EARLY TRIUMPH WHEAT
Oklahoma's first commercial wheat variety and catalyst to the present U.S. bread-wheat industry, Early Triumph, or Triumph (CItr12132), as it is registered in the National Plant Germplasm System, was released in 1940 as a hard red winter wheat pure-line type. Triumph was the first widely grown wheat born in, and bred for, the southern Great Plains. What distinguished this kind from those preceding it (selections from Turkey, and the Crimea and other introduced landraces) were shorter and stronger straw that withstands prairie winds and earlier maturity that escapes Oklahoma's hot summers.
Triumph provided the genetic mold for subsequent varieties bearing similar parentage and names, including Improved Triumph, Super Triumph, and Triumph 64. Industry-wide acceptance is documented by U.S. Department of Agriculture survey statistics that ranked Triumph as the leader among all wheat classes produced in the United States in 1959. With most of its acreage in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, Triumph was planted from Colorado to Tennessee under several aliases, including "Oklahoma."
Even more remarkable than Triumph's acceptance level was its development. A thirteen-year "research project," Triumph was born between Sweetwater and Sayre in Beckham County, Oklahoma, on a farm owned by a self-educated farmer-breeder named Joseph Danne. There he learned how to apply Mendelian laws of inheritance, successfully hybridizing different strains of wheat to create new genetic combinations. In 1924 and 1925 he combined two locally grown selections from Turkey wheat, Kanred and Blackhull, with a lesser-known white wheat type from Australia, Burbank Quality (now known as Florence). This produced a rare progeny uniquely adapted to Oklahoma but acceptable to an industry that had grown accustomed to Turkey's milling and baking characteristics.
Triumph was not the first to feature this radical form of plant breeding, but it was the first of the hybridized U.S. wheats to be released and ultimately win long-term and widespread appeal. The prophetic name Triumph lives on, whether in the fields where some producers remain loyal to this hallmark grain or in the pedigrees of countless contemporary varieties where Triumph sits near the top of the family tree.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Brett F. Carver, Arthur R. Klatt, and Eugene G. Krenzer, "The North American Wheats: U.S. Hard Red Winter Wheat Pool," in The World Wheat Book: A History of Wheat Breeding, ed. Alain P. Bonjean and William J. Angus (London: Intercept, 2001). Edmund A. Peters, "Joseph Danne: Oklahoma Plant Geneticist and His Triumph Wheat," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 59 (Spring 1981).
Brett F. Carver
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