Blog: What's New at MCA

Let your name stand: MCA delegate nominations open July 1

Thinking about getting more involved in your industry?

Manitoba Crop Alliance’s (MCA) governance structure is unique among Manitoba commodity groups. MCA has four crop committees – corn, flax, sunflower, and wheat and barley – each composed of delegates who are elected from among farmer members who grow the respective crop. The committees range in size from eight delegates for corn, flax and sunflower, to 10 for wheat and barley.

MCA is governed by a board of 11 directors, each a delegate appointed by their respective crop committee. Delegates are nominated and elected every two years.

This election period there are four open positions on each of the corn, flax and sunflower committees, as well as five open positions on the wheat and barley committee. MCA will be accepting nominations from farmer members to serve as delegates on all four committees.

Delegate nominations open July 1 and close Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. CDT. The nomination period has been moved up one month compared with previous years to allow adequate time if an election is required.

MCA delegates work towards strengthening the mandate of research, agronomy, market development and access, and communication and advocacy initiatives within each of the four crop committees.

Scott Mowbray has been a delegate on the wheat and barley committee for one year and sat on similar boards at the community level. He is a delegate for the Keystone Agricultural Producers’ District 2 and sits on the transportation committee.

“Being a delegate is a great way to get involved,” he says. “It’s a small time commitment, with only a few meetings per year, as well as other learning opportunities such as CropConnect. Staff are always considerate of farming commitments when scheduling meetings.”

When asked why he wanted to be nominated, Mowbray says he saw it as a chance to stay connected to events in the industry and he appreciates being able to help guide research priorities.

Ryan Hueging joined the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association in 2019 prior to the amalgamation and is a delegate on MCA’s wheat and barley committee. He served on the MCA board of directors from 2021 through 2023.

“What I’ve learned so far as a delegate is that many industry stakeholders need to work together to shape the future of ag, whether it’s policy, plant breeding or marketing, for example,” he says. “What I’ve found most fascinating is the process of plant breeding and all the necessary steps involved.”

As a director, he has enjoyed the access MCA has within the ag industry. “When decisions are made at committee levels and forwarded to the board, I enjoy having the opportunity to see what happens across the entire organization, and to work to resolve issues involving other crop committees.”

Richard Dureault was originally a director for the Manitoba Corn Growers Association and joined MCA’s corn committee as a delegate after the amalgamation. This was his first experience in this type of role.

For Dureault, meeting and learning from others has been a highlight. “The delegates and staff are well spread out around the province and you can learn something from everyone,” he says. “We share ideas and have many opportunities to connect in person.”

Crop committee delegates play a unique role in the organization. “It’s growers’ money that goes into the organization and, as a delegate, you have a say where your money is going. On top of that, you don’t need any experience to join,” he says. “Kudos to the MCA staff for the easy transition into the role and the direction provided.”

Warren McCutcheon is a delegate on the corn committee and had sat on the Manitoba Corn Growers Association board of directors since 2019 prior to the amalgamation.

“I wanted to be a delegate to have a say in where my check-off dollars are going, and make sure there is value there for my – and other farmers’ – dollars,” he says.

One of the biggest takeaways for McCutcheon is the relationships and connections made, learning from each other and MCA’s unique operations.

“I would encourage other growers to get involved, as there is only one way to have a voice and make decisions on how farmer check-off dollars are spent,” he says. “Get involved!”

Gregg Fotheringham has served on many boards over the years locally, provincially and internationally, and was involved with the National Sunflower Association of Canada prior to the amalgamation. He is an MCA director and a delegate on the sunflower committee.

“The interests of the smaller crop types are certainly being heard and considered by the MCA board,” he says. “All crops are being looked at as a necessity for grain farming in Manitoba, and sunflower issues are being heard in a far better manner than ever before.”

Fotheringham says the biggest initiative of MCA is research at a reasonable cost, which has been happening since the amalgamation, but there are other important activities the average member is not aware of. “Our membership roles with Cereals Canada, Grain Growers of Canada and the Canadian Malt Barley Technical Centre, our liaisons with Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, as well as keeping our provincial government abreast of our efforts and concerns, to name a few,” he says.

Leigh Smith joined the flax committee in 2023 and the MCA board of directors in 2024. Smith explains the role as “coming forward with an open mind, knowing that you are going to learn something, but also that you have something to offer and that you will be heard.”

Although flax is a smaller acreage crop, from an organizational standpoint it still gets its fair share of attention, he says. “Credit to committee members and management who bring forward good topics to discuss. I see all committees receiving the same amount of prep from management and I think as a group we are benefitting from being under the branch of MCA.”

Becoming a delegate with MCA provides personal growth opportunities, such as networking with fellow farmers, researchers and industry stakeholders; the chance to gain an in-depth understanding of the crop industries MCA represents; and the ability to attend educational and leadership-building workshops and seminars.

Participation on the crop committees also provides development opportunities for a potential future role on the board of directors. For more information on the roles and responsibilities of crop committee delegates and MCA directors, click here.

Reflecting on a milestone Grains Week

Article provided by Grain Growers of Canada

Grain Growers of Canada’s (GGC) annual Grains Week is a three-day event packed with back-to-back meetings with parliamentarians and decision-makers to advocate for agriculture policy solutions. Over 20 dedicated grain farmers from across Canada converged in Ottawa for a series of strategic meetings, including MCA directors Jonothan Hodson, who also sits on the GGC board of directors, and Sally Parsonage.

The week was filled with substantial discussions with nearly 30 key decision-makers in the agricultural sphere, including MPs, senators and top government officials. Discussions were held with prominent leaders, such as Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, Leader of the Official Opposition Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay and Minister of Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings.

“Events like Grains Week offer farmers a chance to speak directly with parliamentarians and decision-makers about issues we are facing on the farm,” Parsonage says. “We also highlight the continuous progress farmers have made towards a sustainable and productive agriculture sector in Canada.”

Our conversations were focused, productive and centered around advancing 10 key policy recommendations crucial for the sustainable growth of agriculture in Canada.

The week also featured a memorable parliamentary reception the following evening where nearly 50 MPs and senators participated, engaging in robust dialogue and forming grassroot connections with the grain growing community. Minister MacAulay’s opening remarks also set the stage for an engaging evening, which was supported by Beer Canada and Spirits Canada. Their partnership beautifully demonstrated the journey of our grain from the fields to the reception tables, emphasizing how our hard-working growers cultivate the quality of the Canadian products we enjoy.

“Grains Week is important to Manitoba farmers because it is an opportunity for MCA and other GGC member organizations to highlight priorities for our grain farming community,” Hodson says.

“Many face-to-face meetings take place with MPs, senators and their staff, who are important contacts that allow for further dialogue on important policy objectives. As a producer representative, we are there to try and relate what effect policies may have on the producers we represent.”

Such meetings and events remain crucial for maintaining direct engagement with policymakers, ensuring the perspectives and needs of grain farmers are heard and make an impact. The positive feedback from our stakeholders in Ottawa stresses the importance of our continued advocacy and presence on Parliament Hill.

“Maintaining a steady presence in Ottawa is key and will ensure that when new policy or ag-related issues arise, decision-makers will have a direct connection with the producers they are impacting,” Parsonage says.

While Canadian agriculture advocacy efforts gain incredible strength from events like Grains Week, it’s important to note that its success was largely due to the dedicated grain farmers who journeyed to Ottawa. We deeply appreciate their participation, which was essential for the impactful meetings held, underscoring the crucial role they play in shaping our agricultural policies.

Let’s maintain this momentum for Grains Week 2025 and ensure our community remains at the forefront of agricultural innovation and policy development!

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Call for Tender: Group 2 Herbicide-Resistant Confection Sunflower Hybrid

Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) is pleased to invite tenders for non-exclusive license to produce in Canada the Group 2 herbicide-resistant confection sunflower hybrids EX 359239 and EX 359306, produced from the only farmer-funded hybrid confection sunflower breeding program in Canada.

Tender application forms, which must be submitted separately for each hybrid of interest, can be found here: 

EX 359239 and EX 359306 are under review with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – registration pending.

MCA reserves the right to reject any or all tenders and to negotiate the terms of agreement with any proponent.

For more information, or requests for samples of the above lines, please contact Katherine Stanley, Research Program Manager – Special Crops with MCA, at 204-898-4122 or

Please forward tender submissions by April 26, 2024 to Katherine Stanley, Research Program Manager – Special Crops, at

Seed samples to be provided upon request.

Meet Manitoba Crop Alliance’s 2023-24 post-secondary bursary recipients

MCA_2023-24 Bursary Recipients Graphic_Twitter

Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) is proud to support agriculture’s next generation. MCA’s bursary program is designed to assist with the financial needs of students pursuing education in a field that will benefit the agriculture sector.

Six post-secondary students from Manitoba have been awarded with MCA 2023-24 bursaries valued at $2,000 each. The 2023-24 bursary recipients are Emma Harms from Mather, Rhett Grieve from Virden, Ashlyn Whetter from Alexander, Brendan Friesen from Blumenfeld, Nathan Krahn from Rivers, and Cadence Krahn from Carman.

“Year after year, I am impressed with the curiosity and passion for agriculture displayed by our bursary recipients,” says MCA Chair Robert Misko. “These qualities will serve them well as they begin their careers, and I look forward to seeing how their generation moves our industry forward.”

Bursary applicants needed to meet the following criteria:

  • Have completed their first or second year of post-secondary education at the college or university level (diploma or degree) and are enrolled full-time for the 2023-24 school year in an agricultural program within the province of Manitoba.
  • Have achieved a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0.
  • Have an interest in wheat (spring or winter), corn, barley, flax or sunflower crops, or agriculture in general, as demonstrated in a brief, one-page letter.\
  • Are from a farm that is a member in good standing with MCA
  • Have not previously been awarded an MCA bursary.

An independent selection committee was contracted to evaluate the applicants based on their connection to or interest in agriculture, explanation of why they decided to enrol in an agriculture-related post-secondary program, how they hope to benefit the agriculture industry once they have graduated and are in the workforce, and their academics and writing skills.

This year, the selection committee included Mallorie Lewarne, grow team advisor with Federated Co-operatives Limited; Anne Kirk, cereal crop specialist with Manitoba Agriculture; and Haider Abbas, applied research specialist at Manitoba Agriculture.

Lewarne provides technical agronomy support to local co-ops in Manitoba. She holds a B.Sc. in agriculture and an M.Sc. in plant science from the University of Manitoba and is a member of the Professional Agrologists Institute of Manitoba. Prior to her current role, she worked for MCA as an agronomy extension specialist.

With Manitoba Agriculture, Kirk focuses on cereal crop extension and variety trials. She holds a B.Sc. in agriculture and a master’s in plant science from the University of Manitoba. She is also a Certified Crop Advisor and a member of the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists.

Abbas was born and raised on a family farm and holds a B.Sc. in agricultural engineering and an M.Sc. in biosystems engineering from the University of Manitoba. He is currently based at the Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre in Carberry, MB, where he contributes to advancing agricultural research and innovation.

Thank you to the selection committee for evaluating the bursary applications and congratulations to the 2023-24 bursary recipients!

Meet the MCA 2023-24 bursary recipients

In the field and abroad: sharing the Canadian wheat story with global customers 

In November 2023, Cereals Canada released the 2023 New Wheat Crop Report and shortly after led four trade and technical missions to 17 countries to showcase the quality of Canadian wheat to customers and buyers.

The annual trade and technical missions visit key global markets for Canadian wheat to share reports on the quality and functionality of the year’s wheat crop and include information on market supply and demand. Experts from the value chain – such as commissioners from the Canadian Grain Commission, exporters and farmers – participate in these missions.

As part of the seminars during these missions, farmer participants were asked to present on key farming practices and highlight the practices they follow to grow wheat while minimizing environmental impacts.

“Each market wants to understand more about Canadian farming practices,” says Dean Dias, CEO at Cereals Canada. “Having farmer representatives speak on behalf of Canadian growers about their farming practices is critical to informing customers about sustainability.”

Grain farmer and MCA crop committee delegate Korey Peters was a farmer representative on the Asia trade and technical mission, visiting customers in Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and China from Nov. 24 to Dec. 9.

“The experience was awesome and very eye opening,” says Peters. In each seminar, Peters used photos and videos to talk about the crop types he grows on his family farm and shared information about how the 2023 growing season went.

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After his presentations, he was often asked questions related to soil fertility, managing wheat diseases and how he looks after the environment.

“Customers were very curious to hear firsthand what we do, how we grow things, and what works and what doesn’t,” he says. “I talked a lot about crop rotation and science-based solutions, and how we work with professionals like certified agronomists, for example, to help us.”

At all the seminars, Peters says customers were engaged and seemed eager to speak directly with a farmer. “They wanted to know about everything I did, but they also wanted to know about the grain and quality,” he says. “They were asking about breadcrumb structure, air pockets and how the bread was going to look.”

He adds the level of scientific detail blew his mind. “I just grow wheat, but it was interesting to hear these types of questions and discussions. It also reinforced to me the importance of having members from the whole value chain at these missions to answer all their questions and to build trust.”

Something that stood out to Peters was the relationships. “These companies want to put a face to the names of the people in the value chain. Some were on a first-name basis, or even exchanging hugs because they’ve met many times before. This showed me how important it is to our customers to have that personal connection.”

For Cereals Canada, the trade and technical missions are a way to build and maintain strong relationships, which is vital to growing the international demand for Canadian wheat. For Peters, it was a great experience, and he says he would go again in a heartbeat.

“It became very clear to me that Canada’s wheat is second to none. Every place we visited agreed that Canadian wheat is phenomenal, which makes me very proud of what we grow.”

For more information about the New Wheat Crop Report or the trade and technical missions, visit

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.

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“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.

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.”


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


Meet Manitoba Crop Alliance’s 2022-23 bursary recipients

Meet Manitoba Crop Alliance’s 2022-23 bursary recipients

By Manitoba Crop Alliance

Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) is proud to support students who are studying to work in the agriculture industry. MCA’s bursary program is designed to assist with the financial needs of students who are enrolled in a post-secondary agricultural program within the province of Manitoba.

Six students from Manitoba have been awarded with MCA 2022-23 bursaries valued at $2,000 each. The 2022-23 bursary recipients are Kaitlyn Christine Hunt-Delaurier from Laurier, Lianne Rouire from Treherne, Milan Lukes from Gunton, Stephanie Manning from Souris, Hannie Peters from Ile Des Chenes, and Alison Manness from La Salle/Domain.

“I would like to congratulate all our 2022-23 bursary winners and thank all the students who applied,” says MCA Chair Robert Misko. “It is clear from the quality of all the bursary applications we received that the future of the agriculture industry in Manitoba is bright.”

Bursary applicants needed to meet the following criteria:

  • Have completed their first or second year of post-secondary education at the college or university level (diploma or degree) and are enrolled full-time for the 2022-23 school year in an agricultural program within the province of Manitoba.
  • Have achieved a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.
  • Have an interest in wheat (spring or winter), corn, barley, flax or sunflower crops, or agriculture in general, as demonstrated in a brief, one-page letter.
  • Are from a farm that is a member in good-standing of MCA.
  • Have not previously been awarded an MCA Bursary.

An independent selection committee was contracted to evaluate the applicants based on their connection to or interest in agriculture, explanation of why they decided to enroll in an agriculture-related post-secondary program, how they hope to benefit the agriculture industry once they have graduated and are in the workforce, and their academics and writing skills.

This year, the selection committee included James Frey, applied production specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, and Rachel Evans, technical sales manager at FMC Canada for Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan.

Frey leads a small-plot research program in co-operation with Parkland Crop Diversification Foundation in Roblin, MB. He holds a B.Sc. in agribusiness and a master’s degree in natural resources management from the University of Manitoba. Prior to his current role, he worked with agricultural development projects in Northeast Asia.

Evans is an agronomist with 10 years of experience providing agronomic advice, research co-ordination and project leadership. She holds a master’s degree in plant science from the University of Manitoba, in addition to being a Certified Crop Advisor and member of the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists.

Thank you to the selection committee for evaluating the bursary applications and congratulations to the 2022-23 bursary recipients!

Meet the MCA 2022-23 bursary recipients