Investigation of the quality of Canada Western Red Winter wheat varieties has been ongoing at the Canadian International Grains Institute in support of the industry with an aim to increase awareness of its quality potential for both customers and producers.
In 2014, Cigi created a winter wheat technical specialist position with funding from the Alberta Wheat Commission, the Saskatchewan Winter Cereals Development Commission and Winter Cereals Manitoba. The position was established to help develop global markets for Canadian winter wheat through technical marketing support for domestic and international customers on milling and end-use applications, by co-ordinating research on winter wheat quality, and by analyzing market demand for quality.
Compared to other wheat classes, growing winter wheat has proven to have several benefits for producers as well as for the environment and wildlife, as promoted by organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the Western Winter Wheat Initiative. Benefits include higher yields, avoiding seeding in late wet springs, an earlier harvest than spring wheat, helping to manage herbicide resistance and providing a protective soil covering in fall and winter. Winter wheat also helps offset annual pests in wheat and is less disturbing to wildlife such as waterfowl.
With a focus on quality and end-use opportunities, Cigi aims to work in conjunction with other interested organizations in the promotion of CWRW, says Akriti Sharma, Cigi’s winter wheat technical specialist.
“CWRW has shown to be well suited for the production of hearth breads, various types of flatbreads, pizza dough and crackers. It also makes quality pan bread in a blend with CWRS and shows good colour, texture and balanced dough properties in Asian end products like noodles and steamed buns.”
Over the past year, five new CWRW varieties have been analyzed and evaluated at Cigi for quality in lab milling, baking and in Asian products (noodles and steamed buns), Sharma says. The varieties Flourish, Moats, Gateway, Emerson and Chase were compared to commercial samples of U.S. Hard Red Winter wheat.
“We found that these CWRW varieties were higher in flour yield and had better colour,” she says, noting that high flour yield is important for millers. “We were unable to source U.S. samples with equivalent protein to make a proper comparison this time but the gluten strength (of the CWRW samples) was still good as was dough strength. It has good stability and mixing tolerance. Overall I’d say the varieties are competitive, if not better than the U.S. HRW samples. It’s very typical of what we’ve been seeing as a trend for new varieties in this class.”
The goal this year is to bring in more samples of each variety and make a composite, Sharma says.
“We are attempting to bring in the U.S. wheat again to do a similar comparison but it will be a more robust analysis which will give a true commercial milling comparison that we haven’t had an opportunity to try yet. The next step will be to make up a one-tonne sample sourced from multiple locations.”
Sharma says results to date have been communicated to winter wheat growers, adding that the new variety Emerson has shown improved fusarium resistance. “The growers love it. In locations where fusarium can be an issue and producers like to grow winter wheat, it really appeals to them.”
Last year Cigi also presented some findings to customers in Latin America, Sharma says. “They were quite interested in the quality. This year we’ll be focusing on customers as they come into Cigi and if there is an opportunity, we’ll take the data out to customers.”
She adds that other new winter wheat varieties coming out are expected to undergo the same progression of testing as they become available.