FFAR Awards Emergency Funds to Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation and Kansas State University Researchers to Protect Wheat Yields in Kansas

Research and Extension Efforts Aim to Combat Wheat Streak Mosaic

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit organization established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, awarded $50,000 to the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation for research and outreach to mitigate damage from wheat streak mosaic, a viral disease threatening wheat yields across Kansas and the High Plains. The grant is being matched by the Kansas Wheat Commission for a total of $120,000 invested  in research and extension to combat the virus.

An infected field in Kansas shows signs of stunted growth and yellow streaking in young wheat.

Although management methods for wheat streak mosaic are known, wheat farmers continue to see an annual five percent yield loss caused by viruses including wheat streak mosaic virus. Some producers have documented hundreds of thousands of dollars’ in losses to wheat streak mosaic, according to the Kansas Wheat Commission.

This grant is supporting updated best management practices for wheat farmers threatened by wheat streak mosaic and identification of the best available disease resistant wheat varieties. Researchers will work closely with farmers through focus groups and surveys to better understand factors that elevate disease risk and how to overcome obstacles to implementing known mitigation strategies.

Research will be conducted by Kansas State University research and extension specialists.

“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to be able to provide rapid funding to support this multi-partner effort focused on direct outreach to Kansas wheat farmers,” said Sally Rockey, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research executive director. “The work being led by the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation is an example of the critical relationship between U.S. farmers and the research and extension enterprise.”

A multi-partner team of communications specialists from the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas State University and the Kansas Department of Agriculture will disseminate findings to wheat farmers.

“Wheat Streak Mosaic is yet another challenge that Kansas producers have faced; in 2017 the disease cost Kansas nearly $80 million dollars,” said Rep. Roger Marshall, M.D., the congressman representing the 1st District of Kansas. “It is great to see FFAR recognize the size of this problem and partner with the innovative researchers at Kansas State University and the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center on this research, for the benefit of Kansas Wheat farmers and global food security.”

The Kansas Wheat Commission will share results with partner wheat organizations in other states affected by wheat streak mosaic.

In recent years, progressively warmer fall temperatures extending well into November have elevated the risk of frequent and severe outbreaks of wheat streak mosaic. The financial impact of crop yield losses caused by the virus are magnified by low commodity market prices driven by a global surplus.

The grant is issued through the Foundation’s Rapid Outcomes from Agricultural Research (ROAR) program, an initiative designed to prevent and mitigate damage from emerging pests and pathogens through short-term research funding. Applicants are encouraged to form broad-based coalitions to increase research collaboration and maximize the mitigation potential of each grant.

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