Texas Wheat Board funds record-setting research budget
The Texas Wheat Producers Board recently approved a record-setting budget for research, providing more than $333,000 in funding for Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service projects.
Funding research projects through AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension allows for the development of disease- and insect-resistant wheat varieties that are higher yielding to ensure producer profitability into the future, according to producer-members of the board.
"We really appreciate how the Texas Wheat Producers Board interacts with the scientists," said Dr. Jackie Rudd, AgriLife Research wheat breeder in Amarillo. "Not only do they provide funding, but they give direction and clarity to our research. The wheat-improvement science that we do is not some academic exercise, but has relevance in wheat production fields."
Dr. John Sweeten, AgriLife Research director in Amarillo, said the statewide small-grains research and Extension program involves academia working closely with industry under a strategic plan guided by the Small Grains Advisory Committee.
"This is an excellent model that is available to emulate with other crops," Sweeten said. "The carefully coordinated approach has fostered reinvestments in research and Extension capacity in terms of personnel and equipment. This involves leveraging state-appropriated dollars with industry, including the Texas Wheat Producers Board grants and royalties from certified seed sales involving Texas Foundation Seed Service at Vernon."
Ben Scholz, of Wylie, who serves as the chair of the wheat board's research appropriations committee, said he knows the investment in research promotion is essential to the success of wheat producers such as himself.
"As producers, we don't have all the answers," Scholz said. "We know a lot about crop production, but there is a lot left to be discovered concerning genetics, disease and insect resistance, and drought tolerance."
Despite current economic hardships, he said, funding research projects provides a needed economic benefit to producers.
"The board feels that current research is essential for producers to remain competitive in an ever-changing global market," Scholz said.
And research funded here is not just important to Texas producers, he said.
"Research benefits the whole world by ensuring an adequate supply of food and fiber," Scholz said.
Some projects funded this year include:
--Winter wheat breeding in the High Plains and Rolling Plains.
--Wheat breeding for hard winter wheat for South Texas and the Blacklands.
--Analyzing critical inputs to the profitability of soft red winter wheat in Northeast Texas.
--Investigating viruses vectored by the wheat curl mite.
--Marker-assisted selection and development of high-value end-use quality wheat cultivars and insect- and pathogen-resistance.
--Determining milling and baking quality for wheat varietal selections.
--Evaluating Texas wheat for tortilla production.
--Evaluating alternative management practices including no-till.
--Off-station wheat variety trials in multiple locations across the state.
"Without this vital research," said David Cleavinger of Wildorado, also a wheat board member, "diseases, viruses and pests will plague us with production shortfalls and strain our wheat producers with increased costs per bushel."
Funds for research projects are provided by the wheat check-off program, as established by the Commodity Referendum Law. The Texas Wheat Producers Board is charged with funding research, education and market development from producer check-off funds.