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CWRC increases commitment to AAFC for wheat development


October 19, 2020
By Top Crop Manager

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The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) has committed more than $22.6 million over five years to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) for the development of wheat varieties.

A collaboration of the Alberta Wheat Commission, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, and Manitoba Crop Alliance, the CWRC committed the funds in a core breeding agreement with AAFC. 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.

The CWRC is responsible for producer funding of wheat varietal development, including working with AAFC to provide the capacity needed to deliver improved genetics and profitability to producers. This was formerly the responsibility of the Western Grains Research Foundation.

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The $22.6 million commitment of producer funding is an increase of $2.6 million over the previous agreement. The funding will provide further support for plant breeders, technicians, and specialists who are working to deliver field-ready wheat varieties to 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,” said Fred Greig, CWRC board chair and a 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.”

This agreement will contribute to the development of wheat cultivars that provide farmers with 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. AAFC will be concentrating on the development of wheat varieties in the Canadian Western Red Spring, Canadian Western Amber Durum, Canadian Prairie Spring Red, Canada Western Soft White Spring, and Canada Western Red Winter classes.

CWRC core breeding agreements are funded proportionally by province based on the previous year’s production, with 53 per cent coming from Saskatchewan, 32 per cent from Alberta and 15 per cent from Manitoba, based on the 2018-19 production year.