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Royalty checks underscore importance of OSU wheat breeding program

Wheat is a major driver of the Oklahoma economy. Genetically improved cultivars are crucial to this important agricultural sector. Producers must have access to high-yielding varieties that have needed characteristics such as drought tolerance and disease resistance.

Oklahoma agriculture competes in a marketplace that is not just national but global in nature, making continued improvements to the state’s approximately $1 billion annual wheat crop a matter of importance for urban and rural residents alike.

“Wheat is a major driver of the Oklahoma economy; new, genetically improved cultivars bred by the Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ Wheat Improvement Team are a major lifeblood of this critically important agricultural sector,” said Mike Woods, DASNR interim vice president, dean and director.

Wheat royalty checks from the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics Inc. in the amounts of $771,098.27 and $401,277.17, respectively, were recently presented to the division. The money will be plowed back into OSU wheat breeding programs, as per the licensing agreements, thereby helping to foster future advances in wheat cultivars made available to producers.

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“If you look at the research going on with regards to wheat breeding and genetics, end-use quality, production techniques, nutrition education of consumers and the utilization of wheat flours, it becomes readily evident why this research continues to be of the upmost importance,” said Mike Schulte, OWC executive director.

Schulte added the OWC royalty check is indicative of the value and commitment Oklahoma wheat producers place on the OSU Wheat Breeding Team’s accomplishments.

“You would be hard pressed to find the amount of scientific exploration relative to research in wheat variety development at other universities throughout the United States as is being done by OSU wheat breeders,” he said. “Oklahoma wheat producers should be and are extremely proud to be associated with such a program.”

Schulte expressed his thanks to OSU’s Wheat Improvement Team on behalf of OWC and state wheat producers during the royalty check presentation, a sentiment echoed by Mark Hodges, OGI executive director.

“Royalty checks generated from seed sales of OSU-developed varieties are an investment in the future,” Hodges said. “This investment helps ensure those who produce wheat in Oklahoma and surrounding regions not only remain competitive in a global market, but at the lowest cost possible. Producers must have access to high-yielding varieties that have needed characteristics such as drought tolerance and disease resistance, which are extremely important considerations when it comes to managing input costs.”

Hodges points out 27 percent of producers who use OSU genetics in their wheat crop – and thereby are part of the annual royalty generated back into the university’s continual wheat variety improvement efforts – do not reside in Oklahoma.

“This is a testament to the broad adaptation of the breeding program undertaken by DASNR scientists, and underscores the commitment of OSU to return the maximum amount possible to everyone who depends on the productivity and potential profitability of Oklahoma wheat,” he said.

Wheat improvement research in Oklahoma is driven by an interdisciplinary team of DASNR scientists charged with developing highly adapted wheat cultivars with marketable grain quality.

Program support is administered by the division’s statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system, OWC and the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation. OGI is a nonprofit 501c corporation that has a licensing agreement to market a number of OSU-developed wheat varieties.


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