Oregon State University announced Friday that it’s wheat breeder and the head of the National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC), Dr. Jim Peterson, has accepted a position in the private sector as the vice president of research with Limagrain Cereal Seeds.
Peterson will start on May 1 but will work part time at OSU through July 31 to facilitate the program’s transition. In his new job, he will help Limagrain build a North American wheat breeding and seed program, which will be headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo. Limagrain Cereal Seeds is the newest subsidiary in the Limagrain group, which is a farmer-owned cooperative in France and the largest plant breeding and seed-development company in the European Union.
Peterson will leave behind an active variety development team and will step down from his position as chairman of NWIC, which is a coalition of public wheat breeders that, among other things, works each year with NAWG to set and advocate for wheat research funding priorities.
As chair of NWIC since 2005, Peterson has helped to increase annual appropriations to the USDA/Agricultural Research Service by $3 million to develop varieties resistant to stem rust, including the Ug99 fungus.
Back home, he has overseen the development of nine wheat varieties since coming to OSU in 1998. They accounted for more than 60 percent of all winter wheat grown alone or in blends in Oregon last year.
Peterson was also involved with the development of OSU’s herbicide-tolerant Clearfield varieties, which have returned $3.2 million to the university since 2003 and are contributing to dramatic increases in wheat production in the Willamette Valley.