Midge Tolerant Wheat AS MORE MIDGE tolerant wheat varieties become available to help Alberta growers defend against the orange wheat blossom midge, protection of Sm1 — the one and only midge tolerance gene — is increasingly important. Proper stewardship takes the combined effort of retailers and growers to ensure the technology remains viable well into the future. Lee Markert has been growing certified midge tolerant wheat seed on his 5,000-acre pedigreed seed farm near Vulcan since its launch in 2009. His success is two-fold with the specific varieties — strong yield and natural midge tolerance through the Sm1 gene. The dual attributes are attractive to Markert, who is also an advocate of the midge tolerant wheat Stewardship Agreement. “I think it’s absolutely necessary,” he says of the agreement that requires retailers and growers to use the technology responsibly. “As we see certain resistance breakdowns in agriculture, it’s very important to be cognizant of what could happen if we aren’t concerned with the resistance. The Stewardship Agreement had the right mindset from the beginning.” The agreement, which has been in place since the launch of midge tolerant wheat, went online for the 2018 growing season. The first year for tracking the movement of certified midge tolerant wheat seed from production to the farmer with a web-based system has proven to be a success. The Midge Tolerant Wheat Stewardship Assurance Site (MTWSAS) is used by seed distributors, seed retailers and seed growers to create electronically signed Stewardship Agreements and to post sales transactions. Use It (Properly) Or Lose It In order to sell Midge Tolerant Wheat seed, retailers must complete an online training program, which takes about 20 minutes, and sign a Retailer Agreement. They must also make sure the growers they are selling to have signed an agreement and understand their responsibilities. Limiting the use of farm- saved seed to one generation past certified ensures that the refuge stays at an effective rate; the refuge in farm-saved seed may change substantially over multiple generations and not provide adequate protection. By adhering to the refuge system, research scientists estimate it will take between 90 and 100 years for resistance to break down. RETAILERS, GROWERS PROTECT MIDGE TOLERANT WHEAT Lee Markert grows certified midge tolerant wheat seed on his 5,000-acre pedigreed seed farm near Vulcan, Alta. 26 | Advancing Seed in Alberta