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New MSU Spring Wheat Variety Has Montana Farmers Eagerly Awaiting Availability


December 6, 2017 | View PDF

A new MSU-developed hard red spring wheat has been named in honor of Susan Lanning, who worked for nearly 30 years as a research associate in MSU's spring wheat breeding program. (Contributed Photo)

A new Montana State University-developed spring wheat that's already attracting attention because of its potential for excellent yields and superior bread-making qualities is making its way through the pipeline toward Montana growers.

Lanning hard red spring wheat was increased from breeder seed to foundation seed this season and farmers are already requesting it, said Doug Holen, manager of the MSU Foundation Seed Program.

Holen explained that breeder seed is the initial source of the new variety grown by the plant breeder and deemed pure and true to the variety description, while foundation seed is derived from planting and harvesting breeder seed after it passes field inspection and seed purity certification.

Lanning has higher grain protein and stronger gluten than Vida, the most widely grown spring wheat in Montana from 2010 to 2015. It is a hollow-stemmed wheat and has a grain yield that's equivalent to Vida, according to the Journal of Plant Registrations.

MSU wheat breeder Luther Talbert said the new spring wheat combines the best traits of two varieties known as Glenn and MT0747. Glenn has "very, very high-end use quality. Flour made from Glenn makes really good bread," Talbert said. He added that the leaves of MT0747 stay green for an extended period after heading. That means that growth continues and yields increase.

"The big issue of growing spring wheat in Montana is it gets hot and dry," Talbert said. "For traditional varieties, that shuts down photosynthesis." Lanning's longer growing season can mean larger profits for growers.

The Montana Agricultural Experiment Station released Lanning in 2016, but it takes a year to increase the initial 18 bushels of breeder seed to foundation seed, after which it is then available to seed houses to produce registered and certified classes available to the general farming community. Holen said the goal of the MSU Foundation Seed Program is to keep seed genetically intact so that when farmers grow it, it exactly represents what the breeder intended it to be.

Developing new varieties builds upon decades of work and involves a large team of people. Talbert, who is "quite optimistic" about Lanning, said it was named after Susan Lanning, a longtime team member who retired after making significant contributions to wheat improvement at MSU. Lanning worked for 29 years as a research associate with the MSU spring wheat breeding program.

"I managed the breeding program for most years under Dr. Talbert," Lanning said. "Our primary goal was to develop and release improved spring wheat varieties to Montana wheat producers." Lanning also assisted in conducting genetic experiments designed for graduate student theses and scientific papers.

Lanning explained that the research work involved initiating breeding primarily in the greenhouse, then testing the progeny lines in the field. Early generations were tested at the MSU Post Agronomy Farm west of Bozeman. Selected and advanced lines were then also tested at the research centers across Montana. After 10 to 12 years, a promising line may then be released as a new variety. She said "thousands and thousands" of wheat lines are tested and only one or two promising lines make it to variety status every few years.

Lanning said she is "very honored and grateful" to have a wheat named after her, adding that she could not have been successful in developing varieties without the assistance and cooperation of others including Talbert, fellow co-workers, MSU's Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, Montana Agricultural Research Center personnel, graduate and undergraduate students, the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, private breeding companies, regional cooperators and many others.

"So thanks to everyone I worked with during those years," Lanning said. "In return, I hope 'Lanning' wheat is highly productive for Montana's wheat growers."

The MSU Foundation Seed Program provides foundation seed to statewide producer partners, primarily from the university's spring and winter wheat and barley breeding programs in addition to oats, safflower, peas and lentils. An extension of MSU's breeding programs, the program strives to increase recommended varieties with the assurance of genetic purity and quality standards for Montana growers.

The latest data from around Montana regarding the performance of currently available varieties can be found at: http://plantsciences. Montana. edu/crops/2017springwheatperformanceevaluationupdated031517 .pdf.


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