Even though Dow AgroSciences (DAS) gave me a pen, and a ham
sandwich for lunch and there is a promise of a new ball cap at some point, I
haven’t let any of that largess influence my message to readers.
The word simply is — grow plenty of Nexera canola and make
That was one of the messages gleaned during a two-day field
trip earlier this week in and near Saskatoon, as DAS showcased to leading
Western Canada ag journalists its canola and crop protection product research.
(This was the cream of the crop of ag writers, so to speak — okay, admittedly a
couple of them were curdled, but nice people just the same.)
The key messages for growers – there is a demand for Nexera
canola, premiums are being offered, and contracts will be available in
September. While DAS has encouraged growers to seed 20 to 30 per cent of their
canola acres to Nexera in the past, they are urging farmers to seed everything
in 2012 to this premium, identity preserved canola, that produces a specialty
oil being used by restaurants and food processors across North America. (Top photo, Sarah Freeman and Mark Woloshyn discuss the new hybrids)
And don’t be spooked by the performance of some of the early
Nexera open pollinated varieties released over the last 10 years. Some of those
OPs are very good and some were weak, certainly by today’s standards. But the
company canola breeding program has come a long way baby. Their new hybrid
canola varieties — both Roundup Ready and Clearfield — are among some of
the top yielders you’ll find in Western Canada. And after looking at the
research and field trial plots at one nursery site near Pike Lake just outside
Saskatoon, there is plenty more in the pipeline.
I have been around this block for a lot of years and know
everyone says they have “the best”. There are marketing guys who will put a
good spin on a three-legged racehorse because it will save you 25 percent on
shoeing costs….so you have to pay attention.
But it is always good to listen to the plant breeders and
senior agronomists who are sincere and committed to what they are doing. They
are looking for the best genetics, that not only include this Omega 9 gene that
gives Nexera its unique characteristics, but the full package which is high
yield, good agronomics —good seedling vigor, good disease resistance,
standability, early maturity — the whole enchilada.
They’re philosophy is like the old Zenith television
commercials that claimed “the quality goes in before the name goes on”. I don’t
sense they are trying to sell a bill of goods. The aren’t peddling “me to”
varieties. If these aren’t top performers, compared to their own varieties as
well as other leading canola hybrid varieties, they aren’t going to dink around
with them.(Centre photo, breeder Van Ripley describes part of the plant selection process.)
Saskatoon is the global headquarters for DAS canola breeding
program. Plant breeder Van Ripley is leader of the program, Greg Gingera is a
research scientist and Sarah Freeman is senior agronomist, field program and
registration manager. They are just part of the team that goes through the
tedious and painstaking process to screen literally tens of thousands of
potential lines to find something that is measurably better than what’s already
At the Pike Lake research farm, for example, they have 160
acres in 40-acre blocks. On one 40-acre block they have plots of their newest
registered hybrids and leading varieties being considered for registration. On
the same block they also have 20,000 potential lines they will evaluate and
from that perhaps 10 years from now they may have one or two that will qualify
for registration. And they do that every year. So these aren’t people who
simply say it’s green with a yellow flower, that’s good enough.
And while the breeding effort is underway, Mark Woloshyn,
Nexera Canola brand manager and Tyler Groeneveld, the Omega-9 market manager
are working with Western Canada based canola marketers such as Louis Dreyfus,
Bunge, Richardson International, Viterra and ADM, first on the canola
production contract side and also with an ever-growing list of food service and
food processing companies, all in an effort to get more Nexera canola oil into
deep fryers and food manufacturing. (Bottom photo: Mark Woloshyn describes yield potential of Nexera varieties).
Companies are always a bit tight with figures on how many
acres they contract and how much oil they need, but bottom line there is a
demand for Nexera oil and contracts offering premium prices will be available
this fall. Woloshyn doesn’t really expect every farmer to grow 100 per cent
Nexera varieties, there are dozens of good varieties on the market, but he
points to information on their website, www.healthierprofits.com which shows
growers are making money with Nexera.
And if you can get these guys to throw a ball cap into the
deal you’ll not only be rich, but look good too.
Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at [email protected]
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