High Essay

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HIGH-YIELDING WHEAT The wheat varieties discussed here are descendents of Japanese, American, and Italian varieties and breeding efforts. These varieties first emerged, in recorded form, in the middle 1800's and the early 1900's. They were not, however, the first to show some of the major characteristics of the present varieties. The earliest known example for wheat occurred on June 30, 1794, when the American Mercury of Hartford, Conn., published "An Account of a New Species of Wheat." The new variety was a hard winter wheat which, compared to the prevailing species, matured 15 to 20 days earlier, provided a heavier yield, and produced a third less straw on a short stem. It also was disease-resistant (particularly with respect to rust), and because of its earlier maturity escaped the worst damage of the Hessian fly. The variety was known as Forward Wheat and came from Caroline County, Va., where it had been selected 7 years earlier. Seed was offered for sale in Connecticut in September 1795. By 1798-1800, it was generally grown in eastern Virginia and Maryland, and was presumably adopted in the commercial wheat-growing areas of western New England.* Other such "modern" varieties may well have emerged unrecorded over time. Japanese-American Roots Japan has had a long history in the development of dwarf wheat. In 1873, Horace Capron, former U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture who headed an ' The reader desiring more technical detail than is provided in this chapter may wish to consult D. S. Athwal, "Semidwarf Rice and Wheat and Global Food Needs," The Quarterly Review of Biology, March 1971, pp. 1-34.; and Te-Tzu Chang, "Genetics and Evolution of the Green Revolution". IRRI, October 1977, mimeo, 43 pp. (Prepared for UNESCO Symposium of Genetics and Ethics, Madrid, October 1977.) - ' Based on Chester hi. Destler: " 'Forward Wheat' for New England:

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