Farmer-Led Development and Commercial Release of Improved Hard Red Spring Wheat Variety

2006 Annual Report for FNC05-591

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2005: $17,995.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:

Farmer-Led Development and Commercial Release of Improved Hard Red Spring Wheat Variety


Farmer members of the Farm Breeder Club (FBC) will run field-scale seed increases of a disease-tolerant, high-yielding hard red spring wheat, currently called KW 175, in preparation for its commercial release as a named variety for the 2007 growing season. They will continue to work with North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center to conduct on farm organic wheat variety trials of 12 available commercial varieties and compare them to the FBC’s KW 175, publishing the performance data upon its release.

Our work activities with this seed improvement project had three objectives that dealt with the seed: to increase seed at field scale (2 farms), select for further varietal improvement (1 farm), and to compare KW 175 to 16 currently planted varieties of hard red spring wheat (3 farms). Other work activities included outreach in the areas of field tours and performance data dissemination.

Seed increase:
Blaine Schmaltz: 45 acres were sown to KW 175 at Rugby, ND. 1190 net bushels per acre were harvested and are cleaned and ready to be distributed to farmers for the 2007 growing season.

Ann Ongstad: 23 acres were sown to KW 175 at Robinson, ND. 440 net bushels per acre were harvested and are cleaned and ready to be distributed to farmers for the 2007 growing season.

Lewis Seibold: 0.1 acre was sown to KW 175 to make further selections for scab tolerance from this variety. Due to the extreme drought that his farm experienced, it made it difficult to select improved plants to scab, as this disease thrives in wet environments.

Small plot variety trials:
KW 175 was planted in replicated trials and compared to 16 other commercially planted varieties of wheat. Data gathered from these trials include plant height, plant lodging, KWT, test weight, seed protein, and seed yield.

1. We increased 1630 clean bushels of breeder seed on two of the farms involved in this project. Blaine increased 1190 bushels on 45 acres for a field scale yield of 26.5 net bushels per acre. Ann grew 440 bushels on 23 acres for a 19.1 net bushels per acre yield.
2. We cooperated with the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Carrington Research Extension center to conduct variety trials on all three of the organic producer’s farms. KW 175 was compared to 16 currently planted commercial varieties. Data from trials was then published in Research Center’s Annual Report, Web page, and in statewide Extension publications.
3. We conducted on-farm plot tours on all three organic farms exposing Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS) members and other farmers to KW 175 in the field. The Farm Breeders Club (FBC) also visited all field and research sites to further their knowledge about KW 175 planted on each of their farms.
4. KW 175 was entered at numerous (conventional environments) University variety trials sites across the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
5. We named and released KW 175 as a variety of hard red spring wheat. FBC Dylan was chosen as the name by the Farmer Breeder Club. The variety will be registered in the public domain with the hopes that other wheat breeders will find it useful in their programs.
6. We decided that a 10% royalty will be collected on seed sales by the FBC. Money collected from royalties will be used to fund future seed development projects by the FBC. The club is working on procedures and policy for selling and growing the remaining seed to be planted in 2007.
7. The club elected a treasurer and secretary this fall as it seemed imperative to have these positions when we start to deal with funds that will be collected from this release.

The main thing that we have learned so far is the experience of developing and increasing a small amount of an experimental variety of wheat and getting it to the level that farmers can plant it on a field scale. We have learned about releasing and naming a variety. We are also in the early stages of learning about seed distribution and future plans of maintaining pure seed of this variety. This will be an ongoing learning process as this group of farmers continues to work in the area of variety development.

Another important thing that we learned is the farmer acceptance level of this variety. A comment from Blaine is the fact that this variety looked as good as any other commercial variety that he was currently planting on his farm. A visiting seed company representative on Blaine’s farm this summer made similar comments. For this variety to look and respond on a field scale similar to private and public breeding programs varieties we feel is quite an accomplishment. Ann has reported similar results from her farm this past season. FBC Dylan in the field yielded close to double that of a public variety which was planted next to FBC Dylan.

We have also learned from the on-farm small testing that FBC Dylan performs equal to or better than the 16 varieties that were compared. Another important aspect learned from the trials is the yield level of varieties that are currently being planted by the organic farmers. Data gathered illustrate that one of the main wheat varieties planted by organic farmers in North Dakota has a yield level that is 67% that of FBC Dylan.

University tests in North Dakota illustrate that FBC Dylan did well in the dryer western sites when compared to other varieties tested. This is important since the variety was selected from a wet environment that was scab infested. This data backs our belief that this variety has adaptation across many environments.

Plan of work for next year will include small plot testing on all three of the organic farms. We will continue to increase seed and make the variety available to farmers. Plans are to plant 1500 bushels of FBC Dylan in 2007 to be harvested for seed to be planted in 2008. We will keep 150 bushels in reserve should any unforeseen disaster occur. We will also continue to observe the variety and make further plant selections if desirable plant types can be identified. Field and plot tours will also be in the plan of work for next year. As more seed becomes available we plan to expose more farmers to the possibility of growing this variety on their farm. We will accomplish this through published data and also using booths at organic conferences for exposure not only to the variety but to the concepts the FBC has in terms of variety development.

Field tours were held at each of the three farms throughout the summer to better gain membership exposure to KW 175. Lewis’s farm hosted a plot tour in conjunction with NPSAS’s annual summer symposium. The number in attendance was slightly over 50 people. Plot tours were held at Blaine’s and Ann’s farm also. The number of people attending these tours were less at both locations (approximately 10), although the low numbers led to exchange of good agronomic information by participants. Outreach was also accomplished through data dissemination by means of annual reports, web sites, Extension publications and oral communication.

Information was also shared by press releases (both print and oral). At the [NPSAS] organization’s upcoming winter conference, data and information will be presented about the project. The conference has over 400 people attend.

The three field tours we had exposed approximately 70 farmers and industry personal to the variety in the field. We will share information in much the same manner next year. We will conduct field tours at all of the sites, assist in data published, and make an effort to include as many farmers as possible in the project as seed becomes available for them to plant.

A big THANK YOU to SARE for funding this project to help make it a reality!


Anne Ongstad Whitman

Lewis Seibold