Bayer CropScience in wheat breeding initiatives

by Eric Schroeder
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MONHEIM, GERMANY — Bayer CropScience AG has signed an agreement with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to improve wheat breeding and generate new wheat varieties. The agreement is expected to give Bayer access to the university’s wheat germplasm, allowing Bayer to establish its first North American wheat breeding station near Lincoln, Neb.

“We recognize the expertise that has gone into developing U.N.L.’s breeding program and the opportunities this agreement gives both partners to strengthen their activities in improving wheat,” said Joachim Schneider, head of the BioSciences Business Group at Bayer. “This agreement represents another important step for Bayer in achieving its goal to offer innovative solutions from seed to harvest for sustainable cereal production. Undoubtedly, this partnership will result in exciting advances in wheat productivity by both parties that will benefit farmers and the grain trade worldwide.”

The University of Nebraska expects to use the partnership in support of its efforts in wheat breeding and education. The university is creating an endowed presidential chair at the University of Nebraska Foundation for the benefit of the university’s cereal breeding faculty, and scholarships and/or fellowships will be offered for the benefit of students pursuing cereal grains studies.

“The agreement between U.N.L. and Bayer enables U.N.L. to continue releasing improved wheat varieties through the same channels as in the past,” said Ronald D. Green, vice-president of U.N.L. “Agreements of this type benefit the Nebraska wheat growers because they will have a greater selection of improved varieties from both public and private wheat breeding programs.”

Separately, Bayer announced it has acquired the wheat breeding programs from two Ukrainian breeding companies: SORT and EUROSORT. Bayer said the acquisitions give the company access to “outstanding wheat lines with excellent winter hardiness and drought tolerance.”

“Wheat is a strategic crop for Bayer CropScience and as part of its investment plans the company is putting significant resources into research and development to raise productivity of wheat cropping,” said Hartmut van Lengerich, head of crop strategy cereals, oilseeds and sugar beet at Bayer. “The acquisition of this germplasm pool will significantly enhance our wheat breeding efforts globally.”

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