PlainsGold will market two new wheat varieties in 2019 designed to defend against common and emerging pests of wheat.

“Building upon the varieties released last year, these varieties will help farmers play defense like never before,” said Brad Erker, executive Ddirector of Colorado Wheat Research Foundation.

These varieties were developed by the Wheat Breeding and Genetics Program at Colorado State University. Through a long-standing partnership between CSU and CWRF, ownership has been transferred to CWRF, which will market the varieties under its PlainsGold brand.

“These new wheat varieties will help farmers deal with some specific disease and insect pests that have been causing economic losses for some time” said Scott Haley, CSU Wheat Breeder, whose team developed them.

Guardian, a hard red winter wheat, carries two genes for resistance to Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus, as well as resistance to all three types of rust than can plague wheat in the High Plains. The resistance to Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus comes from stacking a gene for resistance to the virus itself together with resistance to the wheat curl mite which transmits the WSMV, wheat mosaic virus, and triticum mosaic virus.

Guardian also displays excellent resistance to stripe rust and intermediate resistance to leaf rust and stem rust. Guardian has medium height, medium maturity, and also scores well for end users, with excellent grain protein content and test weight, and very good milling and baking characteristics. Guardian will be marketed as a Certified Seed Only variety, meaning farmers will need to purchase new seed every year.

“This is a versatile variety—it not only has these disease resistances, it has also yielded well across Colorado for three years now, slightly more than Byrd, the most commonly planted variety,” said Tyler Benninghoven, Seed and Trait Specialist for PlainsGold. “I’m calling it the most defensive variety ever released by PlainsGold, but it actually plays offense pretty great too.”

Fortify SF, also a hard red winter wheat, carries a stem-solidness trait that helps defend against the wheat stem sawfly, an insect pest that has alarmed the wheat industry in the High Plains as it spreads and increases in severity. WSS adults emerge in the spring, lay eggs in stems of the wheat, and the larvae feed down through the stems to cut them off just above the soil surface prior to harvest. The most dramatic impact of the WSS is the lodging of damaged stems and subsequent losses from not being able to completely harvest these stems. Fortify SF expresses more pith development in the stems than traditional hollow-stemmed wheats, while not being completely solid-stemmed.

“We call this a semi-solid variety, which means it strikes a balance between putting all of its effort towards the stem, which usually reduces yield potential, and being completely hollow, which tends to allow the WSS to freely damage the plant,” Erker said.

Fortify SF is one-quarter Bearpaw by parentage, a solid-stemmed variety developed by Montana Ag Experiment Station, which is the source of the stem solidness trait. It is three-quarters Byrd by parentage. Fortify SF will be marketed as a Certified Seed Only variety.

“This combination of stem solidness, bred into an agronomic package and maturity that fits Colorado conditions, is what Colorado farmers affected by WSS have been looking for,” Benninghoven said. “Fortify SF has demonstrated much improved standability under sawfly pressure in test plots so far, while also yielding similar to Byrd, displaying some resistance to WSMV, and having good milling and baking characteristics too, so that we protect our grain industry as this variety takes acres.”

Winter wheat farmers can find more information on PlainsGold, including a list of all seed growers, on www.PlainsGold.com, or by contacting the PlainsGold office toll-free at 1-800-WHEAT-10, or 970-449-6994.

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