The future of pulse breeding — and how it’s paid for — a focus of Sask Pulse AGM

The way pulse varieties are developed in Saskatchewan is evolving, with more announcements of pulse breeding agreements on the way in 2024, says Carl Potts, executive director of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG).

An agreement with Limagrain was announced in July of 2022, the first of its kind, and growers will likely see a new agreement with the Crop Development Centre in the first half of this year, says Potts.

The new agreement with CDC, like that with Limagrain, will not result in royalty-free varieties, however, as each breeding program will have multiple entities investing in the process. Multiple funders and multiple agreements, says Potts, is good news for variety advancement and faster genetic gains.

Pulse crops are important in many diets around the world and profitable for farmers to grow, but globally it’s a small set of crops relative to other crop types and that makes funding breeding programs a challenge.

At this year’s AGM there was a motion to prevent Sask Pulse from entering into breeding agreements that used variety use agreements (VUAs) to recoup investment in breeding programs. That motion was defeated.

“We see the vision and the opportunity for this model (using VUAs), not only for the Limagrain agreement but for others as well,” Potts says. “It’s become increasingly difficult to fund pulse breeding with grower dollars only.”

VUAs are a mechanism for organizations to generate revenue for their work, Potts says, however existing royalty-free varieties developed under past breeding agreements aren’t going anywhere. Producers will still have royalty-free access to those varieties, ultimately adding more competition to the pulse seed market, he says.

The AGM also included an update on funding for research priorities, including aphanomyces and root rot, as well as the importance of coordination across the pulse growing region for work on common challenges.

 

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