Decreasing Pod Shatter Means Increasing Sustainability

By Peter Beetham, PhD | February 14, 2020

Improving agricultural sustainability can take on many different forms. It can mean creating more disease-resistant crops, which allows farmers to apply less fungicide. It can mean growing plants that have a different herbicide tolerance, providing an alternative weed control option. And improving agricultural sustainability can even mean something as simple as reducing pod shatter.

Pod shatter is the tendency of canola seed pods to open pre-harvest, causing the seeds to fall out of their casing prematurely and rendering them impossible to pick up with a machine harvester. Why does limiting pod shatter matter? To deal with this challenge, most canola farmers in North America traditionally cut their canola into swaths prior to maturity to avoid pod shatter, which can reduce crop yields up to 40 percent. This extra step requires another piece of equipment–a swather–increasing the time and money spent to harvest the canola crop. Even the fuel used to swath the entire canola field is a significant contributor to this increased cost and environmental strain.

In creating canola crops that are less likely to open before their time, we have the potential to reduce the amount of fossil fuels required for canola production, ultimately providing environmental benefit. After completing field trials this fall, we announced a new canola trait obtained by precisely editing the canola genome to reduce pod shatter. Our work in reducing pod shatter aligns with Cibus’ overall mission: introducing new plant traits the same way nature does—just faster and more efficiently—to create a sustainable future.

Peter Beetham, PhD
Chief Executive Officer & President

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