More crops — more beans, more corn and new wheat will be the future for western Canadian farmers because the region is being targeted for growth.
The president of the world’s second largest agricultural genetics company, Paul Schickler of DuPont Pioneer, puts Western Canada in a basket of nations and regions that have significant room to develop greater yields of all crops and add acres of what might be considered by some as non-traditional plants.
Corn and soybeans are at the head of that list in Western Canada, says the former head of the company’s seed breeding efforts and now global boss.
Schickler said the company has been expanding its seed breeding, testing and marketing capacity in the region and has developed products that have the yields to allow those crops to compete for acreage on the Prairies.
Schickler was in Saskatchewan to meet with farmers and dealers at a Pioneer event that was held during the Ag In Motion farm show near Saskatoon in late July.
“This has been long and pretty aggressive road for us on the Canadian Prairies. We began down this road… around 2000.
“We are bringing corn, soybeans and canola to higher yields for this market. We started with a plant research facility at Carman, Man.
“Six years ago, we built a seed facility at Lethbridge that is close to expansion.”
The company launched a 70-day corn at the AIM show, about 2,000 growing degree-day units, a follow to its earlier 72-day corn.
“Yield, adaptability is fine, but growers have other challenges: insect protection, herbicide tolerance. Canola, growers need herbicide options. In the near-term we are going to have our own proprietary glyphosate opportunity for growers to give more flexibility for application (timing) and also higher yields with the trait. Clearfield is an opportunity and by the end of this decade we will offer (a canola with) Liberty (tolerance) as well.”
He said there are other companies that are looking to move into Western Canada.
“You look at 20 million acres of canola (in Western Canada) and that will continue to drive the business’s attention on that crop…. There are 500,000 acres of corn, which is only touching the tip of the iceberg, we feel. That could turn into millions of acres. There are 1.5 million acres of soybeans. It could be seven or eight million acres and we will be working towards those,” he said.
“These will all (diversify) the crops farmers produce and create some new export opportunities.”
Internationally, the company focuses its resources on many different crops.
The focus for Canada is corn, soybean and canola.
Western Canada, Brazil, India, China and the Black Sea region are in the top five markets that Schickler’s company has identified for sustainable growth.
“If you look at the (breeding) advances in wheat productivity, wheat has not kept up with corn, soybeans and canola. If we can bring higher yields to wheat, it will economically help growers compete (for acres) with canola, corn and soybeans and create more market opportunities (and risk management) for the grower.”
The company has red winter and soft white wheats in the eastern parts of the U.S. and Eastern Canada.
“We have experience in hard red winter and spring wheats. We started that research in the 70s and 80s (some of which was done in Canada). We are restarting that research. I think we can bring some advanced biological systems to wheat breeding through hybridization.”
He said the company has some plans “a bit of a ways off” for a small-cereal program for the region and that should create “a 10, 15 or 20 percent yield bump, through hybridization, improved seed quality and all the traits we are developing.
“It could bring what corn, soy and canola improvement has to Western Canada,” said Schickler.