The Canadian mustard industry is getting ready for a big change.
Officials are carefully monitoring plots at trial sites in Saskatchewan and recording details about unreleased condiment mustard varieties for their plant breeders’ rights application.
“We have to show at least a couple differences between each line to get plant breeders’ rights for that particular line,” Daryl Males of Mustard 21 Canada told producers at a recent mustard industry field day.
“We measure a lot of fine detail here, enough that it would drive me insane if I was recording it.”
Pending changes will bring Canada’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act in line with an international agreement, UPOV 91.
The changes, which are working their way through the House of Commons, have been applauded by some industry officials as a way to generate revenue for plant breeders.
Some farm groups, however, have expressed concern that they will restrict access to royalty-free seed.
“This is a lot of work and expense for the industry, but hopefully it’s something that protects our investment as one other form of preventing unauthorized sales,” said Males.
Mustard 21 manages the research money collected from government and industry partners.
The sector has received a boost in funding in recent years through the federal government’s Growing Forward initiatives, and officials are focused on the crop’s performance and competitiveness.
They’re promising big yield jumps with the long-term goal being yields that are 85 percent of those seen in canola.
“That’s the big concern because Growing Forward 1 and 2 aren’t going to take us (forward) forever as an industry,” said Males. “We do have to start to fund ourselves more and more in the future. This is one of the tools that we can use.”
Poor weather and wet conditions at the Saskatoon site mean officials will have to rely on data collected at a site in Scott, Sask., for the PBR application, said Males. This is the first of two years that PBR information will be recorded.
“We’re a bit later than we should be on a couple of these lines,” said Males, who highlighted Adagio as one variety that is approaching registration.
The yellow mustard entered co-op mustard trials in 2009, which has yields similar to Adante but with a higher mucilage content.
Agriculture Canada mustard breeder Bifang Cheng is evaluating the yield potential and agronomic performance of several new mustard lines in pre-registration co-op trials. She is using double haploid breeding techniques to speed up variety development by a few years and is looking for quality traits similar to existing varieties but with greater yields.
She said new brown and oriental varieties could be registered next year if enough data is collected this year. However, poor conditions this year will delay trial work on yellow varieties, she added.
“These doubled haploid lines will also be very good as parental lines for hybrid breeding,” she said.
However, the first experimental hybrid lines of condiment mustard remain several years away from field tests.
Kevin Falk of Agriculture Canada, who works with carinata, said re-searchers will begin testing experimental hybrid lines of that crop in the next two years. These hybrid lines, which are more costly to produce, must achieve yield increases of 15 percent, he said. Unlike traditional open pollinated varieties, hybrids are developed through a controlled cross of two parents.
“There is less incentive, usually, to save seed from a hybrid or to sell it illegally than there would be from an (open pollinated), inbred type material,” Males said.
He said in the future canola companies may relax rules on hybrids.
“Maybe we’ll apply for our inbred lines that makes the hybrids, so that nobody else gets to use them, but we might not protect the hybrid itself … So there is a decision point coming on how we take PBR at that point, not that we’ll probably ever drop out if the mustard industry continues and gets stronger like we hope it will.”