The following is a press release from WestBred:
GREAT FALLS, MONTANA – December 8, 2011 – Montana-based WestBred® has donated $25,000 to the Montana Grains Foundation (MGF) to help fund a new initiative designed to find better ways to manage and control the wheat stem sawfly, a multi-million dollar pest that inflicts major damage to wheat crops in Montana as well as surrounding states.
A unit of Monsanto Company, WestBred breeds and markets a full line of small grains varieties that help farmers increase the yield and profitability of wheat and barley crops across most of the United States and in two Canadian provinces. The MGF is a non-profit foundation established by grain producers to promote charitable, scientific and educational activities on behalf of Montana’s grain industry.
“While the industry has made some progress in the successful management of the sawfly, a tremendous amount of research and education is still needed,” says Ryan Holt, WestBred Commercial Manager in Great Falls. “It is our hope that this donation will help the MGF find some solutions to the problem posed by this pest.”
Holt notes that WestBred has developed two new wheat varieties – WB Gunnison and WB Quake – that offer some resistance to the wheat stem sawfly and which should help minimize the pest’s impact on the wheat industry. “We want to continue to be part of the equation in solving the sawfly issue, as well as other challenges that negatively impact wheat production in North America.”
Holt presented the $25,000 check to Carter, Montana, farmer and MGF president Dale Schuler. “I know from firsthand experience how devastating the sawfly can be to wheat production,” Schuler says. “This donation gives us a jump-start on our sawfly project, and the funding from WestBred is greatly appreciated.”
Schuler adds that the MGF is starting with the basics in their effort and will first conduct a thorough literary review of the sawfly management research completed to date. “This donation will help us then clear a path forward to minimize the impacts of this pest.”
The wheat stem sawfly does its damage to wheat by laying its eggs in wheat stems at the elongation stage. The sawfly larvae then tunnels down through the stem and overwinters in the wheat’s crown just above the soil surface. The larvae tunneling serves to weaken the stem, and the sawfly then cuts the stem off at the bottom of the plant, resulting in lodged grain that is difficult to harvest. It is estimated that the wheat stem sawfly causes damage to wheat in excess of 100 million dollars per year.
For more information about WestBred and its products, farmers can contact their local WestBred seed dealer or visit http://www.WestBred.com.
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Posted by Haylie Shipp