The Seedpod —Ep. 12: Wheat Midge Tolerance Gene Detected in Soft White Wheat. What Happens Now?

SeCan recently discovered that the majority of the soft white wheat varieties grown in western Canada naturally contain the Sm1 trait for midge tolerance. The trait has likely always been there, but only recently have we had the technology to test for it.

The Sm1 gene was first identified as naturally occurring in soft red winter wheat varieties, and was later bred into red spring wheat (CWRS and Extra Strong). The first varieties released were launched as “varietal blends,” and released in 2010 as AC Unity VB, AC Goodeve VB, and AC Glencross VB.

“Varietal blends” have a non-Sm1-carrying variety mixed in with the seed at a 10% rate, in order to maintain effectiveness of the trait in the long term, explains Todd Hyra, with SeCan. Recently, SeCan confirmed that AAC Awesome (CWSP), AAC Indus, and AC Sadash naturally contain the Sm1 gene but are not part of the Midge Tolerant Wheat stewardship plan.

In this very timely edition of the Seedpod, brought to you by Biovision Seed Labs, Hyra fully explains where we’re at with midge tolerant varieties in Canada and what this recent discovery means for farmers currently growing AC Sadash. Growing the variety (or common seed) without a susceptible variety could put the entire trait at risk.

For its part, SeCan sees two options: deregistering AC Sadash, or working with farmers to ensure all existing seed stock is grown with a refuge. And the company would much rather work with farmers on a refuge. Listen below for more:

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