New MSU Spring Wheat Variety Licensed to Montana Company


by Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service


BOZEMAN — Montana State University has completed an agreement to license a new variety of hard red spring wheat to Montana-based Northern Seed, LLC.

Licensing the variety to Northern Seed means that the the Montana-based research company will lead the market development, data collection and production plans for this new Clearfield line.

“Northern Seed is a respected agribusiness that at every turn works to improve commercial seed by benefiting the grower and the environment,” said Charles Boyer, MSU vice president of agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture. “We’re proud to work with a company that supports research and development from Montana’s flagship land-grant university.” 

Northern Seed has the capability to continue evaluation of this variety in their extensive research program with plots located throughout the state, according to Ryan Holt, executive vice president at Northern Seed. Holt expects that spring wheat producers will be able to access certified seed from their local Northern Seed, LLC-approved dealers on a limited basis in the spring of 2018 and fully in the spring of 2019.

“Vida has proven to be a very good variety that is widely adapted in Montana,” Holt said. “We are excited to be able to offer a variety with these characteristics combined with the BASF Clearfield technology. This variety is another example of the impact the collaboration between Northern Seed and MSU can bring to the Montana producer, providing tools that will make them more successful.”

The new variety, identified with experimental number MT1173, is an MSU variety that was derived by crossing the BASF Clearfield herbicide-resistant genes with the MSU variety Vida. As part of their research, MSU wheat breeders developed several Clearfield lines that were similar to Vida, and this line was selected for the balance of its gluten strength, protein content and yield, according to Luther Talbert, a professor in the MSU College of Agriculture’s Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology who conducted research on the variety.

MT1173 was tested at locations across Montana. Talbert noted that data from advanced yield trials in 2012 and 2013 show that the variety had a yield similar to Vida and higher than most other varieties at most sites. The grain protein of MT1173 was found to be similar to Vida, and MT1173 was shown to head slightly later than Vida and grow to approximately the same height. Talbert noted that MT1173 was developed using traditional plant breeding methods and not by genetic engineering. 

MSU’s research into the genetics and breeding of grains has led to the development of crop varieties that offer greater yield, as well as resistance to a number of diseases and pests. The wheat research programs are carried out by MSU’s agricultural research centers. That research is integral to Montana’s wheat crop, Talbert said, and MSU is the leading provider of varieties for the 5 million acres of wheat grown in Montana.

“We are pleased that the legacy of MSU research in wheat breeding is continuing to support Montana’s producers,” said Renee Reijo Pera, MSU vice president of research and economic development. “Spring wheat is a critical component of the Montana economy, and under the direction of Northern Seed, we expect this new line will have a positive impact in our state.”

For more information, contact the MSU Technology Transfer Office at (406) 994-7868.


A farmer near Great Falls inspects a mid-summer wheat crop. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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