CANTERRA SEEDS remains committed to leading the way in bringing new varietal genetics to the western Canadian marketplace, year after year.
Now more than ever, the business of agriculture, specifically biotechnology and plant breeding, is critical to feeding the world. At the forefront of this industry in Western Canada, CANTERRA SEEDS is a leading provider of the latest seed genetics. What began with nine seed growers from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, has evolved into a dynamic company with more than 200 shareholders and growing market share across the Prairies.
According to David Hansen, President and CEO, the company is making great strides toward maintaining and growing the company’s presence in the Canadian seed industry, with an innovative business model that has created some very successful partnerships.
Growing with the Times
The key to any business’ success is understanding what the customer wants and then providing it. With today’s producers looking for crop varieties to suit their individual farm’s needs, as well as products that have end-use market demand, continued investment in the company’s research and development pipeline, along with a true commitment to plant breeding partnerships, is more essential than ever, according to Hansen.
“There has never been a greater need for seed companies to offer more options, such as short- and long-season varieties, or drought- and disease-resistant seed selections, or products that are linked specifically to an end-use customer,” explains Hansen. “CANTERRA SEEDS is proud to be working toward bringing these new options to the marketplace.”
Cereal research and investment is essential to the Canadian seed industry. Seeing this as a critical need, both for the company and the future competitiveness of the industry on the global stage, CANTERRA SEEDS emphasizes new channels to provide western Canadian growers access to new genetics.
“We recently partnered with Limagrain, one of the world’s leading genetics providers, to bring advanced wheat genetics to Western Canada. We are very excited and pleased to team with this globally-respected company, and to continue to bring new cereal varieties to the marketplace in the coming years.”
CANTERRA SEEDS places a high value on the strength of its Canadian research partnerships, which include Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and the Crop Development Centre, but the company also sees the value in partnerships with its neighbours to the south. With agreements in place with universities in both South Dakota and North Dakota, the company is well positioned to access genetics bred locally and abroad.
CANTERRA SEEDS’ offering includes canola, cereals, pulse crops, flax and specialty crops. “We have long-built relationships with plant breeding companies where we test various genetic lines in Canada, to make sure they will meet the specific requirements of farmers, end-users, and growing conditions in Canada,” says Hansen.
“Europe, New Zealand, we’re working with breeding partners from a broad geography.” And, according to Hansen, the company’s global connections help it find the right seed varieties for western Canadian producers.
“A seed variety will perform very differently across a range of climate conditions, so it’s imperative to test new varieties within the geographic regions the company plans to market them,” explains Hansen. “Growing conditions may determine the success or failure of a particular variety. CANTERRA SEEDS tests literally thousands of lines each year to find the right fit for the needs of our customers.”
Finding the right seed fit includes a number of very important criteria including agronomics, disease tolerance, seed characteristics and quality. Varietal testing each year, Hansen explains, is the key to CANTERRA SEEDS’ success in its ability to provide innovative seed solutions to the Canadian market.
CANTERRA SEEDS is proud to offer a versatile seed portfolio of all crop types, which have been chosen specifically for Western Canadian growing conditions, as part of its commitment to provide quality seed products that help farmers maximize their returns.
The CANTERRA SEEDS’ sales process is dependent upon crop type. For cereals and pulses, the seed is marketed by CANTERRA SEEDS shareholders directly to farmers. In essence it’s a royalty-based system, where the profits are shared by each level of ownership, all the way back to the seed growers.
For hybrids such as canola the sales process shifts. “We manage the entire process start to finish,” explains Hansen. “CANTERRA SEEDS controls the branding, marketing, distribution, sales, etc., through independent agricultural retailers, the United Farmers of Alberta and major crop supply distribution companies. We work to create demand by understanding our customers and creating tailored promotional campaigns, and having a presence throughout the market with our dedicated sales team.”
Meeting Future Needs
At the end of the day, CANTERRA SEEDS’ mission is to provide western Canadian producers with a competitive advantage. By offering multiple seed options for each variety, along with high-yielding harvest results, Hansen stresses that CANTERRA SEEDS’ solid plant breeding relationships, and work in varietal testing are some of the main reasons for the company’s continued success.
Hansen notes that global environmental changes are also creating the need for intensified plant breeding. “We’re all cognizant of environmental changes and water scarcity,” says Hansen, “and if there is opportunity to breed a plant that can produce the same yield with less water or fertilizer so there is less waste that’s a huge opportunity.”
Seed partnerships are a crucial platform for CANTERRA SEEDS and its continued varietal success. “Plant breeding is an expensive business. Large agricultural companies tend to have the capital, the tools and the technologies to compete vs. a smaller company. It’s through our partners and relationships that we continue to grow and evolve,” says Hansen. “It’s these ongoing relationships that will provide us with the competitive advantage that we need to sustain us in this diverse environment.”