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.