Triticale has a bright future due to $15.5 million in new funding from the federal government, says one of two science directors in the new Canadian Triticale Biorefinery Initiative.
“Triticale is a high-yielding crop that produces a large amount of biomass,” Francois Eudes told the Southern Applied Research Association’s annual meeting here in early March.
As a cross between wheat and rye, triticale is a cereal, but it has limited human use, and is primarily used for silage.
“Triticale is the best choice for carbohydrate production. It yields 20 per cent more than other cereals,” says Eudes.
Furthermore, triticale has low input costs for production and is adapted to growth in marginal areas. Eudes says triticale is so diverse because it inherits the hardiness from its rye parentage.
As for biosafety, there are fewer regulatory issues with triticale. Its plants and seeds are visually identifiable and don’t naturally hybridize with other crops or wild native species. Therefore, there is no risk of environmental contamination.
Researchers are now developing “designer triticale” for fuel, material and chemicals, since total utilization of the crop supports the bioeconomy. “Biorefineries will provide an opportunity to move from a ‘one-to-one’ to a ‘one-to-many’ product development ratio,” says Eudes. “I can’t envision a bioeconomy with only one product – you need many products to share the cost.”
There are several themes being pursued under the Canadian Triticale Biorefinery Initiative, including economics, processing, platform chemicals, polymers and advanced materials, future competitiveness, and enabling biotechnology through the development of new tools and genetic engineering. Eudes says future competitiveness is where Agriculture Canada plays an important role, as researchers at the Lethbridge Research Centre and elsewhere continue to create and test new varieties.