THE LSU AgCenter recently released the first wheat variety ever developed by its researchers for commercial production.

The new wheat variety, LA422, is a soft red winter wheat variety that's ideally adapted to the coastal South, particularly Louisiana, according to Steve Harrison, wheat breeder at the LSU AgCenter.

LA422 was awarded a Plant Variety Protection certificate in July. The Plant Variety Protection Act provides developers of new varieties of plants patent-like rights that protect the reproduction of their varieties.

The new variety is licensed to Terral Seed Co. of Lake Providence.

“LA422 has yielded very well in Louisiana, particularly in south Louisiana,” Harrison said of tests after development of the variety. It ranked first in yield in 1997, as well as in the previous two- and three-year averages across south Louisiana, he said.

Harrison said the new variety probably will be best adapted to Louisiana, the southern half of Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama, and the coastal plain areas of the Carolinas and Georgia. He expects it should perform well in regions somewhat north of these areas in years when there is not a late freeze or when it's planted later in the planting season.

“LA422 has high yield and excellent disease resistance,” Harrison said.

Harrison joined the LSU AgCenter faculty in 1985 as a wheat and small grain breeder. In addition to LA422, he has several other wheat varieties that look promising.

“We're considering releasing two additional breeding lines as varieties this fall,” Harrison said. “These lines have done well in our trials over the past two years, and we have moderate-sized seed increases available.”

After a variety is released, it still takes about two years before enough seed is available for widespread commercial planting.