At K-State’s Agricultural Research Center in Hays, Kan., Guorong Zhang is a wheat breeder whose research focuses on trying to improve the wheat crop by developing new varieties with adaptation to western Kansas, including the latest new variety—a hard red winter wheat named KS09H19-2-3, or Oakley CL.
Development of Oakley CL began in 2002, and in late 2013, K-State’s Agricultural Research Center released it. Its registered and certified seed is expected to become available in 2015, while test plots will continue to be analyzed in 2014. Zhang said Oakley CL came from a three-way cross, so it has three parents that contribute to its high yield potential, Beyond herbicide tolerance, drought tolerance, disease resistance, and good quality for milling and baking. It also has good straw strength and grain shattering resistance to combat high winds in western Kansas, and it has good resistance to pre-harvest sprouting.
“The Beyond herbicide resistance actually comes from one parent, Above. Above is the first publicly released one-gene Clearfield wheat variety,” Zhang said. “The other two parents are Danby—the most popular white variety in western Kansas—and another parent from our own breeding lines. From Above, this variety inherited its herbicide resistance. From Danby, it inherited some drought tolerance, so it has performed very well in western Kansas. The third parent had the wheat streak mosaic virus resistance. Stripe rust resistance might come from both Danby and the third parent.”
Oakley CL, Zhang said, shows strong resistance to stripe rust, a fungal disease that causes wheat to have yellow or orange blister-like lesions arranged in stripes. He has tested it for both 2010 and 2012 races of stripe rust.
“In 2012, the race was changed, so a lot of varieties that were resistant in 2010 became susceptible in 2012,” Zhang said. “Another major disease resistance for this variety is wheat streak mosaic virus resistance. Now in the market, very few varieties have the wheat streak mosaic virus resistance. It is a virus disease that is hard to control with any fungicide, so we have to rely on the variety resistance.”
In addition to disease resistance, many producers want to know the yield potential for new varieties, Zhang said. In two years of dryland testing in northwest Kansas, Oakley CL had more than a 5 percent higher yield than Danby. It also is comparable with other Clearfield wheat varieties in western Kansas, as it had an 11 percent higher yield than the one-gene Clearfield variety Above in the 2011 Clearfield Qualification trial in Hays and a 6 percent higher yield than the two-gene Clearfield variety Brawl CL Plus in the 2013 Kansas Wheat Performance Test trial at northwestern Kansas testing sites.
Oakley CL also shows good results for end product testing—milling and baking.
“This variety has a good flour yield and also a very good mixing tolerance and a good loaf volume,” Zhang said. “If this variety can be planted in larger acreage, then the millers and bakers will have good wheat to process.”