Wheat is in demand around the world, but production lags. Bayer is at work on multiple fronts to drive productivity.
More than 650 million tons of wheat are produced annually—not nearly enough to meet growing demand. Wheat is a staple of diets around the world, yet its productivity is increasing less than 1 percent annually. To address this challenge, Crop Science has formed several partnerships focused on expanding cereal crop production.
The demand for quality wheat is on the rise, yet cereal production is increasing by less than 1 percent each year.
Winter Cereals Sustainability
In 2009, Crop Science partnered with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to raise awareness about the benefits of growing winter cereals. Together, they launched a five-year plan to ensure 2 million acres of winter cereals are routinely grown in the prairies. The program, called Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action (WC:SIA), promises an investment in research and variety development, as well as work with public policy to place a renewed interest in winter cereal crop growth. At the same time, Bayer agreed to support DUC's research on sustainable habitats.
“We recognize that farmers need better options in varieties, disease resistance and production practices to make wheat a sustainable crop of the future,” said Peter Peerbolte, cereals crop manager for Crop Science. “Crop Science is making the investments that the cereal industry needs for today and tomorrow.”
Now, two years into the program, Bayer has hired three agronomists who specialize in winter wheat production and can help growers incorporate it into their farms. They've also partnered with Winfield Solutions, in addition to three public universities in the Northwest, as research collaborators, and Winfield Solutions included WCSIA field trials in its North and South Dakota tours, further raising awareness about winter cereals crop production.
Breeding Partnerships Worldwide
But the Crop Science commitment to winter cereals goes beyond just raising awareness. The company has in recent years:
- Acquired wheat-breeding programs from two Ukrainian companies, SORT and EUROSORT, in 2010, allowing Bayer to experiment with wheat lines known for exhibiting excellent winter hardiness and drought tolerance.
In a University of Kentucky study, Prosaro fungicide delivered a yield of 70.5 bushels per acre versus 56.0 for the untreated crops—a 14.5 bushel increase. Not only did yields increase, but the presence of scab-infected seed was diminished in the Prosaro-treated wheat as well.
- Formed cereal crop alliances with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, Evogene in Israel and the University of Nebraska. As part of the agreement, Bayer is establishing its first North American wheat breeding station near Lincoln. The agreement gives Bayer access to the University’s wheat germplasm and includes a Bayer commitment to statewide wheat research and education initiatives.
- Signed an agreement in 2011 with RAGT, a French company whose winter wheat breeding program is known as one of the strongest in Europe. Under the arrangement, Bayer has access to RAGT’s winter wheat germplasm and associated molecular markers and can use them to build a broad germplasm base with local variety development.
- Partnered late in 2011 with the National Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARDI) of Romania, an agreement through which it will gain access to the winter wheat germplasm of NARDI. The NARDI germplasm pool is known around the world for its winter hardiness, high tolerance of drought, and broad disease resistance.
With help from these collaborations around the world, Bayer plans to release its first new wheat varieties within the next five years.
Innovations in Cereal Protection
In addition to researching the best winter cereal germplasm and varieties, Crop Science continues to work to provide the best cereal protection products on the market. Prosaro® fungicide also provides broad-spectrum disease control, preventing rusts and scab from penetrating into the plant and spreading the infection further. In this way, it helps growers maximize yields and profit potential for their farms.
Gaucho® XT seed treatment is a flowable insecticide and fungicide that provides wheat, oat, rye and barley protection against smut, scab and root rots from early season through stand establishment.
Likewise, Proceed™ Concentrate seed treatment controls scab, smut and bunt, as well as 10 other cereal diseases, with the extra benefit of application flexibility, for higher emergence rates and healthier plants at harvest.
A new herbicide is in the works, too. Scheduled for a potential 2013 launch, Huskie Complete* features multiple modes of action intended to delay the development of resistant weeds in wheat. It will be extensively tested in field trials in 2012.
For more information, contact your Crop Science US representative.
*Huskie Complete is not registered and not for retail sale.