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New wheat honors UI graduate
Bradley Huffman, an enthusiastic student of plant breeding, died unexpectedly this past year at 22
Posted: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 8:24 am, Wed Jul 9, 2014.GENESEE - Bradley Huffman's interest in plant breeding began at an early age - and to some, he was a natural. That's why Jack Brown felt it was fitting for the new wheat variety released jointly from the University of Idaho and Washington State University to be named after the recent UI graduate, who unexpectedly died in June 2013 at age 22.
"Brad Huffman, to many people, is a name you're not familiar with, but to the people at UI, it's a name you've been familiar with for quite a long time," said Brown, a UI plant breeder.
Brown announced the new soft white winter wheat variety named UI-WSU Huffman during a field day Tuesday at UI's Kambitsch Farm off of U.S. Highway 95 near Genesee. The field day also had updates on wheat variety trials, as well as discussion about the collaborative research and breeding efforts by UI and Limagrain Cereal Seeds, including an agreement to license and market the Huffman variety exclusively. Limagrain Cereal Seeds is a joint venture among the French Farmers Cooperative, Limagrain through Vilmorin and Co., and Arcadia Biosciences in Davis, Calif.
Brown told a crowd of farmers, researchers, students and community members that he sincerely thought the Huffman variety was one of the best-looking wheats because of its disease resistance, high quality and high yields capability. He said he anticipated seeing high production numbers of the variety in the next couple years once the wheat becomes commercialized.
Huffman grew up on his family's farm near Cavendish and graduated from high school in 2009, before attending UI, where he graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Huffman's parents, Julie and Doug Huffman, said their son expressed interest in plant breeding as early as junior high. The couple said Tuesday they were honored to have their son remembered with the wheat naming, though it was an emotional day.
"It's certainly mixed feelings," Doug Huffman said. "It's a tremendous honor. At the same time it's because of his death, so it's mixed feelings."
Doug Huffman told those in attendance Tuesday that he and his family were able to gain insight into his son's life through the photos Bradley took. Some of the last images he snapped included this particular wheat variety.
"It's been a really tough year for us," Doug Huffman said.
Brown said Bradley Huffman was actively involved in UI's wheat breeding program, even before he started college.
"He was extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable," Brown said, crediting Huffman's farming background.
Huffman was in the wheat breeding program for five years and his involvement continued after his graduation. Brown said he's confident that in different circumstances, Huffman would have been a great plant breeder.
"He took to it very well," Brown said. "He was a natural."
The seed royalties from the UI-WSU Huffman, which would typically go to the breeder and College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, will instead go toward the Bradley Huffman Scholarship for Plant Breeding and Plant Sciences to help support students studying in the Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences, said John Foltz, dean of the college.
Rudd may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 791-8465. Follow her on Twitter @elizabeth_rudd.