Developing new high yield wheat varieties (CPS and GP) for milling, animal feed and ethanol in Alberta

Posted on 06.02.2017 | Last Modified 12.06.2019
Lead Researcher (PI): Dean Spaner
Institution: University of Alberta
Total WGRF Funding: $287,500
Co-Funders: Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund, Alberta Wheat Commission
Start Date: 2014
Project Length: 5 Years

To identify and develop new varieties of high-yielding wheat (CPS and GP) with high-grain and starch-yield potential, along with early maturity, disease resistance and agronomic adaptability, for the milling, ethanol and animal feed industries.

Project Summary:

Alberta’s most important crop is spring wheat, with a farm-gate value of about $1.1billion per year.  Canadian Prairie Spring Red (CPS-R) was developed to compete with American winter wheat for markets of lower protein and higher yields than Canadian Western Red Spring (CWRS). Estimated annual western Canadian production is around 1.8 million t, with an export of about 350,000 t. The major domestic use is for feeding livestock and ethanol industries. Ethanol producers are interested in wheat varieties with lower protein and higher starch content thus creating domestic market for this type of wheat. A highly trained, competitive workforce is essential to keeping Alberta agriculture at the cutting edge of global developments. Students trained during this project will graduate to become part of the highly-qualified workforce needed by the Alberta grain industry in the coming years.

The objectives of this program were:

  1. To identify and develop new varieties of high-yielding wheat (CPS and GP) with high-grain and starch-yield potential (along with early maturity, disease resistance and agronomic adaptability) in Alberta, for the milling (CPS), ethanol and animal feed industries.
  2. To train and educate post­graduate students in plant breeding / agronomy / statistics and related disciplines. These students will graduate to productive roles in agriculture in the coming years.

At the end of this 5-year project, we registered one CNHR cultivar (Sheba) which was later changed to (a high yielding) CWRS cultivar and two are in the third and final year of cooperative registration trial (HY2082 for the CPS class, and NH050 in the CNHR class). Registered cultivars developed over the duration of the project provide new tools to the wheat farming sector to lessen input costs through increased yields with early maturity and resistance to constantly changing biotic stresses such as diseases. Economic benefits to the wheat growing community accrue through greater profit margins by virtue of breeding new and better cultivars requiring less inputs.

All graduate students work on projects revolving around the breeding program. During the project, 10 graduate students (5 MSc and 5 PhD) defended their theses, convocated and moved into their working careers. Students graduating from the wheat breeding program at the University of Alberta have and do provide significant impact on industry stake-holders throughout the agricultural sector in Alberta, western Canada and globally. Graduated students have moved into important roles, such as professors, research scientists with both federal and local governments and in the private sector as breeders and agronomists. They are adding significant economic benefits through the knowledge and energy they bring to improving our farming community.