GREAT FALLS — The Montana Wheat & Barley Committee (MWBC) and the Montana State University (MSU) Plant Sciences & Plant Pathology Department are inviting the public to help name four new wheat and barley varieties released to the public this year.
Among the suggested name: Duke Silver, War Cat, and Cowgirl. While those names may give you a smile or a little chuckle, the ultimate goal is to raise awareness about varieties.
The MWBC is seizing a golden opportunity to promote a golden crop.
"The public support, the producer support has been through the roof,” said Jason Laird, the marketing director for the MWBC.
Naming a variety is serious business. "That variety will always be called that, yep. They are nationally logged, so no other variety could ever have that name,” Laird explained. "When we were picking these names, we really tried to tailor the names to the varieties. So maybe if it's a really strong, high-yielding variety we tried to come up with names that would fit that."
Laird said calling attention to varieties is important.
"Any time MSU breeds a new wheat, barley, or durum variety those varieties are really tailored in to the state of Montana. Our whole goal with this is just to draw a little bit more attention to those not only from a producer standpoint but agriculture is our biggest industry here in Montana. We want the public to also know just what's going on in their own backyard,” said Laird.
Doug Holen and Mike Giroux work at MSU and helped develop the varieties. Holen is the Foundation Seed Program Manager and Giroux is the head of the Plant Sciences & Plant Pathology Department.
"We're doing things that are relevant to growers in the state, so having them think about varieties, not just the naming but the properties of them, is one of our big goals,” Giroux said.
"A lot of people keep track of things as they're getting close to being released. So an example would be the MT Cowgirl, the forage barley. Of course, no seed is available until next year but we've already got numerous requests for seed producers to get that next spring,” said Holen.
Giroux and Holen encourage producers to contact them if there are areas they would like to see addressed. “They can contact any of the breeders from the Plant Sciences website. Doug has his MSU Foundation Seed website as well. They can also talk to the staff at their nearest research station throughout the state of Montana,” Giroux explained.