Last February the Prairie Grain Development Committee recommended registration of crop lines that included 27 new wheat varieties. Technical staff from the Canadian International Grains Institute participated on quality evaluation teams involved in the recommendations, representing end-use interests of customers of Canadian grains from around the world.
“The annual meeting is designed to evaluate data generated on candidate cultivars developed by plant breeders and move them forward through the registration process, ultimately recommending them for registration if they meet the required quality criteria,” says Elaine Sopiwnyk, Cigi’s director of grain quality. Recommendations were also made for registering lines of pulses, oats, barley, flax and canary seed.
Four committees are responsible for the testing, evaluation and recommendation of grain crop candidate cultivars for registration in Western Canada. This includes the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale comprising three teams covering quality, disease and agronomics.
“Five technical staff from Cigi are involved in the wheat quality side as are representatives from the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), industry and universities,” Sopiwnyk says, noting that Cigi conducts analytical testing and evaluation of end-product quality in baking and noodles or pasta.
Cigi CEO JoAnne Buth says that Cigi represents the end-use customer at the table.
“Staff voice their expertise when it comes to how the varieties perform in bread, pasta and noodles. Their understanding of the quality parameters and end-use customers are the strengths that we bring.”
Once a line is recommended for registration the breeder can submit it to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency which oversees the variety registration process, and then the CGC will place the variety in the appropriate wheat class.
New wheat class
This year a focus of the meeting was on the new milling wheat class established by the CGC — Canadian Northern Hard Red (CNHR) — which takes effect August 1, 2016, Sopiwnyk says. “This was part of the wheat class modernization strategy. In order to improve the quality and consistency within the CWRS class, wheat varieties with weaker gluten strength will be removed from CWRS and moved into CNHR.”
She says that even after a variety is recommended, it will take a number of years before suitable seed quantities are available and the variety is taken up by producers to represent any significant proportion of crop production in Western Canada.
Buth adds the recommending process may take time but it is important to provide farmers with the best wheat varieties possible while meeting customer needs.
This year Cigi also participated on the quality evaluation subcommittee of the Prairie Recommending Committee for Pulses and Special Crops which recommended for registration 14 lines of peas, beans and lentils, in addition to one line of canary seed.
“Our presence on the committee is important as the Cigi pulse team carries out work related to seed quality from processing through to end-product utilization,” says Peter Frohlich, project manager of pulses and special crops at Cigi. “Because we undertake pulse ingredient development and processing we have a strong connection with the end-users.”
Frohlich says this year offered some excellent presentations and other discussion focused on the importance of protein levels in pulses, specifically in peas going into the market.
“Traditionally there’s been a huge focus on yield when coming up with new varieties which makes sense as higher-yielding varieties will generate more profit. However, with higher yields you also lose a little bit on the quantity of protein. And one of the main reasons pulse flour is used as an ingredient is for the nutritional aspect which includes protein.”
Frohlich says that producers want to grow the best pulse varieties possible and that breeders aim to make sure they are satisfied with the lines available to them.