Midge-tolerant wheat gets new distributor

A new midge-tolerant hard red spring wheat variety should be commercially available this fall as its new distributor lines up retailers.

Alliance Seed Corp., a Winnipeg-based joint-venture seed company formed by six Prairie grain elevator firms, announced Friday it has picked up the exclusive distribution rights to Goodeve VB, an awnless HRS wheat developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Swift Current, Sask.

It’s expected that seed growers contracted to the company will multiply Goodeve to commercial levels during the 2009 growing season.

“We obviously see this as an important variety for western Canadian farmers,” Alliance general manager Dale Alderson said Tuesday.

However, he said, as a grain companies’ venture, Alliance sees even more value in offering a midge-resistant wheat that would improve both yield and kernel quality.

The rights to AC Goodeve were sub-licensed to Alliance by Ontario forage seed firm Pickseed, which had picked them up along with several other assets of the now-defunct Regina seed company FarmPure Seeds.

Pickseed became a secured creditor in FarmPure when it took over that status from RBC and Farm Credit Canada, as part of a deal late last year to buy FarmPure’s forage and turf seed plant at Nipawin, Sask.

Alliance, owned by grain firms Paterson Grain, Parrish and Heimbecker, Weyburn Inland Terminal, North West Terminal, Prairie West Terminal and Great Sandhills Terminal, said Friday it “plans to work with its own retail seed locations as well as a network of authorized seed grower partners to distribute the variety in midge-susceptible areas of the Canadian wheat-growing regions.”

Locations authorized to sell Goodeve seed will be announced in the coming months, Alliance said.

The company, which also has durum, flax and hulless barley seed among its offerings, said it believes Goodeve “will offer farmers the opportunity to see significantly improved results in areas where wheat midge has historically been a problem.”

According to the Western Grains Research Foundation, which invested checkoff funds in Goodeve’s development, the variety offers a “unique agronomic package comprising of excellent yield potential (similar to Superb), very early maturity (four days earlier than Superb), high protein (one per cent higher than Superb) and excellent lodging resistance.”

Goodeve, the WGRF said, is to be sold in a blend, where it would make up about 90 per cent of the mix. The blend is expected to create a “refuge area” for non-virulent midge to survive at low levels, thus extending the useful life of the Sm1 midge tolerance gene.

AC Unity VB, a midge-tolerant, awned HRS variety marketed by SeCan, is to be sold in a 90 per cent blend with AC Waskada for the same reason, the WGRF noted.

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