Canada's producers of peas and lentils are preparing for the possibility that their largest market may soon shut down imports because of a purported problem with pests.

For more than a decade, India has allowed Canada to treat pulse shipments for pests after shipping rather than before. But that may come to an end next month.

The fumigation of pulse pests requires the use of methyl bromide, a pesticide that Canada is trying to phase out because of concerns it depletes the ozone layer. It also doesn't work well in Canada's colder temperatures, leaving pulse producers with few options.

The stakes for the country's estimated 12,000 pulse farms are high. Canada shipped $1.5 billion worth of peas and lentils to India in 2015, accounting for about a third of all pulse exports.

"That's why we're very concerned," said Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada.

Bacon said the federal government submitted documents to India in December pressing its case that the risks of Canadian pulse crops carrying pests is minimal because of the winter climate.

"India's message has become much more firm in terms of what their intention is at the end of March, which is why we're much more concerned now," he said.

Pulse producers are now eagerly waiting for a response, with an answer possibly coming in days. But shipments are already being disrupted, Bacon said, with at least one shipping firm refusing to take pulses this past Monday because of the uncertainty.

"It's hugely problematic for the industry when there's no clarity on what the policy will be," said Bacon.

The Indian government could not be reached for comment. But a notice issued by the India Pulses and Grains Association summarized a presentation that the Indian government made last month.

According to the notice, an Indian government official said methyl bromide is the only effective treatment against pulse pests, Indian exporters follow requirements of other countries and importers should do the same, and India shouldn't bear the risks to the ozone layer alone.

The association's notice said the government official also outlined potential alternatives, including the possibility of countries submitting data proving that other treatments are equally effective, a system-wide preventative approach assessed by Indian officials, or cargo pre-inspection. | READ MORE
Pulse crops in rotation provide a range of ongoing benefits to subsequent crops, such as reducing fertilizer costs, providing a break in pest cycles and increasing yield. Estimating the nitrogen (N) benefits or credits to the system can be challenging, and researchers continue to improve methods that provide a more accurate assessment of N and carbon (C) in cropping systems.
When Meghan Moran, the canola and edible bean specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), is out at an event, soybean growers usually outnumber edible bean growers. “Sometimes the soybean growers will ask if small seeded dry beans, or edible beans, are more profitable,” she says. “And the truth is that they are!” 
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs reports dry edible bean acres were lower in 2016 than they were in 2015.
The Canadian Grain Commission has announced grading changes to Canadian fababeans, chickpeas and wheat. 

As of July 1, 2017, all grades of fababeans will have an ergot tolerance of 0.05 per cent in Eastern Canada. In Western Canada, all grades of fababeans and chickpeas will have an ergot tolerance of 0.05 per cent as of August 1, 2017. Ergot is a cereal disease that is toxic to people and animals. Ergot does not occur in these crops, but cross-contamination can occur during handling. Adding a tolerance for ergot in fababeans and chickpeas will help guarantee the safety of Canadian grain. A tolerance of 0.05 per cent is consistent with the other pulses in the Official Grain Grading Guide.

The tolerance for grasshopper and army worm damage in No. 3 Canada Western Red Spring, No. 3 Canada Western Hard White Spring and No. 3 Canada Northern Hard Red wheat will be tightened from eight per cent to six per cent, effective August 1, 2017. The tolerance for grasshopper and army worm damage was tightened after research showed that eight per cent grasshopper and army worm damage can impact end-use functionality.

These changes are based on recommendations made to the Canadian Grain Commission by the Eastern Standards Committee and the Western Standards Committee at their meetings in November. The Canadian Grain Commission also reiterated its commitment to continuing to evaluate new technologies for objectively assessing grain for factors such as deoxynivalenol (DON).
Prince Edward Island producers are experimenting with pulse crops, growing fababean and pea trials across the Island. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
After the pain, you could say there’s been some gain for the edible dry bean industry in Ontario.

“That rejected shipment in 2008 forced the entire industry to sit up and take notice,” says Chris Gillard, dry bean agronomy and pest management professor at the University of Guelph at Ridgetown.

That year, glyphosate was detected at more than two parts per million (ppm), which is the maximum residue level (MRL) for beans exported to Japan.

The incident prompted questions about desiccant application rates, timing and tank-mix combinations.

Eight years after the original incident, Ontario bean growers have new product options and much more information at their fingertips for the sensitive tasks associated with bean dry-down and weed control at harvest time.

Gillard was one of four scientists in three provinces who searched for dilemma-solving options on behalf of Canada’s bean industry in 2010 through 2012. Preliminary results of their efforts were available to growers in 2013, but it was June 2015 before final results were published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science.

Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta are Canada’s major dry bean producers, responsible for about 45, 40 and 15 per cent, respectively, of the national dry bean acreage in 2014. They grow five classes of beans: navy, cranberry, kidney, pinto and great northern. In Ontario, six desiccants are registered to aid growers by drying down the mature bean crop for harvest.

In 2008, growers had the option of desiccating the bean crop with carfentrazone, diquat, glufosinate or glyphosate. Concerns over price and ability to control weeds at harvest led many growers to select glyphosate.

At the time, the stage was ripe for seed residues to create obstacles in exporting the bean crop.

Gillard and colleagues wrote: “Although desiccants have long been used to aid dry bean harvest, little [was] known about seed residue levels following application, relative rates of desiccation between harvest aids, and possible yield or quality impacts, making it difficult for producers and contractors to confidently choose a desiccant.”

Now, Canada’s dry bean growers have the science and data to confidently choose their product for the sensitive dry-down period.

“Glyphosate still is registered as a pre-harvest aid for weed control in dry beans, but it is not a true desiccant. True desiccants are relatively quick in their activity. Glyphosate is not a quick-acting chemical, so it’s never been registered as a desiccant,” Gillard says.

Two new desiccants have been registered in Ontario since 2008. Flumioxazin (trade name Valtera) was registered in 2009 and saflufenacil (Eragon) was registered in 2013. Both were in the testing program that followed the MRL incident.

“They tend to be more expensive than glyphosate but have use rates much lower than several of the other desiccants on the market,” he says. “Both are in the same protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitor class as a third chemical that was registered a few years before: carfentrazone-ethyl (Aim EC). All three are relatively fast acting and carry a low risk of residue because they don’t translocate within the plant.”

The three-province study used all six products at 11 sites and generated a lot of data. Three professional papers were published.

This research examined the speed of crop and weed desiccation for each registered product, alone and in combination with glyphosate. Impact on dry bean yield and quality was measured, and MRLs were examined.

Research results
One difference was speed of desiccation.

“Eragon probably is the fastest PPO-inhibitor, followed closely by Valtera,” Gillard says. “Guys have to be careful with using Eragon. In a timing study, we put it on early and at 70 per cent crop maturity it caused a yield loss due to smaller seed. It’s so fast-acting that it can kill the plant before the seed finishes filling.”

A second reason for being careful with Eragon is that it can’t be used on any beans going to Europe. To this point, the European Union has not set MRLs for Eragon. However, it is accepted in the United States, Japan and countries that rely on the international Codex Alimentarius food standards for safety, quality and fairness.

“Diquat has been around forever. It’s relatively expensive and it has some issues. It’s fairly toxic to people, so it’s not as safe to use [as Eragon]. On the other hand, it is very fast acting. I think Eragon is as fast as diquat, and it doesn’t have the user exposure problems,” he says.

“Ignite has been around forever. It has an advantage in that it can be sprayed a little earlier. It’s halfway between a true desiccant and glyphosate in speed of activity. It can be put on the plants at about 70 per cent pod maturity.”

But, the residue analysis testing of seed samples identified an issue for Ignite.

“We actually found some residue issues with Ignite when it was applied a bit after its minimum application date,” Gillard says. “That generated some concern, because we can’t have residues on the seed that are above the MRLs allowed for end use markets.”

That leads into another point. Residue limits vary from market to market. Some markets don’t even have residue limits for some products. If residue analysis detects a product that isn’t listed for a residue limit, the country can reject the shipment.

“If you’re growing a crop that will be exported, you need to work with the processor to understand the MRLs for the country where the crop will end up,” Gillard says.

“You can use a product so long as it’s used properly. But, for instance, there is no MRL set in the U.S. for diquat on dry beans. If you use the product, and if they detect it, in their mind they can refuse delivery because you have used an unregistered product.”

For an exporter, the lack of an MRL for a product in a particular market can be seen as a non-tariff trade barrier.

While the industry here can encourage a market to set an MRL for each product registered here, in practice the responsibility for meeting market standards rests with growers.

“It’s a three-step process,” Gillard says. “First, start with the dealer or processor. Find out what products are available to use based on where the crop will end up. Second, look at the accepted products. See how fast-acting they are. Follow the label closely for timing and for water volume. Determine which one will do the best job of desiccating the crop. Third, look at weed control. What productivity do you want on the weed escapes that will be in the crop close to harvest? All of these desiccants are herbicides with unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the weed species controlled. That’s three-tiered decision-making.”

Online information
Data from the three years of study and two years of residue analysis is now bearing fruit. According to Gillard, today Canada’s pulse industry is stronger and better informed. Detailed information relating to MRLs, rates, timing and tank mixes are available through processors and contractors.

Summary information is available online at websites operated by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.
A rainy stretch of weather, including several downpours, has led to concern in Saskatchewan about the state of this year's crop. | READ MORE

by Rod Nickel

Apr. 18, 2016 - Canadian farmers intend to plant more peas and lentils than ever before, as strong Indian demand stokes interest in pulse crops, according to a Reuters industry poll ahead of a government report.

Pulses amount for a fraction of Canada's planted area compared to wheat and canola, the country's largest crops. But this year they have been the talk of the western Prairies as farmers made seeding plans.

Back-to-back droughts in India, the world's largest importer of edible oils and pulses, has boosted prices and made pulses attractive to Canadian farmers. Pulses are an important protein source in the Indian diet.

"Most years everyone wants to know the canola (area). This year it's, 'what are lentils doing?'" said Chuck Penner, analyst at LeftField Commodity Research. Pulse interest "is pushing aside some other crops or limiting the expansion of other crops."

Farmers intend to plant 5 million acres of lentils and 4.6 million acres of peas, shattering records, according to average estimates in an overall crop survey of 15 traders and analysts.

Pulses are expected to shift some land away from spring wheat plantings, as the all-wheat area may fall about 4 percent to 23.2 million acres. Canola plantings are expected to total 20.4 million acres, up 1.5 percent from last year.

Statistics Canada will estimate farmers' planting intentions on Thursday. The agency surveyed farmers from March 16 to 31.

With smaller forecast plantings of spring wheat in both Canada and the United States, supplies could tighten modestly over the next year depending on how crops fare, said Wayne Palmer, market analyst at AgriTrend.

International Grains Council forecasts that world wheat production will fall to 713 million tonnes in 2016/17 from 734 million in 2015/16.

Most planting in Western Canada, the country's wheat and canola belt, happens in May.

Spring floods, which can slow or prevent farmers from seeding crops, are unlikely this year on the Canadian Prairies, but some regions are parched.

Soils in central Alberta and that province's Peace River region are dry, and may slow early development of canola and barley crops, Penner said.

Canada is the world's second largest wheat exporter and the biggest shipper of canola, a cousin of rapeseed used largely to produce vegetable oil.


Mar. 31, 2016 - Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) is pleased to announce over $2 million in funding over five years for the continuation of the Weed Research Program "Enhancing Weed Science in Pulse Crops: Towards a robust strategy for long-term weed management" led by University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researcher Dr. Chris Willenborg.

Weed management is critical for successful production of pulses as most pulse crops are not very competitive. "Working with researchers to develop integrated weed and crop management options for pulses is a key priority for SPG," says board chair Tim Wiens. "Herbicide resistance is becoming a more significant issue for pulse growers, and we believe that through support of the Weed Program at the U of S, we will be successful in developing effective management options for growers."

SPG's new over $2 million funding commitment is building on the organization's previous five-year investment to the Weed Research Program. Program results from the first five-year term included assisting in reducing the sulfentrazone (Authority) re-cropping interval for canola to 12 months after application and lentils to 24 months, improving the tolerance of field peas to Odyssey and assisting with the development of IMI-tolerant chickpeas. The program has also seen some success in managing cleavers in high organic matter soils by 'herbicide layering', which is combining pre-seed short-term soil residual herbicides with post-emergence in-crop treatments.

Over the next five years the Weed Research Program aims to establish new Minor Use herbicide registrations for pulses, improve knowledge of competitive traits in pulses for incorporation into future varieties, provide new integrated weed management options for growers, and to understand the impact of soil residual herbicides on re-cropping restrictions for newly emerging pulse crops such as faba beans. Additionally, the program has designated funds to investigate the potential of novel technologies such as robotics.

"The number of herbicide options for controlling weeds in pulses is limited and is focused on a few modes-of-action," states Eric Johnson, a research assistant working with Dr. Willenborg's weed program. "The risk of contributing to herbicide resistance is high in pulse crops. The work done in the Weed Program not only provides more herbicide options to growers, but also strives to develop integrated strategies that will enable growers to manage weeds economically and effectively, and also reduce the risk of evolved resistance."


Pulse crops in rotation provide a range of ongoing benefits to subsequent crops, such as reducing fertilizer costs, providing a break in pest cycles and increasing yield. Estimating the nitrogen (N) benefits or credits to the system can be challenging, and researchers continue to improve methods that provide a more accurate assessment of N and carbon (C) in cropping systems.

Ultimately more accurate assessments will improve cropping system footprinting estimates for C or greenhouse gas emissions, for example.

Researchers in Saskatchewan initiated a four-year field-scale project in 2014, based on the success of an earlier greenhouse project, to compare several pulses in rotation and their N contributions to the cropping system. This study, led by Richard Farrell and Diane Knight at the University of Saskatchewan and in collaboration with Reynald Lemke from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, includes side-by-side comparisons of lentil, field pea, chickpea and fababean in rotation with wheat. Researchers are using a stable isotope method to label N and C in the pulse crops to track their movements in the plant and into the soil.

“Our goal is to be able to provide a better picture of the overall N balance in the cropping system, including above and belowground N (BGN), and a refined estimate of biological N2fixation,” Lemke explains. “The use of N-labelling allows us to track the disposition of N both in the above and belowground parts of the crops, and ultimately determine how much N is fixed and possibly left for subsequent crops. This will help us answer the question of how much additional N the pulse crop contributed, how much ended up in the following wheat crop and helps improve the accuracy of estimating the N credit.”

Four pulse crops, including lentil, field pea, chickpea and fababean, plus a wheat control plot, were planted in the first cycle in 2014 in replicated field plots near Saskatoon. The N and C were labelled in each crop, as well as the N fertilizer applied to the wheat control in year one. In year two, wheat was seeded across all of the plots, and a modest level of unlabelled N fertilizer was applied.

“The labelling helps us track the sources of N into the following wheat crop, which is important not only for estimating the N benefit and any N credits returned to the cropping system and where those benefits came from, but also estimating how much is from fertilizer,” Lemke says. “The approach allows us to clearly distinguish the amount of N in the wheat that originated from aboveground residues, belowground residues and N fertilizer separately. As well, the approach allows us to determine how much of the C that was contributed by the pulse crop persists in the soil after the subsequent wheat crop is harvested.”

The results from the first two years of the field study are preliminary and researchers are still analyzing the data collected after the 2015 harvest. There are plans to continue the study for an additional two years. “From the first year preliminary results, the findings are so far consistent with what other long-term studies have shown and the earlier greenhouse study, where BGN contributions are higher than previously accounted for,” Lemke says. “All of the pulses fixed a fairly high percentage of N, which means they should be leaving behind a reasonable amount of N for the next crop. Although fababean has always been promoted as a higher fixer of N, the preliminary results show the differences between all of the pulses was not that great, they all did very well, with fababean only slightly better. Generally, any of the pulses are proving to be a good option in rotation.”

Fine-tuning N management, footprinting calculations
Providing a more accurate assessment of belowground N and C will help growers improve N utilization and fine-tune overall N management in their cropping systems. “By having a better understanding of how much N is available to the next crop, how much is used by the crop and where any remaining N ends up, whether stabilized in the soil organic matter or lost to the system, is important,” Lemke says. “For growers, by doing the best job of N management they can, helps improve their economics, reduce fertilizer inputs and potential losses (e.g. nitrous oxide N2O) and can improve long-term sustainability of their cropping systems. This also loops back to the marketplace, where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and footprinting negotiations are very real.”

Lemke expects that results from their research will also be an important contribution for fine-tuning national GHG inventories, such as amounts of N2 fixed by different crops, amounts of C sequestered by cropping systems, as well as N2O losses and the percentage of those losses that come from N fertilizers or from the N in crop residues. “For growers, estimating N2O losses is generally a good indicator of efficiency of N utilization and management in their cropping system. N2O is a very powerful GHG, so reducing losses not only improves the GHG footprint of cropping systems, but also benefits growers directly by improving their economics.”

Overall, pulses are providing a broader benefit to the whole system by not requiring N fertilizer inputs in the year they are grown plus the N credit they provide to the subsequent crops that reduces the amount of N fertilizer required, improving the overall cropping system GHG footprint. Pulse crops are providing benefits in rotation by restraining emissions and improving the CO2 footprinting, whether calculated on a direct emission or intensity basis (number of units of a crop grown per unit of GHG emitted). Research is underway to compare crop sequencing and overall rotation benefits.

“We expect to have preliminary project results available early in 2016, and plan to extend the project for two more years, which will help us quantify the measures much better,” Lemke says. “Growers will be able to improve their overall N utilization and maximize the benefits of pulses in rotation, at the same time as having improved estimates for future footprinting activities. Pulses in rotation are proving to be an important rotation management component of the whole cropping system, with economic and footprinting benefits, as well as other rotational benefits for breaking disease, weed and insect pest cycles.”  


Respect the pulse. That’s the result of a research study that looked at the value of nitrogen (N) credits from pulse crops past the first subsequent crop.

“In most studies, N release from legume crop residues is determined in only one subsequent crop, and results on pea residues usually show that little of the N is released in the subsequent crop season,” says research scientist Newton Lupwayi with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at Lethbridge, Alta. “We wanted to look beyond the first subsequent crop to understand pulse contributions over the longer term.”

The notion that pulse crops contribute N to the subsequent crop – usually wheat and usually for higher protein content – is well known. Cereals grown in rotation with pulses usually have reduced N requirements because the pulse crop contributes substantial amounts of N from decomposing residues to the subsequent crop. Surprisingly, though, research has shown that less than 20 per cent of pea residue N is released in the first year under zero tillage. That led Lupwayi to question what happens to the remaining N in pulse residue and to determine whether it contributes beyond the first subsequent crop.

Lupwayi, and AAFC colleague Yoong Soon at Beaverlodge, Alta., looked at carbon (C) and N release from legume residues to three subsequent crops. They thought some of the N that was not released in the first year from pulse residue would get released in subsequent years. A four-year rotation was set up at Beaverlodge in 2007 on land that had previously been in oats. All the crops were managed under no-till on nine-inch row spacing according to standard agronomic practices.

In the year of establishment, green pea, forage pea, fababean, fababean green manure (GM), chickling vetch GM, and hulless barley were grown. Barley was used as a control for estimating N fixation by legumes in the year of establishment. The green pea variety, Camry, was a semi-leafless type, and the forage pea variety, 4010, was a bushy normal-leafed type. Wheat in 2008, canola in 2009 and hulless barley in 2010, were planted on the legume plots.

In the legume year, the GM crops were terminated by cutting at full bloom on July 24 and residues spread on the surface. However, the GM crops re-grew and a second cut was done on Sept. 18. The other crops were harvested for seed at maturity in September.

Fababean fixed the most N
Nitrogen fixation was estimated for each legume crop. The crops grown for seed fixed the most N, estimated at 184 kg N/ha for fababean, 165 kg/ha for forage pea, and green pea at 129 kg/ha. Chickling vetch GM was estimated at 95 kg N/ha and fababean GM at 77 kg/ha.

“The high N-fixing ability of fababean has been reported in other studies,” Lupwayi says.

Looking at the amount of N accumulated and left on the field in the crop residue, Lupwayi says the fababean, forage pea and vetch GM residues accumulated the most N (129-153 kg N/ha) and green pea the least (65 kg N/ha). Green pea residues contained the least N because 66 per cent (124 kg N/ha) of the aboveground N was removed at harvest in the seed.

“Fababean and forage pea residues contained more N than expected from a pulse crop because their seed yields were lower than that of green pea. The seed yield of these two legumes was low mainly because the growing season of northern Alberta is too short for them and fababean in particular was harvested before full maturity,” Lupwayi explains. “Therefore, these two legumes exported less N off the farm through the seed at harvest than green pea.”

Lupwayi says there were essentially no differences between the residues in C concentrations, except that it was lower in fababean GM residues than in chickling vetch GM residues.

N release goes beyond first year
The pattern of N release varied between the GM residue and the pulse crops grown for seed. For the GM residues, most of the N was released in the first year – mostly in the first 10 weeks of GM residue placement in July of 2007. Since the first subsequent wheat crop wasn’t seeded until 10 months later in May 2008, Lupwayi says the released N could have been susceptible to losses through leaching, denitrificaiton and ammonia volatilization.

“In this study, it is most likely that these losses were considerably higher with the GM crops with their low C:N ratios than with pulse crop residues,” he says.

In the first year after the legumes, chickling vetch GM released 87 per cent of initial N in the residue, fababean GM released 83 per cent, fababean grown for seed released 63 per cent, forage pea 51 per cent and green pea 51 per cent. In subsequent years, the GM crops had little N left to release, while the fababean and pea crops released another 15 to 23 per cent of the initial N, and nine to 12 per cent in the third subsequent crop.

The fababean and pea residues also initially had a variable rate of release at the start, but became more steady and consistent as time progressed. A more consistent release would help feed the crop more uniformly throughout the growing season. (See Figs. 1 and 2.)

“The release of N from pulse crop residues was probably better synchronized with crop uptake than the GM residues because the latter released their N too quickly. Among the pulse crops, the residues of fababean and forage pea had a good combination of high initial N contents and a low C:N ratio relative to green pea residues, which released the least N,” Lupwayi says.

Another interesting finding was the yield of the barley crop in the third subsequent year after the study was established. Barley grown on the forage pea residue produced the highest yield, with green pea at approximately 95 per cent of forage pea and fababean at about 87 per cent. The green pea result was surprising, considering that it had lower initial N fixation – perhaps explained by other non-N factors.

“Pulse crops deserve more N credit than they get for the yield responses of subsequent crops,” Lupwayi says. “The rotational value is underestimated if you only evaluate the first subsequent crop.”



Saskatchewan pulse growers have reason to be excited about the future: pulse breeding has taken a dramatic step forward, thanks to the use of Implementation of Markers in Pulses (iMAP) technology.

Traditional plant breeding can take up to 10 years, but iMAP technology allows researchers to analyze DNA “landmarks” in genomes to speed up and enhance breeding, meaning new varieties are available faster.

In 2010, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) invested $2,678,508 in a project investigating the use of iMAP technology in pulse breeding. The project wrapped up in late 2014, and according to project lead Bunyamin Tar’an, it yielded extremely positive results.

Tar’an is an associate professor and Agri-Food Innovation Chair at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC). He says that before 2010, Saskatchewan was behind in the use of molecular tools in pulse breeding compared to other crops, even though Saskatchewan is the world’s leading producer of pea, lentil and chickpea.

“The high throughput molecular technology has been around since mid 2000s, but with only very little use in pulses within our program,” he says. “iMAP technology allows us to use molecular tools in selection, so instead of conventional screening alone and following lines with uncertainty, now we can do that more effectively and efficiently when we’re selecting parents in crosses and following their progeny.”

Tar’an’s project, which ran until winter 2014, was solely funded by SPG. Research work was conducted in collaboration with the National Research Council’s Andrew Sharpe.

According to SPG’s director of research and development, Lisette Mascarenhas, SPG appreciated that outcomes of this project had a strategic fit with organizational research and development priorities. “It was of interest to the growers,” she says. “It sets up the path to improving the genetics of pulses in an efficient manner. This means that new variety development is better streamlined and more productive.”

DNA landmarks
Using iMAP technology, the team developed and analyzed thousands of DNA landmarks in plant genomes to identify genes responsible for economically important traits.

One practical example of the application of iMAP technology is in the selection of imidazolinone (IMI) herbicide resistant chickpea and lentil in the breeding program. “First we have to find out what is causing the plants to become tolerant to the herbicide. Then we know the genes, and what mutations or changes in the sequence make the plant resistant to IMI,” Tar’an says. “Then we develop a marker called KASP [Kompetitive Allele Specific PCR], targeting that one single nucleotide.

“So you make the crosses, get the seed, scratch the seed, get the DNA, and then test it for that particular DNA sequence – and you know exactly whether the plants will be susceptible or resistant to IMI with 99.9 per cent accuracy.”

Tar’an says the project has revolutionized pulse breeding in Canada, and growers are the primary beneficiaries, although processors and the public will also benefit.

“Eventually what this will mean to the growers is delivery of improved cultivars more quickly, like the example of herbicide tolerant chickpea. That’s the end point,” he says. “We aim to improve the traits that are important to farmers, but we also like to see improvement in the nutritional value of the product. So that will benefit people globally, here and abroad.”

Sequencing the chickpea genome
One very practical – and exciting – result of the iMAP project is the sequencing of the CDC Frontier chickpea genome.

Using iMAP technology, Tar’an’s team at CDC collaborated with almost 50 colleagues from dozens of institutions globally in the project, many of which contributed funding to the shared effort. Now that the chickpea code is “cracked,” breeding programs around the world can use that information to improve, among other things, carotenoid concentration in chickpea.

“There are other traits that are important in other parts of the globe, so they can use that information from the iMAP in their environments,” Tar’an says.

Another very practical result of the project is the University of Saskatchewan’s development of a “KnowPulse” database, which stores sequences and other information of chickpea and other pulses, some of which is available to the public.

Tar’an calls this not an “endpoint,” but rather a good beginning for chickpea breeding. “Now we know where the target genes are, rather than randomly selecting, breeders can use that information,” he says. “This year is the International Year of Pulses, which makes it even more exciting.”

These days, Tar’an’s team is using iMAP technology to re-sequence all the pulse varieties currently in common use, and developing genomic selection for complex and simple traits in chickpea.

“We’re leading globally on pulse research and production,” he says. “I acknowledge the support from the growers here. We really do what we can do to benefit the industry. The main goal here, the ultimate goal, is to keep our industry competitive as a supplier globally.”


Here’s a look at new pulse varieties available as Certified seed in 2016 and beyond. This information comes from pulse crop plant breeders, seed companies and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

FP Genetics has a new yellow pea for commercial growers to seed in 2016. Also, at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC), plant breeder Tom Warkentin and his team are bringing several new varieties to market in 2016-2017 and beyond.

Yellow:  New Abarth yellow pea from FP Genetics provides growers with competitive yield, good disease resistance and larger seed size. Abarth has medium maturity with very good resistance to powdery mildew, and fair resistance to mycosphaerella blight and Fusarium wilt. It has good lodging resistance with best in class standability for ease of harvesting.

Breeder seed of CDC Inca has strong yield potential in southern Saskatchewan and was first released to seed growers in 2015. It has good lodging resistance, medium seed size, round seed shape, medium protein content and good cooking quality. Certified seed of CDC Inca should first become available in 2018.

Green:  Breeder seed of CDC Greenwater was first released to seed growers in 2014. It has strong yield potential and good lodging resistance. CDC Greenwater has medium seed size and round seed shape. Certified seed of CDC Greenwater should first become available in 2017.

Maple:  CDC Blazer (3012-1LT) is a new maple pea variety with a lighter seed coat colour. It has higher yield than the other maple peas, similar to CDC Meadow, and seed size similar to CDC Rocket. Certified seed of CDC 3012-1LT will become available in 2018.

The CDC is the only lentil breeding institution in Canada, and is led by Bert Vandenberg.

Extra small red:  CDC Roxy (3959-6) is a new variety that was released to seed growers in 2014. It has plump seed and is consistently higher yielding than CDC Maxim (103 per cent). It is not imidazolinone tolerant. Seed supply for this variety will be limited but it is one to watch for and should be commercially available by 2018.

Small red:  CDC Cherie is a newer variety released in 2012 and is not imidazolinone tolerant, but it is high yielding (109 per cent of CDC Maxim). Commercial seed of CDC Cherie may be available for 2016 in limited supply.

CDC Impulse (IBC 479) is higher yielding, especially in the south (108 per cent of CDC Maxim), with slightly larger seed than CDC Maxim, as well as a bit taller and a bit later. It is imidazolinone tolerant.  

CDC Proclaim (IBC 550) is another higher yielding small red that is imidazolinone tolerant.

CDC Redmoon (3646-4) is a new variety similar to CDC Maxim with thicker seed and higher yields and is not imidazolinone tolerant.  

CDC Impulse and CDC Proclaim were released to seed growers in 2014 and CDC Redmoon in 2015 so Certified seed won’t be available for a few years.

Large green:  CDC Greenstar is a newer large green lentil that has high yield potential but is not imidazolinone tolerant. Seed supply may be limited for CDC Greenstar for 2016.

Small green:  CDC Kermit (3592-13) released in 2014 has seed similar to CDC Viceroy, better lodging, and yield is much higher than CDC Viceroy and CDC Maxim so far. Not imidazolinone tolerant. Limited seed may be available in 2017.

Plant breeder Bunyamin Tar’an at the CDC says the major objectives of the chickpea breeding program are high yield potential with acceptable seed quality characteristics, reduced production risk through improved resistance to ascochyta blight and early maturity, and plant characteristics for better crop management.

Kabuli:  CDC Palmer is a new variety released in 2014 and Certified seed may be available in limited amounts by 2016. CDC Palmer is a high yielding kabuli chickpea cultivar with medium large (9-10 mm) seed size. The seed of CDC Palmer is a light cream-beige colour with typical ram-head kabuli seed shape. It is earlier maturing than CDC Orion and moderately resistant to ascochyta blight. CDC Palmer is well adapted to all current chickpea growing regions of Brown and Dark Brown soil zones of southern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta.

Desi:  CDC Consul is a relatively new high yielding desi chickpea, and is an alternative to the production of small kabuli chickpea types. It has good resistance to ascochyta blight. CDC Consul is suited to all current chickpea growing regions of Brown (Area 1) and Dark Brown (Area 2) soil zones of southern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta.

Public dry bean plant breeding programs are at the CDC, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Lethbridge and Morden Research Centres, and the University of Guelph. Parthiba Balasubramanian at AAFC Lethbridge focuses on developing cultivars of various dry bean market classes for irrigated production under both wide row (60 cm or higher) and narrow row (30 cm or less) spacing.

At CDC, Kirstin Bett is breeding dry bean for short season environments. The main breeding objectives include early maturity, improved pod clearance and high yield combined with market acceptability within market classes.

In addition to the publicly developed varieties at CDC and AAFC, private plant breeding companies, including GenTec Seeds, Seminis Vegetable Seeds, Globe Seeds and Rogers Brothers have also developed dry bean varieties suitable for Saskatchewan.

AAC Tundra, developed at AAFC Lethbridge, is a high-yielding, early-maturing great northern bean with an upright, indeterminate bush growth habit with long vines (Type IIb). It entered the commercial market in 2015. AAC Tundra has a large seed size and improved field resistance to white mould compared with the check cultivar AC Polaris. AAC Tundra is suitable for irrigated wide row production in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

AAC Burdett, developed at AAFC Lethbridge, is an early-maturing pinto bean cultivar with an upright, indeterminate bush growth habit, lodging resistance, white mould avoidance and high yield potential. AAC Burdett, registered in 2014, is suitable for irrigated production in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

AAC Whitehorse, developed at AAFC Lethbridge, is a high-yielding, early-maturing great northern bean cultivar with an upright, indeterminate bush growth habit, large seed size and partial field resistance to white mould. AAC Whitehorse, registered in 2014, is suitable for irrigated wide row production in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

AAC Black Diamond 2, developed at AAFC Lethbridge, is a high-yielding black bean cultivar with an upright, indeterminate bush growth habit, lodging resistance, shiny black seed coat and improved resistance to seed-borne common bacterial blight caused by Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. phaseoli. AAC Black Diamond 2, registered in 2014, is suitable for irrigated production in Alberta and Saskatchewan.


Feb. 12, 2016 - Four of Alberta's crop commissions - Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola Producers Commission and Alberta Pulse Growers Commission - are fostering hands-on farm safety education opportunities by hosting a series of FarmSafe workshops throughout Alberta this March.

These free, one-day FarmSafe workshops will provide training and educational manuals to help farmers develop a complete health and safety management system tailored to their unique operations. FarmSafe workshops will take place on March 7 in Red Deer, March 9 in Grande Prairie and March 10 in Lethbridge.

"Our commissions are steadfast in our belief that education is more effective than legislation in preventing serious injuries and farm fatalities," said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley vice-chairman. "These FarmSafe workshops are a proactive way to apply this approach, and ensure farmers have access to materials that guide safe and healthy farming operations."

The workshops allow participants to choose their focus within the elements of the FarmSafe plan that make most sense for their operation. They can also choose to complete the FarmSafe modules at their own pace, beyond the one-day workshop.

"The advantage of the FarmSafe course we are coordinating is that producers can design the experience that they want. A producer can show up to the workshop and decide they want to implement parts of the FarmSafe plan that apply to their operation, in whatever way is most appropriate," Lenz added.

Participation is free of charge and those attending the workshops will be given access to additional free online resources and advice beyond the workshop dates. Producers can find more information and register for the workshops by visiting any of the commissions' websites at albertabarley.com, albertawheat.com, albertacanola.com and pulse.ab.ca. The FarmSafe plan was created by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.


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