To develop winter wheat cultivars with CWRS-like end-use quality with yield, agronomics, and disease resistance competitive with current winter wheat cultivars at the time of registration.
To make winter wheat more attractive to the Canadian wheat value chain, plant breeding efforts to improve end-use quality were undertaken to increase demand, prices and ultimately, acreage. Over the past 20 years, major progress in yield, agronomics and disease resistance has been achieved in western Canadian winter wheat cultivars. This project built on these advances and worked to move the quality profile of Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) wheat towards that of western Canada’s premium quality Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat class. CWRW wheat cultivars already possess exceptional milling traits (high flour yield, low flour ash, bright white flour colour) and were used in combination with unique, elite germplasm lines to increase protein concentration, gluten strength and water absorption. A small number of lines with the desired quality profile were developed, but were deficient in grain yield and/or some disease resistance traits compared to currently available cultivars. Improved lines identified within the project have been used in further crosses to achieve the project goals. In the short to medium term it is recommended that plant breeding efforts be directed towards improving flour water absorption without major increases in grain protein concentration. It is also advised that the CWRW and Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) wheat classes be combined for marketing purposes because of their similarity and low production volumes.