The collaboration between the University of Idaho (UI) and Limagrain Cereal Seeds (LCS) is a prime example of shared success; benefiting the UI, LCS and most importantly, Idaho wheat growers.

In 2012, the Idaho Wheat Commission (IWC) worked with the University of Idaho (UI) to establish a collaboration with the international wheat and barley breeding company, Limagrain Cereal Seeds (LCS). LCS had been in the United States for three years and was actively pursuing partnerships with universities. “The synergy is undeniable – universities have excellent regionally adapted germplasm and LCS has advanced breeding techniques and a strong global presence in cereal crops.”, said LCS Marketing Lead, Hannah Kammeyer. While LCS has successfully partnered with many universities throughout the US, including Oregon State University, the collaboration with UI blossomed into something uniquely successful.

The relationship started with the licensing of UI Platinum and UI Stone, both varieties bred and released by UI and marketed by LCS. The next phase was a series of very successful Clearfield varieties – UI Magic, UI Castle and UI Palouse. All three varieties were initially crossed and selected by UI, but final selection and marketing was completed by LCS. Current variety surveys suggest that UI Magic is the most widely grown variety in the Tri-State area. The next phase in the UI & LCS partnership is something both different and familiar: a joint breeding program named Varsity Idaho.

New logo for the breeding collaboration.

All varieties marketed under this new brand will be co-bred, co-selected and co-released by UI and LCS. After years of diligent work by both breeding programs, Varsity Idaho, also denoted as ‘VI’, has its first two new soft white winter wheat releases this season.

VI Bulldog is a stiff strawed, big headed variety that is ideal for the high production growers who want to push for yield. VI Frost, on the other hand, is best suited for low rainfall production where winter hardiness is crucial. In addition to yield, both varieties have good stripe rust resistance and end-use quality. Foundation seed of both varieties will be available this fall.

VI Bulldog has strong straw and excellent top-end yield potential.

VI Frost has good adaptation to low rainfall environments and good winter hardiness.

Not only do growers benefit from having advanced genetics and superior varieties on their farm, but they are also seeing a positive return on investment. Last year, LCS wrote a check to UI for more than $1 million in royalties. That royalty check is expected to grow this year, as seed availability continues to increase for varieties like UI Magic and the Varsity Idaho collaboration comes to fruition. Many of these dollars are distributed to the College of Agricultural Life Sciences (CALS) and used to further support wheat research. “The UI/LCS partnership is paying back dividends to all parties involved, including the growers. That is exactly what you want to see in a successful collaboration.”, LCS National Sales and Marketing Manager, Zach Gaines remarked.

Production field of VI Bulldog in Aberdeen, ID.