Dr. Brad Seabourn on Finding The Best Wheat for Your MarketplaceThu, 13 Feb 2020 17:33:01 CST
The USDA Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas is responsible for assisting breeders and producers within the Great Plains growing region with making selections for wheat that have the quality attributes that market place desires. The Director of that facility is Dr. Brad Seabourn, who talked with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays on the sidelines of the Oklahoma Genetics Annual Meeting here in Edmond, Oklahoma. Listen to their conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
The lab is a part of the Center for Grain and Animal Health Research in Manhattan- and is one of four wheat labs within the Ag Research Service of USDA. Dr. Brad Seabourn says currently, they are evaluating experimental wheat lines that breeders are considering just before release. Seabourn says it's essential for breeders to make the right variety of wheat selections to produce a quality product, "The primary thing I think we need to keep in mind is that the consumer wants consistency and milling ability. Consistency in functionality and consistency in end-use product quality."
Seabourn says the last thing they want to do is release a variety that is not as good as or better than types that are currently in the commercial marketplace. The goal would be continuous improvement in the varieties. He said one thing they continue to look at is protein content, "Breeders need to understand that there has to be a minimum level of protein before it's going to make a good dough that you then convert into a product such as a pan bread. We see that number being roughly around 12% in the wheat. So, if you lose 1% in the milling process now, you're talking 11% in the flour. And as you move lower than that, we see less and less functionality in the dough because there is literally is not enough protein there to make a continuous protein network that's needed in the dough process."
He also said that dough strength is another critical trait because if the flour is going to withstand high-speed processing, it has to be able to withstand manipulation and that amount of force that is required to move that product through the line.
Functionality is the key according to Seabourn because if you yield a lot of wheat and nobody wants to buy it because they can't make a profit, then it's not doing much good, "That's the purpose of the wheat quality lab, to be that firewall to prevent varieties that get out there. If it can't make a loaf of bread, for example, we don't need it out there; it hurts the industry all the way around."
Seabourn says he thinks we are right on the cusp of some awesome things for wheat breeding, "That's where wheat is. We're right on the cusp of that we've just mapped the wheat genome, now we need to figure out okay which of these alleles are associated with quality, that'll allow the reader to manipulate those within the wheat plant, and then we'll be getting better and better wheat."
You can also see more about the lab USDA website here:
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