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Bacterial leaf streak (BLS) is a subtle intruder, but given the right conditions, it can cause significant yield loss and affect future crops in wheat and barley. Most commonly transmitted through contaminated seed, the disease has the cereal industry pushing on all fronts to break the chain of transmission, starting with the development of an effective seed test to help farmers manage the risk and prevent it from spreading.

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Two research projects funded by the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) have made significant advances in cereal crop genetics. Overseen by Pierre Hucl of the Crop Development Centre (CDC) at the University of Saskatchewan, the first of these examined the viability of a new dwarfing gene in bread wheat. Secondly, Nora Foroud of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) developed new wheat and barley lines with improved resistance to Fusarium head blight (FHB).

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There was a time when Canadian Western Hard White Spring (CWHWS) wheat was touted as the next big minor class. Today, though, the class is virtually dead. Despite having lost its shine, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) wheat breeder Harpinder Randhawa believes CWHWS is poised to make a comeback thanks to a new, higher yielding variety he developed. While AAC Whitehead yields 21 per cent higher than previously established CWHWS varieties, industry experts believe it will take more than yield to revive the class. If the history of CWHWS has taught any lessons, it is that marketing, competition and quality all play a crucial role in determining the success of a wheat class. However, GrainsWest recently spoke with farmers and scientists who are cautiously optimistic about its return.

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One of the largest bug resources in the world is located right here in our backyard. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) maintains the Canadian National Collection (CNC) of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. Located at the Ottawa Research and Development Centre Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, ON, the facility serves agricultural research in a number of key areas.

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Beneficial insects are old news, at least to entomologists. However, their benefits, hence the name, are in the limelight once again. This is thanks to a recent promotional campaign and the reinforcement of the notion that positive alternatives beyond blanket spraying exist.

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Led by University of Manitoba researcher Martin Scanlon, a nearly complete project aims to reduce the formation of potentially harmful acrylamide in wheat-based baked goods. This will be done through chemical analyses, bread quality evaluation and agronomic and genetic strategies. The project’s main objective is to maintain Canadian wheat markets by assuring customers the crop meets safety and functionality requirements.

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The production volume of Canada Western Soft White Spring wheat (CWSWS) grown for food purposes in Western Canada is low. However, the handful of Alberta farmers who grow this limited acreage crop consistently praise it.

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Given the rapid development of markets, emerging technologies and a huge public interest in the industry, this is a uniquely opportune time to shape the future of agriculture. Canadian youth are perhaps the best prepared to visualize the shape of things to come and to devise a head-on approach.

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BY ERIN GOWRILUK On Aug. 18, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Parliament would be prorogued until Sept. 23. His rationale? To hit the reset button and write a new throne speech to lay out a pathway for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery. When the speech was delivered, however, the one glaring omission was any mention of the sectors that would be needed to help […]

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