Farmers Denied Independent Varietal Performance Data

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“We were shocked by the decision of so many participants to all pull out of the program at once.”

Rob Pettinger

Manitoba Canola Growers Association

alberta canola growers association release

The recent refusals of several Canadian canola seed developers to enter their varieties in the Prairie Canola Variety Trials (PCVT) this year is extremely disappointing to the Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC), the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission (SaskCanola) and the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA).

The PCVT data, the mainstay of the various provincial seed guides, is administered by the Canola Council of Canada and is the only source of independent, science-based, third party canola variety comparison data in Canada. The PCVT have been cancelled for 2010 as not enough canola varieties were entered into the trials by the canola developers.

“This data is the most sought-after information by canola growers in developing their annual crop plans.” says Sask-Canola Chair Wayne Bacon of Kinistino, Saskatchewan. “To only have company-created data is unacceptable to every single grower that our organizations have ever talked to about this. “

“Certified canola seed is a significant expense for growers,” states ACPC Chair Kevin Bender who farms near Bentley, Alberta. “Growers need an independent source of information to help ensure their investment in canola seed is a wise one.”

The PCVT are designed to compare the genetic potential of the seed using randomized, replicated small-plot trials across the prairies.

“Some of the companies have raised concerns that the PCVT do not adequately represent their herbicide-seed combinations while others are unhappy with the size of the plots,” says MCGA President Rob Pettinger from his farm near Elgin, Manitoba. “The industry had been discussing these concerns over the winter and exploring options. We were shocked by the decision of so many participants to all pull out of the program at once.”

Bacon, Bender and Pettinger said their organizations will work with the canola seed industry to ensure the PCVT continue in 2011. They agreed that varietal performance comparisons are essential, because making well informed seed decisions is important to all growers.

The Prairie Canola Variety Trials (PCVT) are co-ordinated by the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) as a service to canola growers. Entry by companies into PCVT is voluntary and they primarily feature commercially available varieties.

The PCVT compare genetics under standard plots, a standardized protocol, and the same environmental conditions. In 2009, trials were conducted by seed companies, government researchers, and independent contractors in three growing season zones across the prairies – short, mid, and long season. Test plots were kept weed-free using conventional herbicides. Herbicide-tolerant varieties were not sprayed with their companion herbicides.

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