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Highlights from the 2016 Variety Survey

By: Mitchell Japp, MSc, PAg, Provincial Specialist, Cereal Crops

The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) recently released their annual variety survey. I took a closer look to see how the landscape has changed over the past year.

CWRS variety demonstration in hummocky
terrain, 2016. Near Edam, SK.
Here are some trends I thought were interesting:
  • Although CDC Copeland has topped the CMBTC Recommended Malting Barley Varieties list for two years, AC Metcalfe continues to be the top variety in Saskatchewan. Across the prairies, CDC Copeland overtook AC Metcalfe for seeded acres. Barley producers may be waiting for a signal from the malt and brewing industry as to what the next high-demand malting variety will be.
  • AC Morgan continues to be the dominant oat variety. If you are eating oatmeal for breakfast, there is a good chance it is AC Morgan oats. There was a slight decline (36 per cent in 2015 to 34 currently), while other varieties such as Triactor and Summit showed slight increases (seven to eight per cent and four to six per cent, respectively).
  • Hybrids made some gains in rye acres. Manitoba is trying the hybrids on a larger scale than any other province so far. Hazlet continues to be the dominant rye variety.
  • Acres seeded to the new CNHR class in Saskatchewan more than doubled, compared to acres in the interim class (CWIW) last year.
  • Transcend overtook Strongfield as the most common durum variety. Strongfield has been the top variety for the past decade. Acres of CDC Fortitude more than doubled. CDC Fortitude and AAC Raymore are solid-stemmed and comprised four per cent of acres in 2016.
  • CDC Utmost VB continued to be the most common CWRS variety grown in Saskatchewan, while AAC Brandon overtook Harvest as the top variety on the prairies.
  • Lillian, Harvest and Unity are the three most popular varieties moving out of the CWRS class on Aug. 1, 2018. In 2016 they were grown on 9.7 per cent of acres in Saskatchewan, compared to 16.8 per cent in 2015. The decrease in acres of these varieties has been consistent for the past few years.
  • In the CWRS class, 31 per cent is sown to Midge Tolerant Wheat varieties in Saskatchewan.
  • Again in the CWRS class, 33 per cent is sown to varieties that are rated MR (moderately resistant) to fusarium head blight. This may indicate a shift in producers’ priorities with lower wheat midge pressure and higher fusarium pressure in the past few years.
Variety surveys are useful to see how changes are being adopted in different crops. They can be used to pinpoint successes, such as the rapid uptake in Midge Tolerant Wheat varieties. Not only are Midge Tolerant Wheat varieties great for farmers, they tell a really positive story about the use of technology to reduce reliance on pesticides. #OurFoodHasAStory

Variety surveys can also help identify potential problems. When gluten strength became an issue with customers, variety survey data helped the industry respond because it became clear that the high adoption rate of three varieties (Lillian, Harvest and Unity VB) was a contributing factor to lower gluten strength.

Producers can also find value in variety surveys; they can observe larger trends to see what varieties are of interest to other producers. Just because a variety works for one farm does not mean it works for another farm – it is a good idea to test a variety on-farm before making a whole-hearted switch.

In Saskatchewan, about 11 per cent of insured acres of CWRS, 19 per cent of CWAD, 27 per cent of barley and 16 per cent of oats did not have a variety specified or designated. Interestingly, for most cereal crops, the percentage not specified or designated was lower in 2016 than it was in 2015.

The CGC bases their report on data provided from Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation, Alberta Agricultural Financial Services Corporation, Manitoba Management Plus Program and BC Crop Insurance. The data is based on insured acres in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and seeded area reported by insured producers in Manitoba. Only commercial grain production is included. All observations are based on the reported acres where a variety was declared.

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