AMARILLO — The Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program will break ground for the first of a three-phase Wheat Genetic Improvement Program facility on Tuesday (Dec. 22) at 3 p.m.
The construction site is located within the Conservation and Production Research Laboratory Complex, 2300 Experiment Station Rd., three-fourths of a mile west of Bushland on the south I-40 access road.
The event will begin with comments from John M. Sweeten, director of research at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Amarillo, and Rodney Mosier, executive vice president, Texas Wheat Producers Board.
Remarks will follow from Don Powell, director of the Amarillo Area Foundation. Powell chairs the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System.
Actual construction will begin before Jan. 1 with scheduled completion May 1. The three-phase project calls for initial construction of a building to house a research unit in wheat seed processing and storage.
The new complex will eventually include two more components, to be constructed during Phases II and III of the project, according to Sweeten.
“Within one to two years, we expect construction of four new greenhouses to support wheat genetics research and breeding programs,” he said. Later, a plant sciences laboratory will be built to house research programs in molecular genetics, plant pathology, virology, entomology and integrated pest management.
“This largely depends upon our securing new grants and additional support from external sources,” he explained.
Funding and support for Phase I’s basic construction and equipment was made possible through grants totaling more than $245,000 from the Texas Wheat Producers Board, the Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation and Amarillo Area Foundation, area banks, trusts, production credit associations, agribusinesses and individuals in the Panhandle area.
The Experiment Station awarded the building project to Plains Builders Inc. of Amarillo. The Station’s project designer and construction engineer is Jimmy Dunn, P.E. of College Station.
“This project is part of our overall master plan for expansion in facilities and personnel in the Panhandle,” said Sweeten.
“Our projections for growth will enable us to better serve the stable agricultural base of this area. It’s clear this industry is the backbone of the region’s economy. We’ll continue to look for ways to strengthen our research and extension programs here,” he said.
For more information, contact Sweeten at (806) 359-5401.