Small Grains Initiative

The Small Grains Initiative provides a means for the U of M to initiate or accelerate problem-solving or opportunity research, and associated extension programs, and to support and sustain Minnesota’s wheat and barley industry. 

Minnesota lawmakers first appropriated funding to advance research of Fusarium Head Blight (FHB, scab) in 1994, following the severe 1993 epidemic that affected much of the Northern Plains. This funding is now referred to as the Small Grains Initiative (SGI), and is awarded to faculty within the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) on a biennial basis.

The SGI has led to the development of new wheat and barley varieties with improved scab tolerance, the discovery of sources and different types of scab resistance in exotic and domestic gene pools, and a better understanding of management techniques to reduce crop injury and maximize yield. View a full list of current and past SGI grants.

Small Grains Initiative News

MN-Torgy wheat in field.

U of MN Releases ‘MN-Torgy’ Wheat

The University of Minnesota has released a new hard red spring wheat variety called ‘MN-Torgy.’ MN-Torgy features a good combination of yield, protein, straw strength and disease resistance.


MN Pearl oat.

University of Minnesota Releases ‘MN-Pearl’ Oat

The University of Minnesota (UMN), in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan, has released a new white hull oat variety called ‘MN-Pearl.’ MN-Pearl is a high-yielding variety with good straw strength and high groat percentage. It also has good overall disease resistance including moderate crown rust resistance and excellent smut resistance.


MN Washburn wheat.

University of Minnesota Releases ‘MN-Washburn’ Wheat

The University of Minnesota has released a new hard red spring wheat variety called ‘MN-Washburn.’ MN-Washburn features excellent straw strength and good overall disease resistance. In particular, it contains the bdv2 gene for resistance to Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus making in an excellent choice in years when BYDV is prevalent. 


Lang wheat.

‘Lang-MN' Wheat is Newest U of MN Release

The University of Minnesota has released a new hard red spring wheat variety called ‘Lang-MN.’ It is a well-balanced, high yielding spring wheat variety well suited for much of the spring wheat-growing region. Lang-MN is named after Ben Lang, past president of the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association (MCIA).


Shelly wheat growing in field.

'Shelly' Wheat is Newest U of MN Release

'Shelly’ is the newest wheat variety developed by the University of Minnesota and dates for touring demonstration plots have just been announced.


Closeup Bolles wheat.

Seed Producers Planting New University of Minnesota Wheat Variety

‘Bolles’ is a promising hard red spring wheat released by the University of Minnesota’s Agricultural Experiment Station in January 2015. The variety’s outstanding characteristic is its very high grain protein content in combination with above average yield potential, a difficult combination to achieve.