Otsego: A new Cornell wheat variety with improved grain yield and disease resistance




The Cornell Small Grains Breeding and Genetics Project has released a new soft red winter wheat variety called Otsego with exceptionally high grain yield, grain quality and disease resistance. This variety is moderately resistant to fusarium head blight and is more sprout resistant than white wheat varieties, thus increasing the efficiency of production for the farmer and thereby resulting in higher profits.


Small grains are grown on about 400,000 acres of New York farms annually. Improved varieties with high grain yields, resistance to plant diseases and improved grain quality are required for our farmers to remain competitive domestically and internationally. Consumers' increased preference for healthy and safe food products has increased demand for foods that not only taste good but also help to prevent heart disease and cancer. Locally produced farm products can result in substantial savings to the industry and to New York and help maintain local economic vitality and reduce energy consumption. Cornell has the only active small grains breeding program in the Northeast region that is developing and testing wheat, oats, rye and barley.


Otsego yields more and better quality grain with good disease resistance, particularly to fusarium head blight, which is important because fusarium head blight disease has been a growing problem throughout the major wheat growing regions of the U.S. This is because the inoculum for this disease comes from the crop land in conservation tillage. Resistance to this disease is especially important because the fungus produces a chemical that is toxic to humans. Winter wheat is a vital component of New York agriculture because it spreads the labor requirement over more of the year. It is an environmentally friendly crop due to its low requirements for pesticides and fertilizers, and it helps prevent soil erosion.


A 5 percent increase in grain yield of a variety grown on half of the New York wheat acreage can result in over a million dollars in increased income to the New York wheat farmer annually. Consumers are the ultimate beneficiaries of this project because the results are healthier, safer, cheaper food products that are produced locally. The livestock industry benefits from cheaper feed, and the food processing industry benefits from access to locally produced raw materials. A healthy farm economy depends on locally adapted, competitive varieties of all crops and, in turn, contributes to the New York state economy. Because small grains are low-input crops requiring minimal tillage, less fertilizer and fewer pesticides, they contribute to environmental conservation and a clean environment.

Submitted by: 

  • Sorrells, Mark E

Researchers involved: 

  • Sorrells, Mark E

Organizations involved: 

  • USDA Wheat Quality Lab
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • New York Seed Improvement Project

International focus: 

  • Canada
  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Michigan
  • New York