USDA Research Yields New Wheat Variety to Help Farmers Fight Scab
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
May 18, 1999
Don Comis, (301) 504-1625, email@example.com
WASHINGTON, May 18--A new variety of wheat developed by USDA researchers
will help farmers in the Northern Great Plains slow the spread of wheat
scab, a costly fungal disease, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced
"USDA's intensified research efforts are helping American farmers fight
wheat scab," Glickman said. "This new wheat variety, our most scab-tolerant
ever, will be available to farmers for the spring 2000 planting season,
preventing more damage by this costly disease."
Scab losses cost American wheat growers more than $2.6 billion between 1991
and 1997. Scab, or Fusarium head blight, shrivels kernels of wheat and other
cereal grain crops such as barley. The disease also produces toxins that can
make crops unsuitable for flour, cereal, some malt, and animal feed. Many
growers discovered the problem only after harvesting wheat kernels that were
The new variety, McVey hard red spring wheat, slows the spread of the
disease in the seedhead so fewer kernels are destroyed. It is the first
product to emerge from USDA's accelerated research efforts in response to
the scab epidemic.
This year, USDA increased its annual research spending on scab by $3
million. The new funding to ARS and university researchers builds on the
$500,000 per year that USDA has allocated each year since 1997. The
researchers are part of the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, a
consortium of 20 state universities supported by many wheat- and
barley-related organizations and individuals. Minnesota farmer Tom Anderson
and Michigan State University breeder Rick Ward are co-chairs of the scab
The new variety is named for Donald V. McVey, a plant pathologist at the
USDA's Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn. Its development was
funded in part by the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council, Red
Lake Falls, Minn., through money collected from wheat farmers. The Minnesota
Crop Improvement Association, based in St. Paul, is distributing seed to
certified seed growers.
A comprehensive story on ARS scab research around the country, including
development of McVey, will appear in the June issue of ARS' Agricultural
Scientific contact: Robert H. Busch, ARS Plant Science Research Unit, St.
Paul, Minn., phone (612) 625-1975, fax (651) 649-5058,
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