Development of premium quality western Canadian winter wheat

Posted on 06.02.2017 | Last Modified 24.02.2020
Lead Researcher (PI): Rob Graf
Institution: Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
Total WGRF Funding: $150,938
Co-Funders: Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund, Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, Alberta Wheat Commission
Start Date: 2014
Project Length: 5 Years

To develop winter wheat varieties for western Canada with CWRS-like quality characteristics while increasing/maintaining yield, winter survival and disease resistance.

Project Summary:

Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) wheat is a medium protein, hard red wheat that competes
well in markets for “medium quality” milling wheat. Compared with the premium quality
Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat, which is grown on a majority of wheat acres in
western Canada, CWRW trades at a disadvantage due to its lower end-use quality. An
examination of registration trial data comparing the end-use quality of the checks for CWRS to
CWRW indicated that the main differences were that CWRW had lower grain protein
concentration, lower gluten strength, lower farinograph absorption, and lower loaf volume,
although its milling properties (flour yield, flour ash and flour colour) were superior to CWRS.
Detailed examination of the data from experimental lines within the AAFC Lethbridge winter
wheat breeding program revealed lines that corrected some of the end-use quality deficiencies
and provided optimism that if the best characteristics of these lines could be combined, winter
wheat with CWRS or “near-CWRS” quality could be developed over the medium to long term.
By improving the end-use quality of winter wheat, it is believed that the combination of higher
grain yield and projected higher farm gate prices will encourage producers to incorporate winter
wheat into their rotations, improving their profitability and enhancing the environmental
performance of the sector.

Crosses to achieve this objective were initiated in 2000 and as success in combining the required
agronomic, disease resistance, and end-use quality traits became evident, it became clear that the
long term objective was within reach if greater effort was deployed. Funding of Project
2014F173R facilitated the expansion of these efforts by expanding the number of crosses,
increasing the number of selections, and allowing more lines to proceed to replicated, multiplelocation,
multiple-year evaluation for agronomic, disease resistance and end-use quality traits.

The most commercially viable lines developed during the funding of this project were entered
into registration trials to determine if they had potential as cultivars, to the benefit of the
industry. Although no cultivars that achieve the long term project objective have been registered
to date, substantial progress has been made in correcting the identified quality deficiencies. For
example, W569 is a newly approved cultivar (AAC Network) that combines excellent
agronomic performance and disease resistance with improvements in all of the quality
deficiencies. W604, which could be approved for registration in 2021, appears to combine all of
the quality objectives set forth in this project. Several other lines evaluated in registration trials
demonstrate improvements in one or more of the identified quality deficiencies. To date, the
lines evaluated in registration trials were derived from crosses made prior to the initiation of this
project. The use of these improved, elite lines as parents in crosses during this project provides
great encouragement that the long term objectives for winter wheat end-use quality will be