The Making of the Canola Pod Shatter Reduction Trait

Developing a new crop trait requires capital, time, and most of all a vision. All great new traits start with an idea or vision of trying to make a difference in the marketplace for farmers or end users.

Dr. Bart Lambert and his colleagues had a vision, a canola seed trait that allows for producers to increase their ability to straight-cut the canola crop. Being able to straight-cut allows for lower green seed count, fewer field passes, and, possibly, a larger profit at the end of the day.

Lambert is a plant bio-technologist, but has been working on canola research for 20 years at Bayer’s Gent site. At the birthplace of canola genetic engineering in Gent, Dr. Lambert and his team discovered the pod shatter reduction trait. In a very limited time the pod shatter reduction trait has had significant uptake across the prairies of Canada and Australia.

A small change in a gene is a giant leap for the canola crop

The pod shatter reduction trait is a genetic solution that allows the pod to stay intact instead of splitting or busting apart due to preventing seam formation of the pod. By making one small change to one gene, Lambert and his team eventually found the perfect formula to bring the pod shatter reduction trait to market.

Because of the breeding technique, the trait is non-transgenic it is now also be included in Bayer’s winter oilseed rape program for Europe.

Lambert and his team recently won a very prestigious award for innovation within the Bayer company.

According to Blaine Woycheshin, crop manager canola for Bayer, in 2016, Bayer’s sales were about 20% pod shatter hybrids with a forecast of the trait being around 60% of their sales by 2018. Many farmers showed their appreciation of the pod shatter reduction trait in the fall of 2016 by participating in the #selltheswather campaign on Twitter by sharing pictures of their old swathers parked in the bush or trees.

Shatter loss is a major problem for canola growers, which, combined with the difficulty of swath timing has made a shatter-resistant variety something farmers were waiting for. Based on the feedback from farmers that attended the InVigor 20th anniversary the trait is a winner.

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