Scientists aim to bulletproof CPS Red wheat varieties for the fieldDate posted: August 18, 2004
High quality and high yields have propelled Canada Prairie Spring (CPS) Red wheat to the forefront as a premium wheat class for Western Canada. Now, scientists are shoring up the trait package in varieties of the relatively young class by targeting superior agronomic and disease resistance characteristics to benefit growers.
"We've seen some pretty solid quality advances in recent years," says Dr. Doug Brown, wheat breeder at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Cereal Research Centre in Winnipeg. "The priority for future varieties is to maintain this new quality standard while improving agronomic and disease resistance characteristics."
AAFC's CPS Red wheat breeding effort is supported in part by western farmers through the Wheat Check-off Fund, administered by Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF). More information of recent progress is featured in the August edition of Western Grains Research Magazine, available on the WGRF Web site: www.westerngrains.com.
Introduced in the mid-'80s, CPS Red wheat has emerged as a versatile lower protein alternative to Western Canada's main bread wheat class, says Brown. AC Crystal, developed by AAFC Swift Current, and two newer varieties, HY961 and HY692, developed by AgriPro/Agricore United have raised the quality bar to new levels.
"The progress in CPS Red is one of the most exciting recent developments in wheat breeding," says Brown. "It's a young class that's come a long way in a short period of time. This is an excellent example of Canada's wheat production system responding to the needs of the international marketplace."
The new varieties leave the class well positioned to compete with U.S. hard red winter wheat, he says. CPS Red is best suited for French-style hearth and flat breads. The high yield of CPS varieties has also made the class attractive as high quality feed for the expanding domestic livestock industry.
As an example of the progress, AC Crystal, the current acreage leader for the class, features much stronger gluten content than previous varieties - closer to the mark of what markets have requested. The variety also represents significant yield benefits over older varieties, with substantially greater Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) tolerance.
For the future, the key priority is further improvements to production performance traits. This includes advances in FHB resistance and wheat midge resistance, along with the important progress already being made with earlier maturity, improved pre-harvest sprouting resistance and updated leaf spot resistance. "We want to continue to build a strong defence for new varieties," says Brown. "We want varieties that will stand up to a range of production challenges and provide producers with the best possible performance."
The gluten strength improvements in the latest varieties are expected to help Canada improve its standing with customers such as China, which prefer stronger varieties for blending. Protein specifications have also advanced to the point that marketers say breeders have already reached the highest desirable protein level for the class.
The producer-funded Wheat Check-off Fund, administered by WGRF, allocates more than $3 million annually to wheat breeding research in Western Canada.
Reprintable with credit. This article is available for reprint, with acknowledgement of the source: Western Grains Research Foundation
© 2004 Meristem Information Resources Ltd.