Netional Wheat Improvement Committee Meeting - Minutes


8-9 February, 2000.
Las Vegas, NV, USA.


Committee Members:
Committee members: R.G. Sears, Chair; S. Leath, Secretary, Greg Marshall; Bob Zemetra; Tim Murray; Scott Haley; Bob Graybosch; P. Stephen Baenziger; Yue Jin; Jackie Rudd; John Moffat; Ben Handcock; Harold Bockelman; Elias Elias; Bob Busch; and Jim Peterson.

Non-Committee Members: Dave Van Sanford, Mike Davis, Rick Ward, Don Koeltzou, Joe Smith, Benjamin Moreno-Sevilla, Steven Scherer, Rob Bruns, Jochum Wiersma, and Dave Marshall.


Chairman Sears called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m. and introduced members and guests.

The agenda was reviewed and briefly discussed. Minutes were not read but approved as published in the 1999 Annual Wheat Newsletter, Volume 45. Due to Leath's travel schedule, Bob Busch agreed to take notes on the second day of the meeting.


NAWG GMO definition.

Chairman Sears volunteered the NWIC to act as a sounding board for NAWG as it attempts to develop a definition of 'genetically modified'. Darrell Hanavan, executive director of the Colorado Wheat Association as well as four other groups or committees, presented an update on the work from those groups. He read a preliminary dratt of their definition and asked for comments. A long discussion on the merits of the definition as proposed and the merits of even having a definition followed. The NWIC had no major problems with the draft, but some suggestions were made.


Federal budget.

Steve Leath gave an overview of the president's proposed budget with regard to cereal grain research and provided details on programs that would be inpacted. After discussion by the committee, it was decided that further debate would be needed when the legislative agenda was addressed.

Annual Wheat Newsletter.

J. Raupp was not present but submitted a report. A total of 210 CD's were produced at a cost of $1.00 each and an associated cost of $0.40 for shipping in the U.S. In addition, 125 hard copies were printed. The amount of effort involved in preparing the Newsletter was discussed, and a motion was made by Busch for the committee to show its support. The motion instructed the committee to send a letter to Raupp thanking him for his efforts with copies to be sent to Gill and the department head and dean at KSU.

Regional reports.

Eastern soft wheat region (Gregg Marshall).
No changes were reported, except that acreage is down. Pioneer merged with Dupont, and the Ohio State wheat breeding position is still open. Carl Griffey indicated that Kolmer's position at North Carolina State is for disease resistance (mildew and rust resistance), but it was put on a list for no funding. Griffey felt that the soft wheat area may need more characterization for end-use versus agronomic performance, i.e., some varieties may be better for cookies, others for crackers.

Spring wheat region (Jackie Rudd). The potential for epidemics of scab remain the main concern in this region. SDSU still has a position open for a HRWW breeder. E. Elias reported for NDSU that William Berzonsky took HWSW breeding position, in Cereal Science Frank Massey filled the HRSW quality position, and the USDA-ARS durum genetics position has been filled by Justin Farris. Norman Williams, USDA-ARS wheat rust geneticist retired in June, 1999, and the position is not expected to be refilled. R. Busch, Minnesota, reported that there were two positions open in the Deptartment of Plant Pathology, one for a small grains disease extension specialist at Crookston, MN and the L-O Chair for Small Grains Disease Resistance, St. Paul. The USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab has a open positions in small grains diseases and for a research geneticist in wheat to replace Busch.

Western region (Tim Murray ). Kim Campbell took the USDA-ARS club wheat breeding position at Washington and Rollie Line, USDA-ARS plant pathologist retired; the position of J. Cook possibly may be refilled. The condition of the wheat crop looks poor but appears to be improving.

J. Peterson indicated that Dave Shelton, wheat quality, has left Nebraska and is at the Wheat Marketing Center, Portland, OR. Oregon State may have three positions in small grains that will be funded from research initiatives.

Winter wheat region (S. Baenziger). Rollie Sears and Dave Worrall have left their university wheat breeding positions and joined AgriPro. Kansas has hired Alan Fritz as the new wheat breeder. The wheat breeding position at Texas A&M is unfilled. Many changes at HybriTech have occurred since research on hybrid wheat was discontinued for work on HRWW and western soft whites.


Wheat quality issues.

Rob Bruns has represented the NWIC at workshops on grain quality for about 10 years to maintain a wheat voice in quality issues. For example, with NWIC input last year, white color standards for wheat were established. However, an objective test for color is still necessary because of problems with accurately identifying white wheat. Rob Bruns is interested is working with another person to introduce them into the working group as a possible replacement.

Donald Koeltzow, director of the USDA-ARS Grain Marketing and Production Research Center, Manhattan, KS, announced that the next International Wheat Quality Conference would by held in 2001 at Manhattan, KS. Suggestions for topics were requested. Funding for the four USDA-ARS wheat quality laboratories is being sought. A handout detailing suggested needs for each of the four laboratories was distributed, which suggested several additional areas of research.

TPS system.

H.B. Collins from Delta and Land Pine Co. presented the case for the TPS (nicknamed the 'terminator' system). This complex system of multiple components allows for seed increase, but when sprayed with a'trigger', prevents seed germination. The system has provoked considerable response in the popular press as applied to self-pollinated species. Development would provide control over seed production that would require the purchase of new seed each year. The advantages (lack of volunteers, profit to companies) and disadvantages (complex, reliability, public perception) of this system were discussed. The technology has not yet been transferred into higher plants (tobacco used as model, started in cotton) and is still years away from commercial application.


Germ plasm exchange issues.

Stephen Baenziger reported that the Wheat Workers Code of Ethics is used for most seed exchange in wheat, but it mainly refers to unreleased germ plasm. A Code of Ethics subcommittee consisting of Robert Graybosh (chair), Dave Van Sanford, and John Moffett are charged with reviewing and modifying the code to include released germ plasm and review and make suggestions on how to protect specialty traits in wheat lines that are entered in the Uniform Regional Nurseries. The NWIC would prefer to protect the trait but allow crossing with the germ plasm, excluding the trait. Crop improvement preparedness for handling new types of germ plasm was tabled. The Southwestern Consortium for Wheat Improvement was briefly described and involves three states, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Wheat Crop Germplasm Committee. For the first time, the Crop Germplasm Committee did not meet concurrently with the NWIC. The wheat Crop Germplasm Committee was initiated originallyas a subcommittee of the NWIC. Many members of the NWIC have attended the CGC meeting held the previous evening, and some members of the CGC have attended the NWIC meetings the following day. Reports of the CGC activities have been reported in the minutes of the NWIC meetings. Now, the wheat CGC will meet in March rather than with the NWIC. The NWIC members encourage the CGC to again meet with the NWIC. A motion (S. Baenziger) was made to encourage the CGC to meet with the NWIC, seconded (D. Marshall), and passed unanimously.

Viability of accession from the Small Grains Collection. Harold Bockelman would like to know when a problem exists with seed germination. If problems are encountered, contact Harold immediately. Bockelman also was asked to find out the current status of small grain collections in Russia. The Vavilov collection is of most concern and if contributions for the maintenance of the collection from the U.S. are possible.


Wheat scab issues.

Rick Ward and Mike Davis were present to describe how funding was obtained on a national basis for the United States Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative. Collaboration of industry, the Miller's Federation, and the American Malting Barley Association provided end-user input into the lobbying effort. The Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council, in conjunction with North Dakota and South Dakota, provided the main grower input into the funding effort. Documented losses and accountability have provided further success in obtaining funding, with the Initiative funding research in 20 states and providing some baseline funding for federal positions. Mike Davis, American Malting Barley Association, provided insight into the requirements necessary to have success in lobbying for funding research proposals. Information on the International Scab Meeting held in China and general areas funded by the U.S. Scab Initiative was distributed. CIMMYT participation in the scab effort and the proposed interaction with U.S. scientists involving nurseries and germ plasm also was discussed.


Regional marker laboratories.

Robert Zemetra suggested establishing a regional ARS laboratory for regional molecular-genotyping to facilitate small grain cereals improvement as the most cost effective application of biotechnology. Included in this description was the need for more space at the USDA-ARS National Small Grains Germplasm Research Facility at Aberdeen, ID. Zemetra proposed that the first molecular genotyping laboratory be established there. Dave Van Sanford indicated that they had discussed this type of laboratory at the ASA national meetings, but did not think that Aberdeen was the ideal location. The laboratory was proposed as a place where breeders, both public and private, could send germ plasm for molecular-marker characterization and gene sequencing and to develop new markers for future marker-assisted selection. Rick Ward suggested that instead of developing a new building and equipment, the USDA-ARS unit at Kansas State (John Fellers and Gina Brown-Guedira) be used. They have a new ABI gene sequencer valued at ~$120,000 that was purchased with help of the Kansas Wheat Commission. Ward suggested providing $500,000 to the CRIS budgets of Fellers and Brown-Guedira for additional operating and personnel to initiate the service laboratory. If the USW&BSI gets the additional $800,000 that is being requested, certain breeding programs would collaborate with the proposed laboratory to attempt to use and integrate their programs and to help provide operation. Considerable discussion followed on the amount and direction of the KSU ARS group, since they are category I scientists and need category III scientists to run the service. They will need to integrate their program with small grains molecular marker breeding systems. Griffey moved and G. Marshall seconded a motion to plan to use the laboratory already in place as support for genotyping and attempt to add $500,000 to Fellers and Brown-Guedira's CRIS budgets. The motion passed with seven votes for and five opposed.

In addition, the subcommittee will help develop plans for a molecular marker service in conjunction with the ARS unit at KSU, and if money is obtained, provide oversight and informal evaluation.


Accomplishment report.

R. Busch was asked to supply a list of the top 10 accomplishments in wheat breeding in the last 40 years. A list containing his and other contributor's suggestions was distributed for further comment and suggeshons. After these suggestions were incorporated into the list, it was distributed back to the NWIC. The following list resulted.

   Ten Accomplishments in Wheat Breeding
 1.  Incorporation of semi-dwarfing genes into adapted and high-yielding wheat to allow increased management for greater yield.
 2.  Incorporation of day-length insensitivity response to allow a wider adaptation of wheat into growing conditions with much different day lengths.
 3.  The green revolution (CIMMYT). Modification of plant type by points one and two increase fertilizer efficiency, especially use of nitrogen.
 4.  Development and integration of genes from related species or chromosome fragments into wheat for disease resistance and better adaptation. Some examples include the incorporation of chromosome 1 from rye into wheat; transfer of a gene for eyespot resistance from Ae. ventricosa using marker-assisted selection; transfer of genes for leaf rust resistance from Ae. tauschii, Ae. speltoides, Ae. ventricosa, and A. intermedium; and the transfer of genes for stem rust resistance from T. turgidum.
 5.  Emergence of possible new wheat market classes and hard white wheat.
 6.  Improved yield and identification of the biochemical basis for wheat quality and the use of this knowledge to improve end-use quality with improved yield.
 7.  Identification of biochemical and physiological basis of some stress-tolerance factors, e.g., drought.
 8.  Improved crop mechanization and computers allow increases in amount of germ plasm evaluated and increase the probability of selecting better varieties.
 9.  Identification of resistance to insect problems and rapid incorporation of this resistance. Some examples include the Russian wheat aphid and the gene-for-gene resistance in Hessian fly.
 10.  International nurseries and improved travel and communications promote the rapid exchange of germ plasm. However, legal restrictions and government quarantines are reducing this activity.


USDA Wheat Quality Laboratory funding.

Federal wheat quality labs are important for national and international wheat trade and to develop appropriate varieties for the trade. The NWIC suggests that a subcommittee help revise the proposal and partner with the laboratories to develop an instrument that communicates the issues to stakeholder in a clear manner. A motion (S. Haley) was seconded (S. Baenziger) and passed. Subcommittee members included Chair S. Haley (winter wheat), C. Griffey (east), E. Elias (spring wheat), and J. Peterson (west).


CSREES grants program.

S. Baenziger was to provide information about the new competitive grants program. Letters were to be sent to S. Gonzales, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, and to leaders of the house and senate Agricultural Committees of Grant Funds to obtain information. A description of the new grants as sent by S. Baenziger follows:

NWIC support for the CSREES Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) Program. The Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems is a new competitive grants program, which has the following priority areas: agricultural genomics; agricultural biotechnology; food safety, food technologies, and human nutrition; new uses for agricultural products; natural resource management, including precision agriculture; and farm efficiency and profitability.

About $113 million USD is available for grants through this initiative in 2000. The initiative will give priority to proposals that successfully integrate research, extension, and education and/or address the concerns of small and mid-sized producers and land managers (especially in natural resource management and farm efficiency and profitability). The goal of IFAFS is to award large grants to multi-state, multi-institutional, and multi-disciplinary projects, and preference will be given to these projects.

Justification. Agricultural research is underfunded and much of its resources are tied to specific missions or projects. To complement the needed project orientation of agricultural research, additional, new, competitive grant funds are needed such as are being proposed in IFAFS. Especially critical is the funding of multistate projects and recognizing the importance of wheat and other small grains in small and mid-sized farm profitability.

A more complete description of this new program is available at:


Objective discrimination of hard white wheat.

A letter to be sent to Dave Shipman and Irv Williams, GIPSA, and to the Grain Quality Workshop urges adoption of an object method of determining white wheat. A motion was made (J. Moffett) and seconded (S. Baezinger).

The NWIC consistently has supported the implementation of a color standard for hard white wheat. Maintaining the integrity and value of both red and white classes is important.

Our committee feels that the current color standard is an appropriate interim approach to correctly classify white wheat. In the longer term, it is crucially important that objective systems be identified and implemented as soon as practical.

A number of objective-based options need to be exploited that could lead to a test that is fast, reliable, and inexpensive. We should not lose focus on this issue.



The committe approved that a letter be sent to Rob Bruns, thanking him for serving as our representative to the Grain Quality Workshop and his continued representation. Rob has an interest in involving other people, but will continue as the representative. Anyone else that is interested, shold give their name to Rollie. A second letter will go to Rollie Line and Robert Busch thanking them for their service to the NWIC.


Legislative agenda items.

1. Funding for four ARS Wheat Quality Labs (see committee report that was chaired by Scott Haley).
2. Funding for the Small Grains Collection Addition-$3 million.
3. Funding for a Molecular Genotyping Laboratory, $500,000 for ARS at KSU.
4. A funding addition for the Northern Crop Science Lab (NCSL) at Fargo; $600,000-750,000 for two new positions and remainder for .

A motion made (E. Elias) to support these items was seconded (C. Griffey) and passed.



Rollie Sears announced that next year would be his last as chair of the NWIC. Nominations are needed to fill the this position.

The next meeting of the NWIC will be held in conjunction with the Wheat Industry Conference and Exposition, New Orleans, LA, at the Fairmont Hotel. Dates of the meetings are 29 January-3 February, 2001. Hopefully, the wheat CGC will join the NWIC.