WGRF Invests $1.9 M for Winter Wheat Breeding at the U of M

The Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) and the University of Manitoba announced today that they have renewed their partnership in wheat breeding. WGRF will invest $1.9 million over five years into Dr. Anita Brûlé-Babel’s winter wheat breeding program and the fusarium head blight (FHB) nursery.   

The winter wheat breeding program will deliver improved varieties of Canada Western General Purpose (CWGP) and Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) wheat to producers. The focus of the breeding program is on developing varieties that are disease resistant, semi-dwarf, high yielding, cold hardy and suited to the higher moisture regions of the eastern prairies.

In addition, WGRF funds also support a coordinated Fusarium head blight screening nursery. This nursery provides services to wheat breeding programs across western Canada and provides both early and late generation testing for cultivar registration.

“The release of new general purpose and winter wheat varieties from the U of M, as well as the release of FHB resistant cultivars such as Waskada and Carberry is evidence of the great work being done at the University of Manitoba,” says Dave Sefton, WGRF Board Chair.

 “I congratulate Dr. Brûlé-Babel on receiving this support,” says Dr. Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba. “Her research program at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and that of the FHB nursery is to be commended. They continue to advance and aid western Canadian producers.”

“Maintenance of a coordinated FHB screening nursery will continue to provide benefits for the wheat breeding programs across western Canada,” says Garth Patterson, WGRF Executive Director. “Locating the nursery in a FHB prone region and making use of the infrastructure at the U of M supports a western Canadian approach to wheat variety development.”

Backgrounder

WGRF is a farmer funded and directed non-profit organization investing in agricultural research that benefits western Canadian producers. WGRF is the largest producer funder of variety development and field crop research in Canada. For 35 years the WGRF Board has given producers a voice in agricultural research funding decisions. WGRF manages an Endowment Fund and the wheat and barley variety development check-off funds, investing over $19 million in research in 2015. 

The University of Manitoba winter wheat program and germplasm development has two main areas of priority. To develop Canada Western General Purpose (CWGP) and Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) wheat varieties that are disease resistant, semi dwarf, high yielding, cold hardy and suited to the higher moisture regions of the eastern prairies. The primary objectives of germplasm development is to focus on conducting inheritance and mapping studies related to FHB resistance. Of particular importance with this work is training of undergraduate and graduate students and development of the human resource capacity of Canada.

The primary objective of the coordinated nursery is for evaluation of breeding lines for reaction to FHB. Lines from all spring wheat breeding programs across western Canada will be tested as well as winter wheat lines from the University of Manitoba breeding program. In total up to 12,000 single row plots will be evaluated in the nursery.