OSU releases new disease-resistant soft white winter wheat for Willamette Valley

August 13, 2007
Goetze wheat test plot

Hillsboro farmer Vince Dobbin harvests a test plot of Goetze wheat, a new Willamette valley variety developed by OSU researchers and named after a long-time OSU Extension professor Norm Goetze. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists in Oregon State University's Department of Crop and Soil Science have developed a new variety of soft white winter wheat named “Goetze.” Produced in cooperation with USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Goetze wheat has superior yield potential, disease resistance, short stature and adaptation to western Oregon production conditions.

Goetze wheat is a well-suited replacement for “Foote,” a soft white winter wheat for the Willamette Valley, released in 1998 by OSU, explained Michael Flowers, cereal specialist for the OSU Extension Service.

"In 2004, a stripe rust race change occurred that made the previously resistant Foote susceptible," said Flowers. "The loss of Foote combined with low wheat prices and high grass seed prices have contributed to the low wheat acreage planted over the last few years."

Foote soft white wheat was grown on almost 40,000 acres in the Willamette Valley in 2004 and made up about 93 percent of the region's acreage planted to wheat. By 2006, only 1,400 acres of Foote were planted, only 6.7 percent of the 21,000 total acres of wheat planted in the Willamette Valley.

"We hope that the introduction of Goetze, along with higher wheat prices will reverse the trend and we will start to see an increase in wheat acres in the Willamette Valley," said Flowers.

Breeders named this new soft white wheat 'Goetze" in honor of the leadership and contributions of Norm Goetze to the Oregon wheat industry. Goetze had a 40-year history with the OSU Extension Service, beginning in 1959 as an as Extension farm crops specialist. He later served as Extension agricultural program leader and associate director of the OSU Extension Service before his retirement in 1989. He also worked in international agriculture in Turkey, Jordan, Sudan and other countries.

After retirement, Goetze was active in several agricultural organizations related to the wheat industry. He is a past president of the Oregon Wheat Growers League and a past chair of the Oregon Wheat Commission.

Goetze wheat took more than 12 years to develop and is best adapted to the Willamette Valley and areas of Oregon where the wheat variety “Gene” is commonly grown. Goetze has less cold tolerance than Stephens or Tubbs, more similar to the variety Gene. Goetze requires little or no vernalization to initiate flowering – factors that increase the risk of winter damage when the variety is grown further north and east. Vulnerability of Goetze to cold temperatures was confirmed in 2005 WSU variety trials, as significant winter damage was observed in north central Washington test sites.

OSU and USDA wheat researchers determined that the new Goetze wheat variety (experimental designation ORH010920) is moderately resistant to Septoria leaf blotch, an important disease of the Willamette Valley.

"For a wheat variety to be successful in the valley it needs to have both stripe rust and septoria resistance," said Flowers. "Therefore, we all have high hopes for Goetze because it has both good septoria and stripe rust resistance, combined with high yield potential."

Evaluated through the Pacific Northwest Wheat Quality Council in 2006, Goetze is considered to have acceptable milling and baking quality for the soft white market class, similar in quality to Stephens and Tubbs.

Foundation seed will be available in the fall of 2007, said Flowers. It will be another year before commercial production is possible. Goetze is being submitted for open release with Plant Variety Protection, but without the Title 5 option – meaning that common seed sales are allowed for this variety. Seed has been deposited in the USDA National Small Grains Collection, Aberdeen, Idaho. It was selected from Hybritech germplasm, donated to OSU by Monsanto.

Author: Carol Savonen
Source: Michael Flowers, James Peterson