GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO recently celebrated an exciting new partnership with SeCan and the University of Guelph. A new Grain Farmers of Ontario Professorship in Wheat Breeding has been established in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph.
This position was created to address the acute need for cereal breeding, especially winter wheat breeding, in Ontario. Since 2010, we have lost through retirement all four permanent public wheat breeders who were conducting research in the province, two of whom were dedicated to winter wheat. Their research was critical to the establishment of winter wheat as a key crop in the province – 850,000 acres were seeded last year and over a million acres were seeded in 2011.
Grain Farmers of Ontario will provide input and guidance on the direction of the research that will be conducted by the new wheat breeder. The goal is for our farmer-members to benefit from the development of new, locally adapted varieties with the functional qualities desired by end-users, specifically those within the milling industry in the Great Lakes Basin. The focus will be on the significant classes of wheat grown in Ontario. The wheat breeder will also work to address key priorities for wheat producers, such as disease tolerance and resilience to abiotic factors (variable and extreme weather).
It’s our hope that this new wheat breeder will employ both traditional breeding methods and incorporate new breeding technologies, as well as establish a collaborative working relationship with the wheat genetics research program at Ridgetown Campus, which continues to receive support from Grain Farmers of Ontario.
The new wheat breeder will focus the majority of their time on research and also participate in the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee, which acts as a recommending body for cereal registration and coordinates cereal performance testing. As a full-time faculty member at the Ontario Agricultural College, they will also train new plant breeders and supervise graduate students that will be contributing to the research program through their thesis work. This will continue our goal of fostering a strong future for wheat breeding in the province.
It’s expected that the position will be filled in 2014. Grain Farmers of Ontario looks forward to working closely with the selected candidate. •