Multinational plant breeding businesses Bayer Crop Science and RAGT Semences have agreed a new partnership to develop hybrid wheat varieties suited to the European climate and markets. Combining RAGT germplasm with Bayer’s crop protection, seed production and digital agriculture resources aims to produce new wheat varieties and agronomic packages that enhance sustainable agriculture.

Bayer had been working on hybrid wheats for some years at its breeding stations in France and Germany – in 2016 it invested in Bill Angus’ FI Seeds for access to germplasm to help its hybridisation programmes. However, the wheat seed, traits and hybridisation work was divested to BASF as part of the regulatory conditions around Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto that completed in 2018.

The latest exclusive collaboration between Bayer and RAGT aims to jointly develop state-of-the-art hybrid wheat varieties that meet the evolving needs of farmers in Europe. The two companies will pool their strengths by combining RAGT’s leading soft wheat genetics with Bayer’s latest breeding methodologies, high-performing seed production systems and advanced digital solutions.

“Hybrid wheat offers farmers the opportunity to meet the challenges of climate change while achieving higher productivity in sustainable cropping systems,” comments Bob Reiter, head of R&D at Bayer’s Crop Science division of Bayer. “We are delighted to partner with RAGT to bring wheat farmers new solutions that support their efforts to produce a quality wheat crop.”

His colleague Bruno Tremblay, regional head of Europe, Middle East and Africa for Crop Science, adds: “Our agreement with RAGT kicks off another exciting collaboration of two historical partners with the complementary innovation and digital capabilities needed to unlock the agronomic performance potential of wheat. Together, we will bring an industry-leading hybrid wheat production system to our growers in Europe – this will also contribute to a more self-sufficient European food and feed production system.”

For RAGT Semences, general manager Laurent Guerreiro says the collaboration could be a turning point for farmers. “RAGT has continuously pursued a sustainable agriculture approach. This agreement, which aims to provide improved wheats and new cultivation practices, will enable us to support farmers even better. These innovations will enable us to meet the needs of different types of agriculture. By associating parent crops with innovative characteristics, we will be able to offer farmers wheat varieties that address the main problems they face in the field.”