Partnership involves two companies
Latest breeding methods employed
High-performance seed production
Higher-yielding and more resilient hybrid wheat varieties are the goal of a new partnership between seed breeder RAGT and crop protection company Bayer.
The two companies are pooling their strengths by combining soft wheat genetics with access to the latest breeding methodologies, high-performing seed production systems and advanced digital solutions.
Wheat is the world’s most widely grown food crop. It provides about 20% of the protein consumed across the globe. More than 25m hectares of the crop are grown every year in the UK and European alone.
Hybrid wheat is a cross between two, carefully selected, pure lines. Benefits from the hybrid vigour this produces can include increased tillering, rapid plant establishment and improved disease resistance.
Existing suppliers of hybrid wheat seed include Suffolk-based CropCo. The increased root mass, larger plant stem and thicker stem wall means hybrid wheat stands better – and has more consistent yields, it says.
RAGT and Bayer say securing higher grain yields by developing hybrid wheat production systems built on more robust varieties will help UK farmers meet the increased demand for food from a rapidly growing world population.
Both companies intend to advance the development of hybrid wheat technology to provide more innovative wheat varieties. And they say farmers as well as consumers stand to benefit from their collaboration.
“Hybrid wheat offers farmers the opportunity to meet the challenges of climate change while achieving higher productivity in sustainable cropping systems,” says Bob Reiter, head of research and development at Bayer’s crop science division.
Bayer scientists say the agreement is a natural fit between two partners with a long history. They say each possesses the complimentary innovation and digital capability needed to unlock the potential of wheat’s agronomic performance.
“Together, we will bring an industry-leading hybrid wheat production system to our growers in Europe. This will also contribute to a more self-sufficient European food and feed production system.”
RAGT general manager Laurent Guerreiro says the partnership could be a turning point for growers.
Wheat yields have largely plateaued during recent decades. Yields improved rapidly, by an average of 0.10 t/ha per year from 1980 to 1996. But since then yields have stagnated despite the potential of new varieties increasing annually.