Breeding Canola for a Post-Neonic World
Canola breeders are working to breed newly adaptive varieties of canola designed to thrive without the use of neonicotinoids. One such breeder, DSV, began its post-neonic (PNN) breeding program four years ago when it realized a ban on the use of neonicotinoids was in the pipeline.
“We have more and more restrictions on pesticide and fertilizer [sic] use and we need to react with our oilseed rape breeding,” DSV international oilseed rape product manager, Alexander Döring told Farmers Weekly. “In the UK the area is dropping – it was about 14% down this year. Without neonics it is now very difficult to grow oilseed rape because of the cabbage stem flea beetle,” he adds.
DSV’s PNN program is based on breeding for four characteristics which it sees as being key to how canola can defend itself against flea beetle and phoma infection: early vigor – entailing the rapid growth of a strong root system and a large tap root for nitrogen uptake and high oil content; the reduction of atypical dominance and better spread of side branches which will feed more nutrients into the flower and pod than more upright growth; plants that are strong and flexible enough to produce through a range of climactic conditions giving the farmer reliable gross output but not necessarily the highest yields; and improved solar capture with a high green area index in the spring and summer enabling a plant to achieve better growth with less nitrogen, creating a more efficient crop at a lower production cost.