First R-rated wheat due out next fall

Supplies are expected now to be ready for a broad fall 2014 launch of what’s billed as Canada’s first wheat of any class with a resistant (R) rating for fusarium head blight.

Winnipeg-based Canterra Seeds, which has been managing certified seed multiplication for the new Canada Western red winter (CWRW) variety AC Emerson since it was recommended for registration in 2011, says early harvest results for the variety are positive.

“AC Emerson outyielded all other winter wheat seed production on our farm this year,” Tom Greaves, general manager of Pitura Seeds at Domain, Man., about 30 km south of Winnipeg, said in Canterra’s release Tuesday.

AC Emerson, developed by Rob Graf of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, is “expected to be a game-changer product for areas with high (fusarium) pressure,” Canterra said.

A fall 2014 launch gives Canterra one more year to “significantly” ramp up seed supplies, the company said.

“We want to be sure no one is disappointed because they can’t access seed in the launch year,” Rick Love, the company’s seed production co-ordinator, said in the release.

Timing is good for the launch of the variety, Canterra said, noting the winter variety CDC Falcon is proposed to be moved to the Canadian Western General Purpose (CWGP) class on Aug. 1 next year. AC Emerson is positioned to replace a “large number” of CDC Falcon acres, Canterra said.

The CWGP class is usually composed of feed and ethanol feedstock wheats, which don’t see the premiums paid for milling and baking wheats in the Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) class.

Emerson’s much-discussed fusarium tolerance level continues to look good, although last year it didn’t perform quite as well against the disease as in previous tests, AAFC’s Graf told the Manitoba Co-operator’s Allan Dawson in March.

A variety rated R for stem rust won’t display any symptoms of the fungal disease, but that’s not the case with fusarium and “does not equal immunity,” Graf said.

“The great thing is progress is being made” in improving fusarium tolerance, he said in March, noting the challenge is that fusarium resistance is conveyed by multiple genes, not just one.

Manitoba Crop Variety Evaluation Team (MCVET) variety testing data isn’t expected to be available on Emerson until this fall, provincial cereal specialist Pam de Rocquigny told the Co-operator in March.

Graf’s article on AC Emerson in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science last month described the variety’s expression of improved resistance to fusarium head blight, stem rust, leaf rust and stripe rust relative to checks.

End-use analysis showed Emerson had “excellent” milling and baking properties, he wrote.

Related story:
New varieties aim to push CDC Falcon from its perch, March 28, 2013

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