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New wheat varieties on the horizon for western Canadian farmers

By Sheri Strydhorst, PhD. Agronomy Research Specialist, Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

Wheat experts from government, academia and industry met virtually at the Prarie Grain Development Committee (PGDC) meeting this year to evaluate and recommend new wheat lines for registration in western Canada. The Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale (PRCWRT) evaluated 18 potential varieties for merit in the areas of agronomic traits, disease resistance, and end-use quality between February 22 and 25.

At the conclusion of the meeting, four Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD), one Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) wheat, one Canada Western Special Purpose (CWSP) wheat, three Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) wheat, seven Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat and two winter triticale lines were recommended to the Variety Registration Office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as being suitable for registration as a variety for commercial production.

The Agronomy Evaluation Team includes breeders, agronomists, seed company representatives and producers. This group evaluates grain yield, maturity, lodging, test weight and winter survival (for winter lines) of the candidate cultivars relative to standard check cultivars. The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) has three representatives on the Agronomy Evaluation Team: Jeremy Boychyn, Jason Saunders, and Sheri Strydhorst.

The Disease Evaluation Team includes pathologists and molecular biologists. This group evaluates the genetic resistance of the candidate lines to five diseases: leaf rust, stem rust, stripe rust, common bunt and Fusarium head blight (FHB). AWC has one representative on the Disease Evaluation Team: Lauren Comin.

The Quality Evaluation Team includes cereal chemists, milling and baking representatives, seed company representatives and marketing representatives. This group evaluates candidate wheat lines for: wheat and flour/semolina characteristics; milling performance; dough properties; colour and end-product quality. AWC has one representative on the Quality Evaluation Team: Geoff Backman.

Some of the unique lines recommended for registration in 2021 include: DT1012, DT2009, PT495, W601 and GP233:

  •  DT1012 is the first low cadmium semi-dwarf CWAD line recommended by PRCWRT and was developed at the Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan. Wheat Breeder Curtis Pozniak presented the line and indicated DT1012 would be a potential replacement for AC Navigator, but with improved FHB resistance.
  • DT2009 is the first CWAD with an Intermediate rating to FHB which is comparable to the CWRS variety AAC Viewfield. FHB resistance in durum has been particularly difficult to achieve due to a lack of diversity for this trait in the crop. This line combines high yield with high wheat protein and semolina protein. DT2009 was bred by Yuefeng Ruan from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Swift Current.
  • PT495 is a CWRS line from AAFC at Brandon presented by breeder Santosh Kumar that has a unique combination of earlier maturity and higher yield. This line is 1 day earlier and 6% higher yielding than Parata.
  • W601 is a CWRW line from AAFC at Lethbridge presented by breeder Robert Graf that is 8% higher yielding than the highest yielding check (AAC Elevate) with winter survival equal to the best check, CDC Buteo.
  • GP233 is a CWSP line from the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan presented by breeder Pierre Hucl. This line is a “waxy”, low amylose line that could be blended with other wheats to provide anti-staling properties to processed frozen products and shelf-stable foods.

While there are many other exciting lines, these four were highlighted due to their very unique traits.

Another important agenda item at the 2021 PRCWRT meetings was updating and streamlining check cultivars. Check cultivars are included in all registration trials and new candidate lines up for registration are evaluated against these check cultivars. To be recommended for registration, candidate lines must meet or exceed the agronomic, yield and/or quality traits of the check cultivars. Going forward, the CWRS, CPSR, CNHR and CWSPS registration trials will have a common set of checks (AAC Penhold, Glen, Carberry, AAC Brandon, Faller and Parata (in the northern co-op trials)) to provide testing and classification efficiencies and provide cross-over value to the provincial seed guides.

Now that the PRCWRT has recommended these 17 lines for registration, the next step prior to commercial release will be for the Variety Registration Office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to grant registration of the variety. Only after the registration as been granted may seed sales begin.

At the PGDC Meeting, there are three recommending committees in addition to the PRCWRT: Oat and Barley; Pulse and Special Crops; and Oilseeds. David Simbo of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions serves as secretary for the Oat and Barley recommending committee.