NIFA Invests $7 Million to Improve Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production

USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture recently awarded 22 Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production grants that will advance development of publicly available cultivars bred to improve the production efficiency, yield, sustainability, resilience, healthfulness, product quality, and value of U.S. agricultural plants while increasing farmer profitability and exports. The awards include both classical and genomics-enabled plant breeding research focused on pre-breeding and germplasm enhancement, cultivar development, selection theory, and applied genetics. Further, NIFA and the National Peanut Board will co-fund three of these awards, taking advantage of a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill that encourages these types of public-private research partnerships. More information about NIFA’s commodity boards program is available on the NIFA website. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

Plant breeding is key to sustainable farming, CommonGround says

in Southwest Farm Press

by Cathryn-Wojcicki-NCGA

For more than seven years, CommonGround volunteers have served as resources for consumers who have questions about how their food is grown. In a newly-released video http://bit.ly/2AKymxo, CommonGround Iowa volunteer Sara Ross shares her perspective on plant breeding innovation with the help of a fellow mom – and plant breeder – Jessie Alt.

“Plant breeding innovation will help us continue to be sustainable and improve on our sustainability so our sons can one day possibly step into the role of farmer on our family farm,” says Ross. Continue reading

Genetic discovery another tool in battle against wheat pests

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Greenbug and Hessian fly infestations can significantly reduce wheat yield and quality in Texas and worldwide. Breeding for resistance to these two pests using marker-assisted selection just got a new tool from a Texas A&M AgriLife Research study.

Because genetics is the most economical strategy to minimize losses, AgriLife Research wheat geneticist Dr. Shuyu Liu began two years ago searching for breeder-friendly markers for those two insects. This step is a continuation of ongoing genetic work on insect resistance. Continue reading

UGA cotton research yields root-knot-nematode-resistant varieties

by Clint Thompson, University of Georgia

University of Georgia cotton breeder Peng Chee’s groundbreaking research in molecular genetics provides Georgia cotton farmers with root-knot-nematode-resistant cotton varieties. It also garnered Chee national recognition in January, when he was awarded the 2016 Cotton Genetics Research Award during the 2017 Beltwide Cotton Improvement Conference in Dallas.

Chee, a professor in UGA’s Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, identified nematode resistance as a top priority when he started working on the UGA Tifton Campus in 2000. Continue reading

NIFA Announces $1.85 million for Potato Breeding Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of $1.85 million in funding for regional potato breeding research to support the development of superior-performing varieties that can be brought to market as soon as possible. The United States is one of the top potato producers worldwide, and industry sales estimates topped $3.6 billion in 2015.

“Potatoes constitute a significant proportion of our diets, and there’s urgent need to continue to develop varieties with value-added traits, including a nutrient profile that promotes growth and development in children,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA. Continue reading

AgriLife researcher starting program to produce spinach and tomatoes in Texas

The revival of the once thriving vegetable production industry in South Texas will begin with the development of new tomato and spinach varieties designed to perform well in the area’s harsh conditions, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

Dr. Carlos Avila, a vegetable breeder at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, said work has already begun to combine favorable traits from various tomato and spinach cultivars and germplasm. Continue reading

Scientists use NIFA SCRI grant to improve breeding grapes for disease

Today’s USDA blog highlights a project breeding grapes that combine good taste and quality with disease resistance. The project, called VitisGen, is funded by a USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant.

Read the story at USDA’s website.