Forging new path in plant breeding for pulses 

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  • Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) and Limagrain Field Seeds have announced a new collaboration for pulse breeding in Saskatchewan, Canada.

This new collaboration has a strong commercial focus and will bring new and additional investment into pea and lentil breeding locally in Saskatchewan, increasing competition, and creating a strong environment to foster innovation.

Developing new and better performing varieties of peas and lentils is the focus of the breeding collaboration. Farmers’ priorities and greatest production challenges are at the forefront of the breeding program, with major areas of focus including resistance to root disease in peas and lentils, increased protein content, and overall improvements in yield performance under varying conditions.

Breeding will take place in Saskatchewan for the benefit of Saskatchewan producers. “We are excited for this new direction in pulse breeding for farmers in Saskatchewan. It is important to continue fostering innovation and competition in pulse breeding and to bring new perspectives to challenging on-farm issues like root rots and herbicide resistance,” says Shaun Dyrland, Chair of SPG Board of Directors.

“We believe this new collaboration with Limagrain on pulse breeding will allow for targeting grower priorities and ensuring that growers’ direction and voices are at the table helping to drive new varieties.” 

The new Limagrain Field Seeds breeding, and research program will be based in Saskatoon, where a dedicated pulse breeding team will be created, bringing new expertise in breeding, pathology, molecular genetics, and field trial evaluation to the region. 

This technology driven program will lead to higher performing varieties being made available to producers more quickly by deploying all available technology to both shorten the breeding cycle and accelerate seed production. 

“Limagrain is very committed to producing plant-based proteins. Saskatchewan is at the heart of global pulse production, so it makes perfect sense for Limagrain Field Seeds to extend its existing cereal breeding

research in Saskatoon, and to now include these two pulse crops reinforcing our commitment to Saskatchewan,” remarked Régis Fournier, CEO of Limagrain Field Seeds.

“Collaboration is a core value for Limagrain and partnering with SPG, a fellow farmer-led organization is a crucially important component.”

Both SPG and Limagrain are farmer-led with farmer-based boards of Directors. This is an important pillar to this new collaboration, which was developed around shared values to support and foster profitable growth and opportunities for Saskatchewan farmers. 

The collaboration has SPG and Limagrain sharing in upfront investments, with future royalties from the sale of new varieties to be shared. SPG will provide input on breeding priorities and ensure that farmers’ voices, needs, priorities, and challenges are driving the goals of the program every step of the way.

Will Pillinger, pulse breeder for Limagrain UK believes European and UK markets can expect to see the benefits from this incredibly significant pulses breeding collaboration in the near future through combined technology and genetic diversity. “The partnership with Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG), has increased our investment in genomic selection and specific trait related genetic markers for peas, beans and lentils.” 

“This increased global pulse breeding will have an immediate impact on the ability for Limagrain UK to access accelerated improvements in yield, quality and disease resistance and it should not be too long before we see these attributes on UK farms.”

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