Wheat School: UPOV '91 Driving Research Investment


It’s been more than a year since the Canadian government’s decision to implement UPOV ’91 standards for Plant Breeders’ Rights. When it was ratified, the seed industry touted the agreement as a significant driver of new investment in crop breeding and genetics for Canadian farmers.

In this Wheat School episode, Real Agriculture resident agronomist Peter Johnson visits with C&M Seeds general Manager Ellen Sparry who talks about the company’s research program and the impact of UPOV ’91.

“When we’ve visited with breeders, certainly the international ones, they’ve always asked about our ability to protect their intellectual property. With the ratification of UPOV ’91, it’s certainly meant a bigger investment in testing. They’re now testing their material here,” says Sparry who notes a significant increase in foreign wheat lines in C&M plots.

This year, C&M is running 40 wheat trails (20 winter, 20 spring) at its Harriston, Ontario testing site where 5,000 plots contain 800 to 900 different wheat varieties.

Johnson says he’s excited to see the new genetics UPOV ’91 will bring to growers. He also encourages growers to do their part to support wheat research by investing in Certified seed. “It’s your right, but if you are doing nothing but going to the bin and using farmer-saved seed … it really doesn’t support the new genetics – the next step forward.”

Sparry also discusses the potential of hybrid rye, which is being tested in the plots and could present an opportunity for growers. “What we’re finding in our strip trials and our yield trials is anywhere from 25% to 50% increase over conventionals … and there are new ones coming that are supposedly higher than that.”

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