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WSU, Syngenta team up to market wheat variety in S. Idaho

Matthew Weaver
A new agreement between Syngenta and Washington State University allows the company to market the university's hard white spring wheat variety, Dayn, to farmers in Southern Idaho.

A new agreement between Washington State University and Syngenta allows the agribusiness company to market a WSU hard white spring wheat variety in southeastern Idaho.

The deal allows Syngenta dealers to market the WSU variety Dayn, which was released in 2009.

Within Washington and border counties in Oregon and Idaho, registered seed dealers can license Dayn directly from WSU.

“We’re not excluding our usual, traditional seed dealers in Washington,” said Jim Moyer, associate dean of research for WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.

WSU hopes to maximize its and wheat farmers’ return on investment in wheat breeding by receiving more revenue from Dayn, Moyer said.

“WSU is not aligning itself with any particular breeding company,” Moyer said. “We’re not aligning ourselves with Syngenta, and we’re not going to. This is a case-by-case, variety-by-variety opportunity.”

Dayn is particularly well-adapted to the irrigated areas of southern Idaho, according to WSU, with stripe rust resistance, high yields in irrigated areas and high end-use quality.

The agreement allows the variety an opportunity to be competitive in the region, Moyer said, noting Dayn fills a hole in Syngenta’s product line.

WSU will receive an undisclosed royalty amount from Dayn seed marketed by Syngenta, said Rich Koenig, associate dean and director of WSU Extension. Convention in the industry is not to disclose royalty rates, Koenig said.

A “small percent” goes to WSU, the research center and the wheat breeder, Moyer said. More than 50 percent goes to support plant breeding activities.

Dayn was developed by former WSU spring wheat breeder Kim Kidwell and jointly released by Kidwell and her successor, spring wheat breeder Michael Pumphrey.

The agreement is part of WSU’s overall commercialization effort, Moyer said.

“We’re trying to be much more strategic, more organized,” he said. “We’re proud of our varieties and we want them to be grown as widely as possible.”

“They have a well-defined, hard white wheat market,” Dana Herron, commissioner for the Washington Grain Commission and co-owner of Tri-State Seed Co. in Connell, Wash., said of the Idaho region. A hard white wheat market hasn’t been well-established in Washington, he said.

Washington farmers benefit in the added revenue generated for long-term research, while Idaho farmers receive high-quality genetics, Herron said.

“If there’s a variety that will work for the grower, we’re fully supportive of it,” said Blaine Jacobson, executive director of the Idaho Wheat Commission.

Idaho is the largest hard white wheat growing area, with sufficient irrigation and good soil conditions along the Snake River, so it’s a logical market, Jacobson said. About 10 million bushels of hard white were grown there last year.

Hard white spring wheat is competing for acreage with corn and malting barley, Jacobson said. He said there’s room for expansion of hard white winter wheat production, but hard white spring acres have nearly maxed out, comprising 90 percent of spring wheat planting in Southern and Eastern Idaho.

“Some of our hard white spring varieties are aging,” Jacobson said. “It’s probably time for an update on some of them. If the agronomics and milling characteristics are good, I would expect them to be able to find some sales.” 

If other variety opportunities arise, WSU will take advantage of them, Moyer said. Similar arrangements and relationships with breeding companies may be more common in the Midwest.

“We are open to partnering with anyone on a case-by-case basis,” he said.



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