Seed Varieties THE development of new crop varieties in Canada and elsewhere is a matter of what farmers want and need, but also what consumers want and need. So says Trent Whiting, marketing representative at SeCan. “You have to listen to what farmers want, and of course they want everything – great disease package, high yield, strong straw and so on – and we also have to look at end uses,” he explains. “We are always looking to provide the best performance we can for farmers, and there are also regional differences in how a variety will perform as well. We try to work with breeding partners to address that too.” Canterra Seeds also gathers information from numerous sources in the process of selecting new varieties, including industry information such as variety performance records, data from breeders and input both from seed growers and farmers. “Canterra Seeds has made it a priority to determine the needs of our customers, which include both farmers and end- users, as you need to meet everyone’s needs to be successful,” says Colette Prefontaine, pedigreed seed territory manager with Canterra. “If a variety is high-yielding, for example, but doesn’t have the quality that processors are looking for, they won’t buy it. Conversely, New tools and techniques influence how new varieties are developed and can also shave a little off the timeline. ACCESSING NEW SEED VARIETIES if a variety has a unique quality attribute but has terrible standability, farmers won’t grow it. Both sets of needs matter.” While the breeding process is very similar to what it was decades ago, it has also changed in some ways over the last few years. “The change that stands out for me is that breeders are able to communicate directly with farmers through social media and the internet,” says Whiting. “Information flow is so much better, with real-world feedback coming in from farmer or end-use customers faster than ever. I saw a tweet the other day from one of our members praising a new winter wheat variety he was growing and 28 | Advancing Seed in Alberta