FORT COLLINS, Colo. — About 30 percent of the winter wheat planted in the Pacific Northwest is now marketed by Limagrain Cereal Seeds, representing a tripling of the company’s regional market share compared to last fall, a Limagrain official said Nov. 9.
Frank Curtis, chief operating officer of the Colorado-based unit of the international farmer-owned cooperative, said Limagrain set a longterm objective of capturing 30 percent of the regional winter wheat market share by 2020 and has met its goal about two years ahead of schedule.
Curtis explained that Limagrain, which has 21 varieties currently on the market, including 15 winter wheat varieties, has a partnership to breed and market wheat in the Northwest in collaboration with the University of Idaho and Oregon State University. Five Limagrain varieties, including three fall varieties, have been released in partnership with UI, and two fall varieties have been released in conjunction with OSU.
Curtis said Limigrain, Limagrain Europe, OSU and UI will share the roughly $2 million in royalties collected this year from all of its wheat varieties sold in the region.
“Most of that money is going to be reinvested in the interest of Pacific Northwest growers, specifically in the breeding program,” Curtis said. “It’s the largest royalty year we’ve had since we opened our doors in 2010.”
Curtis said Limagrain’s head breeder for the region, Jay Kalous, works closely with breeders from UI and OSU. The universities contribute their collections of locally adapted germplasm. Curtis explained Limagrain helps expedite breeding with its expertise in rapid breeding technologies such as marker-assisted selection, and its ability to accelerate seed increases.
“As a private-sector company, we’re prepared to take risks,” Curtis added. “The universities are not allowed to do that.”
Curtis said the top two Limagrain varieties in the region are now UI Magic CL+, which is a Clearfield soft white winter wheat variety, and LCS Jet, a hard red winter wheat that accounts for nearly 60 percent of the Northwest acreage planted in the class.
Curtis said Limagrain’s strong growth should continue next season, when three new soft white winter wheat varieties with high yields and strong disease resistance packages will be released.
“We’ve got them all on several circles of seed production this year, so farmers will be able to try them for the first time in the fall of 2018,” Curtis said.
Limagrain is a subsidiary of Group Limagrain, which is based in France and employs 9,600 people worldwide, with breeding programs covering major global wheat, barley, corn, sunflower and oilseed production areas.