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Pod Shatter Tolerance: our new testing methodology

In a recent canola grower survey over 55% of growers said they wanted increased pod shatter tolerance. At Nuseed our R&D team has been assessing potential new varieties for their pod shatter tolerance for some years now, along with desirable traits such as yield, oil levels, disease resistance among others. The diversity and depth of our germplasm library has given us a genetic background with strong pod shatter tolerance, so we have been able to bring to market a number of new varieties with enhanced levels of tolerance, such as Nuseed Hunter TF.

But unlike Blackleg resistance, there is no industry standard test or rating system for pod shatter tolerance. So our scientists have developed a random impact-based testing methodology to help growers and their agronomic advisers compare varieties on this characteristic.

To learn more about this methodology, keep reading or watch the video featuring our Senior Analytical Chemist, Jason McAllister.

What is pod shatter?

Pod shatter refers to the tendency for canola pods to open (or “shatter”) prior to harvest, leading to seed loss and yield reduction. The amount of pod shatter which occurs can be affected by various factors such as the genetic characteristics of the cultivar, and environmental conditions like wind, hail, and humidity.

Why is pod shatter tolerance important?

Plants have evolved many different mechanisms for dispersing their seed into the environment in order to increase their population. So to develop canola cultivars which are more tolerant to pod shatter, we have to select varieties that essentially go against nature and exhibit lower levels of pod shatter.

How is pod shatter tolerance assessed?

In order to select the varieties with the best tolerance, we need an accurate, consistent and repeatable test that is able to discriminate effectively between varieties with differing degrees of shatter tolerance. A variety of different screening methods have been used historically to classify pod shatter testing with varying degrees of success. Many of these methods are quick and indicative in-field methods or more labour intensive lab-based methods. And there isn’t one commonly-accepted method used across the industry.

Why did we develop our new testing methodology?

When we decided to give pod shatter tolerance increased focus in our R&D process, we realised that we needed a robust assessment method to make sure that we were selecting the right varieties to go into our commercial portfolio. The existing testing methods had some benefits, but we needed a lab-based method that was simple and reproducible with a high degree of accuracy, and which allowed a higher throughput.

Our new methodology explained

The new pod shatter tolerance shaking methodology developed by our team involves the following steps:

  • 20 pods are harvested from a mature canola plant.
  • Pods are pre-conditioned in an oven at 40° for 24 hours to standardise their moisture content.
  • Pods are placed in a plastic container.
  • 6 containers at a time are loaded in the Geno/Grinder®.
  • Pods are shaken in a vertical up-down motion at 1000 RPM for 30, 60 and 90 seconds with shatter scoring after each time interval.
  • Each 20-pod sample is scored according to the amount of seed loss that occurs after each time period.
  • These scores are translated into a rating scale from Susceptible to Tolerant

The following graphic shows the pod shatter tolerance ratings of Nuseed’s current commercial varieties.

Pod shatter tolerance ratings

How this methodology helps growers and advisors

Our development of a laboratory standardised scientific methodology for rating canola varieties on pod shatter tolerance equips growers and advisers with a powerful tool to enhance your variety selection. Here’s how:

  • Data-Driven: These comprehensive and scientifically validated ratings give growers and advisers precise data-driven information. Instead of relying solely on anecdotal evidence or historical performance, you can now base your selection on the inherent pod shatter resistance of specific canola varieties. This leads to more tailored and effective variety selection, ultimately resulting in higher yields and profitability.
  • Risk Mitigation: Growers and advisers will be assisted to navigate the uncertainties of pod shatter by recommending varieties with superior tolerance. By considering factors such as local climate conditions, harvesting practices, and seed quality goals, you can make choices that minimise the risk of yield losses due to pod shatter.
  • Improved Crop Planning: Armed with the knowledge of varietal pod shatter ratings, you can optimise your crop planning. This includes selecting the most suitable canola varieties for your specific fields, and tailoring your planting schedules to minimise exposure to adverse environmental conditions that contribute to pod shatter. For example, determining which varieties are the most susceptible to pod shatter and therefore should be harvested first.
  • Enhanced Sustainability: Advisers can promote sustainable farming practices by steering growers toward varieties that require fewer resources and inputs for mitigating pod shatter. Reduced seed losses mean less waste, lower production costs, and a more environmentally friendly approach to canola cultivation.

Nuseed’s development of a scientific methodology for rating canola varieties on pod shatter tolerance is a game-changer for the industry. It empowers both advisers and growers with the knowledge and tools needed to make informed decisions, minimise risk, and optimize canola production. This innovation not only addresses the challenges posed by pod shatter but also opens new horizons for sustainable and profitable canola farming. As the industry moves forward with this ground-breaking approach, the future of canola cultivation looks brighter than ever.

For more information please contact your local Nuseed Regional Market Development Manager:

Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey
Regional Market Development Manager – West
0438 913 106
[email protected]

Adrian Carter

Adrian Carter
Regional Market Development Manager – East
0409 756 127
[email protected]