Wheat breeding lines for resistance to disease

The Problem

In Arkansas, wheat growers need high yields to make growing wheat profitable. Disease pressure can reduce those yields, impacting the grower’s profitability.


The Research

Working with Sungrains, a breeding cooperative of six public university breeding programs, Dr. Esten Mason, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture wheat breeder, began testing a high-yield wheat variety called AGCS 2055.

AGCS 2055 is a soft winter red wheat widely adapted to Arkansas and neighboring states. It was developed from a line that originated in the University of Georgia breeding program, one of the six universities in Sungrains. It did not do well there but showed promise in Arkansas.

AGCS 2055 went through three years of performance trials where Mason tested its yield performance, disease resistance, and adaptations to state growing conditions at seven different locations around the state. Disease resistance was also tested at disease nurseries where Mason would grow disease inoculum, infect test plots and study AGCS 2055’s reaction.

AGCS 2055 averaged 86 bushels per acre during performance trials at testing sites around the state. It is resistant to common wheat diseases in Arkansas including stripe rust, leaf rust and local races of stem rust. AGCS 2055 also showed moderate resistance to other economically impactful diseases found in the South. In 2016, the Division released AGCS 2055 to growers.


The Bottom Line

When evaluating wheat breeding lines, high-yields and disease resistance are two important factors as they have a great impact on profitability. AGCS 2055 is widely adapted to Arkansas, produces high yields and is resistant to common wheat diseases.


The Researcher

Richard Esten Mason

Richard Esten Mason

Associate Professor
Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture wheat breeder.

Mason earned his bachelor’s in Biology and Ph.D. in Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences from Texas A&M University.