ST. LOUIS — Monsanto Co. announced it is expanding its strong seeds and traits portfolio to include wheat through the $45 million acquisition of WestBred L.L.C., a company that specializes in wheat germplasm.

"The U.S. wheat industry has come together to call for new technology investment, and we believe we have game-changing technologies — like our drought-tolerance and improved-yield traits — that can meaningfully address major challenges wheat growers face every season," said Carl Casale, executive vice-president of global strategy and operations for Monsanto. "Through WestBred, we’ll be able to deliver advances in breeding and biotechnology to deliver a step-change in yield while creating a springboard for new partnerships and collaboration opportunities that create additional value for farmers."

Monsanto said the transaction represents a long-term investment in research and development and breeding. As a result, it does not expect it to be accretive to earnings until the middle to latter part of the next decade.

"As WestBred looked at the wheat industry, we saw a need for technology infusion to be competitive with other crops farmers are growing," said Ron Ueland, president of WestBred. "We believe that linking up with a company like Monsanto with a proven track record as an innovator is the best route to accelerate the development of new technologies."

The transaction will give WestBred access to Monsanto’s technology platforms to provide wheat farmers benefits through both breeding and biotechnology. Then researchers will be able to apply Monsanto’s expertise in conventional and marker-assisted breeding tools to develop better-yielding varieties for U.S. farmers using WestBred’s germplasm as a foundation. The seeds then will be the foundation to help develop new biotechnology traits that focus on drought tolerance, nitrogen use and higher yield.