Behind the seeds

2015 Advancing Women Conference

By: Andrea Hilderman in community

This past week I had the good fortune to participate in the 2015 Advancing Women Conference (West) in Calgary, Alberta.  Ginelle Piderwerbesky and Page Newton, CANTERRA SEEDS Territory Managers covering Central Saskatchewan and Central Alberta, respectively, also attended.  We were three of over 570 women from 225 organizations - I think almost every women in agriculture in the West was there.  At least it felt that way.  All areas of agriculture and all types of careers were represented.  There were university students to sales representatives to mid-career professionals to government to senior leaders present.  And the keynote speakers were, without exception, exceptional.

Having the opportunity to attend a conference such at this provides you a few days to network and connect with your colleagues but also to rejuventate your motivation and desire to succeed.  Women are starting to make great headway in the corporate agriculture world, advancing to senior leadership roles.  The women who shared their personal success stories with us were inspiring.  Their passion for their careers was palpable.

What key messages did I walk away with?

Be authentic.  Be yourself in your professional and personal life. 

Never stop learning - take every opportunity presented to you and keep on the path of life long learning.

Don't turn down opportunities or challenges that come your way - women are more likely to turn down an opportunity if they think they are not qualified or experienced enough - we need to trust our capabilities more and grasp opportunites.

Seek out mentors. Find mentors who have qualities you admire and would want to emulate, and have both personal and professional mentors.  Some of the leaders we heard from who have 25+ years experience and are at or close to the pinnacle of their career, still rely on mentorship.  Not only does it provide guidance and advice, it also sustains the soul.  It can be more than just a professional relationship.

Know what replenishes your soul.  Knowing what relaxes and rejuvenates you is critical to sustaining your motivation and energy for your career.  It also reduces stress levels.

Look for balance in your life.  Accept support.

Network with intention.  Always have your business card to give to a new contact.  If you don't have a business card, have a personal card to share your information.  I was surprised to learn that only about 10% of people will follow up with new contacts once they are back in the office or back home.  Your network of contacts is a vital building block to your career. 

Don't be afraid of mistakes.  Mistakes lead to solutions and according to Debbie Travis, one of the keynote speakers, that's when the magic can happen.

You are your own brand.  Guard it, nurture it and don't take it for granted.

Leadership is a choice, not a job title.  What this means is you can be a leader at any level in the organization, it's really up to you.

Advancing Women Conference West 2016 is already scheduled for March next year in Calgary.  Check out for more information, and pass the message along to other women in agriculture who have not yet heard of this event.

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Getting it Right, One Thousand Kernels at a Time

As equipment and technology becomes more and more advanced, producers are able to be increasingly more precise and detailed in what they do to maximize the yield potential of their crops. One of the things they can focus in on more than before is plant population. Getting the right plant population maximizes yield, reduces weed pressure, enables an even stand for good harvest management, and serves to get the most return for your level of inputs.

To get a number you can use to calibrate your drill for the population you are looking to achieve, you need a few things. One of those is an emergence or germination rate: What percentage of the seed that goes in the ground will emerge successfully? The other thing you need is a thousand kernel weight, or a “TKW” as it is often called. Knowing the weight of a thousand kernels of your seed allows you to know what weight you need to apply the seed to reach the population you’re looking for.

Last growing season, CANTERRA SEEDS tried a unique approach to providing TKW’s to growers, where the tag on each of our bags had a QR code attached. When you scanned the QR code, you would be taken to our website, where you would be given the TKW of your seed in order to set your equipment.

While there were some upsides to this system, we found out through our experience as well as customer feedback that there were downsides as well. Our seed is grown all over Western Canada and when cellular connections to our web site couldn’t be established, customers struggled to gain easy access to the TKW information. In this limited number of cases, the QR reader just wasn’t providing growers with the information that they needed.

This season, every bag of CANTERRA SEEDS canola will have the TKW stenciled directly onto the bag. We want to make sure that all of our growers have the best tools and information available to them at all times in order to get the best from our genetics. When we hear from our customers that there is something we can change to improve their product experience, we are absolutely listening.

Look for a freshly printed TKW on a bag of CANTERRA SEEDS canola near you!

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Getting the Facts on PBR

By: Andrea Hilderman in Industry

As of February 27, 2015, all new varieties granted Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) will be protected under Canada’s new Plant Breeders’ Rights legislation.  CANTERRA SEEDS expects that very soon there will be varieties on the market that are protected under the new legislation.  As the industry adapts to the new regulations, there will be questions about what it really means, operationally, for various participants in the value chain. 

The Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), of which CANTERRA SEEDS is a member, has just launched  This new website was created by CSTA with input from the Plant Breeders’ Rights Office at the CFIA and from intellectual property specialists.   It is meant to inform those stakeholders along the value chain who need to be aware of the new requirements created by the expanded breeder’s right.

The site contains specific and focused information for farmers, seed retailers, seed conditioners and buyers of harvested material (grain).    It also has a page dedicated to questions and answers and will give access to fact sheets, presentations and other material designed to inform and build awareness.  All of that material and the logos are available from CSTA.  You can request the material through the website, or directly from CSTA.

CANTERRA SEEDS and CSTA encourage anyone who is looking for a better understanding of what these new regulations mean to the industry to explore the new website. The goal is to ensure that everyone have the opportunity to understand and comply with the requirements of the new PBR environment.

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A Big Day for Canadian Agriculture

By: Andrea Hilderman in Industry, News

David Hansen, President and CEO of CANTERRA SEEDS, today had the opportunity to congratulate the Government of Canada for its work in modernizing the Canadian regulatory environment as the Agriculture Growth Act (Bill C-18) was passed into law yesterday.  Impacting nine existing Acts, this omnibus bill will work to bring Canada into conformity with the global international plant breeders' rights standards contained in UPOV-91, of particular interest to the seed industry.

"This is an historic day for Canada, for agriculture and for CANTERRA SEEDS. We are going to see more innovation and investment, improved seed genetics and a broader selection of varieties available for producers as a result of the changes that have been made," Hansen said.  “CANTERRA SEEDS hosted Minister Ritz as he announced the introduction of this legislation back in December 2013 and we are incredibly proud to host him once again to announce its passing into the statute books today.” 

Representatives from over 25 organizations, across the cereals value chain and including farmers, were present at CANTERRA SEEDS to welcome the Minister’s formal announcement about the status of the Agriculture Growth Act, Bill C-18.

The changes contained within the Agriculture Growth Act will strengthen Canadian agriculture, level the playing field internationally and make investment here a much more attractive option, particularly in plant breeding.  “Farmers will be the beneficiaries of the increased investments that are going to happen,” says Hansen.  “They will have access to varieties with better agronomics, better disease resistance and higher yield potential.  They will share in the overall success of the seed industry as an integral part of that value chain.” 

“I guarantee we will start to see positive change as a result of the passing of Bill C-18 and I personally want to thank Minister Ritz for his support of these important changes to our industry.”

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Clarification on CS2000 Clubroot Claim

By: Sheena Pitura in canola, Products, R&PD

Recently, CANTERRA SEEDS announced the release of CS2000, a new canola hybrid which independent, third-party, testing has shown to have an improved level of clubroot tolerance. In addition to resistance to the dominant 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 pathotypes, CS2000 has an intermediate level of reaction to the new 5x pathotype.

The intermediate reaction is a new term to many growers, and they may be unfamiliar with what this means. According to Dr. Stephen Strelkov of the University of Alberta, and the Pathology sub-committee of the Western Canadian Canola/Rapeseed Recommending Committee (WCC/RCC), intermediate reaction is a level of resistance between 30-69%. The scale is described as:

  • <30% reaction – Resistant
  • 30 – 69% reaction – Intermediate Reaction
  • >70% reaction – Susceptible

As with resistance to any canola disease, the intermediate reaction to the 5x pathotype is not a silver bullet. Growers are strongly encouraged to use all best management practices for clubroot including sanitation of equipment, crop rotations and growing resistant varieties.

Disease resistance in canola varieties is a key component of canola production and understanding management of disease resistance and its impact on canola yield is important for sustainable, profitable canola production.

CANTERRA SEEDS fully supports the ongoing research and testing of all canola related diseases, like blackleg, sclerotinia, and clubroot in order to provide canola producers and the value chain with varieties with improved yield and profitability.

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CS2000 Brings New Clubroot Resistance to Farmers

By: Sheena Pitura in canola, Products

CS2000 - August, 2014

Earlier today, CANTERRA SEEDS officially launched CS2000, a new clubroot resistant hybrid. While there are a number of clubroot resistant hybrids currently on the market, CS2000 offers something completely new for growers.

Clubroot was first found in central Alberta more than a decade ago. The spread of the soil-borne disease has been prolific, and was reported in more than 1,800 fields in 36 counties since it was first discovered. Management practices include knocking soil off vehicles leaving fields, cleaning equipment, planting resistant varieties and extending canola rotations in clubroot areas. Despite these efforts, the spread of the disease seems to be continuing, as it was confirmed in four new Alberta municipalities last year. Isolated incidents of clubroot have also been found in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North Dakota.

The clubroot resistant trait has been available in canola varieties since 2009, and has quickly become one of the most important clubroot management tools used by farmers. However, in 2013, a new virulent strain of clubroot was found in a field north of Edmonton. The new 5x pathotype is causing concern, as work by Dr. Stephen Strelkov from the University of Alberta identified that all western Canadian varieties are susceptible to the new strain of the disease.

But that is all about to change.

CS2000, which will be available to growers this spring, will have the most comprehensive clubroot resistance package on the market. In replicated greenhouse trials, Strelkov confirmed that CS2000 has resistance to the pathotypes 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8. In addition, CS2000 exhibited an intermediate reaction to a new strain of the pathogen that has the ability to overcome currently used sources of resistance (pathotype 5x, identified in central Alberta). Strelkov also added that he has not seen this level of resistance in any other canola varieties, and is encouraged by this result.

CS2000 will be the first canola on the market to offer any level of resistance to 5x, and could prove an important management tool for growers. The variety also has excellent yields, standability and agronomic characteristics.

Read more about CS2000 here and here

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