Darrell M. Wesenberg
Distinguished Service to Oat Improvement
Dr. Darrell M. Wesenberg has been responsible
for the Agricultural Research Service oat germplasm enhancement, germplasm
evaluation, and genetic research at Aberdeen, Idaho since 1968. In his
roles as a researcher, plant breeder, research leader, and coordinator,
he has been a key player in the oat improvement effort over the last 30
years and continues to fill this role. He is a member of the Oat Crop Germplasm
Committee, having served as chair for several years. He was a member of
the committee that wrote the revised Strategic Plan for U.S. Oat Research
in 1992. In this role, he was involved in the development of national proposals
for oat germplasm evaluation that involved expanded evaluation efforts
at Aberdeen. He coordinates an ARS national germplasm evaluation program
that is focussed on the National Small Grains Collection and other elite
germplasm. Oat germplasm is evaluated for crown rust and smut reaction,
BYDV, and b-glucan, protein, and oil contents. Both the diversity of germplasm
and volume of materials handled in the oat enhancement program at Aberdeen
have been significantly expanded by Dr. Wesenberg. He has released four
oat cultivars, some of which have achieved prominent acreages, and has
submitted four others for formal approval. Among these are two hulless
cultivars, which are receiving increased grower and industry interest.
Germplasm originating from the Aberdeen program has been widely utilized
in breeding programs in the western and midwestern U.S. and Canada. He
also coordinates the ARS national germplasm enhancement program that involves
ARS and state oat researchers in 11 states. This program is focussed on
five critical oat needs: nutritional quality, barley yellow dwarf virus
tolerance, rust resistance, lodging resistance, and grain yield.
Darrell organized and hosted a very successful
American Oat Workers Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1990. He is
the author of numerous journal articles, conference proceedings, invited
presentations, technical bulletins, research reports, and abstracts reporting
small grains research. He has been a frequent contributor at national and
international oat meetings. He coordinates the regional Uniform Northwestern
States Oat Nursery, and participates in the Uniform Midseason and Early
Oat Performance Nurseries, which provides useful data on elite entries.
He supervised the design and construction of the ARS Small Grains Germplasm
Research Facility in Aberdeen and the transfer of the small grains collections
from Ft. Collins, Colorado to Aberdeen. Since 1986, he has been Research
Leader of the Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit at the Aberdeen
location, providing leadership to several scientists and technicians who
conduct research on small grains and potatoes.
Dr. Wesenberg was born in Madison, Wisconsin.
He received all of his degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
including his Ph.D. in Agronomy in 1968 under the supervision of Dr. H.L.
Shands. He accepted a position as Research Agronomist with the ARS in Aberdeen,
Idaho where he has served until the present. In addition to his oat research
and breeding activities, he has major responsibilities for, and has made
major contributions to barley improvement.
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