Wheat groups fund breeding

The Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan will receive more than $9.6 million in core funding over the next five years to assist in developing new spring wheat cultivars.

The funding agreement, announced Jan. 13 in Saskatoon, will be provided by the Canadian Wheat Research Council, a non-profit funding agency established by the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, the Alberta Wheat Commission and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association.

The CWRC agreement will provide expanded core funding for CDC wheat breeding programs, allowing enhanced support for field-based breeding activities, disease nursery and screening activities, molecular marker assisted breeding, winter nursery capacity and end-use quality evaluations.

CDC breeding programs will use the money to focus on the development of new wheat varieties in three different wheat classes — Canada Western Red Spring, Canada Western Amber Durum and Canada Prairie Spring Red.

CDC breeders will focus specifically on enhancing yield potential, improving resistance to prevalent diseases such as fusarium headblight and stripe rust, and developing new varieties with improved tolerance to common wheat pests such as the orange blossom wheat midge.

“The CDC looks forward to working with the CWRC in developing new genetics for producers in Western Canada,” said CDC wheat breeder Pierre Hucl in a Jan. 13 news release.

“The core breeding agreement announced today will be key to ensuring the future successes of the wheat breeding program at the CDC.”

The new CDC funding agreement is the first of its kind to be signed by the CWRC.

Previous core funding agreements that provided producer support to the CDC had been furnished through the Western Grains Research Foundation.

Provincial wheat commissions, through the CWRC, have since assumed responsibility for providing core funding to the CDC.

The new $9.6 million agreement represents a significant increase over the CDC’s previous core funding agreement, which was valued at $5.4 million over five years.

Core CDC funding through the CWRC is provided by each of three provincial wheat commissions on the Canadian Prairies.

Provincial contributions are determined annually, based on provincial wheat production from the previous year.

Based on production data from the 2018-19 crop year, the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission will contribute 53 percent of funding in the first year of the five-year agreement.

Alberta Wheat will contribute 32 percent and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association will contribute 15 percent.

“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 CWRC chair Jason Lenz, who also serves as a director with the Alberta Wheat Commission.

“The CDC is renowned for their excellence in research and for developing some of the most popular and best performing (wheat) varieties available.”

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