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Tips On How To Use Midge-Tolerant Wheat

The Midge Tolerant Wheat Stewardship Team recently launched www.midgetolerantwheat.ca.“The site is a great resource for farmers, seed growers and industry to learn more about the benefits, new varieties and stewardship program to help preserve this valuable trait for the future,” says Mike Espeseth, communications manager for the Western Grains Research Foundation.

Three new midge tolerant wheat varieties will be commercially available starting in the spring of 2010. They are AC Unity VB from SeCan, AC Goodeve VB from Alliance Seed Corporation and an extra strong variety, AC Glencross VB from Faurschou Farms. All varieties will be sold as a varietal blend (VB) that contains 90 per cent midge tolerant variety and 10 per cent midge susceptible variety (refuge). These new varieties can prevent an estimated $36 per acre loss from midge damage downgrading and yield reductions.

“Farmers helped fund the research with their checkoff dollars,” explains Espeseth. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) wheat breeders in Winnipeg and Swift Current developed the varieties using funds from AAFC, the WGRF check-off program and variety distributors.

Midge tolerance is based on a single gene, which can become ineffective over a relatively short period of time as insect populations change. “The website helps illustrate how the interspersed refuge system works to prevent the build up of virulent (resistant) midge, extending the life of midge tolerance from as little as 10 years to 90 years or longer,” says Espeseth.

“Understanding the science behind midge tolerance is very important to the entire industry. Together farmers and seed growers are responsible for maintaining and preserving this technology for decades to come,” explains Espeseth. For more information on the new midge tolerant wheat varieties, please visit www.midgetolerantwheat.ca

WGRF collects a checkoff of 50 per tonne for barley (in B. C., Sask., and Man.) and 30 per tonne for wheat in the four western provinces. WGRF does not collect the barley checkoff in Alberta.

Would you like to submit a short report about an exciting project your organization is funding with checkoff dollars? Please contact the editor, Jay Whetter. See page 2 for his phone number and email address.

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