Certified seed popular

REGINA — March and April brought few trucks into Cathy Fedoruk’s yard this spring.

The seed grower from Kamsack, Sask., said producers were holding back on buying their seed this year, but sales of certified seed are now brisk, including cereals.

Seed growers are observing in-creased sales of certified wheat, oats and barley this spring after a brisk season last year.

“They are finally starting to call for seed,” she said. “We were wondering if it was going to happen this year. They call in the morning and want it in the afternoon, treated and ready to go. And lots of it.”

The late rush is making things busy for growers, said the Saskatchewan Seed Growers Association director.

“Seed growers have to plant their own crops, too. And it’s a late year.”

Fedoruk said producers bought more varieties of certified cereal seed last year than in previous seasons.

“It might have been midge tolerant varieties driving this a bit in the industry overall, but I think there might be a trend to growing crops from certified, rather than buying that 60 bushels (from the seed grower) and growing from saved seed after that,” she said.

Tim Graham of FP Genetics in Regina said the improved farm economy and increased farm size of the past five years are all playing into a trend of more certified seed planted in Western Canada.

“There are a lot of factors into why western Canadian farmers use less certified seed than their American neighbours,” he said.

Possible explanations include public breeding programs that encouraged saved seed and tight farm margins, especially in cereals, which had become a secondary, rotational crop.

Prairie growers have become used to planting more certified seed because of hybrid canola’s popularity.

“Producers bought a little more certified (cereal) seed to get the advantages of midge tolerance or to get some new genetics in milling oats. Then they saw the results, bigger yields, more even crops. Wheat has become profitable, making it worthy of investment.”

Graham’s seed company sells a lot of wheat and oats.

Fedoruk said using certified seed has resulted in improved margins, even when farmers take into account the cost of the seed. Saved seed usually involves selecting and cleaning costs, germination and vigour testing and application of seed treatment, she added.

“The cowboys are even buying more certified seed this year. The cattle are making some money, and I think that is causing them to make choices about their feed (barley) varieties. Funny how a little money in farming translates into improved practices in ag.… It will take time to reach the point where most of it is certified, but it is headed that way … I just wish they could have started a little earlier this year.”

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