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Breeding

Climate-smart cows could deliver 10-20x more milk in Global South

URBANA, Ill. — A team of animal scientists from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is set to deliver a potential game changer for subsistence farmers in Tanzania: cows that produce up to 20 times the milk of indigenous breeds.     <

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New greenhouse lighting helps researchers’ urgent need for speed

As a plant breeder, Milcah Kigoni faces enemies every season. Pests. Disease. Weather. But her most relentless nemesis is time.

New lights in the University of Illinois Plant Care Facilities give her and other researchers leverage to develop better plant varieties faster to help feed the world’s growing population. The drama is real.

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University of Illinois offering free quantitative plant breeding workshop in June

URBANA, Ill. – The Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois will host a workshop on applied quantitative genetics for plant breeders June 1-3, 2022. The free workshop will give graduate students and other interested professionals the statistical tools to achieve greater crop breeding outcomes.

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Illinois researchers find exotic sources of resistance to tar spot in corn

URBANA, Ill. – When tar spot – a fungal disease of corn capable of causing significant yield loss – popped out of nowhere in 2015, Midwestern corn growers were left scrambling to manage the outbreak with few effective tools. The industry has since made some progress toward management with fungicides, but many researchers agree resistance is the path forward for living with tar spot.

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5 questions: Wheat breeder's mission? To sustain people and the environment

This week’s 5 Questions Friday features a faculty member in the Department of Crop Sciences. As a small grains breeder, Dr. Jessica Rutkoski goes against the corn-and-beans norm in Illinois to improve important staple crops for societies around the world. 

What motivates you in your work?

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Illinois soybean breeder named AAAS Fellow

URBANA, Ill. – Last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) named soybean breeder Brian Diers one of its 2021 Fellows. The honor recognizes the contributions of researchers for the advancement of science or service to society.

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Resolute scientific work could eliminate wheat disease within 40 years

URBANA, Ill. – Wheat and barley growers know the devastating effects of Fusarium head blight, or scab. The widespread fungal disease contaminates grain with toxins that cause illness in livestock and humans, and can render worthless an entire harvest. As Fusarium epidemics began to worsen across the eastern U.S. in the 1990s and beyond, fewer and fewer farmers were willing to risk planting wheat.

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Latin American rice breeding gets a boost from genomic tools

URBANA, Ill. – How do you like your rice? Sticky, fluffy, brown, or white? These qualities, in addition to grain length, width, appearance, and other traits, are hugely important predictors of rice sales and consumption worldwide. And region matters. Rice preferences in Latin America, for example, are very different from those in West Africa, Japan, India, and elsewhere.

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Could super-charged cattle embryos solve world food challenges?

URBANA, Ill. – What if, in the next five to 10 years, we could double or triple milk and meat availability in developing countries without converting more land to cattle production? Millions of hunger-related deaths and nutritional deficiencies could be prevented, giving farmers and families a real shot at prosperity.

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Drones and AI detect soybean maturity with high accuracy

URBANA, Ill. – Walking rows of soybeans in the mid-summer heat is an exhausting but essential chore in breeding new cultivars. Researchers brave the heat daily during crucial parts of the growing season to look for plants showing desirable traits, such as early pod maturity. But without a way to automate detection of these traits, breeders can’t test as many plots as they’d like in a given year, elongating the time it takes to bring new cultivars to market.

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