WGRF renews funding agreement with U of A wheat breeding program

The Western Grain Research Foundation (WGRF) has renewed its funding agreement with the University of Alberta’s wheat breeding program.

WGRF announced April 27 that it will invest more than $811,000 into the U of A program over the next five years.

The program is led by wheat breeder and professor Dean Spaner.

The latest investment doubles the WGRF’s previous five-year funding commitment.

Over the past five years, Spaner’s program within the faculty of agricultural, life & environmental sciences (ALES) has registered five new Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat lines.

It also released one new germplasm line, graduated five doctoral student and four masters students.

“The wheat breeding program at the U of A … is an important piece of the western Canadian wheat breeding network,” said WGRF board chair Dave Sefton.

“WGRF has been investing in wheat research at the U of A since 2005 and, over this time we have seen the program take some significant strides towards the development of new wheat varieties and germplasm for the parkland zone.”

Spaner said producer investments made through the WGRF

Have been integral to the success that the U of A program has enjoyed.

“This continued long-term investment demonstrates the value the wheat producers of western Canada place on our work, and is the base that attracts other investors,” Spaner said in an April 27 news release.

“This announcement is a tremendous boost in confidence and responsibility, for which we are deeply grateful.”

Stan Blade, dean of the U of A agriculture program, said the university if proud of the work it has done in helping western Canadian farmers grower healthier, more productive crops.

“We’re also very grateful for the confidence shown by WGRF, whose support plays a pivotal role in the success we’ve had with our program.”

The U of A wheat breeding program focuses on three classes of wheat, Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS), Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPS-R) and the Canada Western General Purpose (CWGP) class.

The goal of the program is to develop and select germplasm that will result in higher yielding varieties with earlier maturity, increased straw strength and good quality characteristics.

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