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New Viterra varieties

Viterra will have two new traditional brown flax varieties on the market in 2014.

WestLin 70 is a traditional brown seed flax variety. Its yield is similar to Bethune. Ryan McCann, Viterra Generics’ seed commercialization manager, says “it has a larger seed size compared to other varieties.” WestLin 70 will be available from seed growers, or Viterra retails.

WestLin 71 is also a traditional brown seed flax variety. McCann says WestLin 71 “was yielding about 103 per cent of Bethune last year.” However, he says, “it’s a little bit shorter than Bethune. Obviously, for guys that don’t like dealing with flax straw, that would be an advantage.” WestLin 71 will be available from seed growers.

Seed supplies of both WestLin varieties should be very good, McCann says, “based on what we know today.”

Viterra is also continuing to offer its identity preserved yellow seed flax, NuLin VT50. This variety offers high omega-3 content — 25 per cent higher than CDC Bethune. For farmers, McCann says, “its claim to fame is the premiums attached to it, as well as the yield over Bethune.” Farmers can only grow this variety though closed-loop contracts with Viterra. McCann says there is increased end-use demand for NuLin. For 2014, he says, “we’re looking at substantial growth on the NuLin product.”

For future years, Viterra is working on northern adapted flax varieties. McCann says Viterra’s flax breeder, Michelle Beaith, is focused on expanding the traditional flax-growing area, so Viterra will one day be able to offer farmers outside of these areas another oilseed option to fit into their rotations.

“Early maturity is one of the focuses, but not forgetting about increasing yields as well,” McCann says. “We’ve got testing happening in the northern parts of Western Canada to find varieties for that fit.”

Many flax varieties will stay green for a long time, or the bolls will ripen before the stems. Beaith is trying to find a solution for farmers. “She’s trying to find varieties that have good stem drydown as well as the bolls.”

While aspects of this work have found their way into current offerings from Viterra, and McCann says they have some varieties in co-op selection, he says, “We still have some work to really get that early, early maturing type.”

As for Triffid, none of the varieties from the Viterra breeding program have had GM issues. “None of our varieties had to be reconstituted,” McCann says. †

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