While corn and soybeans often steal the spotlight, Pioneer is celebrating its 50th anniversary of wheat breeding in 2020. To stay on top of farmer needs and deliver the best products on the market, Pioneer gathers farmer data, experiences and feedback each year to determine what gaps and opportunities exist to develop the next set of industry-leading wheat varieties.
Due to the length of the winter wheat season – generally September through July – wheat presents a unique challenge to researchers looking to develop new strains through inbreeding. Thanks to double haploid technology, Pioneer researchers can shorten the initial part of the breeding pipeline from approximately six generations to one.
“The double haploid allows us to go from a cross to an inbred and shorten that early part of the pipeline so we can go into our traditional testing pipeline, which is something we don’t want to shorten at all,” said Jessie Alt, Global Wheat Lead, Corteva Agriscience.
Pioneer develops its wheat varieties to fit a wide range of environments, soil types and agronomic management decisions. While higher yields are the farmer’s number one priority, additional requests include strong standability for lodging protection and fusarium head blight tolerance.
“Having tolerance to something like scab (fusarium head blight) will hopefully allow for a reduced fungicide application or at least a more targeted application,” Alt said. “This is yet another way for us to help contribute to those economics on an operation.”