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Wheat research coalition inks first major agreement

THE CWRC has committed over $9.6 million to the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan

New malt varieties are being developed that nearly match the yields of feed and that will create new interest in barley, says breeder Aaron Beattie.

The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) has committed more than $9.6 million over five years to a ‘core breeding agreement’ with the Crop Development Centre (CDC) at the University of Saskatchewan.

The funding will support the development of new spring wheat cultivars. The research dollars will increase field-based breeding activities, the disease nursery and disease screening, molecular marker assisted breeding, winter nursery capacity and end-use quality evaluations.

The CDC will be concentrating on the development of Canadian Western Red Spring (CWRS), Canadian Western Amber Durum (CWAD), and Canadian Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) wheat cultivars with improved yield potentials, and greater resistance to diseases such as fusarium head blight (FHB) and stripe rust, and pests such as the orange wheat blossom midge.

The CWRC is a collaboration of the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, the Alberta Wheat Commission, and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association.

“This investment by the CWRC will benefit farmers across the Prairies by developing wheat varieties with improved resistance to pests and diseases along with improved yields,” said Jason Lenz, CWRC board chair and a director with the Alberta Wheat Commission.

“The CDC looks forward to working with the CWRC in developing new wheat genetics for producers in Western Canada,” said Dr. Pierre Hucl, CDC wheat breeder and interim director. “Our 25-year relationship with the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) has been very productive and will provide the momentum to deliver on the ambitious objectives we have developed with the CWRC.”

The agreement with the CDC is the first core breeding agreement to be signed by CWRC. The provincial wheat commissions, through the CWRC, have assumed responsibility for these agreements from the WGRF.

The new agreement represents a significant increase over the previous five-year agreement of $5.4 million. Core breeding agreements are funded proportionally by province, and adjusted annually, based on the previous year’s production, with 53 per cent coming from Saskatchewan, 32 per cent coming from Alberta and 15 per cent from Manitoba for the 2018-19 production year.

Additional agreements with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and other public breeding institutions are expected to be signed and announced in 2020.

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