News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“The abrupt termination of the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is a matter of grave concern. Global food security should not become a casualty of war. People in poor countries struggling with food and energy price inflation stand to be hit hardest by the termination of the initiative: Prices for future delivery of wheat and corn are already rising. Therefore, I urge all parties to make every effort to come back to the negotiating table.” — World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, from an Inside U.S. Trade article. Read more here.

Political cartoon by Michael de Adder, The Washington Post, of Russian President Putin holding a bag labelled "Grain" hostage with a gun.

Copyright Michael de Adder, The Washington Post

Club Wheat Outlook

Matthew Weaver with Capital Press interviewed Washington Grain Commission Executive Director Casey Chumrau about the 2023 club wheat crop and the outlook for 2014. The region’s wheat industry anticipates lower yields overall this year compared to last. Outlook for club production is unclear at this point, Chumrau said. “A lot of the planted area for club is in regions in Washington where it still is looking promising for production,” she said. “The club acres seem to be in some of those areas with better prospects.” Read more here.

Prepare for Global Drought

In a article, World Weather, Inc., agricultural meteorologist Drew Lerner writes about the risk of future global drought and the need to prepare for a serious food shortage. “A series of serious droughts occurred in 2007-08 that resulted in reduced food supply in portions of North America, eastern Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and parts of South America,” he wrote. “Most of the droughts at that time did not impact each of the listed regions of the world at the same time, but enough production cut occurred to lead to the first modern day grain and oilseed supply shortage. The world muddled its way through that event mostly unscathed, but what about the future? Will we be lucky enough to get along with limited food stocks?” Read more here.

South Dakota State University wheat breeder Dunish Sehgal in a wheat field.

Dr. Sunish Sehgal. Photo copyright South Dakota State University.

Honored Wheat Breeder

Sunish Sehgal, associate professor and South Dakota State University (SDSU) winter wheat breeder, was honored by the Wheat Quality Council with the 2023 Millers Choice Best of Show Award for the second consecutive year. The honor annually recognizes the wheat breeder of the variety that is most well-liked by U.S. millers participating in the WQC’s evaluation program. The main goal of the SDSU hard winter wheat breeding group is to develop high-yielding wheat varieties with resilience to biotic and abiotic stress and provide end-use quality for the milling and baking industry. “At SDSU, we lay as much emphasis on wheat quality as on yield,” Sehgal said. Read the full story here.

Grain Sciences Event Calendar

Dr. M. Hikmet Boyacioglu, Applications Development Specialist with KPM, shares a monthly “Cereal & Grain Sciences Events Calendar. The August calendar is now online. See it and upcoming monthly calendars at

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USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

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News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

“The big news in wheat was the hard red winter number — shock-and-awe for USDA to increase it that much. The average trade guess was 532 million bushels, so the number was way above what anybody anticipated. We had a broad-based increase in yields, including Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Big increases in Colorado and Nebraska with the rainfall. Montana yield up 5 bushels an acre, although that’s not yet certain, and then a little bit of an offset in South Dakota.” — Bill Lapp, founder and president of Advanced Economic Solutions in Omaha, Nebraska, as quoted in the World-Grain article “U.S. Winter Wheat Forecast Surprises Analysts.”  Read the full story here.

Russia Suggests Revival of Black Sea Grain Deal Dependent on ‘Improved Exports’

As Reuters and several other news organizations reported, a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine’s grain expired on July 17 after Russia quit and warned it could not guarantee the safety of ships. Russian officials suggested that if demands to improve exports of its own grain and fertilizer were met it would consider resurrecting the Black Sea agreement. However, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that a U.N. pact that aimed to help facilitate Russia’s shipments over the past year was also terminated. Read the full story here.

Climate and Violence Hobble Nigeria’s Push to Rely on its Own Wheat

The Associated Press published a story July 19 from Abuja, Nigeria revisiting the fact that Nigeria is trying to become self-sufficient. The government has launched programs to provide loans to farmers and boost domestic grain production. But extreme weather and violence from both gangs and farmers and cattle herders clashing over resources have hindered those efforts. It’s left Nigeria unable to produce enough wheat to bridge a gap in supply of more than 5 million metric tons. Read the full story here.

Nestle Investing in Wheat Supply Chain

In a July 19 article, reported that Nestle USA, Inc. is investing in regenerative agriculture practices across its DiGiorno pizza brand supply chain in an effort to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint.  The company’s investment will impact more than 100,000 acres of wheat-producing farmland. Nestle has partnerships with ADM and Ardent Mills, the two primary wheat flour suppliers for DiGiorno products, to support wheat farms in Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and Indiana.  Read the full story here.

Peters: Educational Efforts Build Relationships

In a July 17 interview with farm broadcaster Lorrie Boyer, U.S. Wheat Associates Board Chairman Michael Peters discussed U.S. Wheat’s upcoming work building export markets for wheat. He pointed out that, not surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges has been Russia. “Russia has still been shipping out a lot of wheat over this past year when they’ve shipped it out at a lot cheaper price than what we’re able to grow and produce it here in the U.S. So that has created some issues for us, with our overseas customers.” Listen to the Ag Information Network Report here.

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USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

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Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.


News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

The international [grain] price in Ukraine will be on the level of the cost of production. Harvested grains and oilseeds will be level of 62 million (tonnes), exports about 40 million. We have only three seaports operating at capacity and [under the ‘fragile agreement’ to ship grains and other commodities via the Black Sea] Russia uses every possibility… to complicate these exports. [Ukraine’s] intention is to ensure freedom of navigation to and from Ukrainian seaports.” — Taras Kachka, deputy minister for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine, Trade Representative of Ukraine, from an article about the 2023 International Grains Council Conference by Chris Lyddon, World Read more here.

Russian Government Seeks Wheat Export Control

Bloomberg included an article June 29 suggesting “The Kremlin” is looking to exert greater control of Russian wheat production and trade. Reporter Aine Quinn wrote: “Russia’s growing market power is part of a broader effort. International traders such as Cargill Inc., left after facing pressure to clear the way for domestic companies. The changes put more control in domestic hands and could potentially make it easier for local companies to ship grains grown in occupied Ukrainian territory — and for Moscow to influence prices.” The article also suggested more government control of wheat would help it keep “the Global South on their side.” Read the article here.

Challenge from China on Black Sea Deal?

Agri-Pulse trade reporter Bill Tomson reported this week that China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations has stated that the Black Sea Grain Initiative needs to be renewed this month. The article indicates that China is most concerned about supplies of corn to feed its massive swine herd according to Collin Watters, director of exports and logistics for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. Read more about the politics of war and grain here. Russian officials on July 5 said a final decision on whether to extend the grain deal has not been made.

National Wheat Foundation Tour for Government Staff

On June 27, 2023, the National Wheat Foundation and Maryland wheat grower Eric Spates, hosted a wheat farm tour for congressional staff and USDA employees. The attendees had the opportunity to explore the farm, witness the wheat harvesting process, and listen to speakers who specialize in the agriculture industry. The discussions centered around crucial topics such as risk management, conservation, pesticide programs, and environmental issues. Read more about the tour here.

Welcoming New NAWG Government Relations Representative

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) has hired Jack Long as the new Government Relations Representative. Long is a recent graduate from Oklahoma State University, where he received a Master’s in Agribusiness. Long is originally from Cole Camp, MO, and comes from a multigenerational farming operation. He has worked for Cornerstone Government Affairs and the Oklahoma State Senate, which provided him with a fundamental understanding of policy and current issues within the wheat industry. Read more here.

Communications Job in Montana

The state of Montana is accepting applications for the position of Marketing & Communications Director with the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee (MWBC), a state wheat commission member of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). This position is responsible for managing marketing and outreach activities, content development and communications efforts for the MWBC. Primary obligations include planning and implementation of domestic marketing and international trade efforts aimed at increasing purchases of Montana grown wheat and barley. Read more or to apply, visit Montana’s government website here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

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Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.


News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry

Speaking of Wheat

Without a trade agenda that also advances U.S. economic interests by addressing barriers to U.S. exports through free trade agreements, the United States will lose influence globally. Other countries welcome U.S. products and benefit from the two-way relationship that free trade agreements promote. The U.S. government’s trade policy should be comprehensive … strengthening our global economic presence through proactive policies that support our export competitive industries such as U.S. food and agriculture.” – Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, founder of AgTrade Strategies and former assistant USTR for agricultural affairs and commodity policy, in a story by Agri-Pulse Trade Reporter Bill Tomson.

President Peterson Looks at Wheat Export Opportunities

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson was in Montana this week for a meeting of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. He was interviewed by local media about the current challenges to U.S. wheat exports and future opportunities. “We’re trying to work in that environment where we’re facing a lot of competition globally,” Peterson said. “But at the same time, the carrot is out there … We’re going to have nearly 10 billion people by 2050, we’re going to consume a billion tons of wheat globally, and we’re going to have to trade 350 million tons of that globally.” Read more here.

Drought Expansion

University of Illinois FarmDoc says as of middle June, much of the U.S. corn production region is either dry or in drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, raising the prospects of a serious drought like that which occurred in 2012. Typically, prices continue to rise in drought years and, as an alternative to corn as a feed grain, winter wheat’s weather market appears to have momentum. European analyst Strategie Grains mentioned wheat production is confirmed at low levels in Spain and North Africa, and drought is starting to take hold across northern Europe, affecting yield potentials.

This illustration shows a U.S. map with corn production and drought indicating 65% of corn production area is in drought as of June 20, 2023.

This illustration from government sources shows a U.S. map with corn production and drought indicating 64% of corn production area is in drought as of June 20, 2023.

EU Softening Toward Gene Editing?

Agri-Pulse reported this week that a European Commission draft proposal could lead to a loosening of regulations on new genetic engineering techniques like gene editing. A draft regulatory document leaked and posted online by advocacy group ARC2020 proposes a streamlined path for certain new genomic techniques, or NGTs. An official proposal is expected early next month. “To see the European Commission edging toward welcoming gene editing is just a great thing,” Matthias Berninger, Bayer Crop Protection’s senior vice president of public affairs, science and sustainability, told Agri-Pulse at the company’s Crop Science Innovation Summit in New York City. Read more here.

NAWG: Dam Removal Endangers U.S. Wheat Export Competitiveness

At a at a Congressional Western Caucus Forum on the Importance of Hydropower to Rural Communities, National Association of Wheat Growers Chandler Goule provided a wheat perspective on the importance of the river system and barging play in helping feed the world. “The Lower Snake River Dams are a critical infrastructure system required to move U.S.-grown wheat to high-value markets around the world,” said Chandler Goule. “More than 55 percent of all U.S. wheat exports move through the Snake River system by barge or rail. Specifically, 10 percent of wheat that is exported from the United States passes through the four locks and dams along the Lower Snake River. This corridor is the third-largest grain export corridor in the world and is the single largest corridor for U.S. wheat exports.” NAWG remains opposed to breaching the dams as the agricultural, clean energy, and transportation benefits from the lock and dam system are irreplaceable and will continue to advocate on behalf of wheat growers to maintain this vital infrastructure. Read more here.

Subscribe to USW Reports

USW publishes various reports and content available to subscribe to, including a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting recent Wheat Letter blog posts and wheat industry news, the weekly Price Report, and the weekly Harvest Report (available May to October). Subscribe here.

Follow USW Online

Visit our Facebook page for the latest updates, photos, and discussions of what is going on in the world of wheat. Also, find breaking news on Twitter, video stories on Vimeo and YouTube, and more on LinkedIn.


On June 15, a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) representative had the opportunity to visit the World Food Prize Foundation’s “Hall of Laureates” in Des Moines, Iowa. As part of an organization working on behalf of wheat farmers, this was a time to reflect on the amazing international food legacy of the late Dr. Norman Borlaug.

In 16 years of work in Sonora, Mexico, to solve a series of wheat production challenges, Dr. Borlaug developed successive generations of wheat varieties with disease resistance, adaptation to many growing regions, and high yield potential. Combined with his later, collaborative efforts in India and Africa, Dr. Borlaug can be said to have “saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived.” For this work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Great Agricultural Scientists

Dr. Borlaug went on to create the annual World Food Prize in 1986 to “honor the work of great agricultural scientists to end hunger and improve the food supply.” This concept expanded to include the annual Borlaug Dialogue and the Global Youth Institute.

This vital mission to “elevate innovations and inspire action to sustainably increase the quality, quantity and availability of food for all” and the World Food Prize has a permanent home in a beautifully restored Beaux-Arts building in downtown Des Moines that originally served as the city’s public library.

USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer toured the Hall of Laureates and shared some photos that illustrate why this remarkable center is a fitting tribute to Dr. Borlaug, World Food Prize recipients – and wheat, with which Dr. Borlaug did so much research and development.

A Moral Right

The photo at the top of this page shows a portion of the Hall’s grand entrance, where guests are greeted by quotes around the Rotunda that establish the meaning and purpose of the World Food Prize. The quote shown upholds Dr. Borlaug’s fundamental value: “Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world.” The stained-glass window above the staircase depicts a family in the Hellenistic Period bringing in the grain harvest.

Image of a sculpture depicting a wheat plant at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, Iowa.

The wheat plant represented in this metal sculpture is one of four that, with rice, corn and soy, depict staple food crops. The sculptures are labeled in English and the native language of the region where each crop was first cultivated. Wheat is identified by its ancient Sumerian cuneiform symbol.


This image shows a sculpture titled "First Farmer" representing a Sumarian woman seeding or harvesting ancient grain.

“The First Farmer” sculpture represents an early Sumerian female with a digging stick, the first implement used to till the ground, with a basket for seeds or harvest.


This image shows a plaque at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates commemorating a visit to the Hall by Xi Jinping, now President of the People's Republic of China.

In 2012, then Vice President of China Xi Jinping, who had spent time in Iowa in 1985 on an agricultural research mission, addressed a ceremony at the Hall when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and China’s Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu signed a U.S.-China Strategic Cooperation Agreement.


This image is a plaque honoring World Food Prize laureate and wheat breeder Dr. Sanjay Rajaram who worked with Dr. Borlaug at CYMMIT in Mexico.

Wheat breeder Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram received the 2014 World Food Prize, the 100th anniversary of Dr. Borlaug’s birth in Iowa.  for developing 480 high-yielding and disease-resistant wheat varieties grown on more than 58 million hectares in 51 countries. As Dr. Borlaug’s successor at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, the late Dr. Rajaram is the only wheat breeder who has received the World Food Prize.

A visit to this impressive place is highly recommended. To read more about Dr. Borlaug’s life and work, USW recommends this resource from the University of Minnesota: “The Significance of Borlaug.”


U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman recently returned from Australia, where he joined members of that country’s wheat and grain industries in discussions on plant breeding innovations and other issues ripe for collaboration.

Laudeman attended an international conference in Canberra focused on the research and regulatory landscape of gene-edited crops and implications for international trade.

“As we look to the future potential for gene editing to substantially benefit wheat production, it will be critical that our mutual exporting countries, and customer bases, enable trade in products derived from these technologies,” Laudeman said. “Similar to the U.S., many research efforts for gene editing in wheat are still early in their progress in Australia and will take some time to reach their full potential.”

While in Australia, USW Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman (right) pauses for a photo with Dr. Rohit Mago, Team Leader of the Plant Pathogen Interactions group at CSIRO. Among other things, Mago's team works on host resistance involving identification of new sources for rust resistance both for race-specific and adult plant resistance in wheat.

While in Australia, USW Director of Trade Policy Peter Laudeman (right) pauses for a photo with Dr. Rohit Mago, a Principal Research Scientist and Team Leader of the Plant Pathogen Interactions Group at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), an Australian government agency responsible for scientific research.

Laudeman pointed out that the U.S. has been one of the early global leaders in advancing updated biotechnology regulations to cover gene editing. From USW’s perspective, the hope is that the U.S. system will be a learning experience for the rest of the world in managing the pros and cons that have come out of our updated regulations.

In addition to gene editing, Laudeman also engaged the Australians on the potential for GMO wheat to come to the global market. Bioceres, the company seeking to champion their HB4 drought tolerant GMO wheat globally, has indicated that both the U.S. and Australia may be among the first global wheat exporters outside of Argentina to potentially work with the technology.

Outside of plant breeding innovations, there are additional collaboration opportunities with Australian industry when it comes to non-tariff barriers to trade. Historically, tariffs were the primary trade policy challenge for wheat exporting countries, but increasingly, non-tariff barriers have been the more substantial area of concern.

“These non-tariff barriers often impact exporters globally in similar ways,” Laudeman explained. “Being able to collaborate with another major global wheat exporter to ensure consistent, science-based trade is a major opportunity for USW to address longstanding barriers, such as China’s implementation of their wheat tariff-rate-quota (TRQ) system or Turkish flour dumping on the global market.”

Similarly, as sustainability continues to dominate conversations around the world, partnering with like-minded countries to ensure science-based access to essential technologies will be critical to pushing back against regulatory overreach that can effectively become a barrier to trade, Laudeman noted.

Laudeman was able to tour farms in Australia and learn about how farmers in the region approach planting and harvest seasons. He was also able to see how they are using new technologies in their fields.

“The USW policy team will continue to explore these collaboration opportunities to leverage global partnerships that drive more opportunities for U.S. wheat exports around the world,” he said.


News and Information from Around the Wheat Industry


Speaking of Wheat

In my view, [news that Cargill and Viterra will stop loading Russian grain] puts more questions around Russia’s ability to export. Russian state exporters claim that they’ll be able to keep grain moving out at the same pace, but major speculative funds holding large short positions may lack confidence in that currently, supporting the recent price recovery as they exit short positions. [March 29] Chicago wheat showed modest gains. All eyes will be focused on [upcoming USDA reports].” Sean Lusk, analyst with

UK Establishes Scientific Plant Breeding Regulation

On March 23, a United Kingdom (UK) Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament and law. The regulation covers precision-bred plants and animals developed through techniques such as gene editing, which is different from genetic modification, and create a new science-based and streamlined regulatory system to facilitate greater research and innovation in precision breeding while maintaining stricter regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Read the entire story here.

Cooperators Call for Increased Export Promotion Funding

In a period when inflation has raised the cost of everything in the U.S. wheat export supply chain, agricultural producers and processors have asked Congress to double the funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program. Both have not had funding increases since 2006 and 2002 respectively. According to USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor, requests for MAP and FMD monies have far exceeded current funding. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is one of the organizations that cooperates with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service programs to conduct trade service and technical support for export customers. Read the entire story here and visit

National Ag Day Celebration

On March 21 the United States celebrated 50 years of National Ag Day. Started in 1973, National Ag Day increases public awareness about agriculture’s vital role in society. This year, events included grassroots activities across America, and strong social media coverage. Events in Washington, D.C. highlighted U.S. ag’s global impact. The day began with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressing a lively crowd at the USDA, saying “every day should be Ag Day.” Later in the day, a Taste of Ag reception was held at the Library of Congress. Here’s a short video tribute to U.S. farmers, ranchers, and dairy operators:


Cargill to Suspend Grain Export Elevations in Russia

Food and agricultural company Cargill announced March 28 it “will stop elevating Russian grain for export in July 2023 after the completion of the 2022-2023 season.” In addition, Viterra announced March 29 it will also stop loading Russian grain. Cargill owns a stake in the grain terminal in the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk but did not specify if it was selling the stake. Reuters reported that Cargill’s shipping unit will continue to carry grain from the country’s ports. Reuters added that the move stoked concerns about global grain supplies disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, lifting benchmark wheat futures prices this week from earlier losses.

India Cuts Wheat Harvest Estimate

The Indian government could reduce its wheat harvest estimate as unseasonal showers and hailstorms led to sizable damage to the wheat crop in the Indian states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, sources in the agriculture ministry told S&P Global Commodity Insights. According to government sources, the production estimates for marketing year 2022-23 (April-March) are likely to reduce by up to 2 million metric tons (MMT) from the projected output of 112.2 million mt, a record harvest. S&P Global noted however that surveyed market participants expect Indian’s wheat harvest to be lower.



U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is encouraged that technology company Syngenta expects to have commercial-scale hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) hybrid wheat seed available for U.S. farmers within the next three years.

Hybrid wheat’s primary value is demonstrated in a productive yield increase. This is needed by farmers around the world to offset the currently limited profitability of growing single-line wheat varieties. It is also needed to continue meeting record-setting use of wheat by a growing global population.

Jon Rich, head of hybrid wheat operations at Syngenta, recently told Successful Farming magazine that hybrid wheat should increase yields by 10% to 12% over current varieties. He said there is also the potential for more stable production across a variety of growing conditions. Hybridization also allows breeders to “stack” native and non-GM traits into wheat seed more precisely and efficiently than other breeding methods.

In addition to disease and insect resistance, and functional quality improvement, Rich said “we’re looking at sustainability traits, such as nitrogen use efficiency and water use efficiency,” something that could be very valuable in the future.

Spring Wheat Hybrids First

USW member state commissions in the norther plains have confirmed that several farmers worked with Syngenta to plant hybrid HRS wheat in 2022. Additional hybrid “proof of performance” testing will continue this year on an estimated 1,000 acres according to the company’s head of North American cereals, Paul Morano. He told Successful Farming he expects two hybrid HRS lines will be available for a full launch in 2025.

Morano said similar testing with HRW hybrid lines will take place with the 2023/24 and 2024/25 crops with a full commercial launch expected in 2026 in two Syngenta AgriPro® hybrid lines.

Aerial photos of a wheat production research facility with fields, buildings and people at Junction City, Kansas, operated by Syngenta.

Syngenta’s hybrid development work in North America is coordinated by the Syngenta Wheat Research Center of Excellence in Junction City, Kan. Photo courtesy of Syngenta and Lance Visser.

Challenging Research

There is no doubt that hybrid wheat development has had its challenges. With a complex plant like wheat with three whole genomes in each cell and often six copies of each gene, that process is quite complex. The work requires many years and collaboration with a wide range of scientific disciplines, including wheat quality specialists who test the wheat for grade and functional milling, baking, and processing standards.

In 2018, USW was encouraged by hybrid research by Bayer Crop Science that was later transferred to BASF. Unfortunately, on March 1, 2023, BASF announced it was abandoning its North American hybrid wheat research, and the scientists who were conducting the work.

While hybrid wheat will have to prove itself in widespread, commercial use, it is good news for farmers and their customers that Syngenta is making a proper start.

“As we start to learn about this technology – and what else it can deliver to the farmer above and beyond yield, and how can we leverage the other inputs they put onto their crop – that’s a really big deal,” Rich said.

Photo at top of this page courtesy of Syngenta


Reprinted with Permission from the University of Minnesota.

Agriculture is seen as both a key cause of the global biodiversity crisis and a principal means of addressing it. Though some advocates are calling for farmers to return to heirloom varieties of crops as a way for the agriculture industry to address the growing challenges posed by climate change, new research from the University of Minnesota suggests that the solution lies primarily in modern scientifically-bred crop varieties, which have led to an increase in biodiverse cropping practices and significantly higher wheat yields in the U.S.

In a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University’s GEMS Informatics Center, Department of Applied Economics, and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute assembled area data and the associated genetic pedigrees for the 1,353 commercial wheat varieties that made up most of the U.S. crop from 1919 to 2019. They factored in phylogenetic breadth when estimating both the spatial and temporal diversity of commercial wheat varieties found in fields, and tracked how that breadth changed over time across the country.

“Many perceive that science has led to cropping systems that are less biodiverse. We set out to see if that was indeed the case using newly developed, long-run data for a scientifically intensive cropping landscape,” said Philip Pardey, a professor in the Department of Applied Economics.

The researchers found:

  • The increasingly intensive use of scientifically-selected crop varieties has led to more, not less, biodiverse cropping practices, at least regarding biodiversity in the U.S. wheat crop.
  • This substantial increase in varietal diversity over the past century has been achieved in tandem with a fourfold increase in U.S. average wheat yields.

Success Story of Modern Agriculture

“The increasing number of locally adapted varieties and faster turnover of newer varieties grown by wheat farmers in the U.S. demonstrated a success story of modern agriculture achieved by farmers and breeders,” said lead author Yuan Chai, a researcher at GEMS Informatics Center.

“The push for farmers en masse to return to heirloom varieties or landraces is not a sustainable solution. Innovation in scientifically bred varieties is enabling us to feed more people on less land, fertilizer and water while improving overall crop diversity,” said Kevin Silverstein, scientific lead at the Supercomputing Institute.

The Wheat Genetics Resource Center at Kansas State University

The internationally recognized Wheat Genetics Resource Center is located at Kansas State University, that collects, conserves, and utilizes germplasm in crop improvement for sustainable production by broadening the crop genetic base.

Agriculture is being asked to address an increasingly large number of sustainable development challenges. In addition to the long-standing role of crop productivity improvement to alleviate poverty and improve food security, ever-more sustainable cropping systems are required to address the growing challenges posed by climate change, land and water scarcity, and new pest and disease threats.

Biodiversity, Breeding Innovation Needed

However, public investment in crop breeding research is now on the decline in the U.S., and falls chronically short in many other countries, especially lower-income countries. Building meaningful climate and pest resilience into the world’s food crops in ways that also achieve global food security goals requires doubling down on crop improvement research that enhances not undermines crop biodiversity.

Some of the analytic tools developed by the GEMS Informatics Center to examine this research are being further developed to enable other investigations of the changing crop diversity landscape in other crops and other countries.

This work was undertaken with primary support from the GEMS Informatics Center with funding from MnDRIVE, a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the State of Minnesota, and additional support from the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy Center and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute. Partial support was also received from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.

Read more about the dedicated scientists producing new, improved wheat varieties:

Wheat Breeding Builds on Historic Processes and Genetic Traits

Public Wheat Breeding Programs Serving Southern and Central Plains Farmers

Public Wheat Breeding Serving Northern Plains Farmers

Public Wheat Breeding Serving Soft Red Winter Wheat Farmers

Public Wheat Breeding Serving West Coast Farmers

AgriPro and Westbred Apply Advanced Research in Wheat Breeding Programs



The 10-year anniversary of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center (KWIC) was not celebrated as a typical milestone event. Farmers and partners who’ve invested time, effort and dollars into the research facility described the occasion more as a “using one eye to look back.”

While keeping the other eye firmly on the future.

Kansas wheat farmer Ron Suppes, a Past Chair of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and current Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, addresses those gathered to celenrate the 10th anniversary of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center

Kansas wheat farmer Ron Suppes, a Past Chair of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and current Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, addresses those gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.

“This place is here because a lot of people believed in supporting and growing the wheat industry, and they believed in the future of what we do,” Kansas wheat farmer Ron Suppes, a Past Chair of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and current Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, said during a Dec. 15 gathering to mark the anniversary.

“Some of those who had this vision are no longer with us, but they were among those who looked forward to developing new wheat varieties for farmers. As for the farmers, we have been willing to invest in sustainable and regenerative practices because we recognize the value of wheat research. Our customers rely on us to produce the best quality wheat in the world, and the work being done here has and will help us to do that.”

Suppes, one of several speakers who addressed the successes and ongoing work at the KWIC, also acknowledged that Fields Forward, a project of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation, reached its $4 million campaign goal to research sustainability in the U.S. wheat industry.

The KWIC was built by the Kansas Wheat Commission on land owned by Kansas State University, which granted the Commission a 50-year lease on the property. Construction began in October 2011 and the facility was completed in November 2012. Along with being home of the world-renowned Wheat Genetics Resource Center (WGRC), the 48,000 square foot KWIC facility includes research laboratories, greenhouses and office space that houses the Kansas Wheat Commission, the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, the Kansas Wheat Alliance and a host of research and partner organizations.

Gary Millershaski, a member of the USW Board of Directors and Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission, said wheat farmers appreciate the partners that led to creation of the KWIC.

“This facility was built by farmers through the wheat checkoff,” Millershaski said. “But there are a lot of groups, such as the International Grains Program, that play a very important part in what we do and what is done on the research front.”

Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin, far left, leads a tour of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.

Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin, far left, leads a tour of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.