Blog: The Wheat Sheaf

Support, Do Not Object, Object, Abstain: a peek into PGDC

If you are familiar with the Prairie Grain Development Committee (PGDC), the above words may remind you of the candidate line evaluation process. The committee is described as a ‘forum for exchange of information for development of grain crops in Western Canada’. More specifically, the Recommending Committees (four different committees covering major crop sectors in Western Canada) that meet each year at the annual PGDC meeting are responsible for ‘recommending’ candidate lines for registration to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). This past week at the PGDC annual meeting held in Banff, AB, I took in the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye, and Triticale (PRCWRT), where I became familiar with the different parts of the evaluation process.

The PRCWRT encompasses three ‘evaluation teams’; agronomy, disease, and quality. Each team evaluates candidate lines brought forward for consideration for registration based on its own respective criteria and merit. This year, 36 WRT candidates were up for consideration (a record number!). It was quite remarkable to be in a room of experts and representatives from all aspects of industry discussing and debating ratings for a particular candidate line. During a lengthy discussion on whether to ‘support’ a particular line, or to ‘abstain’ due to a lack of sufficient data to base a vote, one team member remarked, “it just wouldn’t be fair to the line if we abstained”– it’s all about ‘doing right’ by the line!

Additionally, a pressing discussion topic was the ‘Wheat Class Modernization Proposal’, a consultation that the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) made public just prior to the PGDC meeting. The consultation put forward by the commission includes a new milling class and changes to the parameters associated with particular wheat classes (CWRS and CPSR). Attendees weighed in, with questions on how the potential changes will be implemented and the effect to which different members across the value chain could be impacted. What better place to have these conversations; a rare occasion where experts across Canada are gathered and where the impact of such decisions will have the most effect.

At the PRCWRT annual meeting that was held on the last day of the meeting, results from each of the evaluation teams were considered and secret votes tallied. The results of this year’s PRCWRT was the support of 28 wheat and 3 fall rye lines, as well as one 1 triticale line recommended for registration to the CFIA. Three more years (approximately) and these promising lines could be in a field near you.

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