New Wheat Variety Released by Colorado State Named After Longtime Plant Pathologist

Note to Editors: A fact sheet on Bill Brown wheat and a photograph of Bill Brown are available for download by visiting and clicking on the header of this release.

A new high-yielding and stress tolerant variety of hard red winter wheat developed by the Colorado State University Agricultural Experiment Station has been released to seed producers in Colorado. Named "Bill Brown" as tribute a longtime Colorado State professor and Extension plant pathologist who passed away in 2003, the new variety has shown high yields in Colorado and excellent defense from both leaf and stripe rust.

Dr. William "Bill" M. Brown, who joined Colorado State in 1980, devoted his career to the improvement and management of disease of wheat and other grain crops, including leaf and stripe rusts. He was a charismatic and upbeat individual and an internationally recognized and highly respected researcher, according to his colleagues. Among several other leadership positions, Brown served as an international extension coordinator and faculty advisor for the Peace Corps.  He also had a witty sense of humor and an affinity for jazz. The annually-awarded William E. Brown Jr. Memorial Scholarship was established in 2003.

"Bill was the kind of person that could fill up a room and make everyone happy," said Tom Holtzer, head of Colorado State’s Department of Bioagricultural and Sciences and Pest Management. "He was a tremendous researcher and an excellent, engaging teacher."

In several years of field testing throughout eastern Colorado, the Bill Brown wheat variety has shown exceptional yield under both non-irrigated and irrigated conditions, very high test weights, and good milling and baking qualities, said Colorado State wheat breeder Scott Haley. Haley leads a team of researchers, including Extension entomologist Frank Peairs and Extension agronomist Jerry Johnson, which focus on improving wheat varieties for Colorado’s farmers.

"Bill Brown has been a top-yielder over a three-year average in the dryland trials, essentially equivalent to the high-yielding variety Hatcher," Haley said. "That included two very drought-stressed years in 2005 and 2006. Bill Brown has also topped our irrigated trials and has the potential to be the standard for irrigated wheat growers."

It took 10 years to develop Bill Brown, Haley said, with the first cross-breeding taking place in 1997. Colorado State’s wheat breeding program has established itself as a dependable developer of new, productive wheat varieties for Colorado growers. In 2007, about half of all wheat acreage in Colorado was planted to varieties developed by Colorado State.

In an agreement between Colorado State, the Colorado Wheat Research Foundation, or CWRF, and the Colorado Seed Growers Association, ownership and marketing rights of Bill Brown will be offered to the CWRF. Bill Brown may be grown and sold only as a class of certified seed by Colorado Seed Growers Association members licensed by the Colorado Wheat Research Foundation. The foundation will obtain a certificate of plant variety protection for these new varieties under the federal Plant Variety Protection Act. Royalties paid to the foundation by certified seed growers from the sale of these varieties is returned to Colorado State to support continued wheat research and variety development.