Hybrid Wheat Finally Has A Future
Once a cornerstone of agricultural production, wheat has been slowly losing its pole position with farmers over the past 40 years due to a lack of hybrid varieties.
Thanks to the popularity and benefits inherent in corn hybrids, corn yields have risen consistently faster than wheat, resulting in corn encroaching on what was traditionally wheat-growing land in places like Kansas - the breadbasket of the U.S.
But driven by a humanitarian imperative to feed a growing global population, and the recent breakthrough of mapping the wheat genome, wheat breeders are seeing potential on the horizon. In May Syngenta announced plans to introduce four wheat hybrids in Europe under the X-Terra brand, and a month later BASF announced that its wheat hybrid would be available mid-decade in the EU and the U.S., sold under the Ideltis brand. Over the past century, private companies attempted to introduce wheat hybrids but because of negligible yield improvements, didn’t gain much traction with farmers. Today, armed with much more advanced technologies, and with climate change posing an ever greater challenge, the benefits of disease resistance and resilience to environmental stresses that wheat hybrid offer are in more demand than ever.