Population growth has a direct impact on demand for for agricultural products and services. A large majority of the population now resides in urban communities rather than rural areas. This continued population growth places a demand on the agricultural industry to produce more food, thus increasing our focus on new crops to sustain the population growth and reduce stress on the current food supply.
- Beaumont Center researchers developed Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s first rice cultivars, which have a 5% yield advantage compared to currently grown varieties which will increase statewide production revenue by $1.22 million per year.
- Corpus Christi center scientists and AgriLife Research peanut breeders have developed new peanut varieties that have a greater potential yield and make better use of irrigation water.
- El Paso center researchers are developing bioenergy crops that can use marginal-quality water sources such as treated urban wastewater and gray water.
Current Projects & Selected Accomplishments
Rice breeding program
Dr. Rodante Tabien and Lloyd T. (Ted) Wilson released ‘Colorado’ and ‘Antonio’ in 2012, which are the first inbred rice cultivars developed by Texas A&M AgriLife Research. They are also the first cultivars of any crop species developed using marker-and model-assisted selection.
Dr. Lloyd T. (Ted) Wilson and Dr. Omar Samonte, now with the California rice breeding program, began laying the foundation for a hybrid rice-breeding program in 2007. In 2015, Professor Yan joined the center and worked with Dr. Wilson to create over 300 parental lines. A strong partnership with the Texas Rice industry focuses on creating a cutting-edge hybrid-rice-breeding program built upon advanced phenotyping developed around both marker- and model-assisted trait selections.
New varieties of clover and ryegrass
Dr. Gerald Smith’s research at the Overton Center has resulted in six plants being released and licensed: ‘Neches’, ‘Sabine’, ‘Blackhawk’, ‘Silver River, and two ryegrasses, ‘TAM TBO’ and ‘Nelson’. Smith found that the early and profuse flowering traits of ‘Neches’ clover will save stakeholders approximately $1 million each reseeding year, if ‘Neches’ is only 5% of total white clover use.
Small grain improvements
Amarillo researchers Shuyu Liu and Jackie Rudd are working to develop superior wheat germplasm lines that can tolerate multiple stresses, using conventional and molecular breeding. Modern cultivars generally have a higher yield and more efficiently use available natural resources. They also have greater resistance to insects and pathogens such as wheat streak mosaic virus, thus reducing the need for chemical applications.
The goal of the TAM wheat breeding program is to design small grain cultivars focused on hard winter wheat for specific adaption areas and management programs in Texas. These cultivars have greater resistance to pathogens and insects, thus reducing the need for chemical applications.
Specialty crop artichoke
The Uvalde Center is also credited with developing strategies from transplanting to harvest of artichoke, a new specialty crop for Texas.
Dr. Jorge de Silva is developing new varieties of sugarcane based on sugar content, resistance to pests and disease, and other methods to encourage high yield of sustainable sugarcane production in South Texas.
Stormproof and disease resistant cotton
Lubbock Center is arguably most known for developing stormproof cotton and the original mechanical cotton stripper. These discoveries changed the area from a ranching to farming region, and influenced cotton production across the world. Researchers continue to develop new cotton germplasm with improvements such as resistance to disease and pests.