- Author: Stacey Wills
The Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC), Alberta Department of Agriculture and the Univerity of California Desert Research and Extension has been very fortunate to be able to work together for well over 30 years, dating back to the early 1980's. This partnership began with DREC's Richard Tamayo and FCDC's Dr. Jim Helm and Dave Dyson working closely together to develop the nursery.
The mandate of FCDC is to develop new and improved varieties of barley, triticale and most recently wheat for Alberta and Western Canada. Barley and wheat are 2 of the 3 major crops grown in Alberta, with barley occupying approximately 2.5 million acres annually, producing 35% of all barley grown in North America. Wheat is grown on approximately 4 million acres in Alberta. The FCDC program has released over 40 cereal varieties since its beginnings in the early 1970's.
For a cereal breeding program to be successful in Canada it requires the use of winter nurseries to allow for a growing season to take place during the Canadian winter time. This accelerates the breeding process to shorten the time to develop a variety. The primary use of this nursery is to grow out early generation segregating material, upwards of 400 individual breeding populations are planted each year. Other uses for this nursery has been to grow out seed for special purpose nurseries, and to replace seed sources that may have been lost in the field in Alberta the year prior due to hail.
With a recent initiative by FCDC to add wheat breeding to its program, FCDC looks forward to continuing this part of the program for many years to come.