Griffey finds a keeper in Hilliard, new wheat variety

Managing Editor

WARSAW, Va. (June 2, 2015) — Dr. Carl Griffey knew for while that he wanted to name a wheat variety after his mother, Joy. He just had to wait for one worthy to carry her name.
The longtime Virginia Tech small grains breeder found it in the newly released variety he named “Hilliard,” which is his mother’s maiden name.
“I wanted to get a wheat variety out before I retired, and I wanted a good one,” Griffey told seedsmen and farmers at a recent field day at the Eastern Virginia Agriculture Research and Extension Center. “You don’t want to name a variety after somebody and have it flop.”
In Griffey’s 25-year tenure as Virginia Tech’s small grains breeder, he’s released some 73 wheat varieties and a dozen barley varieties for commercial use. He said retirement is probably about five or six years away. 
He said his mother was planning to attend the field day but for health reasons, she ended up not coming.
“I think she was very pleased,” Griffey said of choosing the variety’s name.
Judging by Hilliard’s performance in Griffey’s breeding program, it should be far from a flop.
Its test weight has been higher than the popular Branson and Shirley varieties and it ranked first in yield among 39 varieties in the state’s eastern region sites at 88 bushels per acre and second among 33 entries in southern nursery sites at 84 bushels per acre.
Griffey also said Hilliard has had good straw strength, similar to that of Shirley, which, interestingly, he named after his grandmother.
Hilliard also expresses moderate to high levels of resistance to several diseases prevalent in the Soft Red Winter wheat growing area including powdery mildew, leaf rust, stripe rust, leaf and glume blotch, bacterial leaf streak, Fusarium head blight, soil borne mosaic virus and barley and cereal Yellow Dwarf Virus.
Hilliard is Griffey’s second awned or bearded release of his public wheat varieties.
“Hopefully the deer won’t like it very much which is a plus,” Griffey said.
Perhaps the only bad news about Hilliard is that it’ll be a couple years before it’s available to farmers. About 10 acres of Hilliard is planted at the Virginia Crop Improvement Association’s Foundation Seed Farm in Mt. Holly, Va., that should yield about 600-700 units of foundation seed which will go to seedsmen to expand the variety in their own trials, Bruce Beahm, Foundation Seed Farm manager said.
“It’s going to be a couple of years before it’s available to growers,” Beahm said.