Producers on a crop walk tour near here late last month had a chance to learn about part of the process that pulse crops go through before getting registered.
Christy Hoy, pulse project co-ordinator with Alberta Agriculture, explained the projects developed by provincial pulse industry specialist, Mark Olson. The land for the trials is owned by pulse producer Ken Farion, who has donated up to seven acres to Alberta Agriculture because of his interest in research.
Hoy said the goal of one of the projects is to develop pea and faba beans suitable for all Alberta soil zones. Various lines from breeding programs from across Western Canada and Europe are being tested in the three Alberta agriculture plots. The other two research plots are at St. Albert and Barrhead.
“We’re screening for things such as seed size, seed shape, resistance to disease, crop maturity, standing and lodging and crop yields,” said Hoy. “We take data on things such as per cent stand emergence, plant height, diseases of any type. We take data on phase to flower, lodging, maturity, yield and 1,000-kernel seed weight.”
Once trials have been completed, varieties are eligible for recommendation for registration by the Prairie Recommending Committee for Pulses and Special Crops. The interprovincial group alternates yearly meetings through the Prairie provinces. Lines go from screening trials into co-op trials, where information is gathered for another two years. When varieties meet the standards and enough information is gathered, the varieties can be put forward for registration and purchase by producers.
The Vegreville site contains a number of pea-screening trials which encompass 288 lines. In another trial, pulses are seeded directly into winter wheat as a method of weed control. The plants were solid seeded and then trimmed with a mower.
Registered varieties of yellow and green peas are being tested through the regional variety testing program consisting of 17 sites in Alberta and two in British Columbia.