What are the Canola Performance Trials?
The CPT or Canola Performance Trials are a grower-funded, third-party testing initiative that’s regarded as one of the best sources for unbiased data on the most popular canola varieties on the market. The CPTs have been published for many years, and growers have made it known that they value this type of data and would like it to continue. In a 2015 survey, 90% of respondents said data from an independent third-party source was either somewhat or very important to them.
What type of data is generated?
Historically, the CPT data consisted of small plot data only. The protocol for these small-plots has improved over time. Now, they include increased replication, herbicide application that’s suited for the herbicide tolerant trait, and harvest management guidelines that include proper swath and/or straight-cut timing to account for a variety’s maturity and tolerance to shatter. All of these are intended to help minimize variation and isolate the genetic yield potential of the varieties, to help growers with their decision-making. Other key variety attributes measured include days to maturity, lodging resistance, and height. Data is reported on a site-specific basis but is also aggregated according to specific geographical growing zones. Field scale trials have also been added which gives the grower another point of reference on what they can expect under more real-life conditions.
All sites are to be inspected to verify trial protocols are followed, which provides added confidence that there is a fair representation of the varieties.
Commercial canola varieties tested in small plot trials this year include: Bayer CropScience, BrettYoung Seeds, CANTERRA SEEDS, Cargill, DL Seeds, Proven Seed/CPS, DEKALB, and DuPont Pioneer.
What are the limitations and how to make up for them?
The CPTs, however, are not without limitation. One is the absence of blackleg pathotype data for the specific sites. With different types of blackleg resistance being offered, it should be reasonable to expect that varieties with different sources of resistance will have different yield responses at different locations, depending on the blackleg strains present at that location. This is, of course, a challenge not only to CPT but almost all other variety trials. This may soon change based on a blackleg industry initiative that is working on a more rapid and accessible test that can profile the pathotypes in a given field. It shouldn’t be long before such information will be available as part of the final trial write-up so that growers can make more informed variety decisions.
Number of Sites
Another limitation is the number of CPT locations. There are in general fewer locations than other data sources, likely due to resource constraints. For example, in 2016 and 2017, there were only 13 and 11 locations respectively to represent all of Western Canada. On the one hand, this speaks to the high standards the CPT Committee sets when auditing these small plot trials – if it is determined that a certain trial isn’t reliable due to the impact of environmental conditions or management mishaps, it will be cut, resulting in a fewer number of overall trials but good data. As such, growers can have better confidence knowing that the yield numbers they see in the final report are likely a close representation of the variety’s potential at that specific location. The drawback though, is that the grower will be operating with less information that may not be the best representation of their growing area.
Using Additional Information
Fortunately, there are other sources of information that can help complement the CPT and fill in some of these gaps. The investment that seed companies make every year to demonstrate variety performance at the local level is well known. In the case of CANTERRA SEEDS for this past year, 123 field scale demo sites were planted across the western prairies, the majority of which were with independent 3rd party retailers/cooperators. Growers are encouraged to combine these additional data points into their variety selection analysis – they are an important shoulder check for some very big blind spots. The best approach is to factor in as many different data sets as possible (i.e. 3rd party vs seed company) and look for consistency across these different data sets. When consistency is observed, there’s a good chance a winner has been found.
The latest CANTERRA SEEDS release CS2300 is a great example. Not only did it do well in the 2017 CANTERRA SEEDS field scale demo trials, but it also demonstrated equivalent high performance in the 2017 3rd party CPTs. In fact, it was this exact same yield performance that was observed in the trial years leading up to CS2300’s commercial release – removing any doubts that CANTERRA SEEDS has set a new standard in yield.
Where to find the information?
If you would like to review past CPT results you can visit the Canola Performance Trials website, www.canolaperformancetrials.ca
For the 2017 results booklet, complete with site specific and aggregate data, click this link. DOWNLOAD THE 2017 RESULTS