AWC - Funded Research

Development of Field-Ready Cultivars of Canada Western Soft White Spring (CWSWS) Wheat

Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Wheat Cluster Project

AWC Contribution: $105,013


Wheat production in western Canada is affected by a variety of diseases with ever-evolving dynamic populations, which causes significant economic losses every year. Due to population shifts and/or mutations, and the appearance of new more aggressive strains of rust or fusarium head blight diseases, cultivars can be rendered susceptible to one or more diseases. New improved high yielding wheat lines with new genetic resistance to these diseases will provide producers with the most efficient and economical type of controls which will in turn reduce input costs and environmental impact by avoiding the use of chemicals. This project is focused on improvements in grain yield, end-use processing quality, superior agronomic performance, disease and insect resistance in the soft white spring wheat class to help keep Canadian farmers competitive.
Through plant breeding, wheat yields have increased at a rate of 0.7% annually in western Canada, but this rate of increase needs to be accelerated if world targets for food production are to be met. Continued investments in wheat research and genetic improvement for the development of new high-yield, disease and insect resistant, high-quality cultivars are fundamental for advancing genetic gain. The farm cash receipts from wheat in Canada are over $4 billion annually. Even a modest 0.5% yield improvement would generate about $55 to $60 million annually. Investment made by producers in the development of new cereal varieties in western Canada returns over $20 for each dollar invested. With further improvement in grain yield, wheat producers should find wheat to be more profitable, making it critical for the long-term sustainability of rural communities and the success of bio-economy.


By 2023 register 2-3 soft white spring wheat cultivars having 15% higher yield than AC Andrew combined with improved resistance to stripe rust, leaf rust, stem rust, Fusarium head blight, common bunt and pre-harvest sprouting with acceptable end-use quality.

Disease resistance will be further diversified through incorporation of additional sources of resistance. Cultivars ineligible for CWSWS will be proposed for the CWSP class if the agronomic and/or disease resistance benefits provide industry advantages.


Dr. Harpinder Singh Randhawa is a Research Scientist (spring wheat breeding) working at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada since 2007. He has more than 15 years of experience and knowledge working on the different aspects of wheat breeding, genetics, pathology, biotechnology, molecular genetics and genomics. His breeding program integrates conventional breeding approaches along with marker assisted breeding, doubled haploid and other novel technologies for cultivar development. His prime focus is to breed cultivars to improve profitability and reduce business risk for farmers and processors. He has developed nine high yielding spring wheat cultivars (3 CWSWS, 3 CPS-R, 3 CWSP) and co-developed three high yielding triticale cultivars for general production in western Canada. He has published over 60 research articles in the international journals, supervises many undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral fellows and attended over 40 National and International conferences.