Elite mustard needs marketing to entice buyers

Few brassica carinata users | The crop can be straight combined and production costs are less than canola

INDIAN HEAD, Sask. — Brassica carinata is proving itself in trials and commercial fields, but there still aren’t many buyers of the industrial oilseed.

“There’s lots of interest, but not users,” said Ken Mudry of Paterson Grain, which markets the crop for Agrisoma, the company that commercially introduced the Ethiopian mustard a couple of years ago.

This is just the second year of contracts, he added, and there is a lot of marketing work to do.

Forty growers in southern Sask-atchewan and Alberta contracted 6,700 acres last year.

Last fall, the National Research Council successfully flew a Falcon 20 jet with 100 percent carinata biofuel, and in January Popular Science magazine named it one of the top 25 scientific events of 2012.

“It is an elite model at the moment,” Daryl Males, Agrisoma’s director of plant breeding and agronomics, told producers at the recent Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation field day.

IHARF research manager Chris Holzapfel said the crop is treated similar to canola in most respects, but differs in one major aspect: “It is excellent for straight combining.”

Carinata doesn’t shatter as much as canola does. In fact, Males said it is the most shatter tolerant of all brassicas. However, it requires patience at harvest.

“It dries quickly but the stems stays green and you need it to be brown,” Males said.

Holzapfel said yields are 90 to 95 percent of canola. In 2011 trials, yields were consistently more than 50 bushels per acre, but that dropped to about 30 bu. per acre last year, as did canola yields because of disease pressure.

Two varieties — AAC A100 and A110 — were available this year. Males said the breeding program has resulted in rapidly changing varieties with significant increases in oil content and decreases in glucosinolate content.

Mudry said one variety could yield seeds with 50 percent oil content, which could be a game changer in terms of the biofuel market. Gaining European Union certification is critical because of a cap on aviation emissions that will be in place by 2020.

The meal is not yet licensed for use in Canada.

Mudry said carinata contracts are priced comparably to canola.

“But your production costs are less so the return should be quite fav-ourable,” he said.

Males said grower satisfaction was high last year, and the oil is what the aviation industry wants.

He said Westjet alone would re-quire 1.2 million acres of crop.

“We probably can’t overproduce for biofuels,” he said.



Persistent wet conditions in the region, particularly near the U.S. border, have hindered crop development.

Lower yields are expected because standing water has drowned out portions of many fields or put the crop under stress. The excess moisture has also increased disease pressure. Producers are reporting blackleg lesions on canola.

Some cattle producers are struggling with soaked pastures and hay land. Other pastures are thriving in the wet and cool conditions.


Excess moisture will restrict yield potential in the region. A number of areas received 50 to 100 millimetres of rain in late July.

Crop development varies, depending on rain amounts, field drainage and soil type.

Frequent rains have delayed haying progress. Producers are reporting average to above average forage yields. Hay quality is below average.


Below normal temperatures were the dominant weather feature of late July and early August. Cooler weather slowed growth of heat loving crops such as corn and soybeans.

The cooler weather has benefitted canola and flax crops. The bloom period for many fields has been much longer than previous years.

Growers have reported blackleg leaf lesions and basal cankering on canola.


Soybean crops have podded. In general, the crop looks good but some growers are reporting root rot or iron chlorosis.

Corn crops are in the silking stage. Producers are reporting excellent corn stands. The crop is more than two metres high in some areas.

Hay conditions are rated as good. Haying progress is ahead of other regions of the province.


Producers will soon be harvesting winter wheat in the southern Interlake. Warmer temperatures are needed to ripen winter wheat and propel soybean development.

Armyworms are pressuring crops in the northern half of the region.

Pasture conditions rated as average.



Cool temperatures have slowed crop development.

Nighttime temperatures as low as 4 C were reported in Odessa, and heavy morning dew and rain have slowed hay operations.

Hay quality is diminishing.

Severe hail damage occurred in the Kisbey and Stoughton areas. Hail damage was also reported in Bengough, Liseiux, Assiniobia, Cabri and Tyner.

Pulses are starting to turn in the southwest.


Warmer weather is needed to advance crops, but cool temperatures extended flowering in eastern areas, which could result in good yields. Temperatures in eastern areas dropped as low as 5 C, while western areas saw 4 C.

Winter cereal crops are beginning to turn.

Ascochyta and sclerotinia in pulses and smut in cereals are damaging crops.

In the west, farmers are looking for rain to help fill crops.

Haying has progressed quite well in the west because of the dry conditions. Quality is good in about two-thirds of the hay crop in the east and 80 percent in the west.


Some areas are reporting wet fields and crops with stress from excess moisture. The east in particular has seen haying interrupted by rain and is reporting up to half of crop acres have surplus moisture. Crops in western regions are behind because of cool weather.

Grasshoppers are damaging crops in the Barthel, Meadow Lake, Dorintosh and Pierceland areas.

Hay quality is generally good but swaths are deteriorating in wet weather.



Crop conditions continue to be favourable with frequent showers and warm temperatures. Crops are generally looking good, but farmers are encouraged to monitor for disease.

Canola has finished flowering in most areas, but there are pockets of late seeded crops with canola still flowering.

The Peace region canola survey wrapped up at the end of July. Inspectors were looking for lygus bugs, diamondback moths, bertha armyworms, grasshoppers, aster leafhoppers and cabbage seedpod weevils. Farmers are encouraged to monitor their fields for pests.

The moist weather delayed haying with many fields receiving rain several times. Some silage operations are starting to get underway.


Reports of lygus bugs near Lloydminster have some farmers closely monitoring their fields.

Continued rain has made haying difficult as many farmers struggle to bale between showers.

Canola has generally finished flowering, and crops look good.

Grain silage harvest has begun.

Overall, crops look good.


Hail has knocked out several promising fields in central Alberta, while other producers received only rain.

Farmers have their fingers crossed that they can avoid the hail and harvest what’s looking like a promising crop in most of the region.

Canola has finished flowering in most parts of the region. Wheat crops are also looking promising, but harvest is still weeks away.


Harvest has begun in parts of the region.

There are reports of wheat harvests near Medicine Hat and that barley swathing has begun near Lethbridge. Haying has wrapped up.

Some spraying of glyphosate has begun.

Winter wheat harvest is set to start with high yields anticipated.

Potato harvesting has started.

Reglone has been applied to some peas because harvest is expected to begin shortly.

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