Huffman wheat

From the University of Idaho:

In addition to offering the opportunity to view extensive wheat variety trials, the field day will introduce a first in wheat breeding – a new variety released jointly by the University of Idaho and Washington State University.

The new soft white winter wheat will be named UI-WSU Huffman in honor of UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ alumnus Bradley Huffman, who suddenly and tragically died last year at age 22. Bradley grew up near Cavendish on a family farm operated by his parents, Doug and Julie Huffman. He worked in the university wheat breeding program throughout his undergraduate training. During this time his contribution to the breeding program was significant, said UI plant breeder Jack Brown.

This new variety offers “high yields under dryland conditions, with excellent quality and good resistance to two important wheat diseases, Cephalosporium stripe and yellow stripe rust,” said Brown, who oversaw the variety’s later development and release.

UI-WSU Huffman is a joint release because it resulted from a cross between Bruneau, a cultivar developed by former UI wheat breeder Bob Zemetra, and a wheat breeding line developed at Washington State University.

The new variety will be licensed by and marketed exclusively by Limagrain Cereal Seeds. All of the seed royalties that would normally be allocated to the cultivar breeder and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will go to the Bradley Huffman Scholarship for Plant Breeding and Plant Sciences to commemorate Bradley Huffman’s life.

Brad was my nephew. He died just a little over a year ago.

In the “it’s a small world” category, Jack Brown, quoted above, has kids that went to school with mine. Almost 20 years ago he was also on the same bus as my ex-wife and I when we went on a multi-day field trip with the kids to Oregon to learn more about the Oregon Trail. He was Brad’s boss at the University of Idaho. It was his idea for the naming of the wheat and the scholarship in honor of Brad and he pushed it through the bureaucracy.


8 thoughts on “Huffman wheat

  1. Bravo! Although rare, sometimes bureaucracies get it right, and sometimes good people are able to make enough noise that good things happen! Although I know that Brad’s loss must have been devastating, ( I have sons just a little older and can feel a tiny bit of what his parents might have felt) at least good people made something worthwhile happen to memorialize him. So will this variety grow well on the family farm?

    • It should. I’m not certain but there were probably test plots which contained it on the farm in recent years and the answer is known.

      We almost always have University of Idaho test plots on some of our land and they do a 100 or more varieties at a time.

  2. Yes, the new variety of wheat does very well at Cavendish. I have the 2013 data for nine test plots in Idaho and Washington in front of me. These were test plots of about 50 lines of wheat planted by Brad with help from other U of I employees to evaluate the many lines of wheat under development by the U of I. Across all the Idaho test plots, among the 50 or so varieties tested, “Huffman” wheat ranked #2 in 2013, coming in behind another Idaho variety not yet ready to release. At the Cavendish plot, Huffman yielded 107.1 bushels/acre while the next best commercial variety in the test plot yielded 94.1 bushels/acre.

    • It may not be as sexy as a particle accelerator, but agricultural science is a hell of a lot more important.

      Now I just want to see a plant that grows hamburgers.

      • You do every day. Grass-flowers. You plant it, let it mooooove around a bit, harvest it in the fall. It’s called the “grass-fed-beef.”

        • I wish I could HATE YOU TO DEATH.

          *glares furiously at Rolf, except it just looks like he’s constipated*

          (I kid, I kid… 🙂

    • wow! A nearly 14% improvement in yield is something that is monstrous. When farmers are trying for 2-5% yield improvements with fertilizer and pesticides, that’s a massive change!

      Hopefully we’ll see more Huffman next time at Boomershoot!

      • When I was a kid we thought it was a great crop when we got 70 bushels/acre. Dad used to tell stories of when he was growing up, before chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and 40 bushels/acre was an amazing yield.

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