Pulse Seed Issues THEY MAY NOT rank up there with the likes of The Tragically Hip or maple syrup, but it could be argued that Canadian pulses rank among this country’s greatest national treasures. Pulses represented approximately six per cent of the total field crop area in Canada in 2011 according to Census of Agriculture statistics. In addition, pulse area and production has significantly increased in Canada since the 1980s, making the country one of the leading producers and exporters of pulses in the world. The numbers in Alberta are equally impressive, where a total of 2,363 farms (19.5 per cent) grew pulses in 2011 and planted just over 348,000 hectares of yellow peas, lentils, faba beans, chickpeas and other pulses that year. But like any treasure, pulses need to be properly handled in order to reduce the risk of potential harm. That’s especially true when it comes to pulse seed, according to Nathan Gregg, program manager of applied agricultural services for the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI), one of the leading research agencies for testing and evaluating farm machinery in Canada. Gregg says one of the challenges with pulse seed is that it’s often larger than many other types of seed which can make it more susceptible to harm, including mechanical and handling damage. Complicating matters is the fact that some of that damage may not be visually discernable, but rather sub-surface hairline cracks or internal fractures which may affect its ability to absorb water and other internal germination processes. Canadian pulses continue to be scooped up by consumers in this country and many other parts of the world. While that’s good news for producers in Canada, they do come with some risks including potential mechanical and handling damage that can be done to pulse seed. DAMAGE CONTROL Larger Seed, More Surface “It’s a larger seed which might lead you to think it’s more robust and tough, but what ends up happening is that it gets some additional pinch points that other smaller seeds wouldn’t [have] so it sustains [more] damage in some of the mechanizations we have in auger flighting and things where there’s moving parts,” Gregg says. “Due to its size, it’s exposed to some of those impacts and pinch Nathan Gregg is program manager of applied agricultural services for the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute. Nevin Rosaasen is a policy and program specialist for the Alberta Pulse Growers. 18 | Advancing Seed in Alberta