Site allows Alta. farmers to compare crop varieties

Crop producers in Alberta and in B.C.’s Peace region have a new website where they can compare and collect data on cereal, flax and pulse varieties best suited to their local growing conditions.

The interactive site uses current and historical crop, climate and geographic information from across the province and B.C.’s northeastern cropping region, the Alberta government said in a release Friday.

“The web tool is being promoted as a useful way for producers to make decisions on crop rotations, product diversity and market access, based on best scientific research and practices,” the province said.

The site’s data is collected from trials coordinated and managed by the Alberta/British Columbia Grains Advisory Committee (ABCGAC), a partnership including industry, seed companies, farmer groups, government, applied research organizations and universities.

The site is to be a “one-stop” source for variety information about cereal, oilseed and pulse crops that features Variety Reports for each grain crop.

“Users can see what varieties have best performance, according to three selectable traits,” the province said. Data includes yield information and tables with performance indicators for areas of Alberta and northeastern B.C. under different growing conditions.

“Variety Compare,” another site feature, is meant to allow users to find yield data for individual regional crop variety trials of interest to their own location, and for past years where information is available.

Growers can also view a Google-based map of Alberta and B.C. locations, showing trial varieties growing in the current season. Users can click on locations to see what crops and varieties are being tested in the current crop year, the province said.

Hard-copy versions of Variety Reports will remain available through extension offices in Alberta and B.C., the province noted Friday.

Sponsors of the project include Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, the Alberta Barley Commission, Alberta Pulse Growers, the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the B.C. Grain Producers Association, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, B.C.’s Peace River Development Council and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.

The ABCGAC system operates on financial and in-kind support from sources including the member agencies of the ABCGAC; Alberta’s agriculture department, which supervises the program manager, who in turn carries out the program with regional site collaborators; seed companies that pay entry fees to cover testing costs; and research agencies, seed businesses and grower groups that provide grants.

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