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The AXigen Trait Will Offer Wheat Growers an Important New Tool in their Toolbox

Limagrain Cereals Research Canada (LCRC) is spearheading an effort to introduce the CoAXium® Wheat Production System to Canada’s wheat growing market. This partnership has the potential to fundamentally alter growers’ perceptions of wheat production in the West.

LCRC is currently breeding innovative new spring wheat lines that contain the AXigen trait, a patented non-GMO trait developed by Colorado State University that confers tolerance to the Aggressor AX Group 1 herbicide from Albaugh. The Manitoba-based CANTERRA SEEDS will have the first chance to license our AXigen wheat varieties when registered.

For several years now, across many U.S. states, public and private wheat breeders develop varieties with the AXigen trait for use in all wheat-growing regions. These varieties undergo extensive testing with Aggressor AX herbicides to ensure the compatibility of these technologies, providing control of grassy weeds. So far, the CoAXium Production System has also been introduced for barley crops in Australia. 

LCRC and Albaugh are anticipating Plants with Novel Traits (PNT) approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in June, and once we receive that, we can start our field trials in Canada, which are essential to meet the registration requirements for new varieties. 

Right now, we are conducting trials in the United States. However, our approach is not just about taking varieties that have already been released in the U.S. and trying to adapt or license them for registration in Canada. Instead, we’re working with different sets of germplasm tailored for the Canadian environment.

The CoAXium Wheat Production System is a great fit for Western Canada, where growers need a new tool for control of tough annual grassy weeds. While this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every grower, it will be a valuable new tool in the toolbox.

This technology is unique because it helps address a specific niche related to weed shifts that have been challenging for growers. 

“When you think about Group 1 herbicides, they’re not new or novel in spring wheat in Canada. While this technology may not offer anything unique in controlling traditional summer or spring annual grasses like wild oats or green foxtail, it does provide value in controlling new and emerging weeds,” says Chad Shelton, global director of the Albaugh innovation platform. 

These include brome grasses that aren’t typically targeted by Group 1 herbicides. The active ingredient in Aggressor AX is Quizalofop-p-ethyl, which is already registered in Canada.

“What sets Canada apart is its rigorous approval process. For a system like CoAXium and the Aggressor AX herbicide to succeed here, it’s not just about getting these wheat lines registered; we also need PNT approval and approval of our herbicide. Without the leading genetics containing the trait and the necessary approvals, the system wouldn’t be able to deliver the desired results.” 

It’s crucial to consider the agronomic, disease and quality attributes of the varieties the chemistry is used with, because those aspects matter to farmers, says Brent Derkatch, president and CEO of CANTERRA SEEDS. 

“I see this technology as complementary to the already exciting breeding program underway at LCRC. Ultimately, the added benefits and value will be realized by the farmers who decide to integrate this technology into their overall agricultural practices,” he says.

“It also speaks to the issue of attracting investment in innovation here in Canada. This technology adds value and attracts investment to happen here. As a partner in LCRC, we’ve invested significant resources to bring this innovation to Canadian farmers, and it’s going to make a difference.”

Moreover, the CoAXium system is set to usher in a new era for investment in wheat breeding in Canada. CoAXium varieties are sold only as Certified seed, which ensures the presence and purity of the AXigen trait.

We understand that the value of this herbicide system lies in specific areas of Western Canada, and we’re prepared to position it accordingly. Agronomically speaking, it’s essential that these varieties not only offer herbicide tolerance but also deliver the additional value that growers seek. 

Our approach is to ensure that these wheat varieties meet the expectations of growers while also providing the benefits of the herbicide-tolerant system.

We’re excited to bring the CoAXium system to Canada as we embark on field trials, possibly as early as next year. Stay tuned!

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