DECATUR, Ill. — Wheat plays third fiddle to corn and soybeans, yet it is the world’s most widely grown crop, comprising 25 percent of the cereal crops.

However, wheat productivity is increasing at less than 1 percent annually while demand grows at twice that rate, according to David Hollinrake, Bayer CropScience agricultural commercial operations marketing vice president.

“As you think about the global population and you think about wheat and its importance to feeding the growing world, it’s quite significant,” Hollinrake said at the Farm Progress Show.

“We see this as an opportunity. We see this as an obligation, and we see this as the next frontier in seed production enhancement. We are partnering with universities, and we are partnering aggressively with the wheat industry to change the game.

“Over the next few months, we’re going to break ground on a wheat breeding station near Lincoln, Neb., and we’re going to partner with the University of Nebraska, which will result in critical advancements wheat production, which is needed across the globe.”

Bayer CropScience entered into an agreement to lease and option to purchase 400 acres of land near Goehner, Neb., located 30 miles west of Lincoln in Seward County, for the new North American breeding station.

In 2010, Bayer CropScience and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln signed a nonexclusive agreement to improve wheat breeding and generate new wheat varieties.

Since that time, Bayer has been working to identify a suitable site in Nebraska to establish its North American Regional Wheat Breeding Station.

Throughout the process, Bayer has worked with the State of Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Seward County Economic Development.

The company will continue to work closely with this groups and the community and around Goehner as development plants progress on the site.

Bayer CropScience is committed to the improvement of wheat cultivation through research and education and is working closely with local initiatives in support of growth in these areas.

The Goehner breeding station will be part of Bayer CropScience’s global network of wheat breeding stations situated in the heart of key wheat production regions. Additional breeding centers are planned in Europe and other regions over the coming years.

“Bayer wants to become the provider of choice to wheat growers by offering superior solutions from seed to shelf, including seeds, traits and crop protection products and services,” Hollinrake said.