Wheat Journal

August 23, 2013 09:26 PM

Kansas City Board of Trade Ends Its 157-Year Streak

The 157-year-old trading pit at the Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBT) is no more. The owner, CME Group Inc., has moved operations to the Chicago Board of Trade.

Because most KCBT transactions are already bought and sold on the company’s Globex electronic system, CME elected to halt face-to-face transactions. As of July 1, pit traders in Chicago can buy and sell Kansas City futures face to face. KCBT offers contracts on hard red winter wheat, while CBOT handles soft red winter wheat.

"There are more people that trade in Chicago and have rights to trade all the different contracts, so you might pick up people who previously hadn’t been trading Kansas City wheat," William Tierney, chief economist at AgResource Co., told Bloomberg.

Asian Trade Reopens After GM Scare

Two months after USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) found genetically modified glyphosate-resistant wheat plants in an Oregon field, the initial export fallout of the discovery is over. In July, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all resumed trade with the U.S. wheat market.

The countries were satisfied with intense public and private testing to ensure the incident was an isolated one. USDA-APHIS and Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) have collectively conducted hundreds of tests and 200 interviews of area farmers. Further, separate testing by Washington State University and Monsanto Company found no additional contamination.

A statement by the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) concludes: "Wheat farmers and their representatives at USW, National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and other organizations strongly value the positive relationships we have with our customers at home and around the world. For our organizations and those wheat farmers, the grower leaders of USW and NAWG express our appreciation to MAFF and all our customers for their reasoned response to this situation and for their continued steadfast support."

New Ug99 Breakthrough Announced

Researchers at Kansas State University and University of California-Davis have identified a gene that gives wheat plants resistance to one of the most feared races of the wheat stem rust pathogen—the notorious Ug99.

Stem rust close up

Researchers have found a gene resistant to Ug99, wheat’s most fierce disease.

This discovery might lead to new wheat varieties that will better protect the crop against this devastating pathogen, which has already caused significant crop damage in Africa and threatens to spread to other production areas.

The project was funded by USDA and the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative. The research team was led by Kansas State University associate professor of plant pathology Eduard Akhunov, University of California-Davis professor and researcher Jorge Dubcovsky, and others.

"This gene, Sr35, functions as a key component of the plants’ immune system," Akhunov explains. "It recognizes the invad­ing pathogen and triggers a response in the plant to fight the disease."

Wheat breeders have focused on breeding wheat stem rust resistance since the 1950s, Akhunov says. However, the emergence of a strain Ug99 in Uganda in 1999 threw a huge curveball into wheat breeding efforts.

"Until that point, wheat breeders had two or three genes that were so efficient against stem rust for decades that this disease wasn’t the biggest concern," Akhunov says. "However, with the discovery of the Ug99 race of pathogen showed that changes in the virulence of existing pathogen races can be a huge problem."

The Sr35 gene was discovered in einkorn wheat, which is cultivated in small areas of the Mediterranean. The researchers identified a number of "candidate genes" and then spent four
years trying to locate the Sr35 gene specifically.

"It was a matter of knocking out each candidate gene until we found the one that made a plant susceptible," Akhunov says. "It was a tedious process, but it was worth the effort."

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