Researchers finished planting oats for Dr. Fred Kolb's research program yesterday (March 23) before the rain began (Figures). Dr. Kolb works a professor and small grains plant breeder in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. The goal of his field research is to develop improved small grains varieties.
In years past Dr. Kolb would use approximately 0.5 acres at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) to grow oats breeding lines in fewer than 200 small plots. However the recent closures of the Department of Crop Sciences' DeKalb and Brownstown Agronomy Research Centers resulted in Dr. Kolb moving almost 5 acres of oats research to the NWIARDC.
The various breeding lines that were planted at the NWIARDC were also planted earlier in the week at the Crop Sciences Agronomy Research Center on campus in Urbana, where he and other researchers (including graduate students) are able to more closely monitor them throughout the growing season for various characteristics including flowering and maturity dates and disease resistance. In addition to focusing on grain yield and test weight, his breeding program also breeds varieties to have good plant height and standability characteristics and high levels of genetic resistance to both barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) and crown rust.