Varieties of Cereal and Oilseed Crops for Alberta

This annual publication provides information on cereal and oilseed variety performance in Alberta and northeastern British Columbia. Important agronomic characteristics and disease resistance information is provided for varieties of wheat, barley, oat, rye, triticale, flax and canola. The Alberta Regional Variety Testing program for cereals and flax is coordinated by the Alberta Regional Variety Advisory Committee (ARVAC) and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF). Funding for the program is provided by:

  • Alberta Agriculture & Forestry
  • Alberta Wheat Commission
  • Alberta Barley Commission
  • Alberta Oat Growers Association
  • Alberta Seed Growers
  • Alberta Seed Processors
  • Prairie Oat Growers Association
  • Entry fees for the varieties being tested

Data for this publication come from various sources, including:

  • Alberta Agriculture & Forestry
  • Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
  • British Columbia Grain Producers
  • CPS Canada
  • University of Alberta
  • Alberta Innovates Technology Futures
  • Farming Smarter
  • SARDA Ag Research
  • Battle River Research Group (BRRG)
  • Chinook Applied Research Association (CARA)
  • Gateway Research Organization (GRO)
  • Lakeland Applied Research Association (LARA)
  •  McKenzie Applied Research Association (MARA)
  • Northern Peace Applied Research Association (NPARA)
  • Prairie Grain Development Committee
  • Canola Council of Canada


The following individuals are the Regional Variety Trial and crop specific coordinators:

  • Alex Fedko, Regional Variety Trial Coordinator
  • Spring wheat, Drs. H. Randhawa, D. Spaner and S. Strydhorst
  • Barley, J. Anderson
  • Oat, Dr. J. Mitchell-Fetch
  • Triticale, Dr. H. Randhawa
  • Winter Wheat, Dr. R. Graf
  • Fall Rye, Dr. J. Larsen
  • Winter Triticale, Dr. J. Larsen
  • Flax, M. Hartman

Sincere thanks are extended to all individuals and organizations that contribute to this publication.

Yield Results and Reporting

Variety choice should never be based solely on yield performance, as it is only one factor that affects net return. The genetic yield potential of a variety is often masked by numerous factors, some of which can be controlled through variety choice and others through astute agronomic management. Producers are encouraged to consider other characteristics such as maturity, plant height, lodging and disease/pest resistance when deciding which varieties to grow. Long-term satisfaction with a variety is often related to non-yield characteristics.

New for 2018

On a trial basis for 2018, the yield data for CWRS wheat are reported in two ways. The first method is the traditional manner that has been used since 2010 (see below). New for 2018 is an alternative method that reports head-to-head comparisons of all varieties on the annual trials within a five-year timeframe. This new method retains low and high yield test categories based on the average yield of AC Barrie (60 bu/ac), the long-term check. The advantage of this method is that all comparisons within a column are statistically valid, rather than only to the check. An Overall Yield column is also presented, but in this case all data are reported resulting is a dataset with varying numbers of comparisons over different years.  Thus, for the Overall Yield Column, the only valid comparison is back to common check, as has been the case in the traditional method of reporting.  Statistical differences among the varieties are also reported for the Overall Yield column.  We welcome for comments on this new data reporting format.

Also new for 2018 is the inclusion of “benchmark” varieties. Producers have asked for additional checks in the regional variety trials that reflect more commonly grown varieties. To accommodate this request, two additional varieties are now grown as “benchmark” checks and reflect the two most popular varieties for the crop or within a market class during the previous year, based on crop insurance data. These checks will change as the popularity of varieties change.

Traditional Yield Reporting Method

Exercise caution when making yield comparisons among varieties. Variety yield should only be directly compared to the standard reference check. Actual head-to-head yield comparisons between other varieties may not have occurred. Small plot agronomic trials are expensive to grow and new varieties are registered every year. It is simply impractical to grow all varieties at the same time. Following several years of data collection, the yield performance for a particular variety stabilizes relative to the check and further testing is no longer required. It is for these reasons that the check varieties are grown every year (e.g. AC Barrie for CWRS wheat, AC Metcalfe for barley) and that changes to these checks are infrequent. The “Overall Station Years of Testing” column provides an indication of the unbalanced nature of the dataset.

At least six station-years of yield data collected over two years are required prior to reporting the figures in this publication. For new varieties, Overall Yield is often the first indication of yield potential relative to the check. As additional data become available, yield performance is also expressed on the basis of environmental productivity (Yield Test Categories of Low, Medium, High and Very High). Yield rankings among varieties can change substantially due to growing conditions. To reflect these differences, results from a test site that produced high yield in a particular year are placed into the database for ‘high’ yielding environments. The same site may contribute to the ‘low’ yield category in a drought year, when yields are low. Consistent performance over all Yield Test Categories indicates that a variety has environmental responses similar to the check and may have good yield stability over a wide range of environments. Scientific studies conducted on variety performance in western Canada have shown that Yield Test Category analysis provides a more reliable indication of yield performance than results organized by geographic region.

The yield comparison tables have several features:

  • Overall actual yield of the check (bushels/acre) based on all data available to the testing program is provided along with the number of station years of testing.
  • The range in yield for each Yield Test Category is defined.
  • Actual yield of the check in each Yield Test Category is reported.
  • For varieties with sufficient data, the Overall Yield and performance in each Yield Test Category is expressed relative to the check.
  • Significant statistical differences relative to the check are indicated.

Yields that are statistically higher (+) or lower (-) than the check are indicated to aid in the selection process. No symbol after the yield figure indicates there is no statistical difference from the check. Pay particular attention to data on new varieties that have not been fully tested. If a large difference from the check is reported but is not significant, it could mean that yields have varied widely, and/or there are not enough data to prove a statistical difference. With additional years of testing, the reported yield differences will become more accurate.

To make effective use of the yield comparison tables, producers should set a realistic yield target for the season and determine where it fits within the Low, Medium, High and Very High Yield Test Categories. This approach facilitates matching of variety choice to expected productivity levels and is similar to that used when making decisions on other levels of inputs. Please note the actual yield levels indicated are from small plot trials, which may be 15 to 20 per cent higher than yields expected under commercial production.

Maturity Ratings

As is the case for yield, growing conditions have a tremendous influence on the date of maturity. For example, a variety of CWRS wheat may mature in 98 days in Lethbridge, but take 103 days in Edmonton. Likewise, a two-day difference in maturity between varieties in southern Alberta may amount to a five-day difference in a more northerly location. To take this into account, maturity is expressed using a five-category scale: Very Early, Early, Medium, Late and Very Late. To aid producers with this relative scale, the average number of days to maturity for the check is reported. Note this scale is different for each crop type. For example, an early barley variety will mature much earlier than an early flax variety.

Seed Size and Plant Populations

Seed size within a crop kind will vary from variety to variety, requiring adjustment of seeding volumes to achieve desired plant populations. Some of the tables provide an average 1000 kernel weight (TKW) which can be used as a guide for variety differences. The best approach is to determine the 1000 kernel weight of the seed to be planted, germination rate, emergence mortality, and in the case of fall seeded crops, an estimate of winterkill. For more information and user-friendly seeding rate calculators that take into account these and other considerations, please see www.agric.gov.ab.ca/app21/ldcalc.

Plant Breeders’ Rights

Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) are a form of intellectual property rights by which plant breeders can protect new varieties in the same way an inventor protects a new invention with a patent. In 2015, Canada amended the PBR Act to bring it into conformity with UPOV 91. Varieties protected under the previous legislation (UPOV 78) are indicated with the logo, whereas those protected under the new legislation are shown with a new  logo. The use of the ▲ logo indicates that an application for PBR has been accepted. For more information on Plant Breeders’ Rights, please see www.pbrfacts.ca or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website at www.inspection.gc.ca.


The Alberta Regional Variety Advisory Committee (ARVAC) does not take any responsibility for accuracy or validity of the canola performance data.

Diseases, Seed Treatment and Seed Testing

  • Disease ratings are compiled from various data sources in Alberta and other prairie provinces.
  • Treat rye and flax seed to control seedling blight, cereal seed for smuts and Fusarium, canola seed to control flea beetle, seedling blight and the seed-borne phase of virulent blackleg.
  • Wheat with Moderately Susceptible (MS) or Susceptible (S) ratings for common bunt should be treated with a systemic fungicide as low levels of infection will restrict marketability.
  • Refer to labels for maximum storage periods of treated seed.
  •  Treated seed must not be fed to livestock, poultry or wildlife, and cannot be sold for feed.
  • Leaf spot ratings in the wheat tables are a combination of resistance to tan spot and septoria leaf disease complex.
  • Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by Fusarium graminearum and other species, is an increasing problem in Alberta. The relative ranking of crops from most susceptible to least susceptible is durum wheat, common wheat, triticale, barley and oat. Corn is a host of F. graminearum and can serve as a source of infection when residue is left on the ground. FHB infection is highly influenced by the environment and heading date. A resistant (R) tolerance rating for FHB does not equate to immunity. Under severe epidemics, all varieties will sustain damage. All seed should be tested for the presence of FHB and treated with an appropriate seed treatment if required. Producers are advised to choose varieties with the best FHB tolerance whenever possible and always use best management practices to slow the spread of this disease.
  •  Seed used in the Alberta Regional Variety Testing program comes with a “Fusarium-free” certificate and trials are inspected for FHB during the growing season.

Laboratories participating in the FHB testing program:

  •  20/20 Seed Labs Ltd., Nisku, AB: 1-877-420-2099
  • BioVision Seed Research Ltd., Edmonton, AB: 1-800-952-5407
  • BioVision Seed Research Ltd., Grande Prairie, AB: 1-877-532-8889
  • Parkland Laboratories, Red Deer, AB: 403-342-0404
  • Precision Seed Testing, Beaverlodge, AB: 780-354-2259
  • Seed Check Technologies Inc., Leduc, AB: 780-980-8324

Abbreviations and Rating Scales

  • TKW = Thousand kernel weight.
  •  XX = Insufficient data to describe.
  • Maturity: VE = Very Early, E = Early, M = Medium, L = Late, VL = Very Late.
  • Resistance Ratings: VP = Very Poor, P = Poor, F = Fair, G = Good, VG = Very Good, EX = Excellent.
  •  Disease Tolerance Ratings: R = Resistant, MR = Moderately Resistant, I = Intermediate, MS = Moderately Susceptible, S = Susceptible.
  • Kernel Type (winter wheat): HR = Hard Red, SR = Soft Red, HW = Hard White, SW = Soft White.
  • Awns (wheat): Y = Yes (bearded), N = No (awnless).
  • Awn Type (barley): R = Rough, S = Smooth, SS = Semi-smooth.
  • Seed Size (flax): S = Small, M = Medium, L = Large.

Other Variety Information

For additional information, including varieties not listed in this publication, please call the Alberta Ag-Info Centre toll-free at 310-FARM (3276) or check the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website,

www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex4069 and


Fact sheet information and tables prepared, reviewed and approved by:

Alberta Regional Variety Advisory Committee (formerly the Alberta British Columbia Grain Advisory Committee – ABCGAC).

Data preparation and factsheet coordination by:

Alex Fedko

Coordinator RVT/Crop Research Technologist

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry