Portion of $2.2 million funding allocated to winter wheat research

One arm of research will look at expanding the fall seeding window in order to increase acreage

There was more than a wee bit o’ green announced on St. Patrick’s Day at the Lethbridge Research Centre.

The Alberta Wheat Commission received $1 million in federal funding for winter wheat research that, with some matching funds and investment from the AWC and various partners, will bring $2.2 million to focus on the crop over the next four years.

The funds are earmarked for evaluation of new winter wheat varieties, development of best management practices and to provide producers with information and tools to address agronomic challenges.

Kevin Auch, vice-chair of the AWC, said 11 research projects are planned and will be led by Agriculture Canada research scientist Brian Beres, in co-operation with Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Among the projects are those focusing on pest control, input management, expanding the seeding window and the use of crop growth regulators.

“Some of the research that they’re doing here to improve the agronomy, it will make it more attractive and easier for us farmers to actually get winter wheat in the ground in a timely fashion and realize the advantages that the marketplace offers on the other end,” said Auch after the announcement at the researchcentre.

The need to seed winter wheat at the same time as spring crops are being harvested in fall tends to limit the acreage planted, Auch said.

Research into expanding the seeding window might be particularly useful in addressing that challenge.

“Later into the fall would definitely make it easier because then the crop that was growing here the previous year will already be harvested and we can get the seed in the ground for the next year.”

Auch said AWC participation in trade missions organized by Cereals Canada has proven there is international demand for winter wheat and the qualities it offers for milling and baking.

“There’s a significant opportunity in the international marketplace that farmers could access through winter wheat sales, but expanding winter wheat markets is only part of our long term plan,” said Auch.

“Our long-term goal is to see winter wheat grown where it can be grown, see it penetrate international markets by realizing its growth potential and see better returns for farmers.”

The $1 million in federal funding was announced by Lethbridge MP Jim Hillyer on behalf of federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz.

The funds were made through the AgriInnovation program of Growing Forward 2.

Other funding partners for the winter wheat projects include Saskatchewan Winter Cereals Development Commission, Winter Cereals Manitoba, the Western Grains Research Foundation, Koch Fertilizer Canada, Agrium and Dow AgroSciences.

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