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NDSU's breakthrough in pulse crop breeding
North Dakota Ag Connection - 11/20/2023

Nanoy Badillo, a professor at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and a pulse crop breeder, is at the forefront of managing diseases in pulse crops, a crucial industry worth $10 billion. Badillo's team has made significant strides, especially in combating Ascochyta blight, a major chickpea disease.

The NDSU pulse breeding team has recently introduced several new varieties: ND Crown, a Kabuli-type chickpea; ND Dawn, a yellow pea; and ND Victory, a green pea. They are also making progress in lentil breeding. The ND Crown chickpea, notable for its moderate resistance to Ascochyta blight and high yield potential, has been a significant advancement.

Currently, NDSU's Williston Research Extension Center (WREC) is cultivating about 1,150 acres of ND Crown foundation seed. The aim is to distribute this seed to farmers next year, offering them a viable option to grow chickpeas.

Badillo's work doesn't stop disease resistance. His team is also exploring high-protein peas and working on enhancing the nutritional profile of pulse varieties by increasing their iron and zinc content. This could address global health issues like anemia.

To improve breeding efficiency, WREC employs advanced technologies like drones and rovers for field scanning and data collection. This technology accelerates the breeding process, which typically takes 8-10 years, and helps increase the number of seeds per pea pod, a key factor in enhancing yield.

Kyle Dragseth, NDSU Foundation seedstocks manager, anticipates the distribution of ND Crown to County Crop Improvement in spring 2024, marking a new chapter in pulse crop farming. This development by NDSU is set to revolutionize pulse crop agriculture, offering farmers disease-resistant, high-yield, and nutritionally enhanced varieties.

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