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

The CWRC is a collaboration of the Alberta Wheat Commission, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, and Manitoba Crop Alliance. CWRC assumed responsibility for producer funding of wheat varietal development from the Western Grains Research Foundation, which includes working with AAFC to provide the capacity needed to deliver improved genetics and profitability to producers.

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.