Winter durum wheat breeding project at K-State
Scab, winterhardiness, and head sprouting concerns are three concerns for winter durum varieties in Kansas. For these reasons, we foresee western Kansas south of I-70 as the primary potential area for production of winter durum. Durum generally has better drought tolerance than hard red winter wheat, but as a white wheat it is susceptible to head sprouting.
The winter durum lines currently in K-State's program have lower yields than it’d like (about 10% less than the best hard red winter varieties), and are later in maturity, but acceptable. The winterhardiness is probably okay now for Kansas, although there has not been a winter in Kansas that provides a good test for winterhardiness for several years. The protein level of the lines in our program is generally at or near 13 percent, as long as enough nitrogen is applied late in the season to promote protein. Getting the desirable yellow endosperm color has been a bit of a challenge so far.
K-State has 15 lines of winter durum in replicated tests at four locations in Kansas. In addition, there are 130 F3 generation lines, 300 F2 generation lines, and 400 lines in the doubled haploid program. K-State is anywhere from 5 to 12 years away from having a commercial variety of winter durum ready.
If winter durum is to be produced in western Kansas, it will have to be done as an identity-preserved program. Separate handling will be required since durum is a different class of wheat than hard red winter or hard white winter wheat. Researchers estimate there is enough potential market for up to about 250,000 acres of winter durum in Kansas as an IP wheat, if K-State can develop acceptable varieties.