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Canadian scientists develop first-ever Fusarium-tolerant pastry wheat


Eastern Canadian producers can now benefit from a new wheat cultivar with increased tolerance to Fusarium head blight, a fungal disease which has cost the Canadian agri-food industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

The new line, a soft red winter wheat often used for pastries, exhibits nearly four-times fewer mycotoxins when exposed to the fungus, than other wheat varieties on the market. The level of mycotoxins present in wheat can greatly affect yields, as well as grade and market value.

The line has been approved by the Ontario Cereal Crops Committee, and registered for production in Eastern Canada under the name Wonder. The line was developed by scientists with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Ottawa and Hyland Seeds in Blenheim, Ontario. The development of Wonder was led by Dr. Radhey Pandeya of the Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre, and Hyland cereal breeders.

"Wonder is a major step forward in the battle against Fusarium and a good example of the type of innovation that can be achieved when government and industry work together," said Dr. Pandeya. "Fusarium has cost the Canadian agri-food industry hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 20 years, and our scientists in Western Canada are continuing efforts to develop similar varieties conducive to growing in that region."

Investments in research and development are a key priority of the Agricultural Policy Framework, a comprehensive plan developed with the provinces and industry to make Canada a world leader in food safety and food quality, environmentally responsible production and innovation.

"To our knowledge Wonder is the first Fusarium-tolerant pastry wheat on the market," said Henry Olechowski, research director with Hyland Seeds. "The new variety is sure to be welcome news to growers as Fusarium head blight is an ongoing concern in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States."

This project was funded under a Matching Investment Initiative (MII) in partnership with Hyland Seeds, a division of W.G. Thompson and Sons Ltd.

The MII is a federal program that aims to increase collaborative research activity between the private sector and AAFC by matching the contribution of an industry investment in research and development.

Wonder is expected to be in full commercial production by 2004.

For more information, media may contact:

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
(613) 759-7972

Henry Olechowski
Research Director, Hyland Seeds
Blenheim, Ontario
(519) 359-4468

Media Relations | EurekAlert!
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