CSGA has recently undertaken a review of the standard for wild oats in pedigreed oat seed crops as part of the Circular 6 modernization project which was identified as a priority in the Strategic Plan. The first step was to look at the Wild Oat Research Project (WORP) that was implemented several years ago to address the mechanical purity issue. For many years, wild oats in oat seed crops have been subject to the same standard as the maximum impurity standard for off-types/other varieties. The WORP permitted fields with up to three times the standard to be granted pedigreed status if the grower agreed to provide CSGA with a certificate of analysis demonstrating the level of wild oats in the cleaned seed. Most of the seed crops enrolled in the project were successfully conditioned to meet the seed standards.
Recently, with the help of CFIA and others, CSGA has gathered information and the opinion of several plant breeders related to the hybridization of wild and tame oats. It was determined that the risk of outcrossing is relatively low and likely varies by variety and environment. One of the conclusions drawn was that wild oats in commercial crops are more likely to have been derived from the seed bank than the seed lot planted.
At their July 6, 2019 meeting, the Standards and Circular 6 Committee (SC6C) decided that wild oats would no longer be subject to the same standard as off-types/other varieties. It was subsequently determined that the new standard would take effect immediately for 2019 oat seed crop production.
As we are already in inspection season, for 2019, inspectors will continue to report wild oats in counts. Crop certificates for fields produced in Ontario and Western Canada with more than an average of 15/10,000 will include a “warning” for the grader that wild oats were found in the seed crop. Crop certificates for fields produced in Quebec or Eastern Canada will include the warning if there are any wild oats present in the field.
In the future, wild oats will be reported by frequency related to the number of plants/100m2 (clean, trace, few, numerous or very weedy) rather than reported in counts. Crop certificates for fields produced in Ontario and Western Canada where the frequency is “Few” or “Numerous” for wild oats in the CROP will include a “warning” for the grader that wild oats were found in the seed crop. Crop certificates for fields produced in Quebec and Eastern Canada will continue to include the warning if any wild oats were present in the crop. The rationale for the warning is that the grade standard for the harvested SEED remains the same with very strict limits on the quantity of wild oats permitted in cereal seed, including a requirement to be free-from wild oats in Quebec and eastern provinces. The grade standard will also be reviewed as part of CFIA’s regulatory review.
What does this mean for seed growers? It means that seed crops will no longer be demoted for the presence of wild oats and will only be declined if the overall field rating is “very weedy” where the wild oats (or any other weed or crop) cover the seed crop and do not permit the inspector to complete six counts. Growers will now have the choice to either remove the wild oats plants in the field or clean the wild oats from the seed (or some combination) for their seed to meet grade. High levels in the field will not necessarily mean that the seed won’t be eligible for final certification.
If you have any questions related to the new standard, please contact the CSGA office.