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Last but not least: the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition supports the University of Manitoba with a core breeding agreement

Dr. Lauren Comin, Director of Research | Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

With the execution of a core breeding agreement with the University of Manitoba, the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) has now established funding support at all western public wheat breeding institutions. The partnership, worth over $3.5 million and co-funded by the Western Grains Research Foundation and the Saskatchewan Winter Cereals Development Commission, will ensure the University of Manitoba’s winter wheat breeding and germplasm development program continues its efforts.

The CWRC, a collaboration between the Alberta Wheat Commission, the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and the Manitoba Crop Alliance, has previously signed core breeding agreements with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta. The agreements, funded by provincial producer wheat check-offs, ensure the establishment of variety development capacity, including funding for key staff. The agreements are all five years in length, with the University of Manitoba agreement ending in 2026.

The University of Manitoba partnership is unique as the long-time breeder, Dr. Anita Bru?le?-Babel, will be retiring in December, 2021 with Dr. Curt McCartney assuming the role. Prior to joining the Department of Plant Sciences, Dr. McCartney was a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Morden, Manitoba, where he focused on cereal genetics targeting resistance to Fusarium head blight, leaf and stem rust and orange wheat blossom midge.

At his new position, Dr. McCartney will continue his genetic work and incorporate new technologies into the long-standing winter wheat breeding and germplasm development program. In addition to his own breeding efforts, Dr. McCartney will also continue operating the University’s Fusarium head blight screening nursery for all wheat classes. This nursery has become critical to many breeding programs in Western Canada, as the environment is conducive to infection and allows for differentiation between susceptible and resistant lines. As a university professor, Dr. McCartney will also contribute to the training of the next generation of agricultural experts by supervising graduate students and teaching.

"The agreements, funded by provincial producer wheat check-offs, ensure the establishment of variety development capacity, including funding for key staff.”