New ‘high-vigor’ wheat beats weeds at their own game

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.