Regina, SK – The Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) and the Crop Development Centre (CDC) at the University of Saskatchewan have entered into a new long-term pulse breeding agreement worth $21 million over 15 years.
This funding, along with the recently opened, $3-million state-of-the-art pulse research lab on the University of Saskatchewan campus, is expected to meet the crop breeding and research needs of the pulse industry for many years to come.
“In return for core funding of our pulse breeding program, the university has given SPG exclusive global distribution rights for new varieties of peas, lentils, chickpeas, dry beans, and new pulse crops such as fababeans and soybeans,” says Rick Holm, CDC director.
SPG will also provide the CDC with the use of 640 acres of land and bridge funding for an additional pulse breeding position, bringing the total number of CDC pulse crop breeders to three.
Holm said SPG’s long-term commitment to funding at such a significant level is extremely important to the CDC’s pulse crop breeding program.
“It provides much needed long-term stability that will allow us to concentrate on our major objective — to improve economic returns to producers and the rest of the agricultural industry through the development of improved pulse crop varieties,” he says.
SPG Chair Dean Corbett said research is key to keeping Canada’s growing pulse industry profitable over the long term. He noted the SPG research agenda is funded through a check-off on all pulse crops sold in the province.
Saskatchewan produces 99% of the country’s lentils and 70% of its peas. Pulses are now planted on four to five million acres annually, making them the province’s third most important crop export and accounting for about 15% of income at the farm gate.
The university has played an integral role in the development of the province’s pulse industry. Fewer than a dozen Saskatchewan farmers had tried growing lentils when a breeding program was established at the CDC not long after the centre’s inception in 1971. Since then, the CDC has released 92 pulse crop varieties including 32 lentil, 20 pea, 22 bean, 13 chickpea and five fababean varieties.
CDC’s pulse breeding program now consists of six scientists, 20 technicians and up to 20 seasonal personnel. Two pulse breeders and a plant pathologist are funded by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food.