Wheat leaders have complained for years that one of the things holding back the crop is a lack of new technologies, particularly options similar to the Roundup-ready traits now widely used in corn, beans and other crops.

Wheat leaders have complained for years that one of the things holding back the crop is a lack of new technologies, particularly options similar to the Roundup-ready traits now widely used in corn, beans and other crops.

Now new weed fighting technology is in the pipeline, courtesy of Colorado State University, that is modeled after the non-genetically modified Clearfield technology introduced nearly 20 years ago by chemical company BASF.

Curtis Hildebrandt, who grew up on a farm near Bethune and is now a CSU postgraduate student in weed science, gave an overview of the new herbicide tolerant wheat trait, which will be available starting in 2018 in select CSU varieties, during the High Plains No Till Conference in Burlington.

Clearfield wheat is resistant to ALS herbicides used to control grasses and broadleaf weeds. But farmers need additional tools that allow them to use different herbicides with different modes of action to prevent a buildup of herbicide resistance in weeds, Hildebrandt said.

“Right now we are over-selecting for ALS tolerance,” he said.

CSU developed a wheat trait resistant to an entirely different chemistry — a group of herbicides known of as ACCase inhibitors, generically called quizalofop — specifically used for post-emergent control of grassy weeds like feral rye, downy brome and jointed goat grass. CSU wheat breeder Scott Haley is incorporating it into two experimental lines that are scheduled for release in 2018. The trait will also be licensed to other public and private wheat breeders who want to add it to their own geographically adapted lines. Fees from all sales will go back to funding further wheat development research at CSU.

What the trait will cost farmers is yet to be determined, Hildebrandt said.

Grassy weed problems are becoming more pronounced in many pockets of Colorado as well around the country and the world. Drew Hendricker, a marketing representative with LimaGrain, based in Fort Collins, said his company was interested in introducing the trait in Europe.

One of the reasons it has broad appeal is that the technology was created using a process called mutagenesis, which accelerates the plant selection process without using genetic modification. In other words, no foreign genes get introduced into the wheat plant during the process.

Hildebrandt recommends farmers use the new technology in rotation with the Clearfield technology. Some surveys at CSU are showing that good stewardship practices can actually decrease the buildup of weed resistance to common herbicides like glyphosate, now a growing problem.

Good stewardship consists of deploying more rotation and more diversity of both crops and the herbicide chemistries used to treat them, he said.

“I think these things are helping,” he said, following his formal presentation. “I wouldn’t say we can reverse it once it develops but we can definitely do a better job of managing it.”