University of Idaho and Limagrain Cereal Seeds Launch the Varsity Idaho™ Brand
December 15, 2020
MOSCOW, Idaho — Dec. 15, 2020 — A joint effort by the Idaho Wheat Commission (IWC) and Limagrain Cereal Seeds® (LCS) helped form a strategic public-private partnership for breeding wheat with the University of Idaho, the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. This collaboration resulted in a collaborative breeding agreement first signed in 2012, followed a few years later with LCS licensing and marketing of the university-developed varieties UI Platinum and UI Stone. The next phase was LCS licensing and marketing a series of Clearfield varieties–UI Magic CL+, UI Castle CL+ and UI Palouse CL+. These three Clearfield® varieties were the first collaborative releases born from this new partnership, initially crossed and selected by U of I, with final selection and marketing conducted by LCS.
In 2019, the U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), in collaboration with LCS, announced the formation of the “Varsity Idaho” (VI) brand, a group of wheat varieties jointly developed by the university and the international wheat developer and distributor. The brand was launched with the release of VI Frost and VI Bulldog. Three more wheat varieties were released in October 2020: VI Shock, VI Voodoo CL+ and VI Presto CL+. All five wheat varieties are marketed by LCS under the Varsity Idaho brand. Royalties are shared between the U of I and LCS. Research and initial development was conducted at U of I, while field testing, marketing and distribution are managed through LCS.
The beneficial relationship offers LCS decades-long research and expertise from the U of I wheat breeding program, and access to its wheat germplasm that is especially suited to the climate and growing conditions in the U.S. Northwest. This important partnership allows growers to benefit from superior varieties that incorporate advanced new genetics from around the world, producing an array of well-adapted choices for the Pacific Northwest, one of the nation’s most bountiful wheat-producing regions. With LCS® helping to support breeding activities, U of I researchers can focus efforts on deeper research, working to develop new genetic traits through mutagenesis and selective breeding.
The university also benefits from royalties from the sale of these wheat varieties, receiving over $3 million in royalties from LCS sales to date. Many of these dollars are distributed to U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, 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 has remarked.
The parent company of LCS, Group Limagrain, was founded in France by a group of farmers in 1965 to improve the quality and availability of seed supplies. The U.S. subsidiary is based in Fort Collins, Colorado, and it is one of the largest seed companies in the world. Group Limagrain is dedicated to developing new, improved grain varieties bred expressly for our growers' climates, soils and growing conditions, and today it has cereal breeding programs in every area of the world where wheat and barley are widely cultivated. Through the exchange of elite Group Limagrain germplasm across six continents, the UI-LCS joint breeding program gives U.S. farmers access to the best genetics in the world. Through cutting-edge accelerated breeding methodologies, the UI-LCS partnership will continue to deliver new, improved varieties to market in a fraction of the time required just a decade ago.
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