Behind the seeds

CANTERRA SEEDS & Limagrain announce the launch of Limagrain Cereals Research Canada

We are celebrating a great achievement at CANTERRA SEEDS – one that has taken many years of negotiation, required a number of legislative pieces to fall into place and the building of a relationship with a global leader in cereal breeding.  No small achievement for a company started by a group of entrepreneurial seed growers 19 years ago.  With the launch of Limagrain Cereals Research Canada Thursday July 2, 2015, the board and management of CANTERRA SEEDS have concluded what they see as a necessary and desirable development in the evolution of CANTERRA SEEDS as a seed distribution company. 

Click here to view the launch video

Being in the seed business in Western Canada has meant negotiating many system-wide changes recently, starting with the removal of the CWB monopoly to the changes ushered in this year in the omnibus Agricultural Growth Act.

Key for the creation of Limagrain Cereals Research Canada was the modernization of our Plant Breeders’ Rights Act.  Now, plant breeders are afforded expanded intellectual property protection rights as outlined in the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants or UPOV ’91 as we’ve come to know it.   But only if they  choose those protections, because PBR remains a voluntary process. 

Thanks to The Agricultural Growth Act, a new world of wheat has opened up for Canadian grain farmers. New investment is going to bring new sources of genetics, with the promise of improved agronomic qualities, disease resistance and better end-use characteristics.

The business of producing, and growing cereal varieties will become more profitable for the entire value chain, especially for farmers.

Our company, CANTERRA SEEDS, has been in the business of providing farmers of western Canada with elite varieties of wheat, barley, oats, peas, and canola for the last 19 years. We are able to accomplish this through our partnerships with numerous public and private seed developers from around the world, including the key public breeding programs including those at the Crop Development Centre in Saskatoon and Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

With the opportunities presented by the Agricultural Growth Act, CANTERRA SEEDS and Limagrain from France, have leveraged our existing partnership and established a new joint venture cereal seed research and development company that will contribute to the advancement of cereals for Western Canada. 

Limagrain Cereals Research Canada will harvest the best research, the most innovative technologies and the best germplasm from partnerships, new and existing, including Limagrain’s global resources, and deliver those benefits to the Western Canadian farmer.   This is the right time and the right place for this to happen.

This new company will provide Western Canadian farmers with access to a broader and more diverse portfolio of cereal varieties, with the intent to help improve their bottom lines.  This new company will be led by Dr. Erin Armstrong as Chief Executive Officer.  Dr. Armstrong will split her time between this new role as Limagrain Cereals Research Canada grows and her existing role on the senior management team at CANTERRA SEEDS.  Likewise, Limagrain Cereals Research Canada’s new VP of Research, Jim Peterson, will split his time with his very similar duties at Limagrain Cereal Seeds in the U.S.

Limagrain is CANTERRA SEEDS’ partner in this new joint venture.  Limagrain is an international cooperative group created and directed by French farmers that moves agriculture forward to meet food challenges. As a creator and producer of plant and cereal varieties, the Limagrain markets seeds and cereal products intended for farmers, growers, home gardeners and for agri-food industrialists and consumers.  It is the fourth largest seed company in the world (field seeds and vegetable seeds), the European leader for functional flours, and the No. 1 French industrial baker, all with strong brands in their markets.

As part of the deal, Limagrain is also making a significant investment in CANTERRA SEEDS.  This is a vote of confidence in this company, its board of directors, management team and vision. 

This new company will provide Western Canadian farmers with access to a broader and more diverse portfolio of cereal varieties, with the intention to help improve their bottom lines.

Click here to read the full news release


It's an exciting time to be in agriculture in Western Canada, and it’s only just beginning.

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CS2100 Expands CANTERRA SEEDS canola portfolio

By: Andrea Hilderman in canola, News

CS2100 at an irrigated site at Outlook, SK in 2014

It’s been a remarkable year for CANTERRA SEEDS so far – and seeding hasn’t even finished as yet.  Another new canola hybrid has been launched today – one with multigenic blackleg resistance.  CS2100 also has higher observed pod shatter tolerance than 45H29, and we will be evaluating that further this season in CANTERRA SEEDS Yield Works and Yield Works Systems trials.  While bringing the best available hybrid with clubroot resistance to the market earlier this year was a milestone, bringing two, top class hybrids is very significant for us.

A tremendous amount of work, analysis and skill goes into making the decisions about which hybrids we bring into our portfolio.  Our mission and goal is to bring only the best to market, and this season we have succeeded in spades.  What we can offer growers is an abundance of solutions for the most pressing disease and agronomic issues facing them on the farm today

CS2100 is a high yielding GENRR hybrid with improved, multigenic blackleg resistance.  It is a hybrid with full season maturity best suited for the long season zone where it has yielded 110%, on average, of 45H29 in 2014.  CS2100 possesses multigenic resistance to blackleg that provides more durable defense making it less prone to breakdown by new races of the disease. CS2100 has broad spectrum resistance to the various pathotype groups 2, 3, 4 and T which offers more reliable defense against blackleg anywhere it is grown and delivers higher yields in fields with higher disease pressure.

CS2100 will be showcased across the Prairies this season, and will be available to growers this fall for seeding in 2016.  CANTERRA SEEDS Territory Managers will be planning site visits and tours this summer, and in addition, growers can see both CS2000 and CS2100 at the brand new outdoor trade show Ag in Motion July 21-23, 2015. 

For more information on CS2100, click here

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Let’s Grow: My Year at Canterra Seeds

By: Joel VanKoughnet in All About Us

               When I was preparing for my interview for a term position with CANTERRA SEEDS, I absorbed as many pieces of information as I could get my hands on. I looked through every page on the website, watched every video on the YouTube channel, and read through every post on this blog. Some of them probably twice. I remember coming across the words “Let’s Grow” many times. At the time I thought “well that’s a pretty good tag line for a seed company! Cool!” but it’s a bit more than a clever turn of phrase.

                For the past year now, I’ve had the good fortune of working with the team here at CANTERRA SEEDS, and it’s given me the chance to understand what Let’s Grow actually means to this organization. When I started, I was just finishing up my university degree, and working here has given me the opportunity to be involved in so many interesting things I had never experienced before. From working with and learning from our sales team all across western Canada, to experiencing a run of tradeshows first hand, to being involved in the development of our marketing and brand strategy for a whole year, I’ve seen a huge variety of things, and had a ton of new experiences. That’s what Let’s Grow means. It means giving you new opportunities to learn and succeed.

Filming a Plot Tour Video 
          (Filming a plot tour video with Brent and Sheena)                         (Some of our 2014/15 marketing material)                                    

                The team of people I’ve worked with while I’ve been here has been supportive, and encouraging, and helpful, and frankly they're a group of around great people. Right from my first day on the job, which involved getting a rental car stuck in snow in front of the entire sales team, (rest assured, I did get a few well deserved pictures of this tweeted out by the team) through my entire time here, I’ve felt totally welcome as a part of the team. Sometimes it’s someone stopping you to tell you you’ve done something well, sometimes it’s someone helping you to fix a mistake, or learn something you’ve never done before.  Sometimes it’s someone leaning on you to make sure that something important is done early and done right, or sometimes it’s putting your own work aside and helping out someone else when something needs to be done right away. That’s what Let’s Grow means. It means enjoying the company of the people you work with every day, and it means a willingness to help each other out whenever you can.

     (Preparing hampers for the Christmas Cheer Board)         (Prepping the warehouse for the announcement of Bill C-18)

                CANTERRA SEEDS is an organization with an onward and upward mentality. Success isn’t an opportunity to relax, but an opportunity to build on what you’ve already done to do something even better next time. Everyone here has a unique skill set, and their own area where they are truly exceptional. Every day you’ll be asking someone with a different expertise than you for their input, and in turn they will be asking you for yours. It isn’t out of the ordinary here to have our CEO David Hansen come over to your desk and ask you a question, and it’s by no means frowned upon (in fact it is welcomed) for you to walk into his office and do the same. That’s what Let’s Grow means. It means a constant drive to be at the forefront of the industry, and it means the synergy of a team that is greater than the sum of its parts, because it recognizes the unique perspectives and value of every person involved.

                When I started, more than one person welcomed me not by saying “Welcome to the team!” but by saying “Welcome to the CANTERRA family!” It’s nothing new for an organization to call its team a family, and for many places, that can be quite a stretch. I have a number of stories that speak to this part of the culture, but the one that always comes to mind happened only a few months after Reneé had gone on maternity leave. I remember her coming to visit the team at a sales meeting with her little girl Joy, who was just two months old at the time. I had worked with her for all of three weeks before Joy came along, but she pulled Joy out of her seat and stuck her in my arms and said “Say hi to Uncle Joel!” That, too, is what Lets Grow means.

  ("Uncle Jesse" with Joy)        (Most of the Sales and Marketing Team, Christmas '14)             (A day out in the field)

                As my term here comes to an end, I will no doubt carry with me new knowledge, skills, and perspectives that I have gained from my experience here, but I will carry those friendships too. It’s been a phenomenal experience working here, and I can’t wait to see where CANTERRA SEEDS will go next.

Thanks guys, and keep growing!


                          (Almost the entire CANTERRA SEEDS team, at our Sperling research site in June 2014)

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A Safe Second Thought

By: Joel VanKoughnet

A couple weekends ago, I was spending my Saturday afternoon helping my dad out on the farm. It was a simple spring day of checking, prepping, and fixing machinery so that we would be ready to hit the ground in a few weeks’ time. I was under the air drill, cleaning up a few of the shovels with an angle grinder, wearing both eye and ear protection (but no gloves), and I heard a snapping sound, then the sound of something scraping gravel, and the grinder felt quite light all of the sudden. I stopped the grinder and found that the steel brush I was using hadn’t detached itself from the shaft, but the shaft itself had actually broken in two, and so the attachment spun harmlessly across the yard in the other direction.

This isn’t something I ever expected to happen, and if it had skidded the other way, the hand that I was using to support my weight while I sat under the drill, a hand that was not wearing a glove, could have been chewed up pretty hard. I should have been wearing gloves, but I was fortunate enough to get away with one. In the grand scheme of accidents that can happen on a farm, there are far more dangerous activities, and far bigger accidents, but it was a good reminder for me of all the small things that could become big things if you don’t approach them with care.

Here are just a few little things you can do to stay safe this spring:

   -   Always be careful around moving equipment. Unless you have made eye contact with the operator, don’t assume that they can see you. They have a lot of things they need to focus on within the cab, and they may not always notice you right away, but you will always notice them.

   -   When transporting equipment on a roadway, remember to use warning lights, and ensure that safety reflectors are cleaned off so they can be seen. If you need to move along a busy roadway, avoid high traffic times of day if possible. If you are approaching equipment in a vehicle, even though it may be moving your direction, it is not moving very fast, and you will approach it far more quickly than you might think. Be sure that you slow down early enough and give the equipment plenty of space.

   -   Always be sure to use appropriate protective gear (including boots, gloves, safety glasses, goggles, respirators, and ear protection) when working with tools, chemicals, treaded seed, or around loud equipment. If you always have safety equipment available and on hand, it takes very little time to ensure that you are using it, and it helps build a good habit of reaching for it every time.


A simple process that you do every day is only simple until something goes wrong, so you can never take too much care. Don’t trust that experience will keep you safe. The only way to make sure you are safe is to make safe decisions and avoid taking unnecessary risks. One of the things we do at CANTERRA SEEDS is have one of our territory managers give a short safety update at the beginning of every conference call. It helps to bring the little things that you might otherwise forget to top of mind again. The extra time it sometimes takes to make safe decisions is so small compared to the time you might lose if an accident were to ever occur.

Have a safe and successful spring season!

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Ag Literacy Week

By: Joel VanKoughnet

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer for Ag Literacy week, put on by an organization called Agriculture in the Classroom Manitoba. (or AITC-MB: you can find them here! ) They are a non-profit charitable organization governed by an elected board of directors, including our own Sheena Pitura, (currently on mat. leave), that represent a cross section of the industry. The vision of Ag in the Classroom is to lead in the development and distribution of accurate, balanced and current information for use as education resources in the school curriculum.

My job as a volunteer during Ag Literacy week was to travel to different schools in Winnipeg, and read a story about agriculture to students ranging from kindergarten to grade 3. (A story that had actually been written and published specifically for this purpose). I had the good fortune of having Project Coordinator Diane Mauthe join me at these schools, and so I got to hear a new take on what it really means to work in agriculture as she introduced me to the students. First, she would start by asking the students where their food came from, and what they thought of when she said the word “agriculture”. Then she would ask them if they had anyone that they thought was a star. As they raised their hands and answered, you heard a few movie stars, a singer or two, and just about every player on the Winnipeg Jets. Then Diane said, “what about someone who helps grow the food that you eat? Would they be a star too?”

Needless to say it was definitely a flattering introduction, but it was also a good way to outline the importance of agriculture to all of these young people, and I think it really drove their interest in the rest of my presentation. As I read through the book, I was encouraged to relate the story to my experience working both on a farm growing up, and with CANTERRA SEEDS now, as well as to ask the kids questions about what was happening in the story, and answer all the questions they had for me. Some of these were simple, some were fun, and some were exceptionally insightful for such young students, and I actually had to take some time to be sure I could answer in a clear way. You could certainly tell that they were engaged in the topic, and it was really great to see.

(Helping out the kids with a matching exercise, where they matched household products to agricultural ones. For example, wheat and bread, cows and milk, or even pigs and a football.)

The former camp counsellor in me had a blast spending the day working with these kids, and the farm kid in me liked sharing my stories of growing up around a farm. As someone who works in the industry and sees many of the amazing things going on, the “Agvocate” in me, (a favourite term of AITC-MB) was delighted to see so many students have an interest in what truly happens in the world of agriculture. Ag isn’t just pitchforks, straw hats, and overalls. It’s a technologically advanced industry, with all kinds of brilliant people doing amazing things. It’s great to have people like AITC-MB helping these kids see that, because unless you grow up in a farming community, you seldom get the whole story, or even half of it. 

Diane was absolutely right. Agriculture feeds the world. What could be cooler than that?

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