Montana-based WestBred announced a donation of $25,000 to the Montana Grains Foundation (MGF) to help fund a new initiative to find better ways to manage and control the wheat stem sawfly. This pest inflicts significant damage to wheat crops in Montana as well as surrounding states every year, resulting in millions of dollars worth of loss for farmers.

The MGF is a non-profit foundation established by grain producers to promote charitable, scientific and educational activities on behalf of Montana’s grain industry. WestBred, is a unit of Monsanto Company, and breeds and markets a full line of small grains varieties that help farmers increase the yield and profitability of wheat and barley crops across most of the United States and in two Canadian provinces.

“While the industry has made some progress in the successful management of the sawfly, more research and education is still needed,” said Ryan Holt, WestBred Commercial Manager in Great Falls. “It is our hope that this donation will help the MGF as they work to find some solutions to the problems posed by this pest.”

Holt notes that WestBred has developed two new wheat varieties – WB Gunnison and WB Quake – that offer some resistance to the wheat stem sawfly.

Holt adds, “We want to continue to be part of the equation in solving the sawfly issue, as well as other challenges that negatively impact wheat production in North America.”

Holt presented the $25,000 check to Carter, Montana farmer and MGF president Dale Schuler.

“The funding from WestBred is greatly appreciated as I know from firsthand experience how devastating the sawfly can be to wheat production,” said Schuler. “This donation gives us a jump-start on our sawfly project and will help us clear a path forward to minimize the impacts of this pest.”

The wheat stem sawfly damages wheat by laying its eggs in stems at the elongation stage. The sawfly larvae then tunnels down through the stem and overwinters in the wheat’s crown just above the soil surface. The larvae tunneling serves to weaken the stem, and the sawfly then cuts the stem off at the bottom of the plant, resulting in lodged grain that is difficult to harvest. It is estimated that the wheat stem sawfly costs farmers more than $100 million annually.

For more information about WestBred and its products, farmers can contact their local WestBred seed dealer or visit