SaskWheat, Alberta Wheat Commision fund major advancements in wheat research


Recently, there were two big funding announcements with major implications for Canadian wheat growers. Both had significant funding support from SaskWheat and the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC).

Saskatchewan field editor Dale Leftwich sat down with Harvey Brooks, executive director for SaskWheat, to talk about the importance of research to farmer led commodity groups. Brooks spoke about both announcements, along with how the groups are collaborating to provide production tools for farmers. (story continues below)

Funding set at $1.6 million was made available through the Ag Funding Consortium (AFC), which is described as, “A partnership of 13 organizations established to create a one-window approach for agricultural research and development funding in Alberta.” Although this initiative was led by the AWC, other initiatives are led by different groups.

The groups work together as much as possible but there are some things which are of particular interest to one group so then that specific group might shoulder most of the financial obligation. Brooks says, “We appreciate that wheat is not something that necessarily respects provincial borders. We all have an interest in getting good varieties out there. Some a little more so than others.”

He goes on to explain how durum is of primary importance to SaskWheat. “That’s one that Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission has to take care of because we are principally the acreage for that.”

The other significant achievement which was just recently announced was the mapping of the wheat genome, the difficulty of which should not be underestimated.

“They have sequenced the wheat genome with extreme certainty,” Brooks says. He went on to say, “I think most people would surprised to know — that little plant, wheat — has five times more genes in it than a human being.”

SaskWheat and AWC have both invested heavily in the gene mapping project. It is hoped that advancements in areas such as wheat midge resistance and fusarium resistance, can be greatly sped up with the tools that will come out of this endeavour.

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