Identity Preserved

Leaving corn unharvested over winter poses a new set of problems. Photo courtesy of David Hooker.  

There are years when it can be extremely difficult for farmers to harvest some of their corn acres. Excessive rainfall during the harvest period may result in fields that are too wet to be combined. In other years, cooler-than-normal weather during the growing season can result in high grain corn moisture levels and prohibitively high drying costs. In this case, farmers may opt to harvest the corn in spring, leaving it to dry down naturally to reduce drying costs.

However, leaving the corn unharvested over winter comes with another set of challenges. There is an increased risk of lodging over winter, impacting crop harvestability and grain yield, explains David Hooker from the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus. Hooker and his associates set out to identify potential management strategies that farmers could use to improve crop yield and quality in spring-harvested corn.

There has been limited research into how to manage corn with the explicit intent of overwintering for a spring harvest, Hooker says. One trial in Wisconsin during 2000 and 2001 comparing fall- and spring-harvested corn plots showed yield losses could vary considerably. For example, with heavy snow cover, losses were 38 to 65 per cent, compared to a winter with little snow when yield losses were only seven to 10 per cent. However, newer hybrids with the Bt trait and genetics for improved stalk strength may have the potential to improve standability over the winter, Hooker says.

In southern Ontario, the standard management practices for corn production consist of planting at a relatively high plant population (80,000 plants per hectare), applying a foliar fungicide only if there is justifiable disease potential, harvesting in the autumn when grain moisture is approximately 25 per cent or less, and drying grain down to 15.5 per cent using on-farm grain dryers or through commercial elevators.

A review of the literature revealed some possible strategies for reducing yield losses associated with overwintering corn. These included selecting a hybrid with superior stalk strength, selecting later maturing hybrids, planting at a reduced population (i.e. 60,000 plants per hectare or 24,000 plants per acre). Another possible management strategy is to apply a foliar fungicide around tasseling time, which has been shown to delay leaf senescence and improve stalk strength, which can contribute to improved standability.

Field experiments were initiated to compare the effects of hybrid maturity, plant population, foliar fungicide application and harvest timing on grain yield and standability. Field experiments were initiated in 2009 and 2010 at five separate locations in southern Ontario near Belmont, Ridgetown and Lucan. Of the three locations, Lucan usually receives more snow because it is in the snowbelt region of southwestern Ontario, leeward of Lake Huron. Researchers compared spring versus fall harvest, plant populations (60,000 or 80,000 plants per hectare), with and without an application of Quilt foliar fungicide, and three corn hybrids with differing maturities. The parameters observed were stay-green in the autumn, lodging in spring, and grain yield, moisture and test weight of corn harvested in autumn and spring.

The results point to an overwintering management strategy for corn, which consists of planting at a reduced plant population (24,000 plants per acre) and spraying the crop with a foliar fungicide around tasseling. This strategy minimized yield losses across all hybrids by between 3.5 per cent and 13.2 per cent at four out of five field locations through improvements in corn standability, compared to when the crop overwintered using a standard population and no fungicide application.

While lower plant populations resulted in better standability, it was usually at the expense of some grain yield, Hooker says. An economic analysis of the yield data in this study would be of value to growers, he adds.

Unfortunately, while the overwintering management strategy was an improvement over previous reports of yield losses, lodging was still at unacceptable levels at most locations. High winds, heavy snowfall and other adverse weather conditions can overwhelm any management strategy geared to help mitigate the risks associated with overwintering corn, Hooker says. “At the Lucan location, 100 per cent of the corn was lodged in the spring.”

The study did not look at the effect of overwintering corn on grain vomitoxin levels. Hooker would like to see this addressed in future research.

“Overwintering corn should be considered on a year- and field-specific basis,” he concludes. For example, overwintering may be considered if grain moisture is extremely high (greater than 34 per cent) in November, if drying costs are high, the corn is of inferior quality (the grade of corn can improve with a spring harvest) and if root and stalk strength are excellent.

“The practice of harvesting corn in the spring carries significant risk, mainly due to root and stalk lodging and reduced harvestability,” Hooker says. In areas where the winters are typically harsh, overwintering corn is a risky practice regardless of the management strategy deployed, he cautions. 

 

Feb. 3, 2016 - Monsanto is commercializing its dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in Canada in time for the 2016 growing season, after the company received import approval from China's Ministry of Agriculture.

Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are the industry's first biotech-stacked trait in soybeans to combine the yield potential of the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean trait, along with tolerance to both glyphosate and dicamba. According to Monsanto, field trial results and large scale farmer demonstration trials have shown that the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Crop System is an effective and sustainable weed management tool for tough-to-control and glyphosate-resistant weeds.

To complement the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean trait launch in Canada, Monsanto is also launching XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip Technology, a low-volatility liquid dicamba formulation developed for use in the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. In the United States, the use of dicamba herbicide over the top of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans remains in late stage of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review and is not currently approved by the EPA.

"Managing glyphosate-resistant weeds in soybeans is a growing challenge for many Canadian farmers, particularly in Eastern Canada and they have been looking forward to this important new tool," said Dan Wright, trait launch lead with Monsanto Canada. "The ability to use dicamba, in addition to glyphosate, provides multiple modes of action on every acre and is important to promote long-term sustainability on the farm."

In Canada, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are expected to be available in more than 30 varieties, covering the key soybean growing regions of Southwest Ontario; Eastern Ontario and Quebec; and Western Canada. Growers who have not yet placed pre-orders for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean seed may still have that opportunity pending available supply and should check with their local seed retailer.

For more information, farmers can contact their seed dealer or visit www.genuitytraits.ca.

 

 

Jan. 28, 2016 - Canadian growers now have a new, improved version of herbicide, SOLO WG that has been used to help control tough grassy and broadleaf weeds in Clearfield crops. BASF Canada has received registration from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency for SOLO ADV herbicide for use on Clearfield lentils, Clearfield canola, Clearfield sunflowers and soybeans for the 2016 season.

Post-emergence broadleaf and grass herbicide SOLO ADV offers maximum re-cropping flexibility and easy handling because of its unique liquid formulation with the adjuvant built in. SOLO ADV controls weeds growing at the time of application and offers exceptional follow-crop safety. In addition, SOLO ADV offers broad-spectrum weed control for Clearfield lentils and Clearfield sunflowers.

The new SOLO ADV liquid formulation will replace the current SOLO WG dry formulation and will be available for sale in the 2016 season.

READ MORE.

 

Glyphosate-resistant weeds are not a new problem in Canada, but producers must be proactive to keep these weeds from getting out of control.

There are now five glyphosate-resistant weeds found in Canada: giant ragweed, common ragweed, water-hemp, Canada fleabane and kochia (which is currently the only glyphosate-resistant weed not found in Ontario).

Giant ragweed, the first glyphosate-resistant weed found in Canada, is an aggressive weed that can cause substantial yield losses in field crops if left unchecked. Although it’s not a new problem – giant ragweed was first discovered in Canada in 2008 in Essex County, at the tip of southwestern Ontario – it’s a growing issue, according to Peter Sikkema, a researcher at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus. He notes glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed has so far been confined to the six most southerly counties of the province. However, the weed is becoming increasingly prevalent in corn and soybean fields, and growers need to be vigilant in order to protect their fields.

Sikkema warns that if no action is taken to control giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida L.), the potential yield loss is very high. His research has shown yield losses in corn from giant ragweed ranged from 63 to 82 per cent, with an average of 72 per cent. In soybean, the yield losses ranged from 19 to 96 per cent, with an average of 73 per cent.

In the past, giant ragweed was mainly found along roadsides and creeks, but a shift to no-till soybean production has allowed giant ragweed to gain a foothold in southwestern Ontario, according to Sikkema.

The annual weed reproduces by seed and grows up to four metres in height. According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Publication 505: Weeds, “It is distinguished by its very tall stature, its large, lobed but not divided leaves, its long, slender spikes of pollen-producing flower heads and its large, angular seeds with spines around the upper shoulder.” For allergy sufferers, its pollen is a common allergen from August to September in southwestern Ontario.

When it comes to controlling glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed in corn, soybean and winter wheat fields, Sikkema says farmers have options. The first line of defense is to use good crop husbandry practices that keep weed populations in check. Using a diverse crop rotation of three or more crops and using herbicides with multiple modes of action is fundamental, Sikkema advises. Other good practices include seeding a cover crop after winter wheat harvest and using practices that give the crop a competitive advantage, such as seeding at higher populations, using narrower row spacing, and controlling insects and diseases, he adds.

Aggressive tillage in spring might be able to control giant ragweed, but Sikkema has doubts about this method of control, particularly the negative effects of aggressive tillage on soil structure and soil health. “I’m not sure that’s a practice that’s sustainable long-term,” he says.

When it comes to control of glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed with alternate herbicides, the options vary by crop. “We have good solutions in corn,” Sikkema says. “Marksman, Banvel and Distinct can be used post-emergence in corn.”

In winter wheat crops, 2,4-D, along with Target, Estaprop, Lontrel and Trophy give good control. In soybean crops, he has found Roundup plus 2,4-D tank-mixed applied pre-plant, seven days before seeding soybean, is very effective. “It’s important to have that seven-day interval to prevent injury to the soybean.”

With soybean, Sikkema notes it’s important to control glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed before the soybean comes up. There are no herbicides applied post-emergent that provide acceptable control of glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed in soybean, he says.

Giant ragweed seedlings initially emerge in early spring. They can be identified by their spatulate (spoon-shaped) cotyledons, which unfold from a hairless hypocotyl and an indentation at the base of the cotyledons. The first true leaves are entire and ovate with deep lobes.

Farmers are doing a good job of managing glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed, Sikkema says. However, he cautions that some giant ragweed biotypes have multiple resistances to both glyphosate and Group 2 herbicides. In the future, Sikkema says the Roundup Ready Xtend soybean, which are resistant to both Roundup and dicamba, will give farmers another tool for managing glyphosate-resistant weeds.  

 

 

 

Nov. 27, 2015 - The Canadian Weed Science Society / Société canadienne de malherbologie (CWSS-SCM) honored several individuals for their extraordinary contributions to the field of weed science. The awards were presented during the organization's 69th annual meeting, held Nov 22-26, 2015 in Edmonton, Alta.

Excellence in Weed Science Award (sponsored by Dow AgroSciences): CWSS-SCM honored Stephen Darbyshire, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa, Ont. Stephen's research focuses on developing new information on the taxonomy, phylogeny, and distribution of weeds and invasive plants. He has collected approximately 10,000 specimens of plant, bryophyte, and fungal specimens, primarily from Canada. Darbyshire has served on the board of directors for CWSS-SCM and has held numerous leadership positions within the society, including publications director. He has published more than 95 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 50 monographs or book chapters, supervised and co-supervised several graduate students, and presented over 30 papers at scientific conferences.

Excellence in Weed Extension Award (sponsored by Valent): CWSS-SCM honored Danielle Bernier, a weed scientist and extension specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture in the Province of Quebec. Bernier has developed great expertise locally, and is well known across the country for her tireless efforts in extending weed science to growers and industry personnel. Bernier has made dozens of presentations each year to producers and at scientific meetings, has produced over 65 extension bulletins for the province of Quebec, as well as serving in various capacities within the CWSS-SCM.

Outstanding Industry Member Award (sponsored by CWSS-SCM): CWSS-SCM honored Mark Lawton, technology development lead with Monsanto, based in Guelph, Ont. Lawton is responsible for the team that provides technical support for current products and the development of new products within Monsanto. In addition to serving in this technical capacity, he has published 18 peer-reviewed manuscripts, given over 25 papers at scientific conferences, and has served on the committee of numerous graduate students at the University of Guelph.

Meritorious Service Award (sponsored by CWSS-SCM): CWSS-SCM honoured Ken Sapsford, an independent consultant from Kaleden, BC. Sapsford was formerly a research assistant at the University of Saskatchewan. Sapsford has been very active within the CWSS-SCM, serving on three local arrangements committees, and as a member of the board of directors for six years. Beyond his dedication to the society, he has been very active in extension to agronomists and growers throughout his career. Sapsford's research contributions include authoring or co-authoring five peer-reviewed manuscripts, 66 conference and workshop proceedings, 20 technical reports to industry, 106 extensions presentations, and over 65 media interviews.

Student Scholarships and Travel Awards

  • 1st Place Award for a Ph.D. student (sponsored by Monsanto) was presented to Breanne Tidemann, from the University of Alberta. Tidemann's research focuses on the potential impact of collecting weed seeds at crop harvest on the contribution to subsequent populations. She is supervised by Drs. Linda Hall (University of Alberta) and K. Neil Harker (AAFC Lacombe, Alta.).
  • 2nd Place Award for a Ph.D. student (sponsored by Syngenta) was presented to Charles Geddes from the University of Manitoba. Research by Geddes covers optimization methods to reduce populations of volunteer canola in subsequent soybean crops. He is supervised by Dr. Rob Gulden.
  • 3rd Place Award for a Ph.D. student (sponsored by CWSS-SCM) was presented to Holly Byker from the University of Guelph. The work of Byker focuses on the biology and management of glyphosate-resistant common ragweed. Drs. Peter Sikkema and Darren Robinson are her supervisors.
  • 1st Place Award for a M.Sc. student (sponsored by Monsanto) was presented to Katherine Stanley from the University of Saskatchewan. Stanley's work focuses on the potential of mechanical weed control in organic pulse crop production. She is supervised by Dr. Steve Shirtliffe.
  • 2nd Place Award for a M.Sc. student (sponsored by Dow AgroSciences) was presented to Christopher Budd from the University of Guelph. Budd's work focuses on the control of glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane in soybean. He is supervised by Dr. Peter Sikkema.
  • 3rd Place Award for a M.Sc. student (sponsored by CWSS-SCM) was presented to Amy Mangin from the University of Alberta. The work of Mangin focuses on optimizing the efficacy of pyroxasulfone on wild oat. Dr. Linda Hall is her supervisor.

 

New canola hybrids are being introduced in commercial quantities for the 2016 growing season. Photo by Janet Kanters.

Top Crop Manager has assembled a list of new canola hybrids that are being introduced in commercial quantities for the 2016 growing season. The respective seed companies provide the information, and growers are encouraged to look at third party trials, such as the Canola Council of Canada’s Canola Performance Trials, for further performance and agronomic information. Talk to local seed suppliers to see how new varieties also performed in local trials.

Bayer CropScience
InVigor L241C is the newest LibertyLink, clubroot-resistant hybrid with outstanding yield potential, strong standability and a mid maturity suited for all clubroot affected regions of Western Canada. InVigor L241C yielded two per cent higher than InVigor L135C and 102 per cent of the checks (InVigor 5440 and Pioneer 45H29) in 2012-2013 Western Canadian Canola/Rapeseed Recommending Committee (WCC/RRC) co-op trials.

InVigor L157H is the newest LibertyLink, specialty oil hybrid in the InVigor Health hybrid offering. It matures a day earlier than InVigor L156H and offers growers higher yield potential plus the security of a contract premium. InVigor L157H yielded 97 per cent of the checks (InVigor 5440 and Pioneer 45H29) in 2013-2014 WCC/RRC co-op trials.

BrettYoung
6074 RR is the first of the next wave of high-yielding canola hybrids from BrettYoung. 6074RR was the highest yielding Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid in the 2014 Canola Performance trials (109 per cent of check overall). 6074 RR performed well in all zones but is best suited to the mid- and long-season canola zones. It matures 1.4 days later than the checks, is resistant to blackleg and has an excellent rating for harvestability.

6080 RR is BrettYoung’s newest Genuity Round Ready hybrid. In 2014 trials it was very similar to 6074 RR in yield (108 per cent of checks in co-op trials), harvestability and about one day earlier in maturity. 6080 RR is resistant to blackleg, matures 0.86 days later than the checks and is adapted to all canola production zones.

6076 CR is a new high yielding hybrid, resistant to clubroot (pathotypes 2, 3, 5, 6, 8) and has intermediate resistance to the 5X pathotype. Yields in 2014 were equal to the checks. It is a large plant with excellent harvestability. It is also resistant to blackleg, and matures 2.4 days later than the checks.

Canterra Seeds
CS2100 is a high yielding GENRR hybrid with multigenic blackleg resistance for the long season zone. CS2100 is off to a strong start, yielding 115.5 per cent of 74-44 BL at Etzikom, Alta. in its first trial in 2015. This full-season hybrid possesses multigenic resistance to blackleg that provides more durable defense making it less prone to breakdown by new races of the disease. CS2100 has also been observed to have a higher degree of pod shatter tolerance compared to checks, potentially making it a good straight cut option. CS2100 is available at Canterra Seeds shareholders businesses, independent crop input dealers and through UFA.

CS2200 CL is a new high-yielding Clearfield hybrid with full season maturity, great standability and a solid resistant rating to blackleg. As a Clearfield, it could qualify for non-GMO crush programs. CS2200 CL is available at Canterra Seeds shareholders businesses, independent crop input dealers and through UFA.

Cargill
Victory V12-3 Hybrid: High yields with clubroot resistance, Victory V12-3 is a Roundup Ready hybrid with a yield potential of 103 per cent of 45H29. Along with clubroot resistance, it has an industry-leading, multigenic blackleg resistance package delivering a resistant rating for blackleg and is also resistant for Fusarium wilt. V12-3 has very good early season vigour and great yield potential with excellent standability. V12-3 is part of the Cargill Specialty Canola Program delivering higher returns for growers.

Dow AgroSciences
Nexera 1020 RR: New generation of Nexera canola Roundup Ready hybrid offering improved disease resistance. 1020 RR is the first Nexera hybrid to offer clubroot resistance with a very strong resistant rating in recent public co-op trials. Maturity is one day earlier than 1012 RR and the hybrid has demonstrated strong yield in performance trials. This hybrid is suitable to the mid- and long-season growing zones in Western Canada.

Nexera 1022 RR: New generation of Nexera canola Roundup Ready hybrid offering improved disease resistance. 1022 RR offers improved, multigene blackleg resistance with a very strong resistant rating in recent public co-op trials. 1022 RR matures one day earlier than 1012 RR and has demonstrated strong yield performance in trials. This hybrid fits well in the mid- and long-season growing zones in Western Canada.

Nexera 2022 CL: New generation of Nexera canola CL hybrid offering improved disease resistance. 2022 CL offers improved, multigene blackleg resistance with a very strong resistant rating in recent public co-op trials. 2022 CL has similar maturity to 2012 CL and has demonstrated very strong yield in performance trials. This hybrid fits well in the mid- and long-season growing zones in Western Canada.

DuPont Pioneer
46M34 is the first Genuity Roundup Ready canola hybrid that contains the built-in Pioneer Protector HarvestMax trait with a yield potential of 103 per cent of Pioneer hybrid 45H29 in large-scale straight cutting trials across Western Canada in 2014. It has moderately resistant rating for Blackleg and a resistant rating for Fusarium wilt. Pioneer Protector HarvestMax 46M34 reduces the risk of harvest losses from pod shatter and pod drop. Available at all local Pioneer Hi-bred sales representatives across Western Canada.

DuPont Pioneer is also launching the first Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid that contains both built-in Pioneer Protector clubroot resistance and sclerotinia resistance traits. The name has not yet been determined. It has a yield potential of 100 per cent of Pioneer hybrid 45H29 in DuPont Pioneer research trials across Western Canada in 2014 along with a resistant rating for blackleg and Fusarium wilt. This new canola hybrid with the Pioneer Protector Plus traits has excellent early growth, improved standability and high yield potential. Available at all local Pioneer Hi-bred sales representatives across Western Canada.

DEKALB
75-65 RR is a Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid that has a strong agronomic foundation and improved pod integrity that offers the option for straight cutting. It has a dark seed coat and is taller and slightly later maturing than 74-44 BL. Standability is comparable to 74-44 BL and it is rated resistant to both blackleg and Fusarium wilt. Yield potential is strong at 99 per cent of L252 and 103 per cent of 45S54 in Monsanto’s 2014 field scale trials (does not include straight cut trials). 75-65 RR fits broadly across Western Canada and should be a consideration for anyone interested in straight cutting.

75-45 RR is a Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid that offers a unique combination of early maturity and high yield potential. It is earlier than 74-44 BL with similar height and standability, and has a resistant rating to both blackleg and Fusarium wilt. Yield potential is very good at 100 per cent of L130 and 107 per cent of 45S54 in Monsanto’s 2014 breeding trials. 75-45 RR fits particularly well in the short season zones of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and more broadly as an early maturing complement to other products such as 75-65 RR and 74-44 BL to help spread out swathing and harvest operations.

75-57 CR is a Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid that offers clubroot protection as part of a well-rounded agronomic package. It is resistant to a broad range of clubroot pathotypes and has a resistant rating to both blackleg and Fusarium wilt. It is later maturing than 74-44 BL with similar height, good standability, and strong yield potential at 102 per cent of 74-54 RR in Monsanto’s 2014 breeding trials. 75-57 CR provides an excellent solution for growers concerned about clubroot, particularly in central Alberta.

Proven Seeds
PV 200 CL is the newest high-yielding Clearfield hybrid from Proven Seed and has the added benefit of a world-class standability rating. PV 200 CL offers strong resistance to blackleg and Fusarium wilt while bringing in high yields and profits for canola growers. Available exclusively at Crop Production Services.

PV 533 G is a new, high-yielding mid-season Genuity Roundup Ready canola hybrid from the Proven Seed signature lineup, with a yield potential of 104 per cent of DEKALB 74-44 BL. PV 533 G provides growers excellent standability plus a blackleg resistance package that is exhibiting high resistance, even by resistant rating standards. Available exclusively at Crop Production Services.

Syngenta
SY4105 is the first Genuity, Roundup Ready canola hybrid from Syngenta to incorporate clubroot resistance, making it an exceptional seed choice in areas where clubroot is a major concern. SY4105 fits well across mid-season growing zones in Western Canada, and delivers excellent early-season vigour with strong yield performance. SY4105 is currently available for 2016 seeding and can be purchased through a Syngenta seed dealer.

SY4166 is the latest Genuity Roundup Ready canola hybrid from Syngenta. This hybrid is best suited for the mid-to-long season growing zones in Western Canada and includes an excellent agronomic package with multigenic blackleg resistance, good early season vigour and high-end yield potential. SY4166 also boasts excellent standability, which will deliver time savings at swathing and harvest. In a series of 2014 small plot trials, SY4166 reached full maturity, on average, 1.5 days later than SY4135, and 1 to 1.5 days earlier than SY4157. SY4166 will be available for sale starting in fall 2015 for 2016 seeding, and can be purchased through a Syngenta seed dealer.

Company News
In summer 2015, Cargill opened its new state-of-the-art canola processing facility in Camrose, Alta., which has the capacity to process over one million metric tonnes of canola per year, bringing the company’s total crush capacity to 2.5 million metric tonnes. Cargill said 100 jobs were created during the construction phase of the refinery, and 30 new permanent positions were created to operate the plant.

Shortly after, Cargill opened its first canola refinery in Clavet, Sask. The new facility has the capacity to refine one billion pounds of canola oil annually, making it the largest Cargill refinery in North America.

On Aug. 6, 2015, Cargill Specialty Seeds and Oils in Fort Collins, Colo. held a ribbon cutting ceremony showcasing their newly completed seed innovation facility while celebrating the 150th anniversary of Cargill.

 

 

Providing a boost for soybean plants through seed treatments has been a strong area of focus for companies for many years now, and 2015 is no different. Syngenta’s seedcare technical lead, Chris Denys, says the future for seed treatments in the Canadian marketplace looks very good.

“Seed treatments protect the seed and seedlings, ensuring that plants get off to a healthy, vigorous start, which ultimately translates into yield and quality improvements,” Denys explains. “This has been, and remains, the most important benefit of seed treatments. Simply put, our customers invest a lot in their seed and they want to do everything possible to help ensure that those seeds realize their full potential. Beyond that, growers increasingly look to seed treatment technology for other things that contribute to the profitability and sustainability of their farm operations.”

In his view, this includes optimizing seeding rates (due to improved plant stand), minimizing the need for replants, extending the application window for in-season pesticide applications when needed, supporting earlier planting practices and complementing trait technology to manage pests. He says as the complexity of farming increases, whether that is a function of volatility in commodity prices, increasing farm size, climate change or any other number of factors, crop farmers look to technologies like seed treatments to help ensure their success.

Derrick Rozdeba, marketing communications lead at Bayer CropScience, agrees. He says growers are continually looking for new and improved innovations like insecticide options and alternatives for Ontario (where neonic seed treatments usage is currently critically restricted on corn and soybeans), management of soybean cyst nematode (SCN) or sudden death syndrome (SDS), and options for glyphosate-resistant weeds and fungicides for white mold management, to name a few.

What’s new
Syngenta recently brought two new seed treatment technologies to market in Eastern Canada, and more are on the way. Released in mid-June, Clariva pn is described as an innovative biological seed treatment for SCN management. Horst Bohner, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) soybean specialist, says SCN continues to spread across Ontario, so Clariva pn will be a helpful tool for growers.

“Clariva pn treated soybean seeds will take current SCN management programs to the next level by reducing SCN feeding and reproduction,” Denys says. “Clariva pn contains the Pasteuria nishizawae  bacteria as its active ingredient.” When Clariva pn treated seed is planted, the bacterial spores are released into the soil and establish a protective zone around the young soybean plant’s roots. Clariva pn is compatible with, and can be ordered along with, Syngenta’s Cruiser Maxx Vibrance Beans and Vibrance Maxx seed treatments.

Fortenza is Syngenta’s other new offering in Eastern Canada, described as a new alternative class of insecticide chemistry in corn that provides early-season insect control of European chafer, wireworm and cutworm. It is combined with Maxim Quattro seed treatment to provide control of several seed-borne and soil-borne pathogens including Fusarium, pythium, rhizoctonia and aspergillus and  penicillium fungi.

Bayer CropScience is working on a new system called Balance GT Soybean Performance System, with regulatory approval pending. It aims to provide exceptional performance coupled with outstanding weed control. “Balance GT soybeans will be tolerant to both glyphosate and isoxaflutole, the active ingredient in new Balance Bean herbicide and ConvergeFlexx for corn,” Rozdeba explains. “These two chemistries will ensure protection against a variety of weeds.”

When released, Balance will be the first step in a foundational system that will grow to include a triple-stacked herbicide tolerant soybean. Rozdeba says the first of these additional stacks will provide tolerance in soybeans to glyphosate, Balance Bean and glufosinate, the chemistry found in Liberty, and will enable growers to harness three modes of action on one soybean.

Bayer CropScience is also hoping to introduce a new seed treatment in 2018 (pending registration) called iLevo, for control of SDS in soybeans. “This is a very exciting new chemistry and a growing issue in Ontario,” Rozdeba says.

BASF Canada will also launch a new soybean inoculant in the fall of 2015 to the eastern Canadian market. “The new Nodulator PRO 225 will increase yield potential for growers up to eight per cent compared to competitor products,” notes Ariel Gohlke, inoculants brand manager. “Unlike other soybean inoculants on the market, Nodulator PRO 225 features a unique-to-BASF 532C strain of nitrogen fixing rhizobium that was developed for the Canadian market, and a second rhizo-bacteria (B. subtilus) that suppresses disease, promotes root growth and nodulation and improves overall root health.”

Neonic issues
In Denys’ view, neonicotinoid seed treatment technology remains extremely important to agriculture across Canada, both within Ontario and in other provinces. “For example, one of the most frequently cited examples of both the importance and success of this technology is in the production of canola on approximately 20 million acres in Western Canada, which could not be achieved without the use of this technology,” he notes. “And, it is well documented that the use of this technology on a bee-attractive crop such as canola works well for both farmers and crop production, and beekeepers and honey production.”

Denys notes that in the past decade, the number of honeybees in Canada has reached near-record levels, with the majority of colonies in Western Canada, where canola has become one of the most important crops. The health of hives in Western Canada remains high as these two parts of the agriculture sector work side-by-side, he says. “Here in Ontario, we’re concerned that arbitrary reductions on the amount of neonic treated seed planted is not supported by science,” Denys explains. “Recent reports from both the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry and the White House Pollinator Health Task Force in the U.S., for example, have recommended markedly different approaches to dealing with bee health. Furthermore, such a move undermines the competitiveness of Ontario farmers and puts them at a disadvantage relative to farmers in other jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere that continue to have regular access to this technology.”

Rozdeba agrees that neonic seed treatments are still an important market outside Ontario. He says growers still have the option to use seed treatments as a valuable protection tool on the 40 per cent of Canadian soybeans grown outside of Ontario. 

 

Over the years, Canadian soybean growers have earned the reputation of producing some of the best identity-preserved (IP) non-GMO soybeans in the world. One of the reasons for this reputation, according to Eric Gagnon, research and development manager at Sevita Genetics, “has been our decision as an industry to invest in research and development and continuously develop new and better varieties for Canadian farmers to grow.”

Gagnon is leading a project that is a good example of this ongoing effort. The project is using molecular markers to screen breeding material for diverse traits, and selecting the most promising lines to develop new non-GMO varieties targeted to soybean food, feed and oil market demands.

“There has been substantial investment in research to develop new genetics that will enhance the quality and productivity of IP non-GMO soybeans grown by Canadian farmers. This project aims to build on existing research and commercialize it to benefit Canadian farmers and the food-grade soybean industry in general,” he explains. “Our hope is that the use of molecular markers as tools for selection will differentiate Canadian IP non-GMO soybeans even more in the market place.”

A molecular marker, or DNA marker, is a short sequence of DNA associated with a particular trait. Researchers use these markers to quickly screen germplasm in the lab for the desired traits, making their breeding efforts more efficient and effective.

The project, which runs from 2013 to 2018, involves screening a lot of breeding lines, so using markers is a big help. Gagnon says, “At this point, we are screening a few hundred lines for each trait, but as the material becomes more and more promising with each round of backcrossing, we could easily reach thousands, even tens of thousands of lines to be screened each year.”

The project team has obtained germplasm through various exchanges of breeding material with other breeding programs and gene banks. Also, a few of the gene sources are the result of Sevita’s past collaborations with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at Harrow and Ottawa under the Developing Innovative Agri-Products, a Growing Forward 1 program.

“Many of the target genes in this project have been characterized, the markers have been developed and published, and now it’s up to breeding programs to backcross these traits into high-yielding genetics,” Gagnon explains.

“The first step is to breed these traits into a genetic background that is adapted to Canadian growing conditions. When that’s done, it is a matter of using these markers to assist in stacking complementary traits together in high-yielding varieties, doing yield assessments on the developed lines and testing whether they are markedly different from existing varieties. Hopefully we will develop varieties that will be completely distinct from any other variety on the market.”

The markers used in this project have been verified in-house by Sevita Genetics’ senior research scientist Zhiyong Zhang in collaboration with Trent University. Sevita Genetics’ breeders are crossing promising lines at Inkerman, Ont., and its molecular marker team is conducting the screening at Saint-Cesaire, Que.

“We are screening for food traits that will enhance the flavour and processing quality of food-grade soybeans grown by Canadian farmers. We are also screening for traits associated with yield, disease and insect pest resistance, [and for traits that will benefit the feed industry],” Gagnon says.

For example, they are screening for lipoxygenase, which is a type of enzyme. “Lipoxygenase breaks down long-chain fatty acids causing a ‘beany flavour’ in soymilk and tofu when processed,” he explains. “We currently use molecular markers to identify varieties without lipoxygenase so they do not have a beany flavour.”

The fatty acid composition of soybean oil is another area of interest. The project team is using markers to develop varieties with high levels of oleic acid. This heart-healthy fatty acid has a natural stability, which helps food products to maintain their freshness.

As well, the team is looking for low-phytate soybean lines, which are important for animal feed, especially swine rations. Gagnon says, “Phytate is an anti-nutritional in soybean that ties up available phosphorus in the digestive tracts of animals. Varieties with lower levels of phytate mean more phosphorus is available for digestion.” That’s good for the animal. And it’s also good for the environment – if the animal digests more of the phosphorus in its ration, then less phosphorus goes into its manure, which helps reduce the risk to water quality.

Phytate levels are also a consideration in tofu production. “Phytate acts as a buffer for coagulant used in the tofu production process. Reducing phytate in soybean could also reduce the amount of coagulant needed in tofu production and provide a tofu with a more consistent firmness,” Gagnon notes.

The project team is also using markers to identify soybean lines that are better for making firm tofu, based on the ratio between two types of soy proteins.

In addition, the team is interested in soybean lines with low levels of trypsin inhibitors. He explains, “Trypsin inhibitors are another anti-nutritional component in soybean and inactivate the digestive enzyme trypsin in the stomachs of animals. Varieties with reduced trypsin inhibitor levels will also benefit the food and feed industry.”

On the agronomic side, the team is using markers to assist in the development of elite Canadian varieties that have resistance to important soybean pests like soybean cyst nematode and aphids.

Gagnon is pleased with how the project is going so far. “We have already made an impressive amount of progress in breeding these traits into adapted Canadian varieties. Some of the lines containing traits of interest are already in yield trials this year and are being compared to varieties already on the market. The material has improved dramatically with the use of molecular markers, and we look forward to the results this fall. We have also begun to stack traits together to further develop lines with multiple traits of interest.”

 

Oct. 27, 2015 - Crop Production Services (CPS) today launched Proven Seed PV 580 GC, the first true multigenic clubroot resistant variety of canola. According to a company news release, the first-to-field genetics deliver high levels of resistance to the current predominant clubroot pathotypes, as well as some of the newly discovered highly virulent clubroot pathotypes referred to as 5X.

The new Proven Seed variety is the result of multi-year research conducted in collaboration with the University of Alberta and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). "PV 580 GC is a Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid that will be initially available to growers in regions at higher risk of clubroot," said Jamie Mills, canola product line manager, CPS Canada. "CPS sets the bar high for on-farm trials so we can ensure we're testing varities in real conditions our growers face. In 2015, our Proven Performance Trials included over 100 field-scale, producer-managed canola sites. These allow our retail network to confidently recommend the right variety to their customers."

 

Modern farming relies on a combination of the “old” and the “new,” where agricultural systems are built on time-tested knowledge, but rely on constant innovation.

“Novelty,” as it applies to innovations in plant breeding, is subject to rigorous regulatory standards to ensure plants with novel traits (PNTs) increase productivity without unintended effects on systems over time. A PNT can be defined as a variety of a species that contains one or more traits that are new to the species. Novel traits are used for a range of functions in crops across Canada – from heightened insect and disease resistance to improved agronomic performance.

According to Denis Schryburt, acting manager for the media relations office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), novel traits can be introduced using conventional breeding methods, biotechnology or mutagenesis in Canada. Resulting products are evaluated by CFIA based on their performance. “The Canadian biotechnology regulatory system is based on the principle of novelty, meaning that products are regulated based on their characteristics and not by the process by which they were made,” Schryburt says.

Schryburt says that the CFIA defines “novelty” differently depending on how the product is being used. The CFIA is responsible for assessing the safety of new products for release into the environment and use as livestock feed. Health Canada, on the other hand, assesses the product’s safety for use as food.

“In the context of environmental release, we use the term ‘plant with novel traits’ to [describe] a plant that contains a trait that is both new to the Canadian environment and has the potential to affect the specific use and safety of the plant with respect to the environment and human health,” Schryburt explains.

In novel feeds derived from plant sources, novel traits refer to heritable characteristics that are new to the plant species, or endogenous traits that have been modified to behave outside the plant’s conventional parameters.

With regard to novel foods, a novel trait is the introduction of a new or altered characteristic not previously observed in that plant.

The CFIA determines the safety of new products differently for each category. For PNTs, the CFIA evaluates the potential of the plant to become a weed or to be invasive, the potential consequences of gene flow to wild relatives, the potential to increase the activity of a plant pest, the potential impact on non-target species and the potential impact on biodiversity.

Once safety evaluations have been completed for each PNT, the CFIA and Health Canada post documents outlining the rationale for the decision. “Some of the recently authorized products include herbicide-tolerant canola, herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant corn, and soybean that has increased yield potential,” Schryburt says.

Three case studies
The CFIA and Health Canada post “notices of submission” for public comment for each new PNT under review on the CFIA website.

The three items that top the list are Monsanto corn products: MON 87419, genetically modified to exhibit herbicide tolerance; MON 87403, genetically modified for increased ear biomass; and MON 87411, genetically modified for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. Each PNT includes a novel trait based on the use of novel genes or uses a previously approved gene in a new crop type.

MON 87419 uses DMO, or a dicamba mono-oxygenase protein conferring tolerance to the herbicide dicamba, for the first time in corn, though it’s been approved in cotton and soybeans. MON 87403 uses a novel gene, the ATHB17 gene from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, for the first time in any plant, to increase corn ear biomass. MON 87411 contains a novel insecticide trait that uses RNA interference to target SNF7, an essential protein involved in intercellular trafficking in corn rootworm.

According to Kevin Gellatly, regulatory affairs manager for biotechnology with Monsanto Canada, bringing a new genetically engineered crop to farmers’ fields is a long and expensive enterprise that costs an average of US$136 million, and takes at least 13 years from product concept to launch.

Monsanto divides the regulatory process into five “phases”: the discovery phase, during which genes or traits are identified (54 months); phase 1, or “proof of concept,” (27 months); phase 2 for early development (30 months); phase 3 for advanced development (37 months) and phase 4 for prelaunch (49 months).

Gellatly says the discovery phase begins with Monsanto’s team whittling down a list of thousands of potential gene candidates to primary and secondary candidates, with gene candidates exhibiting potential risks to humans, livestock or the environment eliminated before phase 4. “By the end of phase 4, a single candidate will have been selected based on years of laboratory and field testing, including well-designed scientific studies that must meet the requirements of scientists from dozens of global regulatory organizations,” he says.

Gellatly says each of Monsanto’s three new PNTs is at the regulatory approval stage, “which places their progress around the beginning of phase 4,” he explains. “If we include the discovery phase, these PNTs have been ‘in the works’ for approximately 13 years.”

The regulatory process is similar for all three PNTs, according to Gellatly. “In Canada, duplicate dossiers are submitted to the Health Canada Novel Foods Division and CFIA’s Animal Feed Division, which independently review food and feed safety data, respectively, and determine whether the product is authorized for use as food and feed,” he says. “A separate dossier is submitted to the CFIA Plant Biosafety Office which reviews the environmental safety data and determines whether the product is authorized for environmental release.”

Each dossier contains descriptions of the host plant, the modification, the inheritance and stability of the introduced trait, and the novel traits, proof of the absence of toxicity of the novel gene products, a nutritional evaluation of the novel plant, allergenicity/toxicity considerations, and an evaluation of the environmental impact of the novel plant. Historically, Monsanto products receive Canadian food, feed and environmental authorization approximately two years before they are eligible for commercial launch, Gellatly says. However, due to changes in some international regulatory systems, launch dates for new products are less certain due to lengthening global approval timelines.

September 25, 2015 - Over 4400 harvest samples from Canadian grain producers have already arrived at the Canadian Grain Commission. However, more samples are needed to ensure our quality data is representative of this year's crop.

Harvest sample kits were mailed to registered participants, beginning in August and samples began arriving at Canadian Grain Commission headquarters soon after. If you've received your envelopes and have not sent in a sample yet, please send it as soon as you can.Producers who are not already registered have until October 15, 2015 to sign up. Registration can be completed online or by calling 1-800-853-6705.

The Harvest Sample Program is voluntary and free to producers. In exchange for taking part, participants receive an unofficial grade and quality information about their grain. Each fall, the Canadian Grain Commission publishes quality data based on analysis of harvest samples. This data is used to promote the sale of Canadian grain.

Participating in the Harvest Sample Program is easy and starts with signing up to receive your free kit, which includes postage-paid envelopes and instructions for sending in your sample.

Even if you have a good idea about the quality of your grain, by sending in your sample, you'll also be able to access detailed information, such as:

  • Protein content on cereal grains and pulses
  • Oil, protein and chlorophyll content for canola
  • Oil and protein content and iodine value for flaxseed
  • Oil and protein for mustard seed and soybeans

We use harvest samples to test the quality of the annual crop. Crop data helps with the marketing of Canadian grain to customers. Your harvest samples also contribute to important scientific research into grading issues and finding new uses and markets for Canadian grain.

Sign up, send a sample and get your results http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/quality-qualite/hsp-per/hspm-mper-eng.htm

The introduction of earlier maturing soybean varieties has allowed growers outside of the more traditional soybean growing area in Manitoba to successfully grow soybeans. Growers in southwestern Manitoba, southeastern Saskatchewan and increasingly more northwest areas in Saskatchewan are trying soybeans in rotation.

And, a large portion of the expanding soybean acreage in Western Canada is expected to include Roundup Ready (RR) or glyphosate-resistant (GR) soybean varieties.

According to Christian Willenborg, assistant professor in the department of plant sciences at the University of Saskatchewan, the most important requirement for growing soybeans is weed control. “Much like corn, soybeans do not tolerate the presence of weeds very well compared to crops like canola, wheat or oat. They respond very negatively to the presence of weeds, so very good weed control is required, which is why so many growers are interested in growing RR soybeans. However, many of these growers are also growing RR canola, which can volunteer and become a problem in RR soybean crops.”

In a three-year project initiated in 2014, Willenborg, graduate student Ally Mierau and colleagues are trying to determine how to manage RR canola volunteers in RR soybean crops, including chemical and cultural management options. “One of the major objectives is to determine what is the best chemistry to control volunteer RR canola in RR soybeans. The second objective is to determine whether other cultural controls could be used to help manage RR canola volunteers in RR soybeans, including soybean seeding rate and seeding date.”

Several chemical control trials under way are comparing pre-emergent treatments alone (Roundup WeatherMAX, Heat, Express SG, Focus, 2,4-D ester, Valtera), a combination of pre- and post-emergent treatments, and post-emergent treatments (Roundup WeatherMAX, Odyssey, Viper ADV, Basagran Forte, Cadet, Reflex, Solo, thifensulfuron) alone. The trials include chemistries currently used in Western Canada as well as some products that are so far only registered in Eastern Canada for soybeans, such as FirstRate (chloransulam-methyl) and FirstRate plus Express, as well as Reflex (registered in Manitoba).

The cultural control trials include three targeted seeding dates: early May, mid-May and early June. Seeding rates include 10, 20, 40, 80 and 160 plants/m2 (42,000, 83,000, 165,000, 330,000 and 660,000 seeds per acre). Where possible, soybeans were seeded in plots on land that had been planted to glyphosate-resistant canola in the past two years. Volunteer canola populations were supplemented to achieve a population of 40 plants/m2, though actual densities achieved approximated 20 plants m2 in 2014. In the trials, information including crop and weed counts, and biomass, thousand seed weight, yield and percentage of canola seed in harvested grain sample is being collected.

Preliminary results after only one year of the study are showing some promising options. “In the chemistry trial comparisons, we found some pre-emergent treatments alone did not always provide control long enough into the growing season to provide acceptable control because volunteer canola can flush at different times,” Willenborg explains. “Some post-emergent applications alone also did not provide enough control, as in some cases the growth stage of the volunteer canola was too advanced for acceptable control.

“The best strategy seems to be a pre-emergent application followed by a post-emergent application in-crop if needed. In most cases with volunteer canola, a post-emergent application will be required to control later-season flushes of volunteers.”

Although all the products provided good control, some of the trials showed a higher risk for crop damage due to the nature of some Saskatchewan soil conditions. “Some of the products, because of the soil texture, organic matter and in some cases excessively wet or dry conditions, may result in some products having too much of a residual or carryover effect,” Willenborg says.

Preliminary results showed pre-emergent applications of Heat and Express SC provided some residual control of RR canola. A post-emergent application of Odyssey and Viper ADV controlled over 97 per cent of RR canola, and Basagran Forte controlled 82 per cent.

The project continues for another two years, at which time more complete results and recommendations will be available.

Other management strategies
Growers should consider using chemistries with multiple modes of action when dealing with RR canola volunteers in RR soybeans. “This is not just about resistance management, it is also about emergence timing of volunteer canola and controlling multiple flushes of the volunteer population,” Willenborg says.

“It is also important to recognize volunteer canola control starts in the years prior to growing soybeans, or in the canola phase of the rotation. This starts with harvest management, including proper swath timing at 60 per cent colour change to minimize pod shatter and the spread of seeds. Make sure combine settings are set to minimize volunteer seed return or harvest losses to minimize additions of canola to the seedbank.”

At the University of Manitoba (U of M), graduate students are working with Rob Gulden, associate professor in the department of plant science, to study economic thresholds of volunteer canola in soybeans and seedbank management of volunteers. “In the first study, soybeans seeded with wide rows (30 inch) and narrow rows (7.5 to 10 inch) are being compared in terms of densities of volunteer canola,” Gulden explains. “Volunteer canola can be quite competitive with soybean and it is not a surprise that it likes to grow fast in the spring and over-tower the soybean crop. The preliminary action thresholds developed from this study, which were measured at five per cent yield loss, are two to three volunteer canola plants/m2 in narrow row plantings and about the same in wide rows.”

In field surveys, densities of volunteer canola were often much below the threshold, although there were patches where densities were above. In many cases the visual assessment looked worse because flowering canola is taller than soybean, but the actual thresholds weren’t necessarily an economic concern. However, growers should still be controlling canola volunteers much earlier.

“At higher volunteer canola densities, narrow row spacing always had lower yield losses than wide row spacing at the same soybean densities,” Gulden says. “A couple of the wide row trial sites had some unexpected results, so we are planning to continue the study for another year to refine the thresholds for both wide and narrow row spacing.”

The second U of M project is looking at seedbank management of volunteer canola right after harvest to drive down the seedbank. “Our results so far are showing that relatively early soil disturbance to some degree after harvest may be a good strategy, which is different than from what is being reported in Europe,” Gulden notes. “The disturbance can be as little as a pass with a harrow shortly after harvest, or a shallow tillage operation to encourage volunteer germination and emergence in the fall and decreased winter survival of the seedbank. Some of the treatments included planting a winter wheat crop into canola stubble, which had the same effect. Late tillage or disturbance did not work as well. We also have other projects looking at other alternatives underway.”

Willenborg adds while limiting tillage keeps volunteer canola near the surface, allowing it to be exposed to winter elements and seed predators such as birds, rodents and insects, tillage itself can induce dormancy and impede removal efforts, much like with cleavers. “Consider adding a cereal to the rotation, which allows for greater competition, and herbicides that provide good control of volunteer RR canola,” he says. “Soybeans don’t compete well, so enhancing row spacing and increasing seeding rates improves competition with volunteers. Managing fertility effectively and good integrated crop management practices including preseed and post-emergent herbicides that sets the soybean crop up to outcompete volunteers will be critical in the long-term management of growing RR soybeans and RR canola.”

 

If research and development stays on track, farmers could experience barcoding when it comes to spraying for weeds.

Researchers at the University of Guelph have been working hard for the last 12 years to generate “Barcodes of Life” and recently, they’ve turned their attention to weed species. It’s called the Weed Barcode of Life project (Weed-BOL) and Steven Newmaster is one of the lead researchers working on the project.

“My expertise is plant taxonomy and weeds are one of the toughest groups,” he explains. “We built a DNA sequence library for all the weeds in Ontario so we can have all the genetic variability, and we are very confident that if you have some unknown material, then match it to our library, you’ll get a good answer.”

The original idea for developing DNA barcoding systems was initially proposed by Newmaster’s colleague, Paul Hebert, back in 2003. His work was originally based on finding a short gene sequence at one standard location in the genome to identify different species but unfortunately that method doesn’t work on land plants. Newmaster’s research revealed that the chance of finding another equally accurate gene sequence at one location in the relatively more complicated genomes of plants would be slim. So his team worked to develop a system that relies on one standard gene sequence location combined with a secondary region to produce a barcode for plants. In his research paper, Newmaster writes that traditional taxonomic practices are no longer capable of meeting growing needs for accurate and accessible information with millions of species still unknown and unnamed by the Linnaean system.

Closer to home, Mike Cowbrough, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) weed specialist, supports Newmaster’s assessment with his own example of how this impacts the agriculture industry.

“Everyone’s on the lookout for Palmer amaranth and there’s been a lot of false positives,” he says. The genetic library, now maintained at the university, makes it possible to analyze suspicious plants conclusively using a quick DNA test, but Cowbrough thinks it would be great to have it right in the field for these cases someday.

Newmaster says what Cowbrough is envisioning is actually very attainable. Although they’ve had difficulty securing the funding to develop these tools, he says the machine they’re currently using to test samples could be made into a jet printer-sized version, costing perhaps $10,000, which could be centrally located for farmers to use at experimental farms or grain facilities. He says it could be built in the next five years, and a sample run on the machine would cost farmers maybe a dollar rather than the $30 it costs to submit samples to the university right now.

Newmaster says the next step after that would be to design probes that worked as a cellphone attachment or even directly on field equipment, but that might be 10 years in the making. Probe development will also depend on the adoption and popularity of current ID services. If they find hay producers make the most use of sampling to provide quality assurance to customers or test for fillers in uncertified seed purchases or ensure a pasture is free of noxious weeds, they’ll focus on developing technologies for these purposes. But if farmers start testing the wheat seed they’re overwintering or elevators want to check how clean canola samples really are, then they’ll focus on these markets instead. Newmaster says they’ve already assumed farmers will want quantitative estimates from these samples, not just the current listing of DNA material found. Cowbrough says developing accurate procedures for this is a process in itself.

The other technology Cowbrough thinks farmers will also be interested in is identifying resistant weeds. Thanks to work by Francois Tardif, he says they now know how to identify the genetic mutation that lends weeds resistance to Group 2 herbicides but glyphosate resistance hasn’t been linked to any amino acid sequences yet. Cowbrough says it shouldn’t be long before they know how to develop probe technology to identify this too. Newmaster says he’s also working on this area with a group of researchers based in Australia who are very interested in DNA barcoding technology.

“As we capture the data and start to identify glyphosate resistance in species, we also want to be able to map it and have that data available for farmers to see,” he says. “I’m hoping there will be a desire to share data that way, so we can alert farmers.”

July 15, 2015 - A federal investment of $792,064 to the Atlantic Grains Council (AGC) to improve the quality and output of grains and oilseeds produced in the three Maritime provinces was announced today in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Under the project, field trials will be conducted to look at ways to boost the output of corn and soybean crops, ensure effective fungicide use, and identify agronomic and meteorological factors affecting grain and oilseed yields.

This is AGC's first large-scale research project investing producer contributions from a new research check-off fund. In addition to providing project funding, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is providing scientific expertise to research crop disease and yield enhancement in small grain cereals and soybeans, as well as to identify the factors affecting the yields of these grain and oilseeds.

 

May 7, 2015 - BASF recently announced the registration of CARAMBA fungicide in Eastern Canada on corn for suppression of Fusarium and Gibberella ear rot (Fusarium graminearum and Gibberella zeae) for the 2015 growing season.

"As part of BASF's commitment to bringing new and innovative solutions to the marketplace, we are thrilled to announce the registration of CARAMBA fungicide on corn in Eastern Canada," says Piero Castro, Brand Manager for Fungicides and Insecticides at BASF Canada. "The active ingredient in CARAMBA, metconazole, has been proven to provide excellent results in reducing DON levels as well as increasing grain yield and quality."

CARAMBA is a systemic triazole fungicide with the unique ability to manage fungal diseases like Fusarium. For Fusarium and Gibberella ear rot suppression, CARAMBA should be applied (as a preventative application) between full silk emergence to silk browning.

For more information about CARAMBA fungicide visit www.agsolutions.ca or via Twitter @BASFAgSolutions.

Always read and follow label directions.

CARAMBA is a registered trade-mark of Agro B.V. used with permission by BASF Canada Inc.

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