AWC - Funded Research

Breeding field ready Canada Western Red Spring cultivars for the Eastern Prairies

Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Wheat Cluster Project

AWC Contribution: $284,210


Wheat is one of the most ubiquitously grown and consumed food in the world. Wheat is a staple food for nearly a third of the world population, and is expected that demand will grow tremendously to feed approximately double the world population by 2050. Canada ranks sixth in the world for hard red spring wheat production, the vast majority of which is grown in western Canada. Most large producers of wheat (i.e. China, India) sustain their large populations with domestic production of wheat. Canada is somewhat unique in that about 70% is exported. In 2015, Canada produced approximately 25 million metric tonnes of wheat, of which 17 million metric tonnes were exported, contributing about $6.2 billion dollars to the Canadian economy. Nearly 96% of the wheat is grown in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.   
With warmer summers than the Parkland region and higher rainfall than the western Prairies, the eastern Prairies are home to some of the highest wheat yields in western Canada. However, in the eastern prairies, wheat has come under increasing competition from hybrid canola, early maturing corn, and soybeans. In order to compete with these high value crops, new higher yielding CWRS wheat varieties are required that will draw producers to wheat for its suitability as a rotation crop and profitability. Due to the higher rainfall and temperature in the eastern prairies, disease problems including leaf rust and Fusarium head blight (FHB) occur annually. In addition, the orange wheat blossom midge (wheat midge) is a perennial problem in central and eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba. Breeding for resistance to stripe rust and Ug99 family of stem rust is also a priority for the CWRS program for eastern prairies. Genetic resistance to common bunt and loose smut needs to be incorporated in the germplasm to minimize the use of seed treatment chemicals. Finally, new wheat varieties must conform to the new CWRS quality standards.


By 2023 develop and register 3-4 cultivars that yield 15% to 22% higher than Carberry in the eastern Canadian Prairies with similar maturity and protein content, improved resistance to leaf rust, stem rust, loose smut, common bunt, leaf spotting diseases, wheat midge, improve resistance to FHB, and improved grade protection.


Dr. Santosh Kumar is a Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Brandon Research and Development Centre (BRDC). His research focuses on wheat germplasm improvement. He will be the Principal Investigator for the project Breeding field ready Canada Western Red Spring cultivars for the Eastern Prairies (2018-2023) under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Program and will serve as a collaborator on other projects under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.