With Jesse Mutcheson
The subject of pod shatter has been on the minds of canola growers in Western Canada for some time now. Without protection against it — not only can pod shattering result in significant harvest losses, but it also limits the options you have to harvest your canola crop.
That’s why the recent introduction of Pod DefendR, canola with shatter-tolerant technology from BrettYoung and canola breeding partner DL Seeds, has the potential to be a game-changer for your fields.
New Technology with Massive Potential
Pod DefendR is based on technology developed by DL Seeds’ shareholders in Europe. It was originally developed in Europe for winter canola and has now been adapted for use in the company’s spring canola breeding program.
Jesse Mutcheson, a field trial agronomist with DL Seeds and completing his Master program at the University of Manitoba on pod shatter, says that preliminary results from field trials have been very encouraging. Pod DefendR hybrids to date have been found to be extremely competitive with industry standard performance when it comes to pod shatter tolerance.
“It goes beyond just marketing a variety that is pod shatter-tolerant. It’s all the other traits that go along with it,” he explains. “Is it high yielding? Yes. There’s also a really good disease package for blackleg and clubroot.
We’ve also really been working on trying to bump up that maturity towards becoming an early season product so that people can get their crops off as early as possible.”
Additionally, one of the factors that makes Pod DefendR an attractive choice for your farm is its flexibility, says Mutcheson. Pod DefendR’s shatter-tolerant technology allows for a wider swath timing window or a straight cutting options.
If you’re looking to try it on your farm, you’re in luck: Pod DefendR is currently available in BY 6211TF, with a number of new Pod DefendR products quickly coming down the Canadian breeding pipeline that will be commercially available soon.
Pod Shatter vs. Pod Drop
But what exactly is pod shatter, and how is it different from pod drop? In simple terms, pod shatter occurs when the pod valves (walls) on a canola pod split open, causing seeds to fall out of their casing. Pod drop, on the other hand, is when the complete pod breaks off at the pedicel (structure connecting pod to the stem) and drops to the ground intact. Genetics, environment and weather—including high winds at harvest time—are primary contributors to these two conditions.
Mutcheson says there has traditionally been far more research and industry discussion about pod shatter than pod drop because it is far more obvious. When a canola pod shatters, the replum—the white tissue in the middle of the pod—is extremely visible to the naked eye since it stands out against the light brown colour of a mature, ripe canola field. In the case of pod drop, the replum isn’t exposed, meaning a farmer isn’t likely to be aware it’s happened unless they get down on the ground to look between rows.
“Pod shatter is a little easier to quantify. Pod drop is a lot more work in terms of how do you quantify if a variety has good or bad pod drop? There’s not really been a threshold established for pod drop just because it hasn’t been a well-studied and well-understood topic in the industry,” Mutcheson says. “Part of my Master’s project at the University of Manitoba is to look at this very topic of pod drop.”
That said, Mutcheson acknowledges that pod drop is becoming more of a concern for many seed breeding companies.
As a result, companies like DL Seeds have begun stepping up their research efforts when it comes to a better understanding of pod drop. Mutcheson says DL Seeds, in conjunction with BrettYoung, has recently begun letting some trials stand in fields a bit longer than usual before harvest, in order to better evaluate pod drop.
“The first question that everyone asks is whether it has pod shatter tolerance,” Mutcheson explains, “if you say yes, then they’ll ask if it drops its pods. But if you don’t really have an answer to give people, you end up back at square one.” That is why DL Seeds is investing and support Jesse’s Masters project to answer that question for Western Canadian Farmers.
For more information on Pod DefendR, or for advice on protecting against pod shatter and pod drop, contact your BrettYoung Regional Account Manager.