Cereals

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:

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

The following individuals are the 2018 Regional Variety Trial and crop specific coordinators: 

  • Alex Fedko, Regional Variety Trial Coordinator
  • Spring wheat, Drs. H. Randhawa, D. Spaner & 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 who 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 Format for Reporting Yield 

Continuing for 2019, 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 page 71). New in 2018 was 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 the Carberry (67 bu/ac), the long-term check in the Regional Variety Trials. The advantage of this method is that all comparisons within a column are statistically valid, rather than only to the check. The Overall Yield is also reported using all data that are available, but since this is a dataset with varying numbers of comparisons over different years, the only valid comparison is to the check, as has been the case in the older method. We welcome your comments on this new format.

Producers have often asked for additional checks in the regional variety trials that reflect more commonly grown varieties. Starting in 2018, two additional varieties are 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. Carberry 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.

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 that 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 six category scale: Very Early, Early, Medium, Late, Very Late, and in rare instances Extremely Late. To aid producers with this relative scale, the average number of days to maturity for the check is reported. Note that 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 that are shown with a new logo  . The use of the ▲ logo indicates that an application for PBR has been accepted and the variety has provisional protection. For more information on Plant Breeders’ Rights, please see www.pbrfacts.ca or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Canola

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, spring and winter 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. 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 (please see http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex5210).
  • 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

Agronomic Practices Used in Small Plot Trials

Small plot trials are conducted using the following best agronomic practices:

  •  N, P, K and S fertilizer rates are based on soil test results for 1.25x the area average yield goal of the past 4 years, as reported in the AFSC Yield Alberta publication.
  • All wheat, barley and oat seed is treated with Cruiser Maxx Vibrance Cereals. Triticale is treated with Dividend XL RTA. Flax seed is not treated.
  • Seeding rates are adjusted for TKW and germination to reach the following target plant populations listed in Table 1.0.

Table 1.0 Target Plant Populations used to determine Seeding Rates

  • Foliar fungicides are not applied to the trials which allows for testing genetic differences between cultivars for their disease resistance. The application of a foliar fungicide under conditions for disease development could significantly increase yields on some cultivars.

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, XL = Extremely 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 Rural Development website, Ropin’ the Web at: www.agriculture.alberta.ca/rvt. 

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

Alberta Regional Variety Advisory Committee (ARVAC) 

Data preparation and fact sheet coordination by:

Alex Fedko
Coordinator RVT/Crop Research Technologist
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development