Agri-business co-operative Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (SWP) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) have introduced a new crop to western Canada that can be grown in hotter, drier regions of the southern prairies.

Arid and Amulet, two new canola-quality Brassica juncea varieties, are available to producers this growing season at SWP locations throughout southern Saskatchewan. Since 1991, the Pool and AAFC scientists at the Saskatoon Research Centre have worked closely to develop these new products using selective breeding techniques. Originally derived from mustard plants, these new non-GMO varieties are more drought-resistant and produce canola-quality oil and meal.

Arid and Amulet received registration and final regulatory approval on 19 April 2002.

SWP's CEO, Mayo Schmidt said: "Brassica juncea adapts well to the southern Prairie climate providing better heat and drought tolerance and higher yields than traditional canolas. We are extremely proud of our research team, which has maximized its strategic partnership with AAFC and its research scientists.

"It is these kinds of partnerships that Canada needs to keep our farmers competitive in a tough international marketplace."

Dr. David Wall, acting director of AAFC's Research Centre in Saskatoon said: "This breakthrough underlines the importance of Canada's agriculture and agri-food research, which supports the development of new and innovative production methods and cropping options. We are providing options to prairie producers to promote growth in the agricultural sector, even in the face of challenges regularly presented by Mother Nature, such as drought."

The new crop expands the range of land suitable for canola cultivation, providing an improved and expanded crop rotation to farmers located in the brown soil zone, known as the Palliser Triangle, which stretches from Weyburn to Saskatoon to Lethbridge, the large southwest corner of Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta.

"We're very excited about moving this program forward. It's a perfect example of how government and industry can work together to take projects of this size to market," says Monte Kesslering, SWP manager, Seed Business Unit: "Originally Brassica juncea was intended primarily for producers in the brown soil zones, but the crop is proving so adaptable that, in the future, it may spread into traditional canola growing areas, particularly since it has such a tremendous yield potential."