AWC - Funded Research

Breeding Improved Canada Western Amber Durum Cultivars

Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Wheat Cluster Project

AWC Contribution: $139,539

Star Date: April 1, 2018                       
End date: February 28, 2023


Canada is the largest durum wheat exporter in the world, and exports 80% of its durum production annually. In most years, Canadian durum exports represent 50 to 70 % of world trade. Canadian durum wheat is marketed as the Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD) wheat market class. CWAD is viewed as the gold standard for the quality in the world with high protein content, strong gluten strength, hard vitreous kernels, low cadmium content, high yellow pigment level, high semolina yield with excellent pasta-making attributes, making Canada a preferred world supplier of durum wheat in high quality markets. The principle use of CWAD is for pasta products, but other uses include durum hearth breads, couscous, and bourghul (bulgur). The CWAD class is threated by numerous diseases and insects mainly Fusarium Head Blight (FHB), leaf, stem and stripe rusts, leaf spot, common bunt, loose smut, wheat stem sawfly and orange wheat blossom midge, and environmental stresses including spring seed bed stress, drought and heat, and wet weather leading to pre-harvest sprouting. Fusarium Head Blight has recently increased as the number one concern in western Canada due to catastrophic economic losses experienced by growers in 2016. Other diseases such as smudge, black point and pre-harvest sprouting affect commercial grades of durum.
As a major durum wheat breeding program in Canada, the varieties released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada -Swift Current Research Development Centre occupy over 84% of the durum acreage on average in western Canada. There has been exceptional rapid adoption of new varieties with 56% of acreage from durum varieties developed through the Wheat Agri-science Cluster of Growing Forward 1 and 2.


This proposal of CWAD breeding addresses two priorities from the 2016 Calgary Statement as follows:

  1. Environmental sustainability and climate change will be addressed by the development of high yielding durum cultivars, which will be able to withstand changing growing conditions, extreme weather events, reduced water availability and new and increased pests (such as sawfly and midge) and disease outbreaks (FHB and rusts) and,
  2. Enhancing knowledge and technology transfer activities, which will be achieved by releasing the durum cultivars and germplasm developed and disseminating the knowledge and information obtained to industry and broad research community. New durum cultivars will enhance the profitability of the agriculture and food processing sectors while meeting international and national consumer demands. The breeding activity will continue to support opportunities to establish durum wheat as a viable feedstock and platform for non-food products.  


Dr. Ruan is a Durum Wheat Breeder at the Swift Current Research and Development Centre (SCRDC) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Dr. Ruan’s durum wheat-breeding program develops new high yielding cultivars with wide adaptability, improved profitability and reduced production risks, while maintaining high protein concentration. He has registered six Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD) cultivars, successfully completed numerous high-impact research projects funded by the Government and industry, and published miscellaneous publications. As an active member in numerous Government and non-Government committees in Canada and worldwide, Dr. Ruan has provided leadership in durum research and development.