Top Crop Manager

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Pushing the boundaries of canola

Developed by Viterra, XCEED canola is a new version of Brassica juncea bred to produce canola-quality oil and express the CLEARFIELD trait for herbicide tolerance


November 6, 2008
By Top Crop Manager

Topics

New variety combines oil with enhanced tolerances.

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XCEED canola is harvested from a 2008 grower plot.

A new type of canola with increased stress tolerance is helping to expand the boundaries of canola production and improve canola producers’ competitive position.

Developed by Viterra, XCEED canola is a new version of Brassica juncea bred to produce canola-quality oil and express the CLEARFIELD trait for herbicide tolerance. It offers improved tolerance to heat, frost and drought and increased pod-shatter resistance, making it an excellent option in regions where canola production has been limited in the past.

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While Brassica juncea varieties, including XCEED canola, are closely related to Polish canola (Brassica rapa) and Argentine canola (Brassica napus), they have a unique level of hardiness. “Juncea  could prove to be a very good fit for southern Prairie regions, including southwest Saskatchewan and southern Alberta, where low moisture and high heat have limited canola production in the past,” says Chris Anderson, vice president of Crop Production for the Canola Council of Canada.

As a result of these attributes, the Canola Council estimates that juncea could expand the range of canola by 1.5 to 2 million acres a year. “If all these benefits shake out, expect more interest in juncea, even in areas where regular canola grows well,” says Anderson. “It should be a great additional tool for managing a number of issues for canola producers.”

For the 2009 growing season, the first two herbicide-tolerant XCEED canola varieties, which are the result of a joint effort by Viterra and BASF, will be commercially available this fall. Sold exclusively by Viterra, these herbicide-tolerant varieties represent the newest additions to the CLEARFIELD family of crop production systems.

“Herbicide-tolerant XCEED canola is a made-for-Canada innovation, allowing growers in areas where regular canola hasn’t been a strong agronomic option to diversify their rotation and benefit from high oilseed prices,” says Harley House, CLEARFIELD brand manager for BASF.

Both XCEED canola varieties deliver excellent yield results. They also show resistance to blackleg and Fusarium wilt, as well as possess good standability. In the summer of 2008, Viterra collaborated with growers from across Western Canada to quantify the traits of XCEED. Growers partnered with Viterra to grow and harvest 20-acre plots of XCEED to experience the crop for themselves. The results of these trials will be available late in 2008. “With excellent yield potential and numerous improvements over conventional canola varieties, such as increased heat, frost and drought resistance, farmers can now grow and harvest canola like never before,” says Doug Knight, director of seed marketing/sales and operations for Viterra.

The difference in appearance between conventional canola and XCEED canola is minimal during plant growth. XCEED canola has a more upright plant structure, and does not branch out as much as traditional canola varieties. In addition, an XCEED canola plant tends to be a slightly different shade of green than conventional canola, and has a yellow seed coat. At maturity, the stem of XCEED is very upright. This, combined with the fact that trials have shown XCEED seed pods to be more shatter resistant, allows for the crop to be straight-cut combined, delivering the bonus of time and fuel savings.

For its part, the Canola Council is optimistic about the prospects for juncea. In its long-term planning document, “Canola Growing Great 2015,” the Canola Council said that demand for canola would continue to increase, driven by more health-conscious consumers and the increasing use of biodiesel. To meet that demand, the Council anticipates that canola will comprise 17 million cultivated acres in Canada by 2015. And part of that acreage, the document says, will likely be made up by the expansion of juncea varieties, including XCEED canola, into “areas currently not viable for traditional napus canola lines.”

According to Anderson, increasing the supply of canola is just part of the juncea  advantage. “By having genetics in the market that are more tolerant to the conditions that harm yield in our current canola varieties, we can assure our trading partners of a more stable supply of canola oil. And that only serves to improve global demand for canola oil overall."