Prairie wheat commissions commit $9.6 million to core breeding agreement

The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) is pledging more than $9.6 million over the next five years to a core breeding agreement (CBA) with the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Crop Development Centre (CDC).

The funding will go towards the development of spring wheat cultivars and provide expanded “core” support for the CDC’s wheat breeding programs, including an increase in contributions to field-based breeding activities, disease nursery and screening, molecular marker assisted breeding, winter nursery capacity, and end-use quality evaluation.

“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,” says Jason Lenz, CWRC board chair and a director with the AWC.

“The CDC is renowned for their excellence in research and for developing some of the most popular and best-performing varieties available,” says Lenz. “Farmer-funded wheat breeding has been vital to the continued development of programs and farmers will benefit from their investments with the release of new varieties that can help make their farms more profitable.”

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.

“The CDC looks forward to working with the CWRC in developing new wheat genetics for producers in Western Canada,” says 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 core breeding agreement announced today will be key to ensuring the future successes of the wheat breeding programs at the CDC.”

The agreement will be the first core breeding agreement signed by the provincial wheat commissions. The CWRC is comprised of the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, the Alberta Wheat Commission, and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association.

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