The origin of the cereal breeding effort at PGG Wrightson dates back to the 1980’s with both PGG and Wrightsons running small breeding programmes targeting the NZ milling wheat industry. In the early 1990s Wrightsons released ‘Monad’ – a cultivar through the ‘90s and early ‘00s that set new benchmarks for dough strength and pre-harvest sprouting resistance. In the early 2000’s PGG released “Torlesse” – setting new standards for crop type and yield potential in the medium strength milling wheat category.
Following the merger of PGG and Wrightsons in 2005 this programme was maintained at a base level through the ‘00s. However it was becoming clear that such a small programme was unlikely to consistently deliver market-leading varieties and, in response, the programme was ramped up substantially. This increased effort included significant investment in specialist drilling, harvesting and quality evaluation equipment to accommodate a serious breeding effort across both milling and feed wheat classes. The breeding programme now makes around 150 crossings and evaluates approximately 7000 new inbred lines annually with an approximate 2:1 milling:feed split. Of these, around 250 milling and 150 feed wheat lines are selected to enter into the first stage of multi-site yield testing where they are compared with industry leading standard cultivars and other new lines from overseas breeding programmes.