Prairie grain group commits over $22.6 million to AAFC wheat breeding program

The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) — a collaboration of the Alberta Wheat Commission, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, and Manitoba Crop Alliance — is committing over $22.6 million to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) for a core breeding agreement over a five-year term.

The group says the agreement ensures that farmers will benefit from new premium wheat varieties and associated genetics from AAFC’s breeding program for many years to come.

This latest five-year agreement is $2.6 million above the previous agreement and will be used to support plant breeders, technicians, and specialists who are working to deliver new wheat varieties for western Canadian farmers.

“The activities being conducted by Canadian researchers and wheat breeders, such as those at AAFC, have led to major innovations over the past few decades, including the development of several new wheat varieties with improved genetics and more desirable traits,” says Fred Greig, CWRC board chair and director with the Manitoba Crop Alliance. “Building on the work funded by farmers through organizations such as the Western Grains Research Foundation, this investment will ensure Canadian farmers benefit from new wheat varieties that improve and enhance the competitiveness of their farming operations while maintaining Canada’s reputation for providing quality wheat for markets around the globe.”

Greater yield potential, resistance to priority diseases such as fusarium head blight, rusts, and common bunt, and resistance to pests such as the orange wheat blossom midge and wheat stem sawfly are objectives of the agreement.

The agreement is funded proportionally by province based on the 2018-2019 production year, with 53 percent from Saskatchewan, 32 per cent from Alberta, and 15 per cent from Manitoba.

The CWRC took on the responsibility for producer-funded wheat variety development from the Western Grains Research Foundation earlier this year.

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