SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA — Viterra and the Crop Development Centre (CDC) in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan announced on Jan. 16 that Viterra is investing C$5 million to enhance the CDC's success in wheat research and breeding.

The five-year agreement, which builds on a longstanding partnership between Viterra and the college, focuses on development of wheat and durum varieties with enhanced yield, improved resistance to disease and insect pests, and improved quality characteristics for the marketplace.

"As Canada's grain industry leader, we continue to forge strong partnerships that build on our commitment to research and development for the benefit of our customers and Western Canadian agriculture," said Kyle Jeworski, Viterra's president and chief executive officer for North America. "Viterra's long and successful history of collaboration with the CDC has resulted in several innovative and high-performing seed varieties. By strengthening our relationship, we aim to support new wheat and durum varieties that have desirable quality specifications for our customers around the world, while providing farmers with more options to maximize the value of their crops."

The funding will support the nationally and internationally recognized wheat breeding programs at the CDC led by Pierre Hucl and Curtis Pozniak. The researchers will set the breeding priorities, and Viterra will provide industry knowledge to ensure the CDC breeding is responsive to an evolving global marketplace.

"This significant investment from our longstanding partners at Viterra will enhance our capacity to provide innovative solutions for Western Canadian farmers and agri-businesses while helping to address food challenges around the world," said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research. "This exciting collaboration is a further testament to the outstanding quality of our agricultural research, a signature area of the University of Saskatchewan."

With greater capacity for variety development and research trials across Western Canada, CDC researchers will be able to significantly increase the number of varieties developed and commercialized, providing increased choice for producers. Using the latest breeding tools, development time will be reduced for a greater number of varieties.

"The CDC is delighted with this level of investment from a great Saskatchewan company with whom we've enjoyed a 20-year successful history of wheat research collaboration," said Kofi Agblor, CDC managing director. "This funding affirms CDC's reputation for working effectively with private sector companies and is good news for Saskatchewan producers who will see the benefits of this research in improved wheat varieties on their farms."

The estimated cost of developing a single new wheat variety is between C$500,000 and C$1 million. Wheat crops contribute C$11 billion annually to Canada's economy.