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Breeding a new market

Researchers and wheat breeders at the University of Nebraska have teamed up with the Nebraska Wheat Board to develop the state's first hard white wheat, named Nuplains.

According to Steve Baenziger, wheat breeder and professor of agronomy at the university, the market potential for the new wheat is huge. Australia is the prime provider of white wheat for Southeast Asia and most of the Middle East. The two large areas of land import 400 mil. bu. of the wheat, mainly from the land down under. White wheat is used for foods such as pita breads and Asian noodles (and also tortillas).

"With the addition of this variety, Nebraska will be able to ship mixed cargoes of hard red winter and spring wheat, soft red or white wheat and hard white winter wheat," Baenziger says. "We'll be able to provide 'one stop shopping.'"

Nuplains is a cross between Abilene, a hard red winter wheat, and an experimental hard wheat from Kansas. The variety has the potential to grow especially well in the Panhandle. The area's dry climate prevents seed sprouting -- which can devalue the wheat -- if harvest is late.

The product will be available for spring planting. A completely different crop, such as alfalfa, must be planted where the first crop of white wheat will be grown to eliminate any possibility of volunteer red wheat mixing with the white wheat. Contact Institute of Ag and Natural Resources, University of NE-Lincoln, Dept. FIN, Box 830918, Lincoln, NE 68583, 402/472-3030.

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