Producers in the Peace River Region face a uniquely difficult set of growing conditions.

“Peace is marked by weather extremes,” explains Clair Langlois, research manager of the BC Grain Producers Association. “One year farmers face floods, the next year drought. Seasons are often shorter than expected, soil can be so cold it endangers seedlings, and unpredictable moisture levels frequently damage crops.”

The key is finding crop varieties that can survive extreme geographic and climatic variations.

“We need crops tailored to our region,” Langlois emphasizes.

With help from IAF, grain producers have been investigating precisely which crops are up to the challenge, experimenting both with existing and new varieties of cereals, pulse and flax crops to determine which can be grown successfully.

Research results will enable grain, oilseed and pulse producers to make the best possible cropping decisions leading to better quality crops and increased profitability and sustainability of agriculture in the region.

Langlois is particularly optimistic about the potential flax has shown in the Peace Region. “Flax has a real future here,” Langlois predicts. “Flax gives producers high value per bushel, requires less fertilizer and is good for crop rotation.”

In addition to research focused on producing nutritious food crops, the group has also been investigating which crops are best suited within the region for ethanol production, as interest in ethanol feedstock as an alternative use for agricultural production is increasing. The research has demonstrated that triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye, has promise.

Additional sub-projects being researched include a flax breeding and commercialization study, performance testing to identify higher yielding malt barleys and wheat varieties, and field pea variety trials for short seasons.

The best part of this five-year applied research project, according to Langlois, is how broadly applicable variety testing results will be.

“What we find here is going to help producers beyond the Peace in other northern prairie regions,” he anticipates. “This is a project which has tremendous potential in other areas.”

Funding: up to $1,324,456 is being provided through former federal adaptation funding.