Selecting a new variety — tips

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Every year canola growers have a couple dozen new canola varieties to consider. The decision to add one or two new varieties to their rotation hinges on yield potential, disease management requirements, maturity, lodging resistance and price.

Growers who try new varieties on a couple quarters per year achieve two goals: One, they keep up with new technology, such as yield advancements and disease tolerance traits, and two, they keep most of their acres in varieties proven to work on their farms. Trying a new variety on 10% to 15% of acres will give growers an impression of how it works under their farm management.

So how do growers decide which variety to pick?

Growers may look for specific traits, such as clubroot resistance, sclerotinia tolerance or early maturity. And they may want to rotate herbicide tolerant systems or choose a system to match their weed spectrum. But they also want to see good yield potential, blackleg resistance, lodging resistance and harvestability.

For performance comparisons, growers talk to neighbours, retailers, agronomists and company representatives as well as the producers who may have conducted seed company variety trials. When asking about trials, find out the treatments used and ask for local data as well as data for other locations to get a better idea how the varieties perform under different conditions.

Check the statistical significance of the data when looking at yield numbers. Trials with many locations and consistency of results can produce results where a 1-2% difference in yield between varieties is real. Trials with only a few locations and highly variable results often cannot accurately determine a clear top yielder. In many cases, these trials may need to show differences of 10% or more between varieties before the results are statistically significant.

Growers also have a number of other sources that show how new varieties stack up against their current favourites. Here they are:

CCC Canola Variety Trials. The Canola Council of Canada’s PCVT trials did not run in 2010, but these independent third-party comparisons will return in 2011 with a new system and a new name.

WCC/RRC. Seed registration trial data from the Western Canada Canola/Rapeseed Recommending Committee compares yield, maturity, lodging, height and blackleg ratings. Growers can get a summary based on first year private and second year public data. Contact Raymond Gadoua of the Canola Council of Canada at gadouar@canolacouncil.org or 306-683-2403 and he can email the summary. Gadoua reminds growers that rarely would any of these cultivars have been tested in the exact same set of head to head trials.

Crop insurance. Alberta and Manitoba publish magazine-style summaries of crop insurance yield reports by variety and zone.  These are based on grower responses, are field by field, and do not include other data such as maturity, lodging and disease resistance. The 2011 editions come out in February or March. Saskatchewan crop insurance yield data is also available online. Click here then click on your risk zone.

Provincial seed guides. Seed associations have been using PCVT data for their canola comparisons. The staff who compile the guides are looking for alternative third-party sources for their 2011 guides. Seed guides usually come out in December or early in the new year. Last year’s guides are online. Click your province: Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba.

Local research groups. Some provincial commodity groups or local grower-directed research groups do variety comparisons.

Seed company data. Farms.com’s Yield Data Center is a central source of seed company trial data. Seed companies also post trial data on their own websites.

Retail trials. Independent and line companies run their own yield trials. See your local retailer for their data.

Published on Monday, October 25, 2010

Canola Watch