Funding for the MCVET program is provided by Manitoba Agriculture, profit-sharing through FBC, sponsorship and in-kind trials provided by the seed industry. There is no entry fee for the MCVET crop variety evaluation program.
When does MCVET trial planning start?
Annual planning of crop variety trials commences in January. Meetings are held to determine the number and types of variety trials and locations for the upcoming field season. Entry lists of new and current crop varieties are generated by a call for entries sent out at the end of February. Once the entry lists are generated plot randomizations are created to ensure varieties are randomly placed in replicated trials in the field. Entries are replicated three times to help decrease variation in soil topography, texture, fertility, or other factors that could bias the results.
Seed Source for Trials:
Seed companies and breeding institutions ship bare seed to the co-operator who will be treating and packaging the seed as early as the end of March. Seed treatment used is reflective of the industry standard. The amount of seed that is packaged per entry is dependent upon plot size, germination, and thousand kernel weights. Plot size varies throughout province from 8 to 16 meters squared. Seed is shipped to trial co-operators the last week of April.
Plot randomizations, workbooks and protocols are sent to co-operators to ensure the trials will be managed properly. Trial protocols remind co-operators of important factors when conducting plots including site selection, seeding, maintenance, weed control, and harvest. For example when selecting a site, the co-operator must ensure the plots are at least 30 meters away from a tree line and the field area is level and uniform. The site should follow proper crop rotation so there are not volunteers of the same crop type and confirm no chemical residues that will affect the plots in the trial. Site selection in a producer field with the same crop type is most desirable; therefore, the field has been prepared with appropriate fertilizer and chemical regime as the surrounding crop.
Trial Planting and Summer Tours:
Based on crop type and weather conditions, co-operators will plant the variety trial similar time to producers to ensure data will be relevant to the area. Once seeding is complete a tour of all trials is conducted at the start of July by Manitoba Agriculture staff to ensure the trials were properly planted, have a good stand, and early weed control has been performed. This early season tour allows co-operators to correct any issues with the trials before there is major impact to the trial (see Figure 1). If there is a major problem, the trial will be terminated at that time. Notes taken on stand establishment usually help when data is received at the end of the season to detect problems with plots or if there is variety specific problem (i.e seed vigor or germination). Plots severely affected may be treated as missing plots when the data is analyzed. A second tour is completed pre-harvest to determine if the trial was well maintained and to ensure there was no damage to the plots during herbicide application, weeds, or by wildlife. In crop types where phenotypic differences can be seen between varieties, such as awned and awnless varieties, staff verify varieties are located as per plot plan to ensure no seeding errors have occurred.
Figure 1: Early season MCVET tour a) cereal plots with good stand establishment and weed free. b) cereal plots with good stand establishment but major weed problem.
No fungicides are applied as the purpose of the variety trial is to measure genetic potential. Fungicides are not utilized on the trials as it is very difficult to determine the most appropriate time to apply the fungicide on 45 wheat varieties without introducing another source of variation to the results.
Plots are harvested once all varieties have matured. At harvest time, small plots are individually combined, bagged and tagged. Moisture is measured for each sample. Samples are cleaned and weighed in grams per plot or kilograms per hectare. Before the data can be analyzed the yield data is adjusted to the appropriate crop moisture to ensure all data is treated the same. Data is then converted into units that are understood by the producer (e.g., wheat yields are converted from grams/plot to bu/acre). Quality testing is performed on clean samples to determine protein for wheat or oil for oilseed crops.
Publication of Data:
The release of third party independent yield data for new crop varieties is critical for producers. Small plot variety evaluation trials require plots to be harvested, bagged, tagged, cleaned, moisture adjusted, unit conversion and quality testing. The larger the number of varieties in a trial the longer the time to process samples to obtain the final yield number accurately. Variety trial summaries can be found in the Seed Manitoba printed edition or digitally at www.seedmb.ca.