Integrated Crop Agronomy Cluster 2018-2023

The Integrated Crop Agronomy Cluster (ICAC) was designed to put focus on a whole-farm approach, it addresses critical gaps in research for farm management as a whole and does not put focus on one crop type or approach. There are seven research activities within the cluster, MCA participates in all research activities as they all bring valuable information to Manitoba producers. Each activity and a brief description are listed below, for more information, view the Integrated Crop Agronomy Cluster Summary 2018-2023.

Co-ordinated monitoring of field crop insect pests in the Prairies Ecosystem

Co-ordination of a crop disease monitoring network for Western Canada

  • Provides funding for the Prairie Crop Disease Monitoring Network.
  • Funds the activities to continue to provide timely information about crop diseases and highlight effective disease management approaches.

Developing a risk model to mitigate Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) in western Canadian cereal production.

  • Provides funds to develop a FHB risk map model that is based on data taken across the Prairies and takes into account over 500 weather stations to produce a user-friendly, online risk-mapping tool.

Management of glyphosate-resistant kochia in western Canadian cropping systems

  • Studied the effect of several different non-chemical ways to manage kochia, including crop rotation, row spacing, seeding rates and harvest timing.

Spray drift management under changing operational requirements

  • Studied how the machinery plays a role in creating spray drift.
  • This included quantifying drift as a function of travel speed, spray quality and boom movement.

Optimizing systems productivity, resilience and sustainability in the major Canadian ecozones

  • With increasing evidence that supports the benefits of diversifying crop rotations to ensure long-term sustainability, this project studied several different crop rotations at eight sites across the Prairies to determine the impact of different rotations on productivity, resilience and sustainability.

Economic and agronomic performance of emerging cropping systems for Western Canada

  • Looks at including soybean and/or corn in crop rotations in Western Canada (regions where this is not a traditional crop included in rotations) and the economic, agronomic and environmental impacts this will have.

First Wheat Retreat connects food influencers to Canadian wheat

First Wheat Retreat connects food influencers to Canadian wheat

Consumers play an important role in agriculture, and finding new ways to reach this audience is important.

With that goal in mind, the first ever “Wheat Retreat” brought about 30 influencers in the food and nutrition world together to explore all things wheat – nutrition, functionality and sustainability. 

The Wheat Retreat was hosted by the Canadian Wheat Nutrition Initiative, aka What About Wheat?, at Cereals Canada’s world-class facilities in Winnipeg on April 27-30, 2023.

Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) supports market development initiatives that provide value to our farmer members, so we sent Mallorie Lewarne, our former agronomy extension specialist – cereal crops, to add some perspective on farming in Manitoba.

The retreat included a tour of Cereals Canada’s technical facilities, a pasta sensory session, a hands-on sourdough workshop, a bannock making session and discussions about wheat farming.

Photo Gallery

“Everyone who attended had great questions – including plenty about agriculture. They asked lots about general farming practices, pesticide use, the wheat class system and more,” says Lewarne.

“These influencers are much more public facing than the typical farmer or agronomist. I think this was a great opportunity to connect and provide them with accurate information they can share with the general public.”

Sheila Elder, a delegate on our wheat and barley crop committee, and her husband Jeff attended one day of the retreat and gave a presentation that took attendees through a growing season as a farmer. 

They talked about seeding, scouting, spraying and harvesting, while focusing on technological advances that allow them to be more profitable and sustainable.

“I think there is often a disconnect between the farmer and the consumer,” says Lewarne. “Any opportunity we get to share accurate information about farming practices in Canada is invaluable, and these small opportunities can add up to make a large impact on that disconnect.”

What About Wheat? is a platform for nutrition professionals to find the latest science-based information on wheat to share with their clients and consumers. The information is vetted by a Scientific Advisory Council made up of researchers and registered dietitians.

Member organizations include Cereals Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Alberta Wheat Commission, Manitoba Crop Alliance, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and Canadian National Millers Association.

Derek Brewin, professor and head of the Department of Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics, University of Manitoba

Connect with Derek Brewin on LinkedIn.
Connect with Derek Brewin on LinkedIn.

Derek Brewin is professor and head of the Department of Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics at the University of Manitoba (U of M). He earned his B.Sc. at the University of Alberta, followed by an M.Sc. at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and PhD at Penn State University. Brewin has worked at U of M since 2003 and lives in Winnipeg, dangerously close to the best ice cream in the city. 

Where did you work before U of M?

I started this job after I finished my PhD, and before that I worked as a research associate at USask in the Strategic Development Fund. Prior to that I worked at the Canadian Wheat Board as a corporate advisor, a policy advisor for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and a lender for Farm Credit Canada (FCC). 

What got you interested in this area of work? 

There are so many opportunities in agriculture. Once I got the B.Sc., I kept getting wonderful offers. I was fortunate that FCC needed somebody like me when I came out of my program. Working and learning about how FCC forecasted prices led me to go back for my M.Sc. I thought I would return to work with FCC, but when I finished my degree there was an opportunity at the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) in transportation policy, and once I got into policy I’ve stayed interested. 

Tell us a bit about what you’re working on at U of M.

I teach an agriculture marketing course where we evaluate the ag supply chain from the producer to the consumer. We know consumers are the main drivers, but ag supply chains are complex. To be able to work out the different steps in the beef, grain and oilseeds supply chain, or livestock supply chains, requires understanding of a lot of firms and agents.

When you’re thinking about the whole supply chain, the incentive to grow at the beginning, or the farmer’s bottom line, is a big part of why there is supply at all. This is something I’m always watching as part of my classes. I ask my students to think about what the price of canola is in Manitoba, for example, and how that factors into the price of the bottle of oil in a supermarket. Thinking about how those prices are all connected and how they cover the costs of processing to transporting helps us understand the market better. 

The Research to explore socio-economic impacts of disruptions on Agri-food supply chains and markets project, funded by Manitoba Crop Alliance, is about building capacity in this area, as there is growing demand for it. 

COVID-19 had a huge impact on food markets and in the food supply chains, there was a large shift from people eating out to buying retail and feeding themselves. That was definitely a big disruptor. The barriers put up during the protests of the grain supply chain at the beginning of 2020 also slowed down some grain transportation and led to backlogs in terms of movement. These are some of the areas we focus on for this research. Learning about current and historic disruptions, like the Great Canadian Grain Logistics Crisis of 2013-14, is what I teach to my students and what drives my research. 

What can you say about the value of farmers providing funding and support to your organization?

Some of the evidence on public sector investment in agriculture shows that it pays off 40 to 1. I’ve done some research on innovation systems and I feel really good in terms of the economics of it. It can be a really slow process; sometimes it’s 40 years between when something is invented and when it has an impact on yield. I think, in the long run, farmers are going to be a lot better off for the research investments made through the check-offs. Economists need to keep checking that return on research as well as contribute in their own areas, especially in training new analysts. 

How does that farmer funding and support directly benefit farmers? 

For my work, we are looking backwards to learn. Learning more about these big interruptions through a few projects with Alankrita Goswami, we are collecting evidence from disruptions like BSE, COVID-19 and the transportation breakdowns in 2013-14. The more we understand these, we can work to determine whether or not current policy could help us get through a similar interruption. For us as economists, it’s a good thing to make sure the incentives have stayed in the right place to invest and monitor these systems in order to keep our supply chains functioning.

How do you spend your time outside of work? 

I enjoy reading about economics and international economics, as well as history and historical fiction; I really enjoy books by James Michener. I like playing old-timer hockey, curling and occasionally camping. Every year I go on a pretty serious canoe trip, a tradition that began back during my master’s.

How do you celebrate agriculture?

The first thing that came to mind was working the calves at fall. Some of our own work was tough sledding with just my dad, brother and I. But sometimes we would tackle the calves as a community with friends from the bigger ranches and we had calf weaning/branding events. It was a real celebration of the year’s calf crop and everybody getting together in a very traditional way, one they were doing 200 years ago and are still doing today. For me, that is a special event and a way to celebrate agriculture. 

Who or what inspires you?

I’ve met some leaders in the agriculture sector, some students included, who really inspire me – some who have received awards of merit from the faculty here. These leaders come in to be celebrated and receive these awards, and we get to hear their stories and all about their great careers. It’s nice to hear how people have changed the Manitoba sector, and it’s really inspiring for our students.

Connect with Derek Brewin on LinkedIn.

Innovation in the spotlight at National Grain Week

Innovation in the spotlight at National Grain Week

As a member of the Grain Growers of Canada (GGC), Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) participated in National Grain Week March 27-29 in Ottawa, which included nearly 20 meetings and roundtable discussions with MPs and senators.

Attendees included Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau, MP Brian May, MP Marie LaLonde, MP Blaine Calkins, MP Chandra Arya, Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay, MP Ted Falk, Senator Paula Simons, MP Yves Parton, MP Alistair MacGregor and MP John Barlow.

Sally Parsonage, a delegate on MCA’s sunflower crop committee, and Jonothan Hodson, MCA vice-chair and corn committee delegate, represented MCA at this year’s event. Hodson was a returning participant, while Parsonage was attending for the first time.

During the opening reception, MP Francis Drouin, parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture, addressed attendees. The next day participants attended an overview of key highlights from the 2023 budget and witnessed the historic passage of Bill C-234, an Act to Amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

“Before the last election in 2021, I was fortunate enough to be a presenter to the Standing Committee on Agriculture on Bill C-206, which was trying to accomplish the same changes as C-234,” Hodson says. “That bill was lost when the election was called. It was personally rewarding to be in Ottawa when C-234 passed this time around.”

Both Parsonage and Hodson spent much of their time in Ottawa talking about current issues facing farmers and supporting GGC’s preliminary snapshot of the Roadmap to 2050 report, which emphasized the significance of trade, transportation and innovation.

“Broadly speaking, most of my conversations with government officials involved various aspects of the roadmap to net-zero emissions by 2050,” Hodson says.

“I talked a lot about the effects of innovation on the farm level, using the past to demonstrate the value of government and farmer investments in various forms of innovation, and looking to the future return on further investments.”

The importance of science-based policy was communicated repeatedly.

“In order to achieve environmental goals, farmers need access to innovative varieties, practices and tools, not mandated targets,” Parsonage says.

“Forcing Canadian grain farmers to adopt practices that are less productive may lower Canadian emissions, but the shortfall in production will be made up by other regions that may have less stringent environmental requirements.”

Parsonage adds Grain Week was an important chance for farmers to have direct contact with decision makers from across the country.

“I found they were genuinely interested to learn directly from farmers about the issues we face, but in some cases have had very little opportunity to do so,” she says. “While it’s tempting to be cynical about the political process, we will only limit our industry if we don’t make these opportunities happen for ourselves.”

Experiencing firsthand the disconnect many people involved in the political process have from agriculture was a concern for Parsonage. But on a positive note, she says, most people she spoke with were curious and open to learning more.

“Explaining the on-farm cost and benefits of adopting cutting edge equipment – like retrofitting a sprayer with sensors to spot spray weeds, for example – helped bring some perspective to our conversations.”

This year was a reminder for Hodson that sometimes when these decisions are made a long way from the farm, how they will impact the farm is not taken into consideration.

“Sally’s focus on sunflowers, a smaller acreage crop, was well received. She was able to relate real world consequences (of policy decisions) on a crop that is not widely known in all ag circles in Canada, but is an important option in Manitoba,” he says.”

“That was a reminder for me how important it is for farmers to explain how these decisions and consequences can affect their operation.”

At the end of the day, both Parsonage and Hodson saw National Grain Week as a valuable opportunity to share their lived experience and send an important message on behalf of the Canadian agriculture industry.

“As farmers, we have to make sure we are speaking up for ourselves to the people who are responsible for making the decisions that are going to affect our next five, 10, 50 years,” Parsonage says. “Talking to each other only goes so far, we have to be proactive to get our message out to the public instead of waiting to react.”

Hodson adds that “as farmers in Canada, we need to remember, we produce grain on some of the most sustainable farms in the world and we have never been afraid of change. Never be afraid to tell your story and to be proud of your accomplishments.”


Funding to support sustainable practices available to Manitoba farmers

The Agricultural Climate Solutions – On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF) was established to provide funding and support to farmers in adopting practices that store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In Manitoba, funds are available through the Manitoba Association of Watersheds and the Canola Council of Canada. Farmers may only receive funding from one organization for a given eligible beneficial management practice on a given parcel of land. More information on these programs, including a summary of eligibility criteria and beneficial management practices can be found here.

The Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (SCAP) – Sustainable Agriculture Manitoba

The Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (SCAP) is an investment by the federal, provincial and territorial governments to support the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector. As part of the SCAP, the Manitoba government has now opened intake for the Sustainable Agriculture Manitoba (SAM) program, which provides funding to farmers to support the implementation of beneficial management practices that increase the environmental and economic sustainability of agriculture operations in Manitoba. Funding streams that may be of particular interest to MCA farmer members include:

Crop Land Management: Funding to support adoption of cropland management practices that optimize operations and improve productivity. Eligible beneficial management practices include:

  • Reduced Tillage Intensity
  • Low Disturbance Placement of Seed & Fertilizer
  • Preventing Soil Compaction
  • Reduced Pesticide Use
  • Soil Landscape Restoration
  • Perennial Cover for Sensitive Lands
  • Hazardous Products Storage

More information on the Crop Land Management funding stream is available here.

Water Management: Funding to support the adoption of practices that enhance the supply, efficient use, quality and management of water. Eligible beneficial management practices include:

  • Increased Irrigation Efficiency
  • Fertigation
  • Sub-surface Drainage Water Management
  • Water Quality
  • Runoff Control
  • Water Use Efficiency
  • Water Supply

More information on the Water Management funding stream is available here.

To be eligible for funding through the SAM program, farms are required to have a valid Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). Information on Manitoba’s EFP can be found here.

Application intake for the SAM program closes at 11:59 pm on Tuesday June 13, 2023. For more information on this program and other SCAP programs you may be eligible for, visit the link below.

CWRC Appoints New President, Transitions Host Duties To MCA

May 25, 2023 (Carman, MB; Saskatoon, SK;Calgary, AB) – The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) – a collaboration between the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat) and Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) – has appointed a new president, following the transition of hosting duties from AWC to MCA.

Lori-Ann Kaminski, research program manager – cereal crops with MCA, is the new CWRC president. The president, who is appointed from the host organization and approved by the CWRC board of directors, is the key contact for external stakeholders.

The CWRC’s operational hosting duties rotate every three years between the three Prairie producer organizations who represent wheat farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Hosting duties include administrative functions, such as research funding co-ordination; communications activities,such as website updates and annual reports;and planning and co-ordination of CWRC’s annual general meeting.

“I would like to thank AWC, and Sask Wheat before them,for their significant contributions to build the CWRC’s success during their time as hosts,” says Kaminski.

“MCA strongly believes in the value of the collaborative approach to wheat research that the CWRC promotes and is proud to assume hosting duties for the organization overthe next three years.”

The CWRC facilitates a collaborative approach to producer support of regional and national wheat research in variety development and agronomy. This has included administering the 2018-23 Canadian National Wheat Cluster under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Canadian Agricultural Partnership and now the new 2023-28 Canadian National Wheat Cluster under AAFC’s Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

“This year marks the end of one successful Canadian National Wheat Cluster and the beginning of a new cluster that will lead to innovation in variety development and agronomic practices that allow Canadian wheat producers to increase the net profitability of growing wheat,” says Jake Leguee, CWRC chair and Sask Wheat vice-chair.

“There is a strong return on investment for producers investing in publicly funded wheat research in Canada, and the CWRC continues to lead the way in funding research that addresses the issues that matter most towheat producers across the country.”

Media Contacts:

Megan Evans
Communications and Events Manager
Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

Dallas Carpenter
Communications Manager
Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission

Cole Christensen
Communications Manager
Manitoba Crop Alliance

Raju Datla, Senior Scientist, Global Institute for Food Security

Raju Datla, Senior Scientist, Global Institute for Food Security

Raju Datla is a senior scientist and program lead in resilient agriculture at the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), a partnership between Nutrien, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan (USask). Raju grew up in India and moved to Saskatoon, SK, in 1985. He took a research officer position as staff scientist with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in 1993. He holds a master’s degree in plant embryology and genetics, and a PhD in plant genetics and evolution. 

Where did you work before GIFS?

I worked at the NRC Saskatoon as a research officer in the Plant Biotechnology Institute. I was a principal research officer at NRC before I joined GIFS as a senior scientist in December 2019.

What got you interested in this area of work? 

It was through my research activities and their key discoveries from performing basic and foundational research in model crop plants. I saw opportunities to translate some of those findings into solutions for performance and productivity challenges in crops. That’s what interested me, translating expertise and discoveries into (maybe) a professional stream. Although it is a long process, you can make impactful contributions, especially working and collaborating with other experts. 

Tell us a bit about what you’re working on at GIFS.

The mission of GIFS is to work with partners to discover, develop and deliver innovative solutions for the production of globally sustainable food. With climate change being a major influencer on agriculture, one thing we are looking at in our research is water conservation and if we can make crops that are more adaptive or resilient to those changes. 

Another aspect we are looking at is increasing the efficient use of fertilizers by crops. Our research is focused on how to make plants more efficient users of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphate in Canada. 

To address and capture some of these challenging opportunities, we focused on identification and characterization of gene targets associated with resiliency and crop productivity traits. 

Our research findings led to the development of the “Targeting reproductive and spike traits for improving grain yields in wheat” project. We have identified opportunities in this program for discovery of new genes controlling spike developmental programs (characteristics) to improve the wheat grain yield potential. 

This project is funded by Manitoba Crop Alliance, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and Alberta Wheat Commission. We are into the third year of this project and our current focus is on discovery and characterization of genes controlling the spike development, the major reproductive part of the wheat crop, and if we can increase its capacity. We are trying to determine if there is any flexibility and diversity available in the germplasm that we can use to increase the number of grains that can be produced in a spike. 

We have developed some candidate lines that can produce more grains, but these are at the early stages and are being controlled and studied in greenhouse conditions. 

Eventually, we will be able to identify molecular markers and the underpinning genes that control these spike traits. That is the pipeline for this research, to facilitate incorporation of the desirable spike traits conferring improved grain yields to develop advanced Canadian wheat breeding lines. 

We are connected with Canadian wheat breeders, as our discovery and characterization establishment progresses for capturing translational potential to the project’s research findings. 

What can you say about the value of farmers providing funding and support to your organization?

Farmers are giving us the funding to be able to do these types of research projects. This funding is helping us discover and develop outcomes that will benefit farmers. It enables us to explore challenging research questions. The continued support from farmers helps us identify what they see on the farm, what they are looking for and/or what challenges they may be facing. There is such a benefit from their knowledge, experiences and support. 

How does that farmer funding and support directly benefit farmers? 

In this particular project, we are dealing with wheat, a very important part of Canadian agriculture, both for its quality and recognition globally. If we can improve wheat yields, that could not only positively impact farmers’ returns, but it could directly impact Canadian agriculture. Farmers would benefit from yield-boosting gene technologies and improved productivity in this crop will positively impact global food security. 

How do you spend your time outside of work? 

I like to play sports – tennis is my favourite. 

What are you excited about for the future of your sector/agriculture?

We are living in very exciting times. There are technological advances happening across multiple disciplines, and they are happening very rapidly. There are more opportunities, but challenges continue to emerge. I think we will continue to get better at advanced technological and biological understanding, positioning us well to take on more challenging tasks to improve climate adaptive sustainable agriculture productivity. 

The Fence Post: Spring/Summer 2023

Download The Fence Post: Spring/Summer 2023 (pdf)

Table of Contents


  • Message from the Chair: Farmers, it is time to become engaged.
  • Message from the CEO: Building our future on the dreams of the past.
  • What’s new at MCA 
  • Five Questions with Pam de Rocquigny
  • Cover:Crafted with care
  • 2023 Annual Report Summary
  • Research & Production
  • Market Development
  • Advocacy

Working together to set the standard for Canadian grains and oilseeds

The Prairie Grain Development Committee (PGDC) is responsible for setting standards (merit), evaluating and recommending grain crop candidate varieties for registration in Western Canada. There are four independent recommending committees:

  • Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale (PRCWRT)
  • Prairie Recommending Committee for Oat and Barley (PRCOB)
  • Prairie Recommending Committee for Pulse and Special Crops (PRCPSC)
  • Prairie Recommending Committee for Oilseeds (PRCO)

The committees are comprised of representatives from the entire value, including variety/trait developers, farmers, commodity organizations, seed industry representatives, grain companies and end users.

In March, the PGDC held their annual meetings in person for the first time since 2019. Two staff and four crop committee delegates from Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) attended the meetings in Banff, AB.

“It’s extremely important to be involved in the decision-making process,” says Rauri Qually, a farmer from Dacotah, MB, and delegate on MCA’s wheat and barley crop committee.

“Farmers are a key part of the industry. We grow and sustain these varieties, whether developed privately or publicly. It is important for breeders, seed growers, merchants and industry officials to understand our perspective in real world cropping situations. This feedback is essential.”

Nick Matheson, an MCA director and flax committee delegate from Stonewall, MB, agrees that farmer feedback is extremely valuable in this arena.

“Farmers are the actual boots on the ground growing the commodity,” he says. “I think it’s very important to have farmer perspective at these meetings because the varieties need to meet the needs of farmers.”

Mallorie Lewarne, MCA’s agronomy extension specialist for cereal crops, adds that the PGDC is a great opportunity for farmers to directly interact with the scientific community and highlight the issues that are most prevalent on their farms.

“It is at these meetings we get to know the attributes of varieties coming forward for commercialization,” says Lori-Ann Kaminski, research program manager for cereal crops at MCA.

“We are judging upcoming lines against ‘merit criteria’ that we set. Farmers at this meeting can have a voice (vote) on any changes to those merit characteristics and get a look at how prospective lines stack up in field trials over two or three years, depending on crop type, at multiple Prairie locations.”

MCA also invests directly in the delivery of field-ready barley, flax and wheat varieties from Western Canada’s public breeding programs at the University of Manitoba, the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre, the University of Alberta and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Western wheat and barley commissions formed the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition and the Canadian Barley Research Coalition to facilitate this collaborative approach to farmer funding of regional and national research projects in variety development and agronomy, including Core Breeding Agreements, the Canadian National Wheat Cluster and the Canadian National Barley Cluster.

Through these investments, Kaminski says, the “entire value chain is working together to build Canada’s reputation for quality and consistency.”

For Qually, Canada’s reputation around the world of producing the finest quality grains and oilseeds is key to the success of our industry at home.

“The variety registration system allows the industry and whole value chain to work together and decide what lines will be best, while maintaining our status of quality throughout the world,” he says. “It also allows the breeders to listen to the rest of the industry’s concerns and suggestions for making our grain and oilseed varieties all they can be.”

After attending the PRCWRT agronomy evaluation team meeting and annual meeting, Ryan Hueging, an MCA director and wheat and barley committee delegate from Woodlands, MB, says he is confident he will have access to new varieties that will improve profitability on his farm, and that these varieties will contain the quality buyers are looking for.

The variety registration system provides important information (the merit criteria) for farmers, such as disease ratings, agronomy characteristics and quality. This information also goes into Seed Manitoba.

“Farmers can evaluate risks specific to their area and decide on varieties to plant,” says Sheila Elder, a farmer from Wawanesa, MB, and chair of MCA’s wheat and barley crop committee.

“For example, in areas with fewer ‘growing degree days’ a shorter-season crop can be considered; for areas with risk of Fusarium head blight (FHB), a more resistant variety can be chosen; and if a farmer wants to grow a crop that has a higher risk of lodging, an appropriate growth regulator could be considered.”

When asked to share one takeaway from the meetings, there was general consensus recognizing all of the hard work and dedication that goes into developing varieties, as well as the organization, time and skills that go into gathering a large, diverse group together to decide on which lines to advance.

“My one takeaway would be that there is a lot of hard work and dedication put into creating varieties that are progressively improving,” says Hueging. “That comes from a very good collaborative effort to get all members of each specific segment of our industry to share their knowledge.”

Lewarne says she always leaves the PGDC meetings with an immense respect for the plant breeders, as well as the geneticists, pathologists and everybody else who works alongside them.

“Canada has a reputation for its high-quality wheat, and the breeders work tirelessly to maintain or exceed those standards for our customers around the world, while also taking farmers’ needs into consideration,” she says. “It seems like the target is constantly moving, but our Canadian breeders show up each year with new lines that improve on disease, agronomy and quality characteristics.”

MCA staff and farmers at PGDC meetings in Banff, March 2023. From left Rauri Qually, Ryan Hueging (back), Mallorie Lewarne, Lori-Ann Kaminski, Nick Matheson (back) and Sheila Elder.

What happened at Banff in 2023?

  • Wheat, Rye and Triticale – 12 CWRS, two CWAD, four CPSR, one CWSWS, one rye, one spring triticale, and two winter triticale lines brought forward. Breeders are always working to meet or exceed merit criteria, so a lot of culling happens before lines are brought forward at the committee meetings. All but three were supported for registration (two CWRS and one CPSR). Over the last few years, the committee has been assessing which newer varieties should be used as our standards or checks. New FHB checks are to be implemented in 2024 because current intermediate checks are looking more moderately susceptible, especially for durum. Hoping to do some post-registration testing to update Seed Manitoba.
  • Barley – 12 lines brought forward (three general purpose, seven malt and two food) and 10 were supported for registration. Both lines not supported were proposed as malting varieties.
  • Flax – There were no new varieties brought forward this year, as upcoming lines are still in the data-gathering stages.

What happens next?

The recommendations from PGDC go forward to the Canadian Grain Commission for assignment of market class and the Variety Registration Office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for registration. At the same time, breeding institutions and companies are making decisions about commercialization.

If you are interested in learning more about the PGDC, please reach out to MCA staff, directors or crop committee delegates, or visit


Spring agronomy resource roundup – cereals

By Manitoba Crop Alliance

As we head into spring, now is the perfect time to brush up on some important agronomy topics.

Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) has several articles and resources to help farmers implement best management practices (BMPs) on their operations. This resource roundup highlights information for targeting the correct seeding date, conditions and fertility, as well as management options if seeding gets delayed.

Spring cereals

1. Seeding date

We know that weather on the Prairies is unpredictable, and while we hope to get the crop in early, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. More information on the ideal time to plant spring cereals, the impact of delayed seeding and agronomic management strategies is available in the following articles:

2. Dry soil conditions

Across the Prairies, seeding into dry soils is inevitable in some years. These dry conditions require careful seeding BMPs to help reduce risk. Learn more from resources listed below, including a special collaboration article between the Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, Sask Wheat, SaskBarley and MCA:

3. Plant stands

Plant population influences all three of the primary determinants of yield: (1) number of heads per acre, (2) number of kernels per head and (3) weight per kernel. Do you know how your selected variety will perform under varying target plant populations? Learn more:

4. Nitrogen fertility

Another important aspect of seeding is making sure your crop has the proper fertility package. The following are important resources for making nitrogen fertilizer management decisions:

Winter wheat

While many winter wheat farmers choose to apply most of their nitrogen in the fall, early spring is a good opportunity to evaluate your fertilizer strategy. In the article below, Manitoba Agriculture’s John Heard goes through his checklist of spring fertility considerations:

The winter annual growth habit of winter wheat makes it an effective competitor against many weed species. However, some weed control considerations should still be made. The following article outlines integrated weed management strategies and herbicide options for winter wheat:

Significant snow accumulation throughout winter helps to keep the soil warm enough for winter wheat to overwinter. The following resources cover other factors that impact winter wheat survival, plus ways to assess the survival in your fields: