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Development of improved spring wheat cultivars with enhanced disease and pest resistance, higher nutritional benefits, and better market appeal and grain quality for eastern and central Canada

Principal Investigator: Shahrokh Khanizadeh  

Research Institution: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Timeline: April 2013 – March 2018  


  • Develop improved disease-resistant spring wheat cultivars with better market appeal and grain quality.
  • Develop and apply selection techniques to increase screening efficiency for disease resistance: rust, powdery mildew, and Fusarium head blight (FHB).
  • Improve methodologies for screening quality: Implementation of screening tools to assess bran physical properties, milling properties and dough functionality affecting processing.


  • Development of improved Canadian Eastern Red Spring (CERS) wheat varieties with superior milling and baking quality and resistance to FHB will provide producers with better adapted varieties in Eastern Canada.
  • Improving the grain quality of CERS will allow eastern growers to have access to high-yielding adapted lines with quality similar to western Canadian wheat and with FHB resistance. This will help improve the Eastern spring wheat brand in domestic and export markets.

Scientific Summary:

FHB, caused by the fungal species Fusarium graminearum, is a disease affecting wheat cultivars across Canada. Recent and severe outbreaks spurred research in developing FHB-resistant cultivars and evaluating the underlying causes of FHB susceptibility.


Hard red spring wheat varieties developed:

1. AW765 – Licenced to SeCan

2. Fairwind – Licenced to C&M Seeds

3. ACC Sword – Licenced to Advantage Seed Gowers and Processors Ltd.

Effect of plant height on FHB in Canadian hard red spring wheat:

Cultivars of spring wheat varying in origin, height, and disease susceptibility were artificially inoculated with FHB, and the subsequent disease symptoms and height were noted. It was found that plant height is negatively correlated with FHB incidence and severity. However, varieties originating from Eastern Canada had a much stronger negative correlation between plant height and FHB, whereas the trials with Western Canada origins were weakly correlated.

External Funding Partners:

This research activity was part of the National Wheat Improvement Program Cluster led by the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF).

Funding for this project was provided in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) AgriInnovation Program and in part by Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance (CFCRA) members. Grain Farmers of Ontario is a founding member of the CFCRA.

Project Related Publications:

Fetch, T., Mitchell Fetch, J.W., Zegeye, T., and Xue, A.G. 2018. Races of Puccinia graminis on barley, oat, and wheat in Canada in 2011 and 2012. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 40: 11-21.

Fetch Jr., T.G., Mitchell Fetch, J.W., and Xue, A.G. 2015. Races of Puccinia graminis on barley, oat, and wheat in Canada in 2007 and 2008. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 37(3): 331-341.

Fetch Jr., T.G., Mitchell Fetch, J.W., Zegeye, T., and Xue, A.G. 2015. Races of Puccinia graminis on wheat, oat, and barley in Canada in 2009 and 2010. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 37(4): 476-484.

Moidu, H., Brownlee, J., Wang, X.L., Deschiffart, I., Langille, L., Voldeng, H.D., and Khanizadeh, S. 2015. Effect of plant height on Fusarium head blight in spring wheat. Journal of Plant Studies. 4(2): 105-109.

Xue, A.G., Chen, Y. and Al-Rewashdy, Y. 2017. Diseases of spring wheat in Central and Eastern Ontario in 2016. Canadian Plant Disease Survey. 97: 148-149. Xue, A.G., and Chen, Y. 2014. Diseases of spring wheat in central and eastern Ontario in 2013. Canadian