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Welcome to the Hybrid Wheat Programme
Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal 132 001, Haryana, India



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Wednesday, 08 May 2002

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 Site Prepared and Launched by: Dr Vinay Mahajan

Research Articles on

Hybrid Wheat

Cytoplasmic-Genetic Male Sterility

Chemical Hybridizing Agent Approach

Global Efforts

Generating New Variability

Segregating Stock Nursery

National Genetic Stock Nursery 

HYBRID WHEAT for more Research Articles


        Exploitation of heterosis through hybrid wheat is more attractive than the conventional plant breeding methods due to lower yield gain of 1% per year in North Western Plains Zone – the bread bowl of India. The traditional breeding methods had so far exploited inter-genomic heterosis making it higher yielding than other diploid crops however, the advantage of intra-genomic heterosis in the three genomes can be harvested through the use of hybrid wheat. In India, efforts on hybrid wheat were initiated in sixties following cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) approach however no significant results were obtained. In 1995, Directorate of Wheat Research Karnal, had decided to re-address hybrid wheat with an emphasis on chemical hybridizing agent (CHA) approach. 
        The opportunity to develop hybrid wheat therefore is highly relevant and rice hybrid is a trendsetter. Unlike rice, in wheat the A, B and the D genomes came together to form the hexaploid bread wheat (Triticum aestivum). Therefore even after several years of efforts no real break through happened (Mahajan V and Nagarajan S, 1998 Opportunities in Hybrid Wheat--A Review. Current Science B64 No.1 pp51-58). 


Chemical Hybridizing Agent Approach: At the Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal the other option, namely the use of CHA was seriously considered. Here we share our success and difficulties; as hybrids offer a great potential for further yield advances and may permit us achieve the 109 million tons of yield from less area under wheat.


Global Efforts: In last 15 years significant efforts have been made for commercial exploitation of hybrid wheat through the use of gametocide. Today, France, Italy, South Africa, and USA have commercial wheat hybrids. In most of these cases the hybrids have longer growth period so that they harness the maximum biomass. After considerable discussion the target area for hybrid wheat was identified as the irrigated, high fertility and timely sown conditions of North Western Plains Zone (NWPZ) i.e. the bread bowl of India. This would ensure more farm income to the farmers and at the same time relieve wheat area for other crops as part of our efforts to diversify cropping system and achieve sustainable wheat production.


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Segregating Stock Nursery: The wheat-breeding programmes remain vibrant due to the availability of superior genetic stocks for yield and other key characters. Directorate of Wheat Research started constituting "Segregating Stock Nursery" in 1997 that includes F2 generation of promising parents. This nursery every year is supplied to ten up-coming centers, which are less exposed to new gene complexes. Even though this nursery initially had the input of segregating material from Hybrid Wheat Programme, it was later supported by leaf blight, late sown and durum programme. Pre-breeding programme also joined in 1998-99 as a part of hybrid programme.


National Genetic Stock Nursery : A co-operative multi-locational evaluation programme of available wheat germplasm in the form of National Genetic Stock Nursery (NGSN) was initiated in 1964-65 crop season and being continued since then. The nursery has been improved each year by deleting not so promising stocks of previous years nursery and addition of new promising material. The primary aim of this nursery is to provide confirmed genetic stocks to the wheat breeders as well as it provides an opportunity to evaluate the genetic stocks for agronomic superiority, biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in various wheat growing zones through 35 centers spread through out the country. The data so generated was published in the form of Progress Report, Vol II, Genetic Resources every year (Mahajan 1997, 1998, 1999, Mahajan and Ganga Rao 2000, 2001,In “Germplasm Evaluation and Enhancement” DWR publications).
        Further refinement in NGSN constitution has been made since 1996-97 crop season onwards. NGSN was transformed into “Suggested Crossing Block” wherein confirmed sources for various characters were included. The genetic sources were confirmed in various other nurseries like Initial Plant Pathological Screening Nursery (IPPSN), Yield Component nursery (YCSN), Short Duration Late Sown Nursery (SDN), Quality Component Screening Nursery (QCSN), Drought and Heat Tolerant Nursery (DHTSN). These nurseries introduced genetic stocks as confirmed sources along with the supporting data. Testing over years and at number of locations generated the data in these nurseries.