Global warming as well as changes in the amount and location of water underscore the need to continue crop-breeding programs.

That’s according to Patrick Hayes, Bob Zemetra and Sagar Sathuvalli, crop breeders at Oregon State University. And because there are many diseases that affect crop yield and quality, breeders need to continue breeding for new disease-resistant crop varieties.

In the “Sustainable Secure Food” blog the breeders recently described efforts to improve barley, wheat and potatoes.

Barley

“Barley breeders are working to make barley more robust in the face of climate change,” Hays said. “We also work to make it a more profitable crop for farmers, and more available to consumers.”

Crop breeders are working on barley that can survive winter cold as well as barley that’s drought resistant. They’re also working to expand the choice of barley varieties that can be used as a whole grain.

Wheat

“Increasing variation in temperature and moisture availability also expands the regions where diseases and insect pests of wheat are found,” Zemetra said.

“Researchers are working to more efficiently pinpoint desired wheat traits in the genetic code. That helps us look at ways to cross-breed different varieties. New higher-yielding varieties will carry desired traits for disease resistance, temperature tolerance and end-use quality.”

Potatoes

“Potatoes are an important food crop for food security,” Sathuvalli said. “They carry calories for energy and many essential nutrients. Potatoes are one of the highest-yielding crops per hectare of arable land.”

In addition to increasing the crop’s efficiency in the field, researchers are finding improved ways to use genetic resources and minimize losses due to tuber-borne diseases.

Visit sustainable-secure-food-blog.com for more information.