Research Projects

Winter wheat yields can be limited by reduced head formation and seed set for crops growing under dry fall and/or spring conditions, according to a recent cropping intensity field study. Winter wheat grown in intensive cropping systems (continuous cropping in semi-arid regions) may be particularly vulnerable to pre-flowering drought stress. Promising wheat lines, developed by breeding programs at Manhattan and Hays, are evaluated at statewide Kansas Intra-state Nursery (KIN) trials. Previous work with a physiological indicator of wheat water productivity (13C isotope discrimination) suggests that increased wheat yield can be closely related to increased water acquisition by adapted varieties, resulting in reduced water stress. We hypothesize that drought-adapted wheat lines avoid water stress because of a well-developed root system and physiological adaptations (including osmotic adjustment). It is possible that information about wheat drought-adaptations can be derived from 13C. Confirmation of these indicators could provide a selection tool for drought resistance and productivity potential which would benefit wheat farmers though out the state.

Current Projects (through June 30, 2016)