The Northwestern Agricultural Research Center, a division of the Montana State University Montana Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) has developed a wheat variety that is resistant to the orange blossom wheat midge.
Egan is the first certified seed blend from MAES.
Bill Grey, the manager of the MSU Montana Foundation Seed Program, told producers that with the SM1 gene, Egan is so effective in destroying the midge that it must be mixed with a small percentage of a susceptible variety to keep the midge from developing resistance or become a superbug. Entomologists from Canada and MSU recommend 10 percent of a non-resistant variety to prevent midge resistance.
"This gene works so well that it kills nearly every single midge," Luther Talbert, an MSU spring wheat breeder, said. "But those very few that survive may have a resistance to the SM1 gene that they can pass on to their offspring. As their generations progress, you’ll end up with significant, resistant populations that won’t be stopped by Egan.”
Farmers and certified seed growers from Montana played a large part in the development of Egan, as did MSU research centers, extension agents and the Montana Department of Agriculture.Egan is available for sale now and Dan Lake, the owner and partner of Lake Seed, Inc and a certified seed grower is one of the people in Montana selling Egan.
“Our growers are really excited about Egan, and we’re going to blend it with a hard red spring wheat we have,” Lake said. “The entire process to get to this point is an extremely good example of MSU research centers working to identify, find solutions and solve a problem alongside producers. When you have research centers that are fixed, functional and modern, it’s an investment statewide, and this is the kind of result you see.”