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Wheat regional trials define agro-ecologic production zones


The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, coordinates the region-wide testing of advanced experimental breeding lines of wheat and other crop plants.  Through these cooperative programs, data on agronomic performance and adaptation, disease resistance, and grain quality traits is obtained over a far wider geographic region than any one breeding program can achieve alone.  These data have been used to identify wheat “production zones” or agro-ecological regions that define the optimal area of adaptation for new cultivars.

In a paper recently published in Crop Science, a researcher from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the repetition of an analysis conducted in 1992, using subsequent years’ data, to determine whether previously established wheat production zones, based on grain yield performance and its correlation between sites, were still valid. 

Results showed performance in regional nursery trials can still be used to identify production zones, and that these production zones could be partially predicted by natural vegetative formations. Response to the well-described precipitation gradient across the Great Plains is the primary factor governing wheat breeding line performance and adaptation. 

Wheat breeding programs and growers may continue to use the production zones established via the USDA-ARS coordinated winter wheat regional nurseries to target optimal areas of cultivar adaptation and select germplasm for crossing programs.


Read the full article online. Free preview April 26 - May 3