Polish Canola Still Has A Fit

If it would have helped this year — or any year — to have a decent-yielding, 90-day canola variety that could have been seeded as late as June 1, then keep your eye on a new Polish canola variety which will be available to western Canadian farmers in 2011.

Mastin Seeds of Sundre, Alta., ( www.mastinseeds.com) could have up to 100,000 acres worth of a new ACS-C18, a higher-yielding Polish canola available this fall. It is synthetic canola, which means it has improved vigour and yield over conventional varieties, but it is still partway through the breeding evolution of becoming a true hybrid.

The as-yet unnamed, ACS-C18 (see sidebar if you might have some name suggestions) is in the 85-to 90-day maturity range, depending on growing conditions, says Bob Mastin. “It has a larger seed size, and 17 per cent higher yield over other standard Polish canola varieties, which is a huge difference,” he says.

Polish canola gives farmers more flexibility with the seeding window — you can still seed this in late May or early June and count on getting a crop. It performs well under drier conditions. Yield is improved and being a synthetic variety it is more stable than other conventional varieties. Polish varieties are also more suited to straight combining, since they tend to have less pod shatter. Mastin did swath his ACS-C18 field this year, just because of the difficult harvest conditions, and because he also wants to bin every pound of seed he can.

“These new Polish varieties still haven’t reached the yield level of the hybrid Argentine varieties, but they are getting there,” says Mastin. “And if you are facing a growing season where your choice is between having a 35-or 40-bushel crop or nothing, I think the potential of 35 bushels makes sense.”

POLISH IN THE PIPELINE

While for many farmers, Polish canola has fallen off the oilseed radar screen due to the dominance in the past 10 to 15 years of hybrid, herbicide- tolerant Argentine varieties, that hasn’t been the case for plant breeder Kevin Falk with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Saskatoon. His Polish canola-breeding program keeps plugging along, working to improve the type that does have a good fit in short-season production areas, in drier areas, and certainly in years when conditions force farmers to seed later.

ACS-C18 is one of three new Polish varieties Falk has recently registered. Mastin also has rights to ACS-C29 which is the first-ever three-parent Polish variety, and ACS-C12 (another synthetic now named Synergy) is still a year or two away. It will be marketed by SeCan.

“All three of these varieties are very similar in performance,” says Falk, who developed the first synthetic Polish canola in the early 1990s. “I have focused on improved performance, so all of these are early maturing and have between 15 and 20 per cent higher yield over conventional Polish varieties.” There hasn’t been much improvement on disease resistance, however, so these varieties are susceptible to blackleg.

While Falk’s work is the only game in town when it comes to Polish canola breeding, he says his program has remained steady to the cause over the years. “But I think certainly in the last couple years there has been renewed interest among growers in Polish varieties,” says Falk. “And that isn’t just in the reseed market. There may be a number of reasons, but producers are looking to include a Polish variety in at least part of their canola acres.

“Polish varieties do have a good fit in specific situations and as yields improve in new varieties they become more appealing. Part of the problem is that farmers may not even know they are available. They may deal with seed suppliers and no one points them in this direction. I talk to producers and they say, ‘Oh, are you still working on Polish canola?’ and the truth is my program is as strong as it’s ever been.”

There are several synthetic Polish varieties on the market. Hysyn 110 (now just called 110) was the first released in 1993, there is also SW Spirit River. Falk released ACS-C7 in the late ’90s and ACS-C18, -C29 and -C12 are the newest in about five years. They are among 20 Polish canola varieties registered in Canada.

PRODUCTION LIMITS

Mastin pushed the limits in seeding the new ACS-C18 for seed production this spring. He obtained about 300 kilograms of ACS-C18 foundation seed and tried to make it go as far as possible. Along with his own farm, he has two other contract growers who together are producing about 260 acres, which should yield enough commercial seed for 50,000 to 100,000 acres of Polish canola in 2011.

On his farm, following proper fertility rates, he seeded the variety May 25 under relatively dry conditions. He stretched the seeding rate. Ideally, canola should be seeded at a rate of four to 4-1/2 pounds per acre. He cut that back to three pounds, and on one field even went in at about two pounds per acre.

He has clean fields, although like most everyone else, he learned the 2010 growing season favoured thistle production. Despite the low seeding rate, he was impressed at how well the crop did.

“Canola is an elastic crop, but it does have limits,” says Mastin. “I would definitely recommend farmers not go below a three-pound-per- acre seeding rate and aim for at least four to 4-1/2 pounds, just to get the plant count up.

“But I have been really impressed on how this crop looked, considering the growing season. And if I had used a higher seeding rate it would be even better.”

Although the Polish canola was mature about one month ahead of his Argentine variety, Mastin was hoping for good weather in late September to get the canola combined.

Mastin has geared his seed business over the past few years toward supplying farmers with high-performing grains, pulse and oilseeds best suited for niche production.

He has Sundre barley, a top-yielding, six-row, smooth-awned, conventional barley with class-leading grain and forage yields. Busby is a two-row, rough-awned, feed barley, well adapted to the Brown, Black and Grey soil zones of Western Canada. And he has a new two-row malt variety called Cerveza (which means beer in Spanish) that is outperforming the standard. It won’t be commercially available for at least another year.

On the oat side he has AC Mustang, a dual-purpose (grain/ silage) oat cultivar developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, at the Lacombe, Alta. Research Centre, and he has a new variety of forage pea that should be available in a couple years.

For more information on ACSC18 Polish canola visit the company website or email [email protected] or phone (403) 556-2609.

LeeHartisafieldeditorforGrainewsin Calgary.Contacthimat403-592-1964orby emailat [email protected]

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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