June 10, 2004: Australian scientific and industrial research
company, CSIRO has bred wheat for speed and produced
several new varieties of ‘high-vigor’ wheat.
The company claims the new varieties are “so fast-growing
they can out-compete weeds while maintaining high yields.”
The new wheat uses a rapid growth cycle to create shade
that suppresses weeds and saves water by reducing soil
evaporation. The plant is also reported to have a more
robust root system than current varieties enabling them
to access water and nutrients deep in the soil—water
and nutrients that would otherwise be available to weeds.
According to the company’s press release, weeds
cost Australian farmers over $4 billion annually in
chemical and mechanical control and lost yields.
“High-vigor wheats have the potential to provide
significant economic saving and environmental benefits
for Australian agriculture,” says Dr. Greg Rebetzke,
a CSIRO Plant Industry representative. “In field
trials where wheat crops have to compete with weeds,
the high–vigor wheat yielded double the grain
of current varieties.”
Commercial varieties of the high-vigor wheat should
be available in four to five years.