Weather Was A Killer For Wheat Researchers in '15

by Don Molino
for the Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board

LSU AgCenter wheat and oat breeder Dr. Steve Harrison says researchers have to be very patient with their work.

"There are a lot of Christmas presents that come without batteries or require assembly," is one way Harrison explains it.

"We throw away a lot more than we keep every year. We throw about 50,000 individual wheat head rows and that's a four foot row planted from one wheat head, harvested with a pocket knife and threshed one at a time, all genetically different. And we throw away about 19 out of 20 of those and advance about 1 in 20," points out Harrison.

"But," says the wheat and oat breeder, "it's a fun job, it really is. It's challenging."

For example, says Harrison, "The last two years have just been killers weather-wise. We lost a lot of breeding material in Baton Rouge when the (Mississippi) river level rose with a big weather surge in early December (2015) and it covered seeds we had just planted. About 20,000 wheat head rows were rotted."

"So it can be a real frustrating job but it's also rewarding and a lot of fun," concluded Harrision.


(This report a service of the Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board)