CHICAGO, Dec. 21 (Reuters) – As the world’s largest seed maker seeks to boost yields amid dwindling grain supplies, U.S. farmers are using a new, non-GMO, developed by agrochemical giant Syngenta. You now have access to types of wheat.
China-owned Syngenta will release 5,000 to 7,000 acres of hybrid wheat next year, a small fraction of the total US acreage. Meanwhile, BASF SE and Bayer AG plan to launch their own hybrid wheat by the end of 2010.
How is hybrid wheat grown?
Crop breeders develop hybrid wheat by removing the plant’s natural ability to pollinate itself. Instead, female wheat plants in the field are pollinated by male plants of different strains with the aim of producing seeds with stronger yield potential and adaptability to adverse environments than either parent. Fertilized female plants produce new, unique offspring called hybrids.
This hybrid technology allows breeders to select the best traits from two parent seeds to produce offspring that contain the good traits of both, increasing yields through a phenomenon known as hybrid vigor.
When seed companies produce hybrid wheat seeds, some female plants eventually fail to fertilize because they rely on unpredictable winds to carry pollen, growers said. Fertilization of each plant is more reliable in the natural process of wheat self-pollination, they said.
How prevalent are hybrid crops?
Farmers have been growing hybrid corn since the 1930s to improve yields by making the plants more resistant to pests and diseases. Vegetables such as onions, spinach and tomatoes are also grown from hybrid seeds.
The seed company said it used its experience launching hybrid corn and barley to develop hybrid wheat. From the 1930s to his mid-1990s, average corn yields increased by 600%, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This was due in part to crossbreeding, and wheat increased by 2.5 times.
Hybrid wheat took longer to reach the market, researchers say, because the development process is more expensive and complicated. It could be the key to increasing wheat production while avoiding the “GMO” label.
Genetically modified (GM) varieties of corn and soybeans, used in ingredients such as animal feed, biofuels and edible oils, were introduced in 1996 and soon came to dominate cultivation in the United States, Brazil and Argentina, becoming the world’s largest became a supplier of Genetically modified wheat has never been grown commercially because consumers fear it may introduce allergens or toxicity into staple foods used in breads, pastas and pastries around the world.
“Hybrids will be seen as better and safer because they’re more resistant to genetic modification,” said Dave Hankey, owner of the Hanky Seed Company in Park River, North Dakota. I guess.”
What are the benefits of hybrid wheat?
Argentinian biotech company Bioceres is developing wheat genetically engineered to withstand drought. We’re betting that consumers’ resistance to GMOs will weaken as climate change makes it more difficult to grow conventional crops. Large companies are working to tailor their hybrid wheat to specific regions.
For example, in the US Central Plains, where farmers grow hard red winter wheat for bread, BASF’s hybrid wheat says it focuses on resisting a yield-robbing disease called Fusarium head lice. In northern Plains states like North Dakota, the company targets high-protein, hard red spring wheat hybrids used to make pizza dough and croissants that have qualities suitable for milling and baking.
Peter Eckes, President of Research and Development at BASF Agricultural Solutions, said: “Recent advances in genetics and breeding techniques have made it possible to overcome this challenge.”
(Reporting by Tom Polansek, Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Claudia Parsons)
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