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Distinct by Design: Tailoring Soybeans for Western Canada

Posted: Nov 12, 2020

Behind the Scenes with the Elite Breeding Team

Growing seasons on the Canadian Prairies are generally shorter than those in other soybean growing regions like Eastern Canada and the US, which means many Western Canadian growers are looking for a soybean variety that not only delivers the best in agronomic performance and yield, but also matures earlier.

Developing high-performing, early maturity soybean varieties uniquely suited to Western Canada requires commitment, dedication, and an understanding of the challenges Western Canadian soybean growers face. It makes sense, then, that it would be a Canadian company up to the task of developing soybeans that consistently meet the distinct needs of Prairie growers.     

Stephen Denys is the brand director for Maizex Seeds, BrettYoung’s soybean partner, and developer of Elite soybean varieties.

Elite brand soybeans are specifically developed to meet the needs of Western Canadian soybean producers. It is in part because their team has spent years breeding for and understanding the Western Canadian growing landscape. It’s also because they have a flat organizational structure that prioritizes innovation and collaboration. And, it’s because their leaders and team members, like Stephen Denys, grow soybeans themselves.

24/7 Soybeans

As Denys and his team steer a course for the Elite brand of soybeans, he’s happy to keep growing them himself. He’s a third-generation farmer who’s been growing soybeans on his own farm in Southern Ontario for three generations.

“We get it, in terms of what our customers are looking for on the farm, because we want that ourselves. That allows us to focus a little more strongly on what the needs are, from a farm perspective,” says Denys.

Denys says he’s fortunate to be able to work at Maizex Seeds and manage his home farm at the same time, because everything he learns on the job can be applied to his role as a soybean producer, and vice-versa.

“I really enjoy farming. If you asked me what my two favorite times of the year are, I’d say being on the planter and being on the combine. That is the fun time for me.”

The Elite Team

One of the best things about working at Maizex, Denys says, is that it has a fairly flat organizational structure — something he believes fosters a ‘can-do’ attitude and strong working relationships among team members.

“We all enjoy working together, and we know the importance of having all of our oars in the water going the same way. We can all see the same goal at the end of the day,” he says.

That shared goal — delivering the best-performing soybean varieties to customers across Canada — starts with the people on the Elite breeding team.

Denys says Elite soybean breeders are not only highly experienced and skilled, but they’re also a patient bunch. They know exactly how much time and effort goes into producing a successful soybean variety that will take off in the market — and they are willing to spend the time it takes to make that happen.

In recent years, the number of soybean acres in Western Canada has fallen — mostly due to declining yields in many areas caused by extremely dry conditions.

This year, soybean growers were pleased to see generally better weather and more moisture that produced better-yielding crops. Denys says he fully expects the acreage to increase on the Prairies as soybean production returns to normal levels.

To learn more about the current soybean situation in Western Canada and why this crop could be a good option for your farm, read our recent blog post here that features grower Dave Swanton from Dauphin, MB.

Commitment to Early-Maturity Soybean Market

BrettYoung recognizes the importance of the early-maturity market in Western Canada, which is why the breeding team for Elite soybeans continue to prioritize delivering top-performing soybeans with the maturity profile best suited for Prairie conditions.

“The track record of our soybean breeding program has been excellent in terms of what we've been able to deliver to the market. Varieties like Akras R2 and Amirani R2 that are sold in the West have been very successful, and that relates back to the strong focus of the breeding program to get them there,” says Denys.

Elite early-maturity soybeans are developed and evaluated at the Elite Research Farm in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, and at testing locations across Western Canada, too.

“We're a Canadian company and our goal is to meet the needs of producers all across the country. That’s taken very seriously by everybody, top to bottom, within the business,” Denys says.

Due to the Elite team taking their work so seriously (while also sincerely enjoying what they do), BrettYoung is proud to offer our line of premium soybean varieties in partnership with the Elite brand, tailored to the needs of farmers across Canada. Browse our line of Elite soybean varieties by clicking here.

Recent BY PLUS notes

Distinct by Design: Tailoring Soybeans for Western Canada

Posted: Nov 12, 2020

Growing seasons on the Canadian Prairies are generally shorter than those in other soybean growing regions like Eastern Canada and the US, which means many Western Canadian growers are looking for a soybean variety that not only delivers the best in agronomic performance and yield, but also matures earlier.

Learn More >

Distinct by Design: The Case for Soybeans

Posted: Oct 22, 2020

Dave Swanton is a grower just outside of Dauphin, Manitoba. He grows red spring wheat, canola and perennial ryegrass on his 3,000-acre farm. He also grows soybeans, which, to some growers in Western Canada, is an unpopular decision. Some farmers have grown wary of growing soybeans again due to the low yields they produced from 2017-2019, as a result of the drier growing seasons in Western Canada during that time. Swanton, however, feels differently about this legume crop. One of the many reasons he likes soybeans, he says, is because he believes they are easy to grow. We dug deeper with Swanton to find out why, even though soybean acres have declined in the past few years, farmers should give soybeans a second chance.

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Distinct by Design: Making a Difference in Clubroot Research

Posted: Oct 20, 2020

It was August 2003, and Dr. Stephen Strelkov was beginning his career as a plant pathology professor at the University of Alberta, intending to specialize in Tan Spot disease on wheat, which had been the focus of his PhD and postdoctoral work. One month later, the first case of Clubroot in canola was reported in Alberta. That’s when Dr. Strelkov’s plans changed. He shifted to specializing in Clubroot research and helped create the Canadian Clubroot Differential set that has helped plant breeders across Western Canada develop next-generation canola traits for Clubroot resistance. 

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