Wheat gene discovery could reduce crop losses

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Researchers are reporting a better understanding of a problem that causes $1 billion in annual crop losses in white wheat alone.

Kansas State University says its researchers and those from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found and cloned a wheat gene that prevents something called pre-harvest sprouting. The issue occurs when wet conditions delay harvest and wheat seeds germinate in the field.

Kansas State Wheat Genetics Resource Center director Bikram Gill says the findings will expedite the breeding of wheat that will not have the problem. It also could make it easier to grow white wheat, which is more susceptible to pre-harvest sprouting.

The findings were published in a recent issue of the scientific journal Genetics.

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