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New varieties yield new returns

Dr. Lauren Comin, former Director of Research and Dr. Sheri Strydhorst, Agronomy Research Specialist | Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

Wheat experts from across the value chain met virtually at the Prairie Grain Development Committee (PGDC) meetings in early March 2022, to evaluate and recommend new wheat and barley lines for registration in Western Canada. The Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale evaluated 18 potential varieties for merit in the areas of agronomic performance, disease resistance and end-use quality, while the Prairie Recommending Committee for Oats and Barley evaluated seven potential varieties for the same merit categories. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, the following wheat and barley lines were recommended to the Variety Registration Office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as being suitable for registration:

  • three Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD) wheat lines
  • five Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat lines
  • one Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) wheat line
  • one Canada Western Special Purpose (CWSP) wheat line
  • one Canada Western Soft White Spring (CWSWS) wheat line
  • one Canada Western Hard White Spring (CWHWS) wheat line
  • three General Purpose barley lines
  • one Feed and Forage barley line
  • one Food barley line
  • two Malting barley lines

The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions provide capacity support for public varietal development through the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition and the Canadian Barley Research Coalition, respectively. In addition to the development of new, improved varieties, the agreements also include the provision for a share of the breeding organization’s certified seed royalties to be returned to or controlled by the coalitions. The exact arrangements differ by institution; however, the overall intention is to ensure maximum funding returns to the research programs. Only those varieties registered during the tenure of the agreements are included in the royalty sharing agreements. There are currently no end-point or trailing royalties on varieties developed under these agreements.

The first core breeding agreements were signed on January 1, 2020, and the most recent agreement was executed on July 31, 2021. Each agreement is five years in length. Once a variety has been registered at PGDC, it can take several years until the breeder seed of the variety has been multiplied to have enough for sale. So, while neither coalition has received royalties to date, it is expected that this will change as the terms of the agreements advance. 

Once royalties are received, a process will be set up to make funding decisions to add further value to the programs. All royalty revenue will be reported in the annual reports of the coalitions. These values will be included in the yearly financial statements if monies are transferred to coalition accounts, as opposed to being held in a special account at the institution.