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The Forage Seed Grower Workshop was held on December 2, 2014 in Nipawin, SK. Presentations were made by:

Adger-Banken-AGM-2014Adger Banken, Director Export and Procurement with DLF-Trifolium in The Netherlands used a webcast link to provide his presentation and speak to the group. Mr. Banken began with a description of DLF Trifolium corporation. DLF is a very large player in the world forage seed industry with about 25% of the world market including about 50% of the European market. With DLF-Trifolium’s purchase of Pickseed Canada in the summer of 2013, the corporation now has a significant presence in northeastern Saskatchewan.

A number of countries in Europe were described regarding the production year for forage seed crops. The growing conditions in 2014 for Denmark and Netherlands included a mild winter, an early spring, good growing conditions, a dry harvest and good yields. A higher carryover of stocks is expected to lead to a decline in acres in Denmark in 2015. Harvest conditions for red clover and alfalfa in France and Czech Republic were very wet. Overall, the European Union saw a slight increase in grass species production and a slight decrease in legume seed production in 2014.

On the market side, European purchases are split into two categories; the professional or trades market and the consumer market. In 2014, the professional market was steady with a strong focus on price and a tendency to look for lower cost blends. The consumer market also is experiencing a move toward blended combinations and private label products. There is good opportunity for Canada in the European market for perennial ryegrass, timothy, alfalfa, annual ryegrass, tall fescue, and red clover.

With regard to the development of Roundup Ready alfalfa, DLF is not against RR alfalfa, but currently there is zero tolerance for GMO contamination in Europe, so any RR alfalfa presence is a liability in Europe.

Mr. Banken ended his talk by describing the importance of the Canadian Dollar exchange rate with the Euro for forage seed sales and need for reliable transportation of product from Canada to the markets.

Dr. Bill Biligetu, Forage Crop Plant Breeder at the University of Saskatchewan, talked about forage crop plant breeding and brought us up to date on his program plans for forage breeding in the next few years. Dr. Biligetu’s position is new and is funded by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. The funding also includes a Technician position, but all the equipment and plot land is currently still with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Dr. Biligetu is in the process of developming the future direction of his program. Current ideas include work on: hybrid and meadow bromegrass – better adaptation to wet conditions; crested wheatgrass – taller plants, heavier and fewer tillers per plant, bigger seed size, later maturity for higher quality forage; Timothy – improved seed yields; Tall Fescue; and alfalfa – local adaptation, salt tolerance. Annual forage crop breeding collaboration with other plant breeders at the University of Saskatchewan is also on the radar. He is also considering working with AAFC Swift Current on native species plant breeding.

Stu Brandt, Manager, Northeast Agriculture Research Foundation (NARF), reviewed the forage seed research program at Melfort and area in 2014. Projects included minor use weed control in established grass and legume species, and copper fertility foliar treatments at the flag leaf on established grass seed crops at four sites. These projects were funded through the SFSDC checkoff. A new project comparing the placement of a companion crop with two separate forage grasses using same row and alternate row seeding was described. Early results indicated that seeding in alternate rows improved forage establishment and reduced weed competition. This is a two year project that will continue in 2015.

The project on desiccation of red clover was also described and early results were reviewed. It appeared that increasing water volume had a greater impact on dry-down than increasing the rate of desiccant.

These two projects as well as two projects demonstrating the importance of controlling weeds in established forage seed crops were funded though the Saskatchewan Agriculture ADOPT program.

Please check the SFSDC Website at www.skforageseeddc.com under Research for more information on current and past forage seed research projects.

Terry Kowalchuk, Provincial Forage Specialist, Saskatchewan Agriculture provided an update on Sainfoin research and production. The new variety AC Mountainview released in 2013 was described. It is receiving more attention as farmers and ranchers look for no-bloating legumes. AC Mountainview is best suited to the Dark Brown and Brown soil zones and needs well drained soils to thrive.

Thank you to our speakers and those who attended the Workshop, as well as our levy payers and forage seed buyers for their support of the Commission’s activities.

Posted January 27, 2015