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Healthy growth for specialties

Hybrid launch enhances specialty canolas as end use expands.

November 29, 2007  By Top Crop Manager

Cargill Specialty Canola Oils has scored a victory with new hybrids – the next generation of high oleic specialty canolas available in western Canada. The new Victory hybrids boast higher yields with as much as a 19 to 25 percent yield increase over most open-pollinated canola varieties. Both hybrids also include Roundup Ready genetics, the only high oleic canola varieties available with the popular weed control system.

High oleic canola oil is helping to make healthier snacks.

"There have been significant strides forward in the past few years in how specialty canola varieties perform from a yield and agronomic perspective. We're particularly excited about the new Victory hybrids," says Gary Galbraith, Canadian production manager based in Calgary, Alberta, with Cargill Specialty Canola Oils.

The new high-yielding varieties give a distinct advantage to growing specialty canola, which makes the whole program more rewarding than ever. "This is an evolution in specialty canola and our growers can share the rewards," says Galbraith.


Grower trials were conducted this summer on 35 farms across the prairies and replicated at least twice at each site. The two hybrids tested were Victory V1030 and Victory V1031. They were tested against tough competitors and achieved excellent results.

Growers noticed a distinct advantage in the Victory hybrids right from the start. "This is our fourth year of trials with the Victory hybrids, the plants showed early vigour, consistent growth and a uniform crop," says Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, grower Duane Yaworski with AgriSkills Field Trial Network. His is one of eight sites across western Canada with four replications. "Last year we had moderate conditions with cooler weather and probably adequate moisture and Victory did well. But this year, with a better growing year, the Victory hybrids have really responded. Not all varieties will really respond like this."

Just a little further south, James Mitchell, farm manager for Weyga Farms in Camrose, Alberta, agrees, "The early season vigour and uniformity was great, the crop resembled InVigor – it flowered evenly, had big leaves and even ground cover."

Last year, yield results were better than expected with an average of 35 to 40 bushels per acre. Trials in 2003 confirmed higher yields with Victory V1030 reaching 125 percent and Victory V1031 reaching 119 percent of yields against competitive canola check varieties such as 46A65 and Q2. This year, trial results are not complete, but all indications are that Victory yields will be competitive once again with other hybrids.

Yaworski says, "We grow a number of different varieties and the Victory hybrids have performed as comparable or even a little better." Before harvest, he was expecting to yield about 45bu/ac.

Although Mitchell's crop experienced a bit of drought stress in July, he still felt that his yields would be good, "All we grow are hybrids, and Victory varieties have performed well. They seem to be a little more vigorous than the others, we expect to see about 40bu/ac this year."

Cargill anticipates complete trial results by early November, to see full results or find out more information on Victory hybrids, visit

CSCO research and local plant breeding site at Clavet, Saskatchewan.

Demand for healthier oil
The demand for high oleic canola oil among food companies across North America is growing quickly. There are two primary factors influencing this new market. The first is driven by consumer demand for healthier choices from the food industry in North America. The second, from new labelling regulations mandated by Health Canada, and those proposed by the US Food and Drug Administration for 2006, that will require food processors to show saturated fat and trans fatty acid content right on the product label.

The Victory canola hybrids produce oil with a composition of high oleic acid and low linoleic acid, which gives the oil better stability and a slightly better taste. The oil is specially developed for high-heat, high-stress food preparation applications and for ingredients and coatings in food processing, while maintaining saturated fat content and eliminating trans fatty acids. Most liquid oils require hydrogenation, a process that produces trans fatty acids, to obtain the same stability found in high oleic canola oil.

According to Health Canada, most of the trans fat in our diet comes from margarines, commercially fried foods and bakery products made with shortening, margarine, or partially hydrogenated oil. Common products high in trans fat include crackers, cookies, doughnuts, pastries, muffins and many snack foods. Science shows that consuming trans fat can increase the risk of developing heart disease. Health experts have suggested that just one gram per day of trans fat can equal a 20 percent increase in the potential for heart attacks.

High oleic canola oil – as a trans fat-free oil – provides a solution for consumers and manufacturers such as Kraft and Frito Lay which are looking for healthier alternatives. "Manufacturers are looking to our high oleic oil as a key ingredient to eliminate trans fat and lower saturated fats, producing a label that is attractive to the consumer," says Galbraith.

Both food companies and restaurant chefs are expected to increase their reliance on high oleic canola oil for its superior nutrition and excellent performance. "With the yield increase of our new hybrids and the growing market opportunities, it makes good economic sense to grow specialty canola," adds Galbraith.

Anthony Richardson grows Victory canola on his farm in Cudworth, Saskatchewan.

The research behind Victory
Cargill Specialty Canola Oils began hybrid research in 1998 and is developing a lineup of high oleic canola hybrids. It takes seven to nine years and costs millions of dollars to develop a new hybrid. Cargill tests thousands of varieties each year to finally bring two or three varieties to market.

In addition to the grower field trials being conducted by Yaworski and Mitchell, testing of the two new hybrids, V1030 and V1031, are being conducted at 18 local plant breeding sites in key production regions.

Deng Xinmin, manager, plant breeding for Cargill Specialty Canola Oils in Camrose, Alberta, says, "The Victory hybrids are proving competitive with commercial Roundup Ready hybrids. Victory has shown consistent performance with early seedling vigour, good standability and good disease resistance." Growers can expect that with ideal growing conditions and good management this year, the hybrids will meet expectations. Deng adds, "We are looking forward to yields higher than other open-pollinated varieties grown in the same conditions."

There are four CSCO research sites in North America including Camrose, Alberta; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Elm Creek, Manitoba; and Idaho Falls, Idaho. Researchers are continuing to develop hybrids that will produce even healthier oils with increased stability and a more attractive agronomic package. 


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