New wheat, barley plant varieties officially named

Montana State University

Three new wheat varieties and one new barley variety from Montana State University (MSU) have recently been named by public vote.  

To generate excitement and get more people involved with this year’s variety releases, the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology in MSU’s College of Agriculture and the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee put together a list of names, many honoring agricultural industry legends or locations in the state, which were then put up for a public vote.

The options that garnered the most votes were selected as the new variety names.

The winners are listed below: 

  • MTD18313 (semi-dwarf spring durum) – MT Raska  
  • MTD18348 (spring durum) – MT Blackbeard  
  • MT16F02902 (spring forage barley) – MT Cowgirl  
  • MTS18149 (hard red winter wheat) – MT WarCat
Three new wheat varieties and one new barley variety have names honoring industry legends or locations in Montana.

Mike Giroux, MSU professor and head of the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, said he is excited about the recent release of these new varieties and the potential they have to help Montana growers.

According to Andy Hogg, research associate in the department, both the MT Raska and MT Blackbeard varieties have very good yield potential under dryland conditions and should fill a niche, offering growers improved yields versus currently available durum varieties.

MT Raska is described as an early flowering semi-dwarf durum that has high yield potential, maintains high test weight even under very dry conditions and has very good standability under sawfly pressure.

The new variety gets its name from long-time industry leader and former executive director of the Montana Grain Growers Association, Lola Raska. Raska was also an MSU 2015 Outstanding Ag Leader awardee.  

MT Blackbeard is a standard height durum that yields very well under dryland conditions and has a high percentage of large seeds, high gluten strength and low grain cadmium. 

MT Cowgirl is a taller, high yielding, awn-less forage with an extended grain fill period that, according to the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, is certain to be widely adapted in the Northern Plains. 

MT WarCat is described as great yielding, with improved winter hardiness and higher stem solidness, winter tolerance and excellent end-use characteristics. End users will see high falling numbers, low polyphenol oxidase, or PPO, high water absorption and strong mix times.

“Allowing Montana producers as well as consumers around the world the opportunity to name the new varieties was a great way to highlight the MSU breeding programs and not only get people excited, but also involved in the work happening in varietal development,” said Cassidy Marn, executive vice president of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. “The response rate was extremely high, and we are excited for growers to have four new tools to utilize in their operations in the future.”