A next-generation canola variety testing program is moving forward this year to serve the needs of canola growers. The initiative, a result of extensive consultations, will involve most of the seed industry. The approximately one-million- dollar program will be funded by the three Prairie canola grower groups — Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC), Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission (SaskCanola), and the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA), as well as by seed trade entry fees. The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) will co-ordinate the program as a service to growers.
The objective of the new variety testing program is to provide growers with the information they need to make informed seed selection choices based on:
a systematic approach.
trials based on commercially available varieties.
trials consistent with actual grower practices.
economic analysis based on contribution margin.
In order to meet these criteria, the protocol for the program will involve two components: small plots that will examine relative performance of commercial varieties, and an audited field scale component based on field trials conducted by seed companies.
The small-plots component will involve both varieties with the greatest market share and newly introduced varieties used with the corresponding herbicide systems that are also commercially available to growers. Management of the small plots will address some of the shortcomings of former trials through plot design, data delivery and harvest management.
The field-scale component will involve a review of the seed trade field-scale projects through an audit of the protocols being used for constructing the trial data analysis and reporting. The development of the audit process will involve qualified statisticians and professionals with extensive background in conducting field-scale research trials.
“Including the seed trade field -scale projects will be an added service to growers,” says ACPC chair Jody Klassen. “It’s not about imposing a protocol on them. It’s about ensuring their protocols are based on sound science so that the data accurately represents performance.”
Small-plot and field-scale data will be presented separately. Detailed reporting will include site-specific data on weather, soil type, previous crop, fertility, seeding date and rate, harvest date etc. Print copies will be published and a web-based application housed on the grower association websites and CCC website. The data will continue to be reported in the provincial seed guides.
A governance body will be established shortly to oversee the program, and to provide a mechanism for evaluating success and making improvements to protocols in the future. The governance body will be charged with resolving details around data analysis and reporting. Membership will include growers, provincial specialists, the seed trade and the CCC.