On Thursday the 22nd, Dad, Chris, and I drove up to (almost) Manhattan for the AgriPro VIP Field Day and for a tour of the KSU wheat breeding nursery and a meeting about the new organization "Wildcat Genetics" which will be responsible for licensing KSU wheats in the future.
It is required at any field day to ride around on a trailer. Here we are at the Ashland research farm:
And here is the variety demonstration plot at the AgriPro research farm:
The best part of the whole day was AgriPro's double haploid lab. Here they use Syngenta's proprietary technique to essentially clone wheat plants. Apparently, you can fertilize a wheat flower with corn pollen and create a baby wheat germ that has only one set of chromosomes (in triplicate) thus a haploid. The little germ has no endosperm (see normal wheat kernel at left.) This baby wheat germ has to be grown in a test tube on an agar jelly since it has no natural nutrient source (normally the endosperm.) Before the wheat plant can mature and create new, normal seeds, the genetic material must be doubled to have two sets of chromosomes (each set in triplicate.) I went on this tour a couple of years ago and She (I feel terrible but I can not for the life of me remember her name) would not tell us anything at all about how they double the ploidy. This time she did say that they use a chemical, and told us the chemical's name, but wouldn't say when in the growth cycle they did it. Anyhoo the process cuts the time needed to develop a new variety of wheat in half. This translates to 5+ years time savings. I should also point out that this is NOT considered "genetic engineering" and has been in use in Europe for 20+ years.
Here is the double haploid lab's greenhouse. Mature wheat towards the back, younger wheat towards the front, and corn on the left.
On Tuesday the 27th we braved the bitter cold to attend the K-State Research and Extension Southwest Kansas Fall crops field day. It used to be the wheat tour, but they are starting to have some luck with their canola studies so they talked quite a bit about canola too. Canola is a crop that would be fun to try, and every year I think about it more. It helps that I went to K-State with Mike the canola breeder. Probably a few years away yet, though. I'm not much into being a pioneer I guess. Here we are looking at some canola:
Pop Quiz, no cheating.
Where does the word canola come from and why?