MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — Ground was broken earlier this month for the new Kansas Wheat Innovation Center (KWIC), a state-of-the-art wheat research/office complex being built on the north campus of Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan, Kansas, U.S.

The Kansas Wheat Commission is funding the 40,000-square-foot structure, which includes 15,000 square feet of advanced wheat breeding laboratories, a 10,000-square-foot greenhouse complex and 15,000 square feet of office space. The center will house Heartland Plant Innovations (HPI), a Kansas Wheat initiative focused on developing new technologies for Kansas Wheat Farmers. The staff of the Kansas Wheat Commission and Kansas Association of Wheat Growers (KAWG) also will be headquartered at the KWIC.

“One of the most notable tenants will be HPI’s Advanced Breeding Services Unit, which has developed a doubled haploid laboratory that can reduce wheat variety development time from approximately 12 years to potentially five years. This laboratory puts new varieties in the hands of growers faster,” said Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of Kansas Wheat.

The research facility will also house some of the operations of KSU’s world-renowned Wheat Genetics and Genomics Resource Center (WGGRC).

The KWIC is being built on three acres adjacent to the Grain Science and Industry Complex north of Kimball Avenue in Manhattan, on land being leased from KSU. The Manhattan-based architect firm Bowman, Bowman and Novick, Inc., designed the facility. Coonrod and Associates, Wichita, is the project’s construction manager. It is expected to be completed by summer of 2012.

The cost of the KWIC project is $8.3 million and will be funded mostly by wheat check-off funds collected from Kansas wheat producers. Additional sources of funding include grant money from the Kansas Bioscience Authority and private fundraising.

“Farmers repeatedly voice support for investing more check-off dollars in wheat research,” said Richard Randall, KWC chairman from Scott City. “This project represents the largest single research investment that wheat farmers have ever made in the U.S., and signals a bold step taken by the Kansas Wheat Commission to provide farmers access to advanced genetics and trait discovery.”

David Schemm, president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers from Sharon Springs, Kansas, U.S., said the state’s KAWG fully supports the KWIC.

“One of our national strategic initiatives is to increase wheat yields 20% by 2018. This Innovation Center will help us achieve that goal,” Schemm said.