Seed World

Kansas State, General Mills Developing New Wheat Varieties

Kansas State University officials are hailing a recent partnership with food giant General Mills as a win-win proposition that ultimately will benefit the state’s farmers and consumers worldwide.
The two groups have formed a research agreement to develop wheat varieties with improved nutritional, milling and baking qualities. The multi-year project will pump more than $400,000 into wheat development at the university.
“Kansas State has unique capabilities to connect wheat research all the way from genomics to milling and baking, which makes us a strong partner for these types of research projects,” said Jesse Poland, K-State assistant professor of plant pathology.
Poland is also director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics – a five-year, $5 million project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development – and associate director of the university’s Wheat Genetics Resource Center.
Since forming the agreement, General Mills has placed two full-time scientists in the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center on the north end of Kansas State’s Manhattan campus to help with this and other projects.
“The overall goal of this project is to identify and develop improved wheat varieties that have superior nutritional and processing quality,” said Eric Jackson, a geneticist and systems biologist with General Mills Crop Biosciences, and one of the two scientists now in Manhattan. “It’s our belief that this approach will increase the quality of consumer products through decreasing additives in processing, and increasing the utility and function of whole grain products.”