AC Emerson | The red winter wheat variety is resistant to fusarium, leaf stripe and stem rust
Seed growers have been talking about it.
Farmers can’t wait to get their hands on it.
And all the major elevator companies want a piece of it.
AC Emerson, a red winter wheat variety with a resistant rating against fusarium, will soon make its debut in commercial fields across Western Canada.
Canterra Seeds, which holds distribution rights, announced this week that the new variety will be available for widespread release next year, in time for planting in the fall of 2014.
“The variety itself, having an R rating for fusarium head blight, is a huge achievement from a plant breeding perspective, so we’re pretty excited to be representing the variety,” said Canterra’s Brent Derkatch.
“The variety is also going to be at the right place at the right time because of the proposed changes affecting the classification of CDC Falcon.… All indications are that it’s going to be a very strong variety in the CWRW class.”
Winter wheat growers have been waiting for the commercial release of AC Emerson since it was supported for registration in February 2012.
The variety is the first wheat from any class to be rated resistant for fusarium.
It is also viewed as a likely replacement for CDC Falcon, which is scheduled to be reclassified to the general purpose wheat class from red winter next Aug. 1.
Falcon was grown widely by winter wheat producers on the eastern Prairies and was the most popular variety in Manitoba.
Farmers in high rainfall areas liked it for its good yield potential, strong straw and resistance to lodging.
According to some statistics, CDC Falcon accounted for an estimated 75 percent of the province’s total winter wheat acres in 2010 and 2011.
AC Emerson is expected to be planted on many of the acres that were previously planted to CDC Falcon, particularly in southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, where fusarium and other wheat diseases are common.
AC Emerson is also resistant to leaf stripe and stem rust and is thought to have the best disease package of any wheat in the red winter class.
Yield potential is similar to CDC Falcon, but protein is higher and end use quality is improved.
AC Emerson is in its second year of multiplication by pedigreed seed growers. Foundation seed will be planted this fall.
The crop that is harvested next year will produce registered seed, but Derkatch said 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes will be demoted to certified status and distributed to commercial growers through the Canterra network.
At two pounds per acre, it should be enough seed to plant 220,000 and 275,000 acres of AC Emerson next fall.
Derkatch said feedback from pedigreed seed growers who multiplied the variety this year has been promising.
“We’ve had some very positive feedback from our seed growers,” he said.
“Yields in the upper 80s and low to mid-90s are pretty common.”
Rob Graf, the Agriculture Canada wheat breeder who developed the variety, said winter wheat growers will be eager to get their hands on certified supplies of AC Emerson next year, particularly since Falcon will no longer qualify for red winter sales contracts.
“Emerson has yield potential in the eastern Prairies that is similar to Falcon,” he said.
“It’s got much improved protein content and quality, but really, the big factor that has everyone excited is the disease resistance.”
Graf said a resistant rating against fusarium is not an iron clad guarantee that AC Emerson will not be affected by the disease.
“An R rating for fusarium is not the same as an R rating for a disease such as stem or leaf rust,” he said.
“When you get an R rating for stem or leaf rust, producers expect immunity or near immunity. Essentially, the variety is almost bullet proof. But for fusarium head blight, an R rating really doesn’t mean that. Under heavy fusarium head blight pressure, this variety will still have some fusarium, but it will fare a lot better than varieties that are susceptible. Essentially, what I’m saying is that R does not equate to immunity with fusarium head blight.”