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Cereal groups provide long-term funding for breeding programs

The five-year agreements support Ag Canada’s core breeding programs for wheat and barley

Alberta cereal growers, along with their Prairie counterparts, will be putting more than $24 million into development of new varieties over the next five years.

The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition — a collaboration of the three Prairie wheat commissions — has committed $22.6 million over five years to a core breeding agreement with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for the development of wheat varieties.

“The agreement ensures that farmers will benefit from new premium wheat varieties and associated genetics from AAFC’s breeding program for many years to come,” the coalition said in a news release.

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“The funding will provide further support for plant breeders, technicians, and specialists who are working to deliver field-ready wheat varieties to western Canadian farmers.”

The focus will be on yield, resistance to “priority” diseases (such as fusarium head blight, rusts, and common bunt), and resistance to pests (such as the orange wheat blossom midge and wheat stem sawfly).

The wheat research coalition, formed in 2017, took over responsibility for producer funding of wheat varietal development from the Western Grains Research Foundation.

The Canadian Barley Research Coalition started up in January and is also a collaboration (in this case, Alberta Wheat and its counterparts in Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and also assuming funding of barley varietal development from the Western Grains Research Foundation.

It will be giving $1.5 million towards a core barley-breeding agreement with Ag Canada.

“This new phase of funding will allow the continuation of ‘core’ activities for AAFC’s barley-breeding programs, which aim to design new varieties that have the best sources of disease and insect resistance, are designed for western Canadian growing conditions and will deliver high-quality traits for end-users,” said Jason Skotheim, chair of the barley research coalition as well as SaskBarley.

The two agreements mean growers will have access to Ag Canada wheat and barley varieties for at least five more years.

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