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Sunish Sehgal honored by Wheat Quality Council two years in a row

Sunish Sehgal shown in a wheat field.
Sunish Sehgal received the 2023 Millers Choice Best of Show Award.

Sunish Sehgal, associate professor and SDSU winter wheat breeder, was honored by the Wheat Quality Council with the 2023 Millers Choice Best of Show Award for the second consecutive year. The honor annually recognizes the wheat breeder of the variety that is most well-liked by U.S. millers participating in the WQC’s evaluation program. 

The main goal of the SDSU hard winter wheat breeding group is to develop high-yielding wheat varieties with resilience to biotic and abiotic stress and provide end-use quality for the milling and baking industry. “At SDSU, we lay as much emphasis on wheat quality as on yield,” Sehgal said.

Sehgal earned the award for two SDSU candidate varieties, SD18B025-8 and SD15007-11. The SDSU varieties ranked the best among 28 new varieties entered in the WQC’s evaluation program from 12 universities or private wheat breeding companies. Millers from across the nation tested the varieties, grown across several locations, to determine the winner.

“This award is well deserved, and I am incredibly proud of the efforts Sunish and the SDSU wheat breeding team have put into developing award-winning wheat varieties,” said David Wright, Maynard A. Klingbeil Endowed Department Head and Professor of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science. “Their efforts will have profound impacts on South Dakota wheat growers and beyond.”

In 2021 and 2022, SD18B025-8 ranked first in eastern South Dakota and second in central South Dakota in the South Dakota Crop Performance Trials, which run tests in 28 environments. It was rated resistant to leaf rust and stem rust and tolerant to stripe rust. In the USDA Northern Regional Performance Nursery trials, SD18B025-8 ranked third and fourth in the last two years across the U.S. northern Great Plains. SD18B025-8 also demonstrated excellent tortilla quality in the WQC test.

Sehgal explained that it is well known that grain yield and grain protein content are negatively correlated, and protein content is one of the most important constituents in wheat quality. “SD18B025-8 breaks that norm, and I am excited about the excellent yield, great quality and good disease resistance that SD18B025-8 can bring in one cultivar,” Sehgal said. SD18B025-8 is being tested in 2023 and will likely be released for producers in fall 2023.

“We greatly appreciate the South Dakota Wheat Commission’s long-term support of SDSU wheat breeding efforts,” Sehgal said. “I hope we can reciprocate wheat producer’s investment and trust through the good varieties that enhance South Dakota’s wheat market value and build a reputation with the milling and baking industry.”