ICARDA working to breed climate-adaptable wheat

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) scientists are using modern plant breeding methods to add traits that help wheat resist climate-induced stresses that may include drought, extreme heat or cold and new pests and diseases.

Dryland farmers plant drought-tolerant grain crops, such as durum wheat. While considered drought-tolerant, the wheat is often planted in poor soils in hot, arid areas and grown with limited amounts of water.

The farmers do not have the means to use supplemental irrigation or other expensive technologies to increase the crop.

By using modern technology to breed wheat that is acclimated to local conditions, ICARDA can help farmers grow larger crops without increasing water usage. ICARDA plant breeders and agronomists integrate useful genes into the seed DNA to produce climate-ready varieties of wheat.

ICARDA breeders use similar methods to develop pest and disease resistant varieties. High yield varieties are combined with primitive strains of wheat and landraces to develop special genes that protect against pests and diseases. The resistant genes are then identified and combined to produce wheat varieties suited for the local conditions.

ICARDA's work in bringing better varieties of wheat to farmers has been successful in Morocco. The climate-ready variety has consistently provided higher yields than commercial varieties.

Organizations in this story

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas Verdun Beirut, Beirut Governorate

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