The Gruhlkey brothers – Brittan, 24, Braden 25, and Cameron 20 – worked with NRCS through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative to adopt better equipment and techniques to manage their water use. USDA photo.
The tales of young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs launching new ventures out of Silicon Valley are common. But what about three 20-something brothers who live – not in some high tech mecca – but near the small community of Wildorado, Texas, who started a new business venture?
The Gruhlkey brothers – Brittan, 24, Braden, 25, and Cameron, 20 – are farming cotton, corn, sorghum and wheat while showing how technology plays an important role in farming. The average age of Texas farmers is nearly 60 years old, making their enterprise a unique one and they’re doing this amid huge challenges, including an ongoing drought and a growing demand for water. Read more »
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
The average consumer might not think about it, but for decades, USDA plant breeding research has been producing varieties that have been helping feed the world and preserve the environment. We know that you look for the plumpest, juiciest strawberries at your neighborhood market, so USDA plant breeding scientists worked to find the genes to make them taste even better. And to help farmers in Northern climates produce more food for our tables, USDA plant breeding researchers developed corn that would mature early before the bitter cold arrived. This important work plays a significant role in our lives and USDA hopes to build on all these positive outcomes to make sure even more keep coming. Therefore, to coordinate work on plant breeding and maximize the results from ever more limited resources, USDA formed a new Plant Breeding Working Group (PBWG) earlier this year. Read more »
USDA scientists and their partners have found a molecular tool that will help control wheat stem rust, a fungal disease threatening much of the world’s wheat supply.
First reported in 1999 in Uganda, wheat stem rust–caused by the Ug99 pathogen–is a devastating disease in several countries in Africa and the Middle East where losses can be up to 70 percent. Many experts predict this specific strain could spread rapidly, causing a wheat shortage affecting food security worldwide. Ninety percent of the wheat grown worldwide is susceptible, so if no preventive action is taken, it could cause wheat shortages and affect food security. Read more »
One of 40 new maps showing major crop-producing areas in the United States and other nations.
A total of 40 new maps have been prepared, showing major crop-producing areas in the United States, China, India, Pakistan, and South Africa. Earlier versions of these maps appeared in the Major World Crop Areas and Climatic Profiles (MWCACP) handbook that contains climatological data, agricultural statistics, and crop calendar information for major agricultural areas worldwide, and serves as a reference for evaluating the effects of weather on world crop production. The new maps, listed by country and commodity, supplement the MWCACP publication by updating illustrations of cropping patterns in these countries: Read more »
Researchers in Njoro, Kenya, evaluating wheat for resistance to Ug99 in October 2005.
The Journal Nature today published a paper reporting that scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), as part of an international team, have completed a shotgun sequencing of the wheat genome. The achievement is expected to increase wheat yields, help feed the world and speed up development of wheat varieties with enhanced nutritional value. Wheat is one of the world’s “big three” crops, along with rice and corn, upon which the world’s growing population depends for nutrition.
Sequencing the genome of wheat was unusually daunting because the wheat genome is five times the size of the human genome, and has 94,000 to 96,000 genes. This sequencing effort involved the identification of essentially all of those genes and mapping their relationship to other genes. Previously, the size and complexity of the wheat genome had been significant barriers to performing a complete analysis, but the scientists overcame that problem by developing a new strategy that compared wheat genetic sequences to known grass genes, such as from rice and barley. Read more »
Staff from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) were among 71 participants who attended the 2012 Hard Spring and Durum Wheat Quality Tour across the northern plains July 23-26.
The U.S. Wheat Quality Council sponsors the annual tour, enabling attendees to assess the yield of the current year’s wheat crop – even before it is harvested – and to network with specialists in the wheat quality field.
Overall, it was a very good wheat crop, and the Wheat Quality Council predicts it’s the third-highest yield ever. Thanks to early planting, the wheat matured enough to escape the extreme heat of the summer, allowing for higher protein levels and, ultimately, a good harvest that can be readily exported. Read more »