Saturday, February 21, 2009

University of Idaho Briefs

Growers Benefit from Improved Varieties of Potatoes, Wheat, and Beans

Moscow--WITH CONSUMER TASTES continually changing, with growers and processors squeezing every conceivable cent from input costs, and with pests evolving into ever-more-aggressive forms, plant breeding dare not stand still. At CALS, it doesn’t.

CALS breeders have released six new varieties of potatoes, wheat, and beans since fall 2008. They include:

Classic Russet: a high-yielding, early-maturing russet potato with attractive tubers and outstanding culinary qualities that could replace the Russet Norkotah
Alpine Russet: a late-season russet potato that can be successfully processed out of long-term storage, like Russet Burbank, but that exceeds it in yields and fry quality
Clearwater Russet: a late-maturing russet potato with a high percentage of U.S. No. 1s, resistance to low-temperature sweetening, and exceptional processing quality

UICF-Lambert: a soft white winter wheat that performs much like Lambert—a UI variety released in the 1990s—and that offers the highest level of tolerance to imazamox currently available to wheat producers

VCW 54 and VCW 55: two dry beans derived from the scarlet runner bean that CALS breeder Shree Singh intends for worldwide use in transferring white mold resistance to different market classes.

CALS agronomist Jeff Stark, who coordinates the Tri-State Potato Variety Program, calls the trio of new russets “definite improvements over what’s available.” All are joint releases with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Oregon State University, and Washington State University. New Aberdeen-based wheat breeder Jianli Chen is focusing on heat-, drought-, and pest-resistant varieties as well as on varieties that tolerate herbicides and that meet the distinct demands of domestic, Asian, and biofuel markets.

Topnotch varieties are essential to the profitability and sustainability of Idaho grain growers, Chen says. Wheat varieties on the docket for release later this year: two full-waxy wheats with potential for licensing as biofuel and blending wheats, a partial-waxy soft white spring wheat targeted to the Asian noodle market, three more imazamox-resistant varieties, and a soft white winter wheat with superior yield potential and end-use quality that veteran UI wheat breeder Bob Zemetra expects will excel in both domestic and foreign markets.

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