and two unknown resistances source, along with mapping population progeny were screened for Hessian fly resistance in 2015-2017. Backcross populations were developed with four new sources of resistance, and progeny selfed to select homozygous resistant lines. The HT080158LU/WA8076 doubled haploid mapping population was used to map a newly discovered Hessian fly resistance gene on chromosome 6A. Winter wheat populations were screened for the first time in many years, to introgress HF resistance into winter wheat. This project supported the now routine screening of all new entries in WSU Variety Testing Program spring wheat trials, as well as other germplasm such as soft durum wheat lines. In 2017, we completed a systematic screening of all available known sources of resistance to Hessian fly with multiple Hessian fly populations collected in the PNW. The effectiveness of H5, H13, H15, H22, H25, H26, H32, and H34 to these PNW HF populations was documented, and this has guided our future germplasm development, breeding efforts, and DNA marker discovery and validation research. In other words, for the first time, we now know the full set of effective genes that we can use to protect against damage and are actively incorporating them.

End-Use Quality Assessment of WSU Wheat Breeding Lines (pdf):
Executive summary:
WSU spring and winter wheat variety development programs heavily emphasize selection for superior end-use quality. Quality evaluation of WSU breeding lines has been ongoing for over 50 years. Effective quality testing is essential for the recent release of new varieties from all market classes that are at or near the top of end-use quality rankings. This project supports a scientist to conduct thousands of quality tests per year for the WSU wheat breeding programs in conjunction with the USDA-ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory. The majority of wheat from the PNW is exported to overseas markets. To maintain current markets, penetrate new markets, and recapture lost markets, PNW wheat must possess quality characteristics that make it superior for use in both domestic and overseas markets. Therefore, before it is released, a new variety must be tested to determine if it is suitable for use in specific end-use products. In addition, increased competition from traditional and non-traditional exporters necessitates enhancing the end-use quality of our wheat. The loss of overseas markets will continue to cause a reduction in the demand and therefore the price of wheat, resulting in losses to Washington farmers. Washington State University, Washington Wheat Growers, the State of Washington, and the PNW, as well as grain buyers, will benefit from the availability of wheat varieties that require fewer inputs and possess superior, consistent end-use quality.

Improving Spring Wheat Varieties For the Pacific Northwest (pdf):
Executive summary:
 The WSU spring wheat breeding program’s elite material and recently released varieties continue to be the top performers is statewide variety trials and for growers. Foundation and registered seed of Ryan, Seahawk, Tekoa, Diva, Louise, and Whit soft white spring wheats, Alum, Chet, Kelse, and Glee hard red spring wheats and JD and Melba spring club wheats was produced and sold in 2017, and they accounted for ~54% of all certified spring wheat production acres in Washington. Each variety has very good to excellent end-use quality, which is a primary goal of our program to help maintain and increase the value of Washington wheat. Our newest soft white spring wheat varieties, Ryan, Seahawk, Tekoa, and Melba, have broad adaptation, superior all-around disease, grain, and agronomic traits, most desirable end-use quality, and top yield performance. They have been rapidly adopted by seed dealers and growers as seed stocks are multiplied. Kelse and Glee have been the leading hard red spring wheat varieties in the state the past few years, while Chet has been widely adopted in lower rainfall areas and Alum is rapidly increasing in acreage. The consistency, broad adaptation, disease and pest resistances, sound grain traits, most desirable end-use quality, good falling numbers, and overall performance of these varieties reflects the outputs of comprehensive wheat breeding and genetics research effort supported primarily through funding from this project.

Pre-Breeding Pest Resistance, Agronomic, and Grain Quality Traits for Spring Wheat Variety Development (pdf):
Executive summary: This project is an integral component of the Spring Wheat Breeding program. The objective of this project is to support/enable the most effective and efficient selection procedures for development of superior Washington spring wheat varieties. In addition to routine early generation grain quality selection carried out through this project, we apply DNA marker technology to elite breeding materials and are conducting several research projects of direct relevance to our breeding efforts. This project also supports our two-gene Clearfield breeding effort and expanded irrigated hard red spring wheat efforts, which have progressed nicely. Approximately 1800 early generation lines were evaluated for end-use quality with ~900 retained, over 1000 marker-selected doubled haploid and backcross-derived progeny were advanced through selection in field nurseries, and molecular markers were used to characterize parental lines for disease, quality, and agronomic traits through this project in 2017.

Fusarium Crown Rot on Wheat Prebreeding & Development of Tools for Genetic Disease Mangement (pdf):
Executive summary: 

  • We found two potential QTLs for resistance to F. culmorum, in addition to the two found to F. pseudograminearum in a previous funding cycle
  • We have screened almost 500 lines from regional nurseries and variety testing for resistance to F. culmorum, and are identifying the most resistant and susceptible
  • We have further optimized our greenhouse testing protocol to maximize disease and reduce variability by using a cold vernalization period followed by a water stress treatment at the end.
  • We assessed lines in five variety testing sites in the intermediate rainfall zone for two years, in areas with high levels of F. culmorum. However, results were confounded by eyespot
  • We conducted inoculated field trials for three years in Lind and Pullman, and have identified the most susceptible and resistant
  • we evaluated statistical designs and models to minimize spatial variation in the WA variety testing locations and found a better model than the one presently used.

A Genetic Arsenal for Drought Tolerance, Getting to the Root of the Problem (pdf):
Executive summary:
Dryland farms in eastern Washington routinely experience yield losses due to drought stress. Improving wheat root structure can help to resist such stresses by increasing access to water. The combined issues of drought, no-till practices, and the changing pathogen load affect all market classes of wheat and barley. Traditional breeding for wheat and barley has mainly focused on the health of the aboveground parts of the plant. As a result, many modern varieties have small and/or shallow root systems compared to landraces. The primary goal of this research project is to identify root architectures in current breeding populations of both spring and winter wheat cultivars associated with better yield under drought stress. We assessed the root structures of Hollis, Drysdale, Louise, and AUS28451, as well as the 10 best and worst yielding lines from Hollis/Drysdale population in the summers of 2015 and 2016 at the Lind Dryland Research Station. Quantification of the root traits has been completed for the greenhouse trials for two years using Hollis, Drysdale, Louise, AUS28451, Alpowa, and Dharwar Dry with clear differences between cultivars in rooting depth, volume, and area. The field trials with Hollis, Drysdale, and the RILs showed considerable variation and there was no correlation between rooting traits and yield in the RILs, but differences were observed in the between Hollis and Drysdale. Currently, we are performing another greenhouse trial in larger bins with well-watered control vs. water-withheld challenges for the varieties Louise, Drysdale, Hollis, AUS20451, Onas, Alpowa, and Dharwar Dry. Winter wheat genotypes (wt, Rht1, Rht2, Rht1 Rht2) in the Brevor and Golden backgrounds were sown at Spillman Farm in October 2015 and November 2016. Root scans were taken throughout the growing seasons in 2016 and 2017 in additions to soil coring after crop maturity. Preliminary findings showed that there were no statistically significant differences for rooting depth at maturity conferred by Rht alleles.

Developing Washington Wheat with Stable Hagberg Falling Numbers (pdf):
Executive summary:
The goal of this project is to breed for stable Falling Numbers (FN) in Washington wheat through selection for genetic resistance to preharvest sprouting and late maturity alpha-amylase (LMA). The project identified cultivars with sprouting and LMA problems through evaluation of the WSU cereal variety trials. Whereas preharvest sprouting due to rain was the major cause of low FN in 2013, LMA due to large temperature fluctuations during late grain filling was the major cause of low FN in 2016. Analysis of the 2016 crop revealed that there are problems with LMA susceptibility in all market classes, including both red and white wheat. The project developed LMA and PHS field screening systems, identified molecular markers linked to PHS tolerance genes in northwest winter wheat, and initiated mapping of LMA susceptibility genes.

Intelligent Prediction & Association Tool to Facilitate Wheat Breeding (pdf):
Executive summary:
We released one software package and published two articles in this fiscal year. The software package is named as the name of our project: iPat (integrated Prediction and Association Tool). This is a user-friendly software for breeders and genetic researchers to map genes and conduct molecular breeding. Its manuscript has been published recently by bioinformatics leading journal, Bioinformatics. iPat has two major features. One is the graphic user interface. Breeders can simply use any computer pointing device to drag their datasets into the interface and then click on the graphical icons for analyses. With data analyzed by this software, we published an article on Plant Genome. The other feature is it is upgraded easily for internal engines. Currently, iPat’s internal engines include GAPIT, FarmCPU, and BLINK. FarmCPU is ten times faster than GAPIT and BLINK is ten times faster than FarmCPU. We applied a data size restriction to the public version of BLINK but gave WSU/USDA-ARS breeders the advantage of assembling any size dataset from all available genotypic and phenotypic data. Our manuscript describing BLINK is currently under review for publication. We also published an article on Wheat Life entitled “Genomics tools turbocharge classical breeding”.

Full Report

2017-2018 WSU Wheat & Barley Research Progress Reports (pdf)


2016-2017 Research Progress Reports

Plant Protection

Variety Selection & Testing

Full Report


2015-2016 Research Progress Report


2014-2015 Research Progress Report

Washington State University