Genetic variation and the effectiveness of early-generation selection for soft winter wheat quality and gluten strength

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Selection for milling and baking quality in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) head-rows could increase the efficiency of most soft winter wheat (SWW) breeding programs. We evaluated whole grain-wheat meal (WM) assays for their ability to select lines with acceptable SWW quality and high gluten strength in early-generations and estimated heritability of SWW quality and gluten strength. One hundred fourteen lines from a cross of strong and weak gluten parents was assessed over three location-years. Flour quality and gluten strength were measured using flour and WM measures. Correlations between WM assays on head-rows and flour-based assays conducted on replicated trials from two locations were significant (P < 0.05). Wheat meal sedimentation volume (WM-SED) was correlated with flour lactic acid solvent retention capacity (SRC; r = 0.37). Wheat meal sodium carbonate SRC (WM-SRC) was correlated with flour sucrose (r = 0.37), flour sodium carbonate (r = 0.46) and flour water (r = 0.47) SRC and negatively correlated with wire-cut cookie diameter (r = –0.33) and flour yield (r = –0.40). Soft winter wheat quality and gluten strength improved when selections were based on WM-SRC and WM-SED, respectively. Early-generation selection for SWW quality and gluten strength using WM tests should increase the frequency of SWW selections with desirable quality characteristics in replicated yield trials.

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