To All the Wheats That I Have Known

P. Stephen Baenziger

To All the Wheats That I Have Known

As many of you may know, I will be retiring in May, 2021. I have immensely enjoyed my career at the University of Nebraska and hope that my efforts here have helped the Nebraska wheat industry. I came in June 1986 and in the following 34 years have released or co-released 42 wheat cultivars with 2 additional ones pending. They are listed below in Table 1.

Table 1
Table 1
Year Released Exp. Number C.I. Or P.I. Name
1988 NE82656 PI518591 Arapahoe
1990 NE83498 PI543893 Rawhide
1990 Soiuxland 89
1992 NE87615 PI562653 Vista
1993 NE88595 PI573096 Alliance
1994 NE89522 PI584996 Niobrara
1994 NE88427 PI584997 Nekota
1996 NE88584 PI593047 Pronghorn
1997 NE90625 PI587379 Windstar
1999 NE93554 PI606726 Culver
2000 N94L205 PI605741 Nuplains
2000 N95L158 PI605742 Wesley
2000 NE93496 PI613098 Cougar
2000 NE94479 P1613099 Millennium
2000 NE94654 PI619098 Wahoo
2002 NE97465 PI632434 Goodstreak
2002 NE97689 PI632435 Harry
2002 NE97638 Licensed Empire
2002 NE97426 Licensed
2002 NW97S278 Antelope
2002 NW97S182 Arrowsmith
2004 NE98471 PI638790 Hallam
2004 NH01046 Patented Gene Infinity
2005 NE99495 licensed for organic production.
2007 NE01643 PI647959 NE01643, Husker Genetic Brand Overland
2007 Alice
2007 Darrell
2008 NH03614 PI653833 Settler CL
2008 NE01604 PI653832 Camelot
2008 NW98S097 Anton
2008 N02Y5117 PI651043 Mace
2010 NE01481 PI659689 McGill
2010 NI04421 PI659690 Robidoux
2013 NE06545 PI 667038 Freeman
2014 NE05548 PI 670462 Panhandle
2014 NX04Y2107 PI 665947 Mattern
2015 NE10589 PI 675998 Ruth
2017 LCH13NEDH-14-71 LCS Link
2017 LCH13NEDH12-27 Licensed to a third party
2018 NX04Y2107W 687896 Matterhorn
2020 NE12561 693222 NuPride Genetics Siege
2020 NE10478-1 693223 LCS Valiant
2020 NW13493  Pending
2020 NE15420  Pending

Looking back, each line had its reasons for being released and each one had its benefits and drawbacks. I have always been lucky. My first release was Dr. John Schmidt’s (my predecessor) last great release. Arapahoe had superb winter hardiness, excellent quality and agronomic performance, and disease resistance. It eventually was grown on over 30% of Nebraska’s wheat acreage. If you only have one chance to make a first impression, that was a great first impression.

The next major wheat release was Alliance and it was grown on 20% of Nebraska’s acreage. Pronghorn was a tall wheat that came out of the Centurk/Centura lineage and remains popular wherever tall wheats with long coleoptiles are needed. Goodstreak was the next tall wheat.

Wesley was a popular irrigated wheat. Millennium was the next work horse wheat that seemed to do well at whatever yield level the weather allowed. It often topped the trial, but when it did not, it was always near the top regardless if your farm yields were 20 to 80 bu/a. Overland had the winterhardiness of Arapahoe with excellent agronomic performance, test weight, disease resistance, and protein content. It was a major wheat. It was acceptable for end-use quality. Camelot was released as an excellent end-use quality wheat to balance the acceptable quality of Overland. Millennium, Wahoo, and Overland all come from the Arapahoe lineage.

For our herbicide resistance wheat varieties, Infinity CL was the first and Settler CL was the second. We have two BASF approved 2-gene Clearfield wheat lines that will be the next generation of herbicide resistance. Settler CL was among our most broadly adapted wheat varieties and could be grown from South Dakota to Colorado to Nebraska. The next major wheat was Ruth which is very dependable, and has excellent agronomics, end-use quality, and disease resistance. It comes from the Camelot lineage.

A number of lines were developed and co-released with our colleagues at the USDA-ARS (Wesley, Antelope, Arrowsmith, Anton, Mace, and Matterhorn). We also collaborated with Limagrain Cereal Seeds to co-develop and co-release new varieties (LCS Link, for example). LCS Valiant was licensed to Limagrain because it does very well in Nebraska and in western Kansas. Our program does not have good marketing capabilities in Kansas, so that is why we partnered with Limagrain to market LCS Valiant there.

I do not want you to think the cupboard is bare for my successor or that you will have to wait for the next cultivar. The two pending cultivars have been approved for release by the Small Grains Variety Release Committee and are NW13493 and NE15420. NW13493 is a white wheat with excellent agronomic performance, disease resistance, end-use quality and sprouting tolerance. We hope to license it to a company so there will be a confirmed/proven market for it. NE15420 is truly an irrigated wheat with very good straw strength, excellent irrigated performance (it went 113 bu/a this last year in the Foundation seed increase field under irrigation) and has acceptable test weight and end-use quality. It may well be the “prettiest” wheat I will release and reminds me of the great Agripro (now Syngenta) wheat Abilene.

As I began, I have always been lucky. I have had the opportunity to work with great colleagues in Plant Pathology, Entomology, Cereal Chemistry, Agronomy and Statistics, with great technicians who really understood small grains and were ambassadors for this project, with great graduate and undergraduate students, and with wonderful growers, millers, and bakers who were willing to overlook my many flaws and see the good. The Nebraska Wheat Board has funded this project for every year that I have been here and are a friend in every sense of the word.

Finally, I cannot thank the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the University of Nebraska enough for supporting this program and letting me have the sheer joy of stewarding this program for the past 34 years. As it has been said, “anytime you see a turtle on top of a fencepost, you know he had some help”—Alex Haley.