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Wheat could be the next canola

Industry insiders say $2.2 billion will be pumped into wheat research in the coming decade and that will be a game changer

If research into the crop pays off, King Wheat is ready to elbow aside canola, say some industry experts.

Seed and chemical companies are pumping up their research and will soon be turning out new seed varieties, treatments and fungicides, Todd Ormann, head of crop portfolio for cereals at Syngenta Canada, told attendees at the recent Wild Oats Grainworld conference.

The industry is expected to invest $2.2 billion in technology for cereals over the next decade, with much of it focused on fungicides, seed care and especially seed varieties. There’s less interest in herbicides because they don’t combat the disease and fungus problems causing the most damage in wheat, Ormann said.

The best way to help control diseases such as blackleg and leaf rust is through a combination of seed care, new varieties and fungicides, he said.

Hybrid wheat is the holy grail of research as it’s hoped that, as with the hybridization of canola, it would be a revolutionary step forward, said Daryl Domitruk, director of Agri-Food Innovation and Adaptation with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.

New wheat varieties with 20 per cent higher yields could be available as early as 2020 — and that would generate an additional $2 billion for Canadian farmers, said Ormann, who also predicted Canada may soon be a world leader in wheat research and development.

But not everyone had the same positive outlook.

There still needs to be some significant changes on the logistics side of things to help the industry function at full capacity in the post-wheat board world, said Gary Williams, senior market manager with Scoular Canada.

Railroad efficiencies need to be found; Canada and the U.S. need to work together to streamline grades to help reduce confusion for international buyers; and elevators need to become more specialized, he said.

About the author

Columnist

Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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