Too many acres with too many old pulses; it may be time for change

New pea varieties offer advantages for producers, but despite this, farmers have been slow to adopt them.

A 13-year-old variety still dominates the Saskatchewan seeded yellow pea acreage, with CDC Meadow taking up 38 percent of fields. More than 1,000 farmers planted 440,000 acres of the variety last year with an average yield about one tonne per acre.

Laurie Friesen of SaskPulse said a variety of newer choices have been shown to increase yields. CDC Amarillo has been gaining market share, with farmers selecting it for 233,000 acres, taking up about 20 percent of the pea acres. The 2012-released variety offers about a seven percent yield improvement over Meadow.

CDC Inca, a 2015 release, offers 11 percent more than Meadow, similar to AAC Carver, AAC Ardill, CDC Treasure and CDC Saffron.

Larger yields can be garnered from the 2016-released CDC Spectrum, averaging 1,250 kilograms per acre.

The biggest yielder in Saskatchewan, according to Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. was Abarth. There was only 62 SCIC insured growers in the province with about 37,000 acres, however it managed 1,434 kg per acre of yield.

“There are some choices out there. Producers can look at their (provincial crop insurance) guide(s) for the results in their districts to see how they perform,” she said.

Friesen cites CDC Golden, a 17-year-old variety still being planted on more than 60,000 acres and yielding about 855 kg on average.

“It might be time for an upgrade,” she said.

Mila Kyslytsia of seed grower MacDougall Acres near Moose Jaw, Sask., said AAC Chrome offers five percent more yield than Amarillo and out-performed Inca in the same Regina Plains field last season.

Protein is becoming more interesting to yellow pea buyers and both CDC Spectrum and CDC Lewochko scored .5 and .7 percent higher, respectively, than Amarillo.

Lewochko also out-yielded it by four percent and is one of the most resistant to fusarium avenaceum, with similar results to the veteran Meadow in that area.

Green peas aren’t much better when it comes to recent variety adoption. About 20 percent of SCIC reported green pea acres are planted to about 50,000 acres of the 17-year-old CDC Striker variety. With yields of about 1,050 kg, it remains a reliable choice, but well behind 2016’s CDC Spruce and 2017’s CDC Forest, with average yields of over 1,300 kg. Forest is so new that only 680 acres were insured, but over the next seasons the variety will become more available, said Friesen.

“This is proving to be a very stable, reliable yielder in all areas,” she said during CropSphere meetings in Saskatoon earlier this month, suggesting that not all varieties are so strong in this attribute with trials showing it was the only variety with zero variability from north to south.

Kyslytsia said, “You won’t find it this year, but look for it in 2021. It’s a superstar with 10 to 20 percent more yield than Striker. It is round and smooth, has a good seed coat that is bleach resistant. CDC Limerick is still good, but it’s not Forest,” she said.

CDC Raezer, a 2011 release, has the most green pea acreage in Saskatchewan, with about 65,000 acres and an average yield of 1,125 kg. Limerick, an eight-year-old variety yielded slightly more and took up 57,000 acres. CDC Greenwater produced a little less and was planted by about 120 farmers, covering more than 40,000 acres.

When it came to yields the 10-year-old CDC Tetris managed 1,275 kg on 1,650 acres, while the 1998-variety Espace continued to yield well for two Saskatchewan growers on a little more than 800 acres, producing 1,250 kg.

Kyslytsia said the newer varieties are more resistant to seed-coat breakage, improving results for growers on delivery.

Lentil genetics too are showing their age, with 52 percent of red lentils dedicated to a single variety, CDC Maxim, a 12-year-old variety, getting more than 840,000 acres planted by nearly 1,300 growers in Saskatchewan.

CDC Proclaim, CDC Dazil and CDC Impulse got about 10 percent of the market each, while Proclaim out-yielded Maxim by about eight percent.

CDC Redmoon, a 2015 release, was the big winner, yielding nearly 15 percent more. Still only planted on 13,000 acres it shows good prospects for the future, said Friesen.

The new large-seeded King red lentils are expected to make headway in acres with some of the highest yield potential in the market.

CDC Sublime will be released this year, with 116 percent of Maxim’s yield in the south and 104 percent in the northern growing area. Despite being a large red lentil, the unique variety has a green seed coat. It will be marketed in non-exclusive, closed-loop contracts.

Kyslytsia said when it comes to green lentils, CDC Greenstar remains one of her favourites. In 2018, it was planted to 140,000 acres, surpassing the previously more popular CDC Greenland and CDC Improver CL.

Friesen said that while producers might not be anxious to invest in the latest varieties the results will “quickly pay off.”

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