Darrell M. Wesenberg
Distinguished Service to Oat Improvement Award
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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