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New breeding program, new spring wheat

A new CPSR, AAC Crossfield, comes out of a new partnership in wheat breeding

A breeding program with public, private and producer stakeholders has yielded its first commercial wheat variety.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canterra Seeds and the Alberta Wheat Commission pooled their resources and expertise to develop and commercialize new Canadian Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) wheat varieties for the Prairies, says Brent Derkatch, Canterra’s director of operations and business development.

“We have the ability to sit at the table with the breeder and producers to make decisions on the varieties that are advanced and hear from the farmers on what they’re looking for in varieties,” says Derkatch.

Over five years, $3.4 million will be invested in the program. The Alberta Wheat Commission receives a share of royalties on new varieties that come from the program, according to a Canterra blog post. Canterra gets first right of refusal on new varieties from the program. Dr. Harpinder Randhawa of AAFC Lethbridge leads the breeding.

Derkatch says that the western Canadian acres indicate that CPSR is a minority class, but he thinks it’s a wheat class that deserves more recognition. Many export markets are interested in CPSR wheat and it has agronomic benefits for growers, he says.

In 2015, the three organizations formed the partnership, formally known as 4-P. AAC Crossfield is the first variety to come out of that partnership. Farmers will be able to buy the new variety for 2019 seeding.

“The short strong straw and high yield potential are the two main attributes. And so for growers in the CPS regions that have higher moisture levels and grow a heavy crop, the straw strength will be a critical piece.”

A release from the Alberta Wheat Commission states that AAC Crossfield also has improved baking and milling qualities. Canterra’s technical bulletin on the new variety states Crossfield’s overall yield came in at 103 per cent of 5700PR. It is rated as:

  • medium for maturity.
  • very good for lodging.
  • intermediate for fusarium head blight.
  • resistant to stripe rust, leaf rust and stem rust.

4P has another variety in seed production, says Derkatch, and a third that will be in seed production in 2019. There’s also a stream of material pending registration.

Derkatch sees more of these partnerships in the future.

“The public programs in general are under financial stress to some degree,” he says. “Resources are going to be tight and government spending is always being closely monitored.”

The partnership is a “great complement” to the work AAFC has been doing already, Derkatch says. Partners bring additional money and help with field trial and other research and development efforts.

Canterra’s roles also include seed production and commercialization, and sharing market insight.

“We’re also working with grain handlers and end users to make sure that we’re not just bringing the varieties that are agronomically strong, but the ones that also fit well in the class from a quality perspective.”

About the author

Field Editor

Lisa Guenther is field editor for Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. You can follow her on Twitter @LtoG.

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