New wheat variety Joppa draws attention from durum farmers

Farm Forum

GRENORA, N.D. (AP) — A new variety of wheat is garnering some attention from North Dakota durum growers.

The wheat variety, named Joppa, was developed by professor Elias M. Elias as part of a North Dakota State University breeding program. It took more than a decade to develop, and researchers got it by crossing a high-yield variety with a high-quality one.

“It’s shown very high yield potential across the whole state of North Dakota and Montana, so it has a very good yield and a good quality,” Elias told the Williston Herald ( ). “It combines both.”

Grenora resident Wade Fischer is among a handful of North Dakota farmers who have purchased some of the wheat to grow seed for release next growing season.

“I wanted to get my hands on that Joppa to see how it would do because durum is literally bread and butter for me,” he said. “Sometimes they tell you a variety yields better, but you never know until you try it yourself. It might not do as well for your land.”

Joppa yielded two more bushels per acre than another variety Fischer planted, and he said he hopes to switch to growing only the new kind within the next two years.

Nevin Dahl, who tends to a farm southeast of Watford City, saw even more success with Joppa and also plans to grow more of it next year. He said the new variety beat a different type of wheat by 10 to 20 bushels an acre.

“Some of it has to be attributed to the wonderful amount of rainfall we received this year,” Dahl said. “But probably, the best characteristic of it is, I had 2 inches of rain and it still held its color well. Very well for the amount of rain on it.”

Both farmers credit the North Dakota State University breeding program with developing wheat varieties that grow well in the state.

The comprehensive program, which focuses on at least a dozen crops, has helped North Dakota maintain its position as a top producer of a wide variety of commodities. The reason for the success, Elias said, is that the program is a complete package.

“We have the breeding program in the Department of Plant Sciences, and the Department of Cereal Science which evaluates all the quality,” he said. “We have plant pathology and the entomology department, so we have all that here, plus we have the USDA laboratories here.”

The university has breeding programs for oats, flax, potatoes, barley, durum and other wheats, soybeans, corn, edible beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and various woody plants.

“I don’t know if people know that all these crops that are grown in North Dakota, we have breeders for these crops,” Elias said. “I don’t think there are that many universities around the country with that many breeding programs.”