GFM Network News



Giving wheat midge a few susceptible wheat plants to feed on ensures that the resistant population doesn’t eventually take over.

A decade of midge-tolerant wheat

New varieties are in the pipeline for CWRS and SWS classes

Reading Time: 4 minutes Over the past 10 years, western Canadian farmers have deliberately seeded 27 million acres of wheat susceptible to orange blossom wheat midge — and saved themselves an estimated $1 billion in lost yield and quality. To be clear, only 10 per cent of the seed on those acres was susceptible to midge, and that’s been […] Read more


Epigenetics is already working in sorghum trials, and has cleared initial regulatory barriers too.

Is this what farmers have been waiting for?

Based on promising early results, “epigenetics” may help save agriculture from climate change

Reading Time: 6 minutes In the past 25 years, the agricultural landscape has seen several significant changes, from the advent of herbicide-tolerant crops to precision agriculture systems and soil supplements. Many were dubbed game changers when they were introduced, and we’re glad to have them all, but they also met with unexpected issues like weed resistance, or they didn’t […] Read more

Several farm organizations have joined forces to launch an online survey to measure farmers’ understanding on seed royalties and to get their views.

What do farmers really think about seed royalties?

The West’s general farm organizations have created an online survey to get farmers’ view on cereal seed royalty proposals

Reading Time: 2 minutes Canadian farmers are being asked their opinion about proposed changes to seed royalties for cereals by Western Canada’s three general farm organizations. The Keystone Agricultural producers (KAP), Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan and Alberta Federation of Agriculture, launched the online survey July 15 to measure farmers’ understanding of what’s being proposed and get their views, […] Read more


Jim Dyck in a field of ORe3541M oats at Sanderson farm near Portage la Prairie, Man., in 2017.

Do-it-yourself plant breeding

Jim Dyck’s new oat varieties have been a decade in the making, but his hard work is about to pay off

Reading Time: 3 minutes If there are any oat producers who haven’t heard of Jim Dyck, that’s soon going to change. Jim and his wife Laura-Lee, who farm near Saskatoon, are the owners of Oat Advantage, one of few private plant breeding businesses in Western Canada. This spring, their first registered oat varieties, ORe3541M and ORe3542M, will be marketed […] Read more

SeCan says wheat midge tolerance saves producers $40 to $60 million per year.

Protect your midge-tolerant wheat

The midge-tolerance gene was found in the majority of SWS wheats in 2017. Refuge seed is required to keep this trait in play

Reading Time: 3 minutes Producers should add refuge seed to most Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) and Soft White Spring (SWS) wheat varieties in 2018 to prolong the longevity of the midge-tolerance Sm1 gene, says Todd Hyra, western business manager for seed marketing agency SeCan. Last spring, Canadian researchers discovered Sm1 in most SWS varieties, including AAC Indus, AC […] Read more


Most of the varieties covered by PBR are from the public sector, and most are cereal varieties.

Plant Breeders Rights not so simple

New regulations give PBR regs more teeth, but breeders still want you to follow the law out of self-interest, not fear

Reading Time: 6 minutes When Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) got a major facelift two years ago, the seed trade in Canada responded with information campaigns saying that all was for the best. Upgrades in intellectual property protection weren’t a cash grab, farmers were told. Instead, they showed the international community that Canada takes property protection very seriously. That recognition, […] Read more

Prairie flax acreage is not as high as it once was, but Canada is still the world’s largest exporter.

Improving flax one allele at a time

Rust hasn’t affected Canadian flax for more than 40 years, but new varieties must still incorporate resistance

Reading Time: 4 minutes On the surface, you’d think that a research project seeking to locate and sequence specific rust-resistance genes, then find ways to quickly identify the presence of these genes in plant breeding material is ultimately about preventing crop loss to rust. But we’re talking about flax here, so think again. Flax is a one million-acre crop […] Read more


According to one report, DuPont Pioneer is using CRISPR technology to develop a corn hybrid with a higher wax content, due out in 2020.

Our CRISPR future

New technology promises to shove traditional GMO breeding aside, with huge gains for growers

Reading Time: 7 minutes Where were you when… you heard of GPS or Bt corn for the first time? Both were seminal moments of the past 25 years in agriculture that have led to further innovation and advances, increasing growers’ efficiency and productivity at practically every step of the way. Now, CRISPR technology represents another of these seminal moments, […] Read more

Now there are tools that help you make better and more efficient crosses so you can focus your resources or impose selection earlier based on lab data.” — Rob Duncan, University of Manitoba

Still sifting through genes, but…

Plant breeding has always been about testing to see how one gene interacts with another, but today it can be done much more quickly

Reading Time: 4 minutes Today’s new generation of plant breeders are often called “gene jockeys,” although they’re actually more like cowboys rounding up “genotypes” into a common corral called a “genome.” Then they look for other genomes to add to the corral so they can improve the herd. Previous generations of plant breeders did the same thing, but they […] Read more