A reputation built on quality.

For wheat breeders like Gavin Humphreys, Canada’s registration system can be, in his own words, a hard hill to climb. But it’s worth it.

Humphreys, with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Winnipeg, works with hard red, hard white and extra strong spring wheat lines, and says the registration system is key to Canada’s reputation for consistently high quality CWRS wheat.

“As a breeder, once I’ve tested a line and found it has potential—and I need six location years of data to support that—I can then put it in a co-op trial,” he says. He can choose from the Parkland, Western and Central Bread Wheat Trials. These so-called co-op trials are conducted on eight to 13 sites across the specified region and contain replicated plots.

New wheat lines go through three years of co-op trials and are evaluated for agronomy (maturity, standability, yield and so on), disease, and milling/baking quality. Grade checks are done at every location. “Each year, grain is collected from all the sites within a region and evaluated at the Grain Research Centre’s lab in Winnipeg,” says Humphreys. “The samples are tested for protein content, milling performance, dough mixing quality, and baking performance. All the results are summarized.”

In February, the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale (PRCWRT) meets to review all the data on new lines proposed for registration, and pronounce on their suitability.

It’s an extremely tough and thorough process, says Humphreys, and it’s not done in isolation. “The grain commission and the wheat board meet frequently with international clients who tell them, in no uncertain terms, what they want.” Breeders and the PRCWRT use this information to set the course of research and registration.

For many international buyers Canada’s registration system is an assurance of quality, and that trust is not misplaced. “I can’t think of a CWRS variety with desirable end-use quality in the co-op trials that was released commercially and then did not deliver similar quality in the field and market,” says Humphreys. FF