Canadian Wheat Research Coalition formed

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The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat) and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA) have announced the formation of the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC), a federal not-for-profit corporation that will facilitate long-term investments aimed at improving profitability and competitiveness for western Canadian wheat farmers.

The CWRC will facilitate a collaborative approach to producer funding of regional and national research projects in variety development and agronomy including the next Canadian National Wheat Cluster and core wheat breeding agreements with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and universities. Additional regional projects that align with variety development and agronomic priorities will also be considered for funding through the CWRC.

“Most of the best performing wheat varieties available to farmers are the result of producer-funded wheat breeding efforts,” said Kevin Auch, AWC chair and CWRC director. “I look forward to working with my provincial counterparts to continue this work with the goal of seeing new, high performing varieties that result in better returns and increased competitiveness for farmers.”

The three wheat commissions will serve as founding members on the farmer-led board of directors. The structure allows for additional producer or private sector groups that share an interest in advancing wheat research in Canada to join as organizational members. This inclusive arrangement provides a platform for the CWRC to pursue new public, private, producer partnerships (4Ps).

“Producer collaboration and funding has been important to sustaining Canada’s wheat research and variety development programs,” said Bill Gehl, Sask Wheat chair. “The commissions working together under the CWRC will enhance the role of producers in supporting the research community.”

The formation of the CWRC directly follows the commissions’ increased responsibility in funding core wheat breeding agreements and the national wheat cluster, coinciding with the end of the Western Canadian Deduction (WCD) on July 31, 2017. Under the previous structure, the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) led these research initiatives through WCD funding. In preparation for the end of the WCD, the commissions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining their agreement to partner in setting variety development priorities and funding commitments that meet the needs of wheat farmers in Western Canada. As a result of the MOU, the commissions will ensure continuity in new spring wheat variety development is maintained through the CWRC, and will continue to engage WGRF as a key player through this transition. Project funding will be shared on a proportionate basis by commissions based on check-off revenue.

“With the end of the WCD, we look forward to working with our fellow wheat commissions in taking on increased responsibility related to variety development,” said Cale Jeffries, MWBGA director and CWRC board member.

The CWRC will be administered by a host commission, which will rotate every three years starting with Sask Wheat. The CWRC’s first board will consist of eight farmers including Kevin Auch, Jason Saunders and Terry Young representing AWC; Ken Rosaasen, Glenn Tait and Laura Reiter representing Sask Wheat; and Cale Jeffries and Dylan Wiebe representing MWBGA.

CSGA Unveils Strategic Plan

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Strategic Plan 2017–2023 confirms our core responsibility to work closely with our partners in government and industry and to build on our longstanding commitment to deliver and promote a flexible, responsive, and cost-effective seed regulatory certification system for Canada and Canadians.

This plan is of vital importance to our members and our association, but also to the seed industry and the broad Canadian agricultural sector whose success we enable. An integral part of the agricultural and agri-food value chain, the seed industry in Canada employs more than 57,000 people and contributes $5.6 billion in economic impact – both directly and indirectly – to our economy.

In developing this Strategic Plan, we have begun to lay out a roadmap that not only addresses the immediate question of “what can we do to fine tune our seed certification and regulatory system and make it more effective and user friendly now“ but also considers the larger questions of “whether our current seed system is sustainable and what will a next generation seed system need to look like for seed growers, the seed industry and the agriculture sector to thrive in the future, particularly in the face of the wave of technological and structural change that is already upon us”. More than ever before, the seed sector is a key enabler of innovation and growth for the entire Canadian agriculture industry.

Recognizing that seed growers are the heart of the sector, this Strategic Plan confirms that CSGA is a science-based organization that supports a competitive Canadian agriculture sector and maintains Canada’s reputation as a respected global leader in seed quality assurance and genetic traceability.

We wish to thank each and every person who shared their thoughts and ideas, and helped make this Plan what it is. And we look forward to working together with you to implement the ambitious agenda embodied within it.

Download the Strategic Plan

Reminder: Grading Changes for Western Canada

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The Canadian Grain Commission reminds farmers of the following grain grading changes for the 2017 to 2018 crop year in Western Canada, which take effect August 1, 2017:

  • Adding an ergot tolerance of 0.05 per cent in all grades of fababeans and chickpeas
  • Changing the tolerance for grasshopper and army worm damage from eight per cent to six per cent in No. 3 Canada Western Red Spring, No. 3 Canada Western Hard White Spring and No. 3 Canada Northern Hard Red wheat

he tolerance for grasshopper and army worm damage was tightened after research showed that 8% grasshopper and army worm damage can impact end-use functionality

Official Grain Grading Guide 2017

 

Dave Carey New CSTA Executive Director

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Dave Carey is the new CSTA executive director.

Dave Carey has been selected as the new executive director for the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA). Carey will assume his official duties effective July 7, 2017.

Carey, the outgoing director of government affairs and policy, joined CSTA in 2012 and has worked in roles of increasing management responsibility. Most recently, Carey acted as the lead staff member following the departure of Crosby Devitt, the former executive director.

Prior to Carey’s career with CSTA, he worked as a legislative assistant for members of parliament from Calgary, Alta. and Oakville, Ont. He is an experienced government relations leader, with an in-depth understanding of government and regulatory affairs, policy development and international trade priorities.

“Dave Carey is widely recognized for his ability to build strong relationships with all government parties, stakeholders and industry partners, and brings a strong collaborative approach and leadership style to the association, which will no doubt benefit all those involved with the organization,” said Brent Derkatch, president of CSTA.

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead such a dynamic and trusted organization.” Carey said. “I look forward to working closely with the staff, board of directors and our value chain partners to ensure that CSTA’s members can continue to innovate, trade and deliver value to their farmer customers.”

CSTA Recruiting for Executive Director Position

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Crosby Devitt, the current executive director, will be leaving to pursue a new position as vice-president, Strategic Development with the Grain Farmers of Ontario. (GFO). The executive board members will be leading the recruitment activities for the CSTA executive director position and have engaged Scott Wolfe Management Inc. to assist with this important recruitment.

Link for more information: http://cdnseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/CSTA-Executive-Director.pdf

Health Canada approves glyphosate

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Health Canada has published the final re-evaluation decision on glyphosate. Following a rigorous science-based assessment, Health Canada has determined that when used according to the label, products containing glyphosate are not a concern to human health and the environment.

Glyphosate, marketed under brand names such as Roundup and Vision, is a common herbicide that is used to control weeds. It is registered for use in a wide variety of settings, including agriculture, forestry, and home gardens and patios. Glyphosate is used both commercially and by homeowners.

Based on this re-evaluation, Health Canada will continue the registration of products that contain glyphosate, but will require updates to the product labels to help provide additional protection to humans and the environment. By April 2019, manufacturers will be required to ensure that all commercial labels on pesticides containing glyphosate include the following:

  • A statement indicating that re-entry into the sprayed areas should be restricted to 12 hours after application in agricultural areas where glyphosate products were used.
  • A statement indicating that the product is to be applied only when the potential to spread to areas of human activity, such as houses, cottages, schools and recreational areas, is minimal.
  • Instructions for spray buffer zones to protect non-targeted areas and aquatic habitats from unintended exposure.
  • Precautionary statements to reduce the potential for runoff of glyphosate into aquatic areas.

Health Canada will continue to monitor research on potential impacts of glyphosate products to ensure the safety and security of Canadians and the environment.

Blackleg resistance labels added to canola cultivars

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Blackleg. (Photo: Gregory Sekulic)

New blackleg resistance labels will soon be added to cultivars, providing greater detail on a given variety’s resistance package for blackleg management.

The canola industry – encompassing life science companies, producer associations and researchers – took the step in the hopes of helping to manage and mitigate blackleg in Canadian canola fields. Similar models of labelling have been used successfully in other canola growing regions around the world to help ensure resistance effectiveness, and recommend cultivars to use in severely infected fields.

According to the Canola Council of Canada (CCC), the use of blackleg R-gene labels will be a voluntarily process for seed companies to include on their cultivars. While the industry is committed to providing the best genetics and advice to producers, it will take some time to effectively deploy and incorporate these labels.

Current labels for blackleg are based on field ratings of blackleg in comparison to a susceptible variety (Westar) for blackleg. Typically only Resistant “R” (0-29.9% of Westar) and Moderately Resistant “MR” (30-49.9% of Westar) are on the market. In recent years, some growers have noticed increased blackleg severity in their “R” and “MR” varieties. This is where the addition of more detailed labels will help to provide more accurate information.

Using the same disease resistance genetics over and over causes a shift in pathogen population, which can then overcome the resistance in our cultivars – similar to herbicide resistance in weeds. Knowing the resistance genetics used in previous years will allow growers to rotate to a different resistance gene and reduce the blackleg infection within a field. As many as 10 new blackleg resistance labels will be applied to varieties in the coming years. They will use these letters  A, B, C, D, E₁, E₂, F, G, H, X to identify major resistance genes present.

How to use the labels

Blackleg management starts with scouting and identifying the disease on the previous canola crop’s stubble. If a grower has a rotation break longer than two years without canola, and has been growing “R” rated cultivars, the risk of severe blackleg infection is minimal. But if a growers uses a tighter canola rotation and the disease is present and/or severe, the new additional label will come into play.

Picking an “R” rated cultivar with at least one different resistance gene group than what was used previously will help to provide protection from the aggressive, new virulent blackleg race(s) within the field. In those cases where the disease is not present /evident in the field, then changing resistance groups would not be necessary.

The most effective means for reducing blackleg disease is reducing inoculum or spore production in a field. This is accomplished by lengthening the break between canola crops in a field. But spores can also migrate from adjacent fields. Under these circumstances, using a canola cultivar with a different resistance gene can be very beneficial in protecting the field and reducing blackleg disease.

In conclusion, the most important step is to scout for disease. If you do not have blackleg, choose varieties with the highest probability of profitability and reduced production risk on your farm. If you do have blackleg disease that is increasing, use the tools available to manage and reduce the disease. Switching to cultivars with a different resistance gene(s) is one tool.

Here are some examples of how the new label will work:

1. Cultivar alpha: R (BC)
The traditional “R” rating means average field performance of blackleg resistance was below 30% of Westar, the susceptible check. The additional “(BC)” designation means the variety contains the resistance genes Rlm2 and Rlm3.

2. Cultivar beta: MR (A)
The traditional “MR” means average field performance of blackleg resistance was 30-49.9% of Westar check. The additional “(A)” means it contains the resistance gene LepR3 or Rlm1.

3. Cultivar Charlie: R (CX)
As an “R” rated variety, average field performance of blackleg resistance was below 30% of Westar check. “(CX)” means it ontains the resistance gene Rlm3 and an unidentified major resistance gene.

More information will available at www.blackleg.ca in May.

Milling Oats are Worth some Attention

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Growing oats for the milling market shouldn’t be an afterthought.

If you’re interested in producing oats for the milling market, CDC Ruffian and CS Camden aren’t the only two varieties on the market, but they are two newer milling oat varieties with the quality characteristics millers are looking for. And from a farmer perspective, they have good agronomic packages as well.

Growing oats for the milling market ideally shouldn’t be an afterthought, says Terry Tyson with Grain Millers of Yorkton, Sask. The requirements for a milling oat probably aren’t quite as rigid as they are for producing malt barley, but there are similarities.

“To some extent, too, oats might be a victim of their own hardiness,” says Tyson, company grain procurement manager. “Depending on the year, you can have reasonably good success with oats, with reduced inputs. But we encourage growers looking to supply the milling market to apply some extra attention.”

Requirements may vary by company, but Grain Millers, for example, is looking for oats with uniform, plump kernels, good bushel weight, good milling yield and quality characteristics that include high beta glucan and low oil content. Those quality characteristics are important for a grain that’s being processed for food product lines, which carry heart-healthy label claims.

Tyson says milling oats differ from the pony or feed oat market where often appearance – plump kernels with white hulls – is the key feature. “For milling oats the outside appearance isn’t as much of an issue,” he says. “If a crop does get rained on we’re not worried if the hull has some discoloration. What we look for when we remove the hull is nice creamy white groat.”

CS Camden, marketed by Canterra Seeds, and CDC Ruffian, marketed by FP Genetics, both deliver good milling characteristics and proper nutritionals, and in a third area which is equally important to millers as well as growers, they both have good agronomic packages.

Developed in the Lantmannen SW Seed breeding program, CS Camden was registered in Canada in 2014. “It has an excellent fit for Western Canada,” says Brent Derkatch, director, operations and business development with Canterra Seeds. “The variety is agronomically superior, with a shorter stature and better lodging resistance.” And it is a higher yielder as well, with field trials showing an average 114 per cent yield compared to CDC Dancer in Saskatchewan, and achieving a 153 bushel/acre yields in Manitoba.

“It’s a high-yielding variety with improved standability with good milling characteristics,” says Derkatch. “It can really drive the returns per acre for farmers.”

CDC Ruffian was developed at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre with the first Certified seed available to farmers in 2016. The initial work on the variety was started by the now-retired plant breeder Brian Rossnagel, and later transferred to oat and barley breeder Aaron Beattie.

“It is a variety that is just being introduced to farmers, but it has shown very well in performance trials, “ says Ron Weik, seed portfolio manager, FP Genetics. “ CDC Ruffian offers excellent yield potential that is 10 per cent higher than CDC Dancer in Alberta and 12 per cent higher in Saskatchewan.” The variety also has a very good agronomic and disease package, ideal for production outside of the crown rust areas on the Prairies.

At the University of Saskatchewan, Beattie says he’s always watching for new varieties with improved agronomic and milling characteristics. About 90 per cent of resources of their oat breeding program is devoted to milling oats.

“We always have to keep both farmers and millers in mind as we look at variety development,” says Beattie.

To meet farmer interests, he’s looking for features such as higher yield, improved straw strength and “reasonable” maturity to suit Prairie growing conditions. And disease resistance can also be a concern, depending on different areas of the prairies.

On the milling side, he is looking for varieties with features such as white hulled, low hull percentage, high kernel plumpness and good test weight. Also, to meet milling and end-use requirements, oil content has to be below eight per cent and beta glucan levels a minimum of 4.5 per cent and preferably higher. Although protein content hasn’t been a big concern in oats, some millers are now looking for higher protein varieties.

As a company always interested in good quality milling oats, Grain Miller’s Tyson encourages growers to follow proper production practices.

“Oats have been treated in two ways over the years,” says Tyson. “We have some growers who really pay attention to producing good quality oats and really treat it as cash crop. And there are some producers who, depending on the year, may make it a last minute decision.

“But we always encourage growers to use good quality pedigree seed, select clean fields that are free of wild oats and apply proper fertility.” He says oats need, on average, about 100 lbs of actual available nitrogen per acre, which may mean adding 40 to 60 lbs of nitrogen along with phosphorus, at time of seeding. Soil test results will provide specific recommendations.

Variety selection is also important – grow what the miller wants. Grain Millers, for example, has a variety list for growers that includes seven “recommended” varieties (including CS Camden and CDC Ruffian), along with seven other “acceptable” varieties. They also included a list of prohibited varieties – they aren’t interested in feed, hull-less and forage type varieties.

Grain Millers offers production contracts to growers, including many long-time suppliers, but is always interested in talking to new suppliers as well. The company is just building a new elevator and office in Rycroft, in Alberta’s Peace River region, to expand its oat collection area.

AWC calls on CGC to modernize Canadian wheat grading system

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(Photo: Janet Kanters)

The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) is calling on the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) to modernize the Canadian grading system in line with international market demands to improve long-term profitability for wheat farmers. A market-based system aligned with universally measured grain specifications would better position farmers to maintain competitiveness and receive fair market value for the grain they produce.

“We have observed an evolution in the way wheat is marketed to Canada’s customers,” said Kevin Auch, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair. “International buyers aren’t looking purely at CGC grades anymore — they’re looking at universal quality specs. Modernizing our grading system is a necessary move to ensure Alberta’s farmers receive the maximum value for the quality of wheat they produce.”

Since Canadian farmers do not sell directly to international buyers, they rely on the systems in place to ensure quality in Canada aligns with the needs of our customers. AWC recommends that a revised system should move toward more accurate testing methods for potential downgrading factors, such as Falling Number (FN) tests for sprout damage, and Deoxynivalenol (DON) testing to assess the impact of Fusarium graminearum on wheat quality. This would limit the instances where wheat is being downgraded to feed after visual testing, but acceptable quality for the milling market. Some grain companies now test for FN at local facilities.

“This crop year has resulted in variable quality for farmers in Alberta and across the Prairies. We want to ensure that our grading system is not severely downgrading wheat that is considered good quality milling wheat in international markets,” added Auch.

AWC approves of recent changes to mildew guides for a more market-based approach, but is calling for the CGC to evaluate and align Canada’s mildew guides with United States standards, which better position farmers for market competitiveness. AWC encourages the CGC to move quickly in aligning the wheat grading system with international market demands, as well as support the adoption of technology to enable more accurate testing methods for wheat quality assessment.

Gene editing is just advanced plant breeding, ASTA says

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Photo: USDA

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2016 – Gene editing is simply the latest development in the evolution of plant breeding, the head of the American Seed Trade Association said at ASTA’s annual meeting today in Chicago, seeking to reassure consumers about the safety and efficacy of the new technique.

ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne was joined by three seed company representatives and a University of Idaho professor at a press conference, where they discussed the potential of gene editing to battle persistent disease problems, such as Fusarium head blight in wheat and barley, and downy mildew in spinach.

“The farmer’s constantly looking to grow more using less,” LaVigne said. “Farmers need that variety of seed choices to solve their local needs, to manage changing weather, to fight plant disease and pests, and wisely use crop inputs and those natural resources.”

He cautioned, however, that regulatory barriers that have effectively prevented land grant universities from conducting biotech research could be applied to gene editing, which he said “would be a shame.”

Juliet Marshall, a professor of cereals agronomy and plant pathology at the University of Idaho, said gene editing could be used to control, or at least reduce the impacts of, Fusarium head blight, known more commonly as head scab.

The disease is characterized by scabby kernels, which in addition to reducing yield can indicate the presence of vomitoxin, a mycotoxin that can coat the seed and is “showing up in a lot of our grain,” Marshall said.

The FDA recommends that vomitoxin in finished products such as flour not exceed 1 part per million. “Advisory levels” for animal feed are 5 ppm or 10 ppm, depending on the animal.

But Marshall said she has seen levels as high as 25 ppm in some durum wheat in Idaho, which had to be thrown away.

Growers can use a variety of techniques to reduce the chances that head scab will spread – crop rotation, less use of corn in the rotation because it’s “a good source for this fungus to grow and reproduce,” and precise and timely application of fungicides.

“Even with all of these practices, we don’t have the host resistance to actually control this disease,” Marshall said. “Even if you have a moderately resistant variety, it doesn’t help.”

Gene editing can help, she said. Using the CRISPR-Cas9 tool, plant breeders can modify existing genes “to effectively enhance what small resistance factors are there.”

Marshall touted the ability of universities to make crucial advances in plant breeding, because they are not driven by the profit motive.

“It’s really important that public institutions utilize these techniques,” she said. “The public sector is often where things start.”

Corinne Marshall, intellectual property and licensing manager for Sakata Seeds America, said that gene editing could be used to build resistance to downy mildew in spinach, a disease that is threatening organic growers’ ability to meet demand.

She also said that gene editing could help broccoli retain nutrients that are lost through cooking.

Ultimately, however, consumers will have to accept the new technology. LaVigne said the industry needs to be transparent in discussing the new techniques and ASTA is working on a communications effort addressing consumer concerns.

“We want to keep it (gene editing) in that realm of plant breeding,” he said.

Jerry Flint, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs at DuPont Pioneer, said the company has been engaging with various stakeholders in an effort to discern their concerns about gene editing.

“A consistent theme we’re hearing is that how we talk about technology matters,” he said.

And Mark Herrmann, chair of ASTA and the CEO of AgReliant Genetics, the third-largest seed company in the U.S., said the industry is trying to “get out in front of the conversation.” People who are dead-set against GMO’s will be hard to convince that gene editing is beneficial, but those in the “movable middle” can be swayed when they understand the benefits, such as being able to produce more food with fewer inputs.

Source: Agri-Pulse