Town mascots, plant-based proteins, and the seed industry — LIVE! with Tom Greaves


We’re getting to the time of year where the days are starting to get longer. By no means are we at the point of panicking to get seed plans solidified, but it’s never too early to start planning for #Seed20 or #Plant20.

Joining Kara Oosterhuis for today’s LIVE! is Tom Greaves of Pitura Seeds, a seed farm in Manitoba. Greaves grew up on top of an escarpment on a beef/cattle/hog operation, and was mostly on the livestock side, so the jump to seeds was pretty big.

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  • The Red River Valley has taught Greaves a lot in the last 10 years. From hogs to hemp! Now the seed industry
  • Working with his father in-law? Dynamics?
  • Pitura Seed Service is one business and Pitura Seed Farms is the other.
  • A business coach got involved in their succession planning. Greaves now heads up Pitura Seed Service and his brother in-law runs Pitura Seed Farms
  • Pedigreed seed growers: oats, barley, wheat, flax, soybeans, peas, commercial canola, corn, forages. The main focus is cereals and pulses
  • Some seed is grown themselves, and they work with an additional 75 contract growers
  • Seed plant expansion? That age-old question: “Why didn’t Grandpa make this yard bigger?”
  • Favourite oversized Manitoba town mascot/statue? Lyndsey and Tom go way back (to university). Tom likes Sarah the Camel at Glenboro
  • Exciting things happening in the seed industry. Greaves isn’t the agronomist but he’s excited about the company’s focus on agronomy services.
  • Pitura Seeds Olympics
  • Merrit Functional Foods, Protein Industries Canada partnership
  • Plant-based protein longevity? Greaves thinks there’s space for meat and plant-based proteins. Consumers want to understand field to fork where their food came from
  • Traceability is gaining in importance. How are consumers going to access that information?
  • Besides the increased throughput, what are other positives from the expansion? They used to be running 24 hours, but now they’re only running a day-shift (8 hours). Quality control is increased because most of the quality control incidences happened at night. Staff morale is high — working in a nice, bright, high-tech environment
  • Hard to keep up with trends? Greaves says they look five years down the road for characteristics or for other varieties that are stronger. “It’s a constant challenge in the seed industry, you’re always looking ahead”
  • New things to look for in characteristics are those food characteristics (amino acids, proteins)
  • Greaves is continually surprised by how industry and growers have adapted to technology: from Zoom meetings, to GPS, and more.

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