Limagrain provides wheat variety update

George Plaven/Capital Press File Mike Flowers, seen at an Oregon field day, gave a presentation on wheat varieties at the recent Tri-State Grain Growers Convention in Portland.

PORTLAND — Limagrain Cereal Seeds, an international agricultural cooperative and fourth-largest seed company in the world, will launch a new line of wheat varieties developed in partnership with the University of Idaho in 2019.

Named “Varsity Idaho,” the line will debut with two as yet unnamed soft white wheat selections, company executives revealed Nov. 16 at the Tri-State Grain Growers Convention in Portland.

“These will be essentially the launch of a new brand in the Pacific Northwest,” said Zach Gaines, national sales and marketing manager for Limagrain. “This is going to be one of the big things we’re talking about this summer.”

Started in France, Limagrain has only been in the U.S. for eight years, yet commands 35 percent of market share for wheat varieties planted in Oregon and Washington. Part of that growth, Gaines said, has come from establishing collaborative breeding programs with the University of Idaho and Oregon State University.

“If you really want to have the very best genetics as quickly as you possibly can, you collaborate,” he said. “Everybody has their strengths. Nobody is ever going to be the best at everything.”

The breeding program with OSU, branded “Norwest,” has already yielded popular varieties including Duet and Tandem. Duet, in particular, has scored the highest yields in northern Idaho for three years running, according to the company.

Other new Limagrain varieties released in 2018 also include:

• LCS Ghost: This soft white winter wheat was adapted for fields south of Dayton, Wash. It has outstanding yield potential in irrigated and high-rainfall zones, Gaines said.

• LCS Shine: Similar to Bobtail, another soft white winter variety, with good test weight. “They both are very different, and that is part of the reason why we released them,” Gaines said. Shine is also resistant to current stripe diseases.

• LCS Zoom: This is a hard red wheat variety with better yield potential in dryland environments. Gaines said it is a good option for deep furrowing, with improved stripe rust resistance over earlier varieties Keldin and LCS Jet.

“These are strategic releases,” Gaines said. “In the beginning, we needed to fill our portfolio. We’re at the point now where we can start focusing on filling in our gaps.”

Mike Flowers, product development and trait manager for Limagrain, also provided an update on the CoAXium wheat production system, developed with the Colorado Wheat Research Foundation and Albaugh LLC.

CoAXium is built upon patented herbicide-resistant traits to help farmers better manage grassy weeds like cheatgrass and feral rye. The team launched its first variety, LCS Fusion AX, in 2017. Flowers said there will be very limited seed production next year, before it becomes more widely available on the market.

In addition, Flowers said they are now in seed production for three additional hard red CoAXium varieties, of which he expects at least two will be released.

“We’ve really pushed this, not just in the Pacific Northwest but across the country, as fast as we can,” Flowers said.

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