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Knowing The Variety Applies To More Than Wheat

The message “know what you’re growing” is usually aimed at farmers producing wheat, but it applies to canola and flax too.

Wheat growers need to know the variety they’re growing so they can deliver it to the proper class, which is crucial in assuring customer satisfaction.

But with canola and flax the emphasis is on keeping genetically modified (GM) traits that are unapproved by major importing countries out of those markets.

While it’s not illegal to grow and sell unregistered crops, they are only eligible for the lowest grade when delivered to an elevator, Elwin Hermanson, chief commissioner of the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) told the Manitoba Agronomists’ Conference at the University of Manitoba Dec. 15.

LOWEST PRICE

Receiving the lowest grade means getting the lowest price, which should be a big financial disincentive to growing an unregistered variety. It’s also a reason for farmers to misrepresent the variety they’re delivering. Those who do can be sued for damages their delivery causes, Hermanson said. But that’s up to the grain company buying the grain.

“That fear of being caught by the grain cops (CGC) has helped keep Canada’s system of class segregation working well,” Hermanson said.

From time to time some varieties are deregistered. Sometimes farmers haven’t heard and continue to grow it.

To avoid that, the CGC and Canadian Food Inspection Agency will publicize pending wheat deregistrations Aug. 1 and give three years’ notice. That should give farmers and grain handlers enough time to clear that variety from the system, Hermanson said.

NAMES POSTED

The CGC will post the names of the varieties being deregistered on its website. The CGC website also has a list of wheats eligible for one of the CGC’s eight wheat classes.

“The protocol could be expanded to include other crops, Hermanson said.

The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) posts the names of deregistered canola varieties at its site (http://www.canolacouncil.org/export_ready.aspx).CCC chair JoAnne Buth said for now the canola industry doesn’t need a more formal process to announce canola deregistrations or a formal declaration system for farmers when they deliver canola.

One of the big differences between canola and wheat is that 97 per cent of the canola planted is certified seed, Buth said. Farmers can’t buy certified seed of deregistered varieties. That helps to limit the volume of unregistered canola being grown and delivered.

SAVED SEED

In contrast, sometimes wheat growers will plant their own seed for years. The same holds for flax. (That practice contributed to the low-level spread of CDC Triffid, a deregistered GM flax, across the Prairie provinces. Canadian flax exports to the European Union are in limbo because of the possibility traces of CDC Triffid will be found in the shipments.)

One reason for deregistering a variety is that a seed company has developed a new variety and doesn’t want to compete with itself.

Sometimes varieties are deregistered because of poor agronomic performance, or because newer varieties provide better end-use quality.

Another reason is a GM trait is no longer approved by a major importer, Buth said. (CDC Triffid was deregistered in 2001 to avoid disrupting EU flax markets.) Unlike in Canada, where once a trait is approved it remains in place indefinitely, the European Union and China set limits ranging from two to 10 years. Once the approval expires the crop containing those traits can’t be imported.

The current list of deregistered (see page 10 of Seed Manitoba 2010) canolas is as follows:

Roundup Ready polish (B. rapas): HySyn 101.

Bromoxynil tolerant: 295BX, Cartier BX, Zodiac BX, Renegade BX.

Liberty Tolerant: Exceed, 2631 LL, Swallow, SW Legion LL, SW Flare LL, LBD 2393 LL, Innovator, Independence, HCN 14, Phoenix.

LibertyLink hybrids: 3850, 2153, 3640, 3880, 2163, 2273.

Farmers who have these varieties should contact their grain company and discuss the options before delivering, the CCC says. [email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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