It’s something every canola grower worries about: pod shatter. Whether it be from the weather or the swather, your canola pods are doomed to shatter at some point – or are they?
DL Seeds, our canola breeding partner, has been researching pod shatter for more than a few years now, with huge developments in creating hybrids with resistance to this phenomenon. Jesse Mutcheson, Pre-Breeder Seed and QAS Manager at DL Seeds, has been working on his Master’s degree while researching pod shatter. He said their biggest leap so far has been getting their first commercial pod shatter tolerant hybrid into the market, which is BY 6217TF. BrettYoung has branded this trait as Pod DefendR — this means you can expect a high performance and dependable level of pod shatter tolerance.
But how did we get here?
DL Seeds began their research on pod shatter in 2016. Once they find unique traits or genes of interest, it takes multiple years to implement that trait into a parent. There are first multiple cycles of backcrossing to get the trait as stable as possible within each parent. After that, the first cross between two parents can be made to create an F1 hybrid.
“It’s not blindly picking two parents,” said Mutcheson. “You look at their trait packages on each side and make combinations on what you think would develop an industry-leading hybrid.”
For the first year of testing, most crosses go down to Chile where DL Seeds produces in contra season. Once they come back, DL Seeds starts growing them in their trials and that’s where evaluation starts.
DL Seeds has 2 main tests for evaluating pod shatter resistance:
- In-the-field wind mimicking: DL Seeds’ researchers use high-speed leaf blowers to mimic excess wind on plots for a set amount of time. From there, they give the hybrid a rating from one to nine, one being poor for pod shatter tolerance and nine being the best. Those numbers coincide with a scale created by the Canola Council of Canada, where a hybrid pod shatter rating of eight is the gold standard for pod shatter tolerance.
- Random impact test: During this test, DL Seeds collects pods off mature canola plants and uses an indoor random impact test machine with an oscillating shaker and ball bearings to see how much impact it takes to shatter the pods. From there, a pod shatter reduction index is given to each hybrid for analysis.
Mutcheson prefers to use the in-the-field test as it gives real data right there. “Once we get the ratings in-house, we start comparing them to the other hybrids in that trial,” he said. “You can see where it lines up against the industry leading hybrids, look backwards from there, and start looking at other critical traits like yield performance, disease resistance, and quality.”
In their most recent evaluations, DL Seeds had several hybrids scoring neck and neck with industry-leading shatter-tolerant products. Mutcheson said it’s reassuring to get results like those and said they’ll be moving forward with the most promising hybrids.
“We know our pipeline coming up is looking very strong for shatter tolerance.” said Mutcheson. “It wasn’t just a one and done that we found something good. We want to ensure everyone that our pipeline is full of quality hybrids that are going to be in demand when released.”