Canada OKs Bayer takeover of Monsanto

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Canada’s Competition Bureau has conditionally approved Bayer’s planned takeover of Monsanto.

Its approval is contingent on Bayer AG divesting some of its Canadian canola, soybean and vegetable seed, traits and herbicide assets before it will allow the German pharmaceutical giant to purchase agricultural business Monsanto Company.

The watchdog says in a consent agreement filed Wednesday that if the assets aren’t divested the takeover would likely “substantially lessen” competition in Canada’s seeds and crop treatment sector.

Bayer previously said the assets would be sold to German chemical company BASF SE for 5.9 billion euros.

 The bureau says it is reviewing the suitability of BASF as a buyer for the assets.

Bayer has canola seed facilities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia and herbicide operations within the country.

 Its consent agreement comes a day after Bayer won approval from the European Union and the U.S. for its US$66-billion takeover of Monsanto.

It took two years for it to get U.S. approval because of concerns around the impact the deal would have on farmers.

Bayer still needs approval from Mexico before it can close on the deal.

Know the PBR rules

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The goal of Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) is to encourage investment in plant breeding in Canada. Yet there is a misconception that PBR only benefits large companies. The fact is, large companies often have other tools to protect their intellectual property, including patents and contracts.

PBR is critically important for public breeders, including universities, and smaller private breeders who may not have the resources or traits necessary to utilize other forms of protection.

Know the new PBR rules:

  • If a variety is protected under PBR, it is illegal to sell common seed, even if you don’t use the variety name.
  • Under PBR, it is OK to keep seed on your farm – as long as the farm-saved rights are not pre-empted by another agreement or contract.
  • Under the new PBR ’91 rules, the buyer, the processor and the seller are responsible for the infringement.
  • Visit PBRfacts.ca for more information.

 

Tom Steve’s New Project is Kind of a Big Deal

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Tom Steve is general manager of Alberta's wheat and barley commissions.

To quote fictional anchorman Ron Burgundy, what Tom Steve is currently working on is — in wheat circles — kind of a big deal. If it comes to fruition, it could serve to rock the very foundations of western Canadian agriculture and change the way farmers think about cereals.

Steve, general manager of both the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley Commission, is at the forefront of an effort to create value in wheat, to make it a more profitable crop and get the private sector as interested in wheat as it is in big-money crops like soybeans and canola.

Steve is co-chair of the Value Creation Working Group, tasked by the Grains Round Table to come up with a way to stimulate investment in cereal breeding. Steve and fellow working group co-chair Erin Armstrong — director of industry and regulatory affairs for Canterra Seeds — have come up with two models that are becoming a huge topic of conversation among growers and within the seed industry.

At the same time, Steve is once again proving why he’s a person of influence who isn’t afraid to stand in front of a room of farmers and explain why the funding model for wheat variety development needs to change.

“The system we have today is predominantly funded by producer and public money. That in itself is a risk,” Steve says in the frank, no-nonsense tone of voice he’s become known for — a voice that comes from having started his career in the 1970s as a broadcast journalist (serving as director of communications to the premier of Saskatchewan and as cabinet press secretary). He entered the ag industry in the late 1990s working in the grain sector.

“Public funding could be at risk of becoming flat or declining due to the realities of budgets and the shrinking number of farmers. It’s a win-win to bring more private investment to the market and better genetics, too. The risk is that if we continue down the path we’ve been going down all these years, Canada may not remain competitive globally as far as cereals go.”

The idea hasn’t come without controversy, he acknowledges.

“I hear from farmers that wheat is a lower margin commodity on their farm, but they don’t want to change anything. There’s a fundamental contradiction there. Of course, no one wants to pay more for seed if they don’t get an immediate return — they have a legitimate concern there. But here’s the thing — we need to look longer term at where our competition is coming form, and where the yields and quality of our product need to go to be competitive long term. And the only way to do that is through value creation.”

Changing financial and organizational models that have been long relied upon has become second nature for the 61-year-old Steve. As general manager of both the Alberta wheat and barley commissions, he’s working toward the integration of both organizations’ respective management teams.

“Merging management teams is somewhat ground-breaking in Alberta in terms of having two major commodity groups under one umbrella. In the past we’ve tended to have single commissions for each of the crops individually. We’re doing something new and are really excited about it,” he says.

Ramping up Variety Development

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NRC research officers Polowick (left) and Rajagopalan (right) are investigating the effects of growing wheat plants under accelerated growth conditions. (Photo courtesy National Research Council of Canada)

One of the most time-consuming parts of the crop breeding process is the time needed to grow successive generations of plants. What if we could really speed that up?

That’s the goal of a project at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). The accelerated growth methods used in this project could potentially trim several years off the breeding process, providing a big boost to the development of improved crop varieties.

“The project’s overall aim is to speed up plant growth so breeders can achieve multiple generations of the crop in a very short time,” explains Dr. Kishore Rajagopalan with the NRC in Saskatoon, who is leading the project. “That will help greatly with plant breeding efforts because plants take quite some time to grow and you need to go through several generations as part of a breeding program.”

For instance, imagine the challenge for a breeder who is trying to address an urgent threat, like a very virulent new strain of a major pathogen. “Sometimes it can take 10 to 13 years to get new varieties out into the marketplace. Pathogens can evolve quickly and spread around the world. They don’t sit around and wait for the breeders to catch up with them. So the faster that the breeders can introduce new forms of disease resistance into a crop, the better,” notes Dr. Patricia Polowick, another NRC researcher involved in accelerated growth studies.

“Accelerated breeding is faster than traditional crop breeding. So if farmers are faced with new threats whether from disease or other means, improved varieties will get to the farmers much faster and they won’t have as much crop loss.”

Acceleration Options

In his project, Rajagopalan’s team is applying multiple methods to speed up wheat growth and looking for the best combination of these methods that will take the plants from seed to flowering and maturity in the shortest time.

One intriguing method involves growing plants under constant light. “The use of continuous light for accelerating crop growth was adopted initially by a group of Australian researchers in collaboration with others around the world. They were inspired by experiments conducted by NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] in the 1980s and 1990s looking at growing plants in controlled environmental conditions including constant light,” Rajagopalan says.

The NASA scientists were experimenting with the use of plants to help maintain human life in space. “In these experiments, they observed a linear effect of light on photosynthetic rate and production of plant biomass. In simple terms, photosynthesis is the process by which a plant converts atmospheric carbon dioxide into storable sugars using energy that comes from sunlight, and in the process it emits oxygen back into the atmosphere. [The scientists observed that] if you increase the supply of light to the plant, then it continues to perform photosynthesis and continues to grow more and faster and produce more biomass,” he notes.

“In addition, in certain plants, especially in cereal crops like wheat and barley, applying continuous light also seems to increase the plant’s development rate. So the plant goes from seed to flowering faster, and you get to the next generation of plants faster. This is simply because constant light could act as a stress factor. When you apply stress to a plant, the plant responds by producing flowers and seeds, and completing its lifecycle as early as possible before it dies or desiccates.”

Rajagopalan notes other environmental stress factors can also accelerate plant development in a similar way. So, along with constant light, the project is testing factors like moisture stress, nutrient availability stress and stress from smaller pot sizes.

The research team is also using a propagation method called embryo rescue to go more quickly from one generation to the next. “We harvest seeds before they are fully mature and dried, and harvest the embryos from these grains, put the embryos on nutrient media plates and get seedlings from them. That can save us a few weeks, instead of waiting for the grains to mature and dry,” Rajagopalan explains.

Speed Breeding, Canadian Style

The project’s four objectives mainly relate to determining optimal procedures for accelerating growth of Canadian wheats, seeing how many generations they can get per year, and increasing understanding of the effects of these accelerated growth conditions on plants.

“The first objective is to evaluate the rust and Fusarium head blight resistance of different Canadian wheat varieties when grown under normal conditions compared with the accelerated growth conditions,” says Rajagopalan. “We want to understand how important traits like disease resistance are affected by these accelerated growth conditions so that we can use these conditions for breeding for those traits.”

They are focusing on Fusarium head blight and rust because of the relevance of these diseases to Canadian wheat production. “We looked at Fusarium head blight because it’s an increasing problem in the wheat-growing regions in Western Canada. The statistics from the last 10 years show the incidence of Fusarium head blight in wheat in Canada has increased almost every year; 2016 was a particularly bad year. Not only does this disease reduce yields but it can also produce toxins, like deoxynivalenol (DON), which can downgrade grain quality and affect the marketability of the grain. So it’s a pretty devastating disease economically,” he says.

“That’s why many researchers here at the NRC and in other organizations are working to find new sources of resistance against Fusarium head blight in wheat. And we want to be able to quickly deploy those novel traits into varieties that are being created, so those varieties can respond to this increasing threat in Canadian farming. By using accelerated breeding, we believe we can bring these traits to the market earlier than is currently possible.”

Like Fusarium head blight, rust is a major disease concern in Prairie wheat crops, and many Canadian researchers are working on rust resistance. Rajagopalan’s project is targeting leaf rust, a common disease in wheat. Under conditions that favour this disease, susceptible wheat varieties can suffer very serious yield losses. Over the years, several leaf rust resistance genes have been introduced into Canadian wheat cultivars and then the pathogen has evolved to defeat that resistance.

“Rapid deployment of new rust resistance genes is essential for fighting this pathogen. And again, speed breeding would be the way to address that.”

The project’s second objective is to see if responses to the accelerated growth methods vary among different wheat varieties. This extensive work involves testing multiple Canadian varieties of bread wheat and durum wheat and determining which combination of acceleration methods is best for each cultivar. “We want to see if we can do any tailoring of conditions for particular varieties,” notes Rajagopalan.

The third objective is to rapidly generate a recombinant inbred line population under accelerated growth conditions. Such lines are very useful for mapping traits in a plant’s genome. The lines generated in Rajagopalan’s project will be used in other projects to characterize resistance genes for rust diseases in wheat.

“And the fourth objective is to evaluate long-term changes induced when plants are grown for multiple generations under accelerated growth conditions,” says Rajagopalan. “We want to see if any long-lasting effects are happening in the plants compared to plants grown under normal conditions.”

Polowick adds, “One of the reasons we want to look at the long-term effects is because we are putting the plants under a lot of stress.” Breeders will want to be sure plants grown under induced stresses to accelerate their growth will respond to things like diseases and insect pests in the same way when they are grown under normal conditions.

Boosting a Breeding Revolution

This two-year project started in April 2017, and Rajagopalan’s team has already completed two of the objectives. “We have completed the testing of the effects of Fusarium and rust resistance in different varieties under normal and accelerated growth conditions. And we have completed the very large-scale study to understand the effects of accelerated growth conditions on various wheat varieties. So we have a really good understanding of what conditions work best for the multiple varieties of durum and bread wheat that we have tested.” The researchers are currently working on the other two objectives.

The effects of the accelerated growth conditions are very impressive so far.

“Right now, we are getting about five to six generations of wheat within a year using these conditions. For plants grown under normal conditions [in a greenhouse], you will get around two to three generations per year. So you can reduce the generation time of the plant by half by adopting these conditions,” says Rajagopalan.

There is already interest in applying speed breeding beyond Rajagopalan’s project. “I’m running a parallel study with a private breeding company using the same accelerated breeding ideas with some of their wheat lines,” Polowick explains. “This concept has been heavily adopted by the plant breeding industry in places like Australia, and we’re hoping that some of our work here will make it more available to the Canadian breeders so Canadian farmers can benefit from our progress.”

Along with the benefit of bringing new varieties to the market sooner, Polowick points to a further advantage. “Some of the other projects within the NRC [and other agencies] use the modern ‘omics’ such as genomics and proteomics, and these technologies have enabled great progress in the identification of novel plant traits whether it is to fight diseases or to mitigate the effects of environmental stresses. So it’s not accelerated growth conditions in isolation; it’s accelerated growth in combination with a lot of the progress being made in other projects that will provide the most benefit to the farmers.”

Alberta Wheat Commission research manager Lauren Comin sees value in this type of research. “Decreasing the time it takes for a variety to be developed is very important for producers. Producers need to be able to be nimble when it comes to choosing a variety. For example, resistance to abiotic and biotic stress plays an important role in selection. We are seeing pests adapt over time and currently employed resistance genes are being defeated. At the same time, we are seeing remarkable advancements in pre-breeding and discoveries of new sources of resistance. Shorter variety development times mean that new genes can be deployed and be in a farmer’s field without too much of a lag. Our scientists can respond to changes more quickly, which allows farmers to adapt faster as well.”

Along with the potential for large, rapid steps forward in Canadian wheat varietal improvement, other crops could also benefit from the powerful combination of accelerated breeding and valuable new traits. Australian research shows speed breeding can also work in such crops as barley, chickpea, pea and canola, with the number of possible generations per year depending on the crop type.

“We would love to see wider adoption of these accelerated breeding methods that we are working on in Canadian wheat breeding programs and to also make progress in other crops where this approach is applicable,” Rajagopalan says.

His project is funded by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, the Canada-Saskatchewan Growing Forward 2 program, and the National Research Council of Canada.

Alberta Pulse Growers now a member of Soy Canada

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The Alberta Pulse Growers Commission (APG) recently became a member of Soy Canada to reflect the increased interest Alberta producers have in growing soybeans.

According to APG chair D’Arcy Hilgartner, APG has been observing on the sideline the development and evolution of Soy Canada.

“As our growers begin to see the opportunity that new genetics provides in their area for soybean production, we want to be on top of the industry challenges and opportunities,” he says. “Soy Canada will take care of the greater issues around market access, market development and is a policy voice for the soybean industry. We look forward to participating as a member of the organization.”

Soy Canada is the national association uniting all groups driving the Canadian soybean industry, from farm to marketplace.

“Committed plant science companies and innovative producers have been key partners as Canadian soybean production has expanded from one to eight provinces in a single generation,” said Ron Davidson, executive director of Soy Canada. “Soy Canada is very pleased to welcome Alberta Pulse Growers and its members as important new and valued participants in the national voice of this country’s soybean sector.”

Soybeans are expected to be planted on 6.5 million acres in Canada this year with acreage in Alberta increasing to 21,000. Canadian farmers are on track to reach the industry target of 10 million acres by 2027.

Soybeans are included under APG’s purview and, therefore, levy collected when soybeans are sold to Alberta dealers goes to APG. The organization then uses the levy to support agronomy, research, extension, marketing and other activities to benefit soybean growers as it does for the growers of peas, beans, faba beans, lentils and chickpeas.

Current soybean research projects supported by APG include work on identifying promising genotypes and optimizing seeding density, nitrogen fixation and irrigation for cost-effective soybean production in Alberta.

Wireworms – We’re Just Seeing the Tip of the Iceberg

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Mature larvae of the Hypnoidus bicolor (top) and Selatosomus destructor, the two most important wireworm pests in the Prairie provinces.

Damage to field crops by wireworms is poised to escalate across the Prairies. Neil Whatley, crop specialist at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, explains how producers can be proactive about finding solutions in their areas by submitting samples to Canada’s wireworm research team.

“Lindane insecticide, such as Vitavax Dual, etc., kept wireworm numbers low for several decades on the Prairies,” says Whatley. “Since the ban of this organochlorine pesticide in 2004, wireworm damage in field crops is rebounding. Some researchers say we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

“Varying from region to region, around 30 different pest wireworm species exhibit diverse behaviours and lifecycles, making a single control measure improbable,” explains Whatley. “An individual region may contain more than one wireworm species.”

Depending on the species, the worm-like larvae can feed on plant roots and germinating seeds for up to 3 to 5 years before developing into the adult click beetle stage. Adds Whatley, “While current seed treatments may repel wireworms for a growing season, their populations continue to increase, and these treatment measures begin to fail.”

Due to their preference to eat annual or perennial grasses, wireworm populations can build up in fields that have extended periods of cereal crops or pasture. Pulses, oilseeds, potatoes and sugar beets are susceptible to wireworm damage when grown in rotation with cereals. Crops grown in recently broken sod are especially vulnerable. Non-farmed areas like grassy ditches and undisturbed field borders also harbour wireworms and click beetles.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) wireworm research team is identifying wireworm species and researching new control measures. “The research team needs to know which specific wireworm species dominates in your farming region so the correct control option(s) can be applied as the problem worsens,” explains Whatley.

Dr. Haley Catton, cereal crop entomologist with AAFC, is the prairies representative on the team and based at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. The team is asking for producers to submit wireworm samples from their fields.

“Due to a greater amount of soil moisture, wireworms migrate near to the soil surface in early spring when soil temperatures rise above 5 C, making spring the best time to bait and capture wireworms,” adds Whatley. “Baiting can be as simple as burying a cup of a cereal-based product like flour, bran or wheat seeds to a depth of four to six inches, or 10 to 15 cm, into the soil at marked locations.”

Dig up the baits 10 to 14 days later, collecting the wireworms and some of the not too wet field soil. Insert the sample into a hard plastic container for shipping. There may be more than one species present, so collect as many wireworms as possible.

Mail your wireworm sample to:

Dr. Haley Catton
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Lethbridge Research and Development Centre
5403 – 1 Ave S
Lethbridge, AB T1J 4B1

Include a brief description of when and where the sample was collected (nearest town or address), information about the crop rotation in the sampled field over the past 4 years, name and telephone number. Once the species are identified, producers will be contacted with the results.

For more information about submitting wireworm samples, contact Haley Catton at 403-317-3404.

The importance of treating seed

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Whether to seed treat or not is a question that often comes up in the spring. Seed treatment should be looked at as an insurance policy to protect against less-than-ideal growing conditions in the spring.

If a producer has high germinating, vigorous seed planted into warm, moist soil, the crop will germinate quickly and be off to a good start. However, spring often comes in spurts between winter and summer, and using treated seed can help to avoid potential problems.

“Soils warm up only to cool off. Long periods of cool, damp conditions hovering around 5 to 6 C gives plenty of chances for root rots to take hold and kill off the plant,” says Harry Brook, crop specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre. “Early plant and root development is a crucial contributor to the overall yield a plant will deliver in the fall. As the roots go, so do the shoots.”

There are other factors besides weather that can increase the risk of seedling losses. Smuts, bunts, and fusarium are seed-borne diseases, and even low levels on untreated seed can, under the right conditions, take over and cause significant yield loss in the crop.

“Without treatment and with a series of damp cool years, small pockets of infection can spread and become a field-wide disaster,” says Brook. “Treating your seed with fungicide kills off those potential damaging organisms and can protect the seed in the soil for up to two weeks. This protection will also extend to some of the common root diseases that attack the crop at the germination stage such as common root rot and seedling blights. Some seed treatments also have insecticides incorporated to prevent early feeding by insects on the seedlings. Seed treatment for flea beetle in canola is standard and treatment for wireworm in cereals is becoming more common.”

Other farming practices that increase the risk of seedling losses include slow soil warming, limited crop rotation and seed quality. “The majority of seeding done is now zero or minimum till. This is good in so many ways but it also slows soil warming in the spring. Plentiful crop residues insulate the soil surface and keep soils cooler and moister, ideal for slowing down germination and emergence and giving fungi a chance to affect the seedling.”

Another big risk factor, says Brook, is crop rotations with little variety. “A lot of central and northern Alberta producers have moved to a canola-wheat or canola–barley crop rotation. Many diseases will over-winter on crop residues left on the soil surface and provide a primary source of infection for surrounding, susceptible crops for the next year. Reducing the spore source requires burial, which is not done with zero tillage. Blackleg on canola is a good example. Infectious spores are produced on the stubble for two to three years after the crop is harvested. Highest spore production occurs two years after the crop which is a problem with a wheat-canola rotation. Recent surveys of canola stubble show increasing levels of blackleg in the canola. Crop yield losses are also starting to increase as well.”

Seed treatments with insecticide in them are essential for a couple of crops. “As canola is a very small seed and the seedlings take some time to get established and begin to grow, insecticide treatment is required to protect the seedlings from flea beetles. All hybrid canola sold in Alberta is treated with an insecticide because flea beetles are endemic in the province. As well, peas are susceptible to pea leaf weevil, which is expanding through all of central Alberta. Larval feeding on pea nodules in the roots can lead to nitrogen deficiencies and reduced yields. In areas with high pea leaf weevil populations or signs of heavy feeding in previous years, seed treatment for the weevils is a matter of course. Seed treatment for pea leaf weevil is the only effective way to reduce damage from these pests.”

Another factor to consider when applying seed treatment is the application method. “Ideally, you want every seed to be adequately covered by the seed treatment. Some methods are better than others at getting it on each seed. Drip and gravity feed applicators are not good methods for application as they don’t allow for accurate volume control or seed coverage. To improve coverage, you need an even volume of fungicide being applied over the whole stream of seed as it travels up the auger. Use an applicator tip with a known volume output and pressure.”

Modern seed treatments have lower application rates with less physical product being used, notes Brook. “Even if the seed doesn’t have as much colouring, the fungicides are still effective if applied properly. This makes seed treating calibration even more important, as a visual inspection of the seed is no guarantee of good coverage.”

Seed treatment should never be used to replace good seed. Poor, diseased, low germinating seed will still be poor, diseased, low germinating seed with or without treatment. It is insurance and protection, and not a replacement, for good seed quality.

“As with any insurance, seed treatment is a way of reducing the risk to the crop at the important, early stages of growth and establishment. With the uncertain nature of weather in the spring and tight crop rotations, seed treatment can be way of ensuring a healthy, vigorous crop stand, or you can seed into warm, moist, soil. It’s all a matter of timing.”

Seeding canola into dry soils

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The Canola Council of Canada offers tips on seeding into dry soils.

READ MORE

Monsanto Canada to Launch First Biotech Canola Trait Since 1996

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Monsanto Canada today announced it plans to commercialize TruFlex canola with Roundup Ready Technology in 2019.

TruFlex canola will be Monsanto’s next-generation canola trait and Monsanto’s first new biotech trait in canola since Roundup Ready canola was introduced to Canadian growers in 1996. TruFlex canola will serve as the base platform on which all future Monsanto pipeline traits in canola will be stacked.

“We’ve had discussions with grower groups and conducted focus groups with individual growers about the challenges they face on the farm and the need to bring new traits and genetics to the marketplace to help drive yield,” said Dave Tornberg, North American Traits and Systems Marketing Manager with Monsanto.

TruFlex canola will be part of an improved canola system designed for a range of growing conditions.

“Dandelions, foxtail barley and wild buckwheat are some examples of tough-to-control perennial and annual weeds that will have improved control with the TruFlex canola system compared to our current technology,” said David Kelner, Monsanto’s North American canola portfolio manager. “As well, the flexibility in spray rates will allow for control of a much wider spectrum of weeds, with the ability to control new weeds such as yellow foxtail, biennial wormwood and common milkweed.”

Stewarded plot trials and field demonstrations will take place at several locations across Western Canada in 2018 to allow farmers to see the performance of TruFlex canola in the field.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada granted full food, feed and environmental safety approval of TruFlex canola in June 2012 and the product has been approved for import in several export markets. Import approval from China is pending and should be granted in the first quarter of 2019.

More to Seeding Rates than a Bushel and a Peck

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When asked about seeding rates, opinions and costs vary between even the closest neighbours. A common phrase heard time and time again is: “Grandpa used to seed wheat at a bushel and a peck, we seed canola at 5 lbs per acre, and peas, well I heard you seed ’em deep!”

When it comes to all crops, whether it is canola, cereals, peas or other pulse crops, ensuring you are hitting target plant densities is not only top priority, it saves you money.

Thousand kernel weight (TKW) or thousand seed weight is a measurement with which most producers should be familiar. It determines the size of seed which varies between not only crop type, or variety but also between seed lots of the same variety, perhaps from the same grower. TKW is needed in order to calculate your seeding rate to ensure you have enough plants, and that you are not exceeding costs.

Knowing the germination rate is the next step. Many labs across Alberta have quick turnaround times for germination and vigour and will also provide a TKW. Vigour, which represents how many germinated seeds will form healthy plants, is a preliminary estimate of mortality. Mortality in peas and lentils tends to be less than cereals and canola, and can be assumed at five per cent (mortality is influenced by seed/soil contact, seeding speed, seed depth, soil conditions etc). The remaining pieces of information required for the calculation is your target plant density and drill/planter row spacing.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has a handy online seeding rate calculator that you can plug the information into, and can also be used for budgeting your seed cost. The calculated information includes the seeding rate in lbs/acre, allowing for simple calibration of drills and planters, as well as a seeds per row foot number. This number allows you to check one foot of your seed row upon emergence and assess your plant stand establishment and may also help back-cast to better calculate mortality.

Why does this matter? Depending on your seed size, your target plant density and seed cost, your seeding cost can vary greatly. When choosing varieties, small seed sizes inherently cost less than larger ones when seeding, providing germination, vigour and mortality are constant. Good agronomic practices including knowing your germination and vigour, seeding at appropriate speeds to moisture ensuring good soil to seed contact in all crops will insure you are making the most of your seed input.

Target plant populations are important, and that is why Alberta Pulse Growers is assessing the age old adage of seeding rates with our Plot to Field research protocol. A penny saved is a penny earned, and in our industry, margins are slim.

Click the link below on the Alberta seeding rate calculator to see the difference TKW, target plant populations, germination and mortality can have on your seed cost when you play with the numbers. Make sure to get the best start to #plant18!

Peas – Target a density of 7 plants per square foot
Lentils – Target a density of 12 plants per square foot

APG taking research from plot-sized to farm-scale