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New University of Idaho wheat variety

By John O’Connell

University of Idaho

The University of Idaho will soon release a new hard white spring wheat variety that should set the gold standard for its class. 

U of I wheat breeder Jianli Chen has named some of her most promising varieties after precious metals and minerals – including UI Silver, UI Platinum and UI Bronze Jade – expressing the relative value she places on each one.   

At long last, Chen has found a cultivar worthy of the name UI Gold.  

She’ll release UI Gold, a top yielder in her trials with exceptional baking qualities, later this summer.  

“I told myself UI Gold will be the last cultivar before I retire. I didn’t decide I wanted to retire, but this one I wanted to name as UI Gold,” Chen said. “I think it will be valued like gold. If I have cultivars better than UI Gold later, I could say Gold 1 or Gold 2.” 

Chen will market UI Gold throughout southeast Idaho as a replacement for Washington State University’s hard white spring wheat, Dayn, and Syngenta’s SY Teton. UI Gold has out-yielded SY Teton in trials. Its yields are comparable with Dayn, but UI Gold has superior gluten strength.   

“This year the world markets are short of hard wheat,” Chen said. “Growers can plant this in southeast Idaho to help with the shortage of hard wheats in the U.S. and some overseas countries. This line has been tested by overseas bakers and they like it. High yield and excellent bread baking quality for domestic and overseas end users puts this cultivar in a very unique position.” 

UI Gold grows to a medium height. It’s been among the best yielders in UI Extension trials in southeast Idaho and in breeding trials at the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center during the past three years, both under irrigation and on dry land.

It’s yielded as high as 132 bushels per acre under irrigation, with an average yield of 115 bushels per acre.  

Chen is raising UI Gold foundation seed this season. She invited industry partners to a July 14 field day in Aberdeen in hopes of finding a company interested in licensing and commercializing this new variety. 

This season, UI Gold has also shown promise in Aberdeen and Rockland in fall-planted wheat trials, though Chen will need additional years of data before concluding whether it’s a viable option for fall planting. 

It typically takes about 15 years after an initial cross is made through conventional breeding techniques before a variety is planted in commercial fields.  

UI Gold’s pedigree includes WA8123, chosen as a high-yielding hard white spring wheat from Washington State University, and two other varieties known for good baking quality – Grandin, a hard red spring wheat from North Dakota State University, and Jefferson, a hard red spring wheat developed by University of Idaho.  

Chen also has high hopes for a sibling of UI Gold selected from the same cross – the hard red spring wheat IDO2105. Chen plans to release the numbered line IDO2104HF, which has outstanding baking quality and is resistant to Hessian fly, next year.

She believes IDO2104HF will be ideal for northern Idaho and parts of Washington, where Hessian fly is a major pest of concern.