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Wheat Journal

January 31, 2009
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor

Winter Hardy Varieties

Pass the bread. Growers have an all-new hard white winter wheat cultivar to consider for planting next fall.

Anton is the product of 15 years of selective breeding and evaluation by scientists with the USDA–Agricultural Research Service's Grain, Forage and Bioenergy Research Unit and the University of Nebraska's Agricultural Experiment Station (NAES), both in Lincoln, Neb. The variety is suited for production in the Northern Plains region as a source of high-quality flour for bread, noodles and other baked goods.

Anton is a wheat cultivar with reduced levels of the enzyme polyphenol oxidase, which leads to biochemical reactions that cause browning. Noodles made from white wheat flour sustain fewer color and brightness changes. White wheat flour also has a milder flavor than red wheat flour for use in whole-grain breads.

Anton grows about 31" tall and is somewhat resistant to stem and leaf rust diseases. It's moderately susceptible to stripe rust and tolerates wheat soilborne mosaic virus. In 2007 trials conducted by NAES, Anton averaged 50 bu. per acre, compared with 54 bu. to 57 bu. per acre for Nebraska's top three winter wheats. University of Nebraska Foundation Seed Division is handling requests for seeds.


Viral Victory

Wheat streak mosaic virus has a weak spot. A tiny gene has been found hiding in all members of a major family of plant viruses. Without this gene, the virus is rendered harmless.

The work is a collaboration between the Department of Plant Sciences at Iowa State University and the lab of John Atkins of University College Cork, in Cork, Ireland. The discovery was made while crunching through the genome sequences of the largest and most devastating family of plant viruses, called potyviruses.

The research is critical to agriculture because 30% of all plant viruses are in the potyvirus family—including the potato virus Y, a new strain tormenting potato growers in Europe and North America. Soybean mosaic virus is another potyvirus. Major fruits, such as plums, and vegetables, such as lettuce and pepper, are often devastated by potyviruses.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - February 2009

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