Evaluation and breeding of winter durum wheat for southern Alberta

Posted on 08.02.2018 | Last Modified 24.08.2020
Lead Researcher (PI): Jamie Larsen
Institution: Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
Total WGRF Funding: $79,350
Co-Funders: Alberta Wheat Commission
Start Date: 2017
Project Length: 3 Years

To expand the evaluation of existing winter durum germplasm and to develop new populations that could lead to the release of winter durum varieties adapted to Southern Alberta.

Project Summary:

There are many benefits to growing winter wheat. This includes increased average grain yield over spring wheat ranging from 13% in Alberta to 25% across the Canadian Prairies. Durum wheat is consistently one of the high value cereal crops grown by farmers in Alberta, and the potential yield advantage of winter durum wheat combined with a price premium could lead to increased revenue for producers. The objective of this research project is to evaluate winter durum germplasm sourced from US and Europe, and to develop new breeding populations to select and advance promising lines for winter survival, grain yield, agronomic and quality traits, to benchmark close to the high performance standards of current varieties of winter wheat. Since the inception of the project in 2017, hundreds of new crosses have been made every year and selections were made based on evaluation of winter survival and agronomic traits at four locations (Lethbridge, Vauxhall, Warner and Saskatoon) and generations were advanced. The breeding populations were taken up for preliminary analysis of grain quality during these early generation testing and advancement. A set of 21 lines selected from our cross derivatives, and another set of 17 superior lines identified from several hundreds of accessions sourced from US are currently being evaluated in the field at A-level of testing during the current 2020 field season. Based on the 2019 field data, for yield, a total of 12 lines performed on par or higher (up to 118% of check yield of 6,342 kg/ha) compared to AAFC wildfire. Protein content varied from 12.3 to 16.4 percent. Extensive multi-location evaluation and quality testing of these lines are needed to identify superior lines. In summary, the promising lines from this project will be advanced to identify experimental lines for release, and will also be used as parents in crossing with winter wheat germplasm to broaden the cold tolerance and disease resistance potential of the winter durum germplasm base. With continued funding support, there will be potential release of winter durum cultivars adapted to Southern Alberta.