Jagger's Double Decade Impact

Posted October 6, 2016

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of Kansas State University's hard red winter wheat variety, Jagger. This variety has made an impact in several countries, states and individual farms, since its release in 1994. Not only was it one of the most widely-planted varieties, but one of the best parent varieties as well.

Dr. Rollin Sears, a retired wheat breeder for K-State and later AgriPro/Syngenta, made the initial cross for Jagger and several other widely-accepted varieties during his career.

"When I came to Kansas, I noticed that most of the time wheat never ripens in Kansas. It usually dies because of the drought or high temperature. So, I was looking for and making crosses to try to identify wheats that would actually ripen and not die. Jagger was that variety."

Sears explained the moment he chose the cross for Jagger.

"I could take you to the exact spot where Jagger was selected at Ashland Bottoms. It was just one of those things where you're just walking along and you're looking at thousands of rows of wheat and then, all of a sudden, you come to this row, and it's like love at first sight when you see it, and you know that this is going to be a successful variety of wheat," said Sears.

Jagger was planted in two foundation fields in its first year. Nine years later, it reached its peak and had nearly 35,000 acres of Certified seed production with 1.3 million bushels of Certified seed produced that year. Even this year, Certified Jagger is still being produced. During the span of 22 years, over 10 million bushels of Jagger Certified seed has been sold in Kansas alone.

Over the past few years, Jagger has been marketed by the Kansas Wheat Alliance (KWA). This variety may not be seen in many fields across the state as Jagger anymore, but it lives on in the pedigree of several current varieties. Those varieties include K-State's Everest, Joe - KWA's newest hard white wheat variety released in 2015 - and Tatanka, one of KWA's newest hard red wheats released this fall. In addition to having a high percentage of pedigrees worldwide, it was also part of the foundation for wheat breeding.

In Jagger's lifespan, it was planted as a significant variety in 12 countries. It was a hard working variety for farmers because it was dependable and didn't give up. At one point, Jagger was planted on nearly every acre in south central Kansas.

“Jagger is a success story for Kansas wheat farmers,” said Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat. “Grower dollars are invested in wheat research through the K-State Wheat Breeding program, and impactful varieties like Jagger, and its highly successful progeny, are the result. Without the support of the Kansas wheat farmer, stories like this couldn’t occur.”