UAlberta Research in Your Life

Quantum canola
Helped save Canada's canola industry
                          

Canola is one of Canada’s most valuable natural resources and the most profitable commodity for Canadian farmers—worth over $20 billion to Canada’s economy. But in the 1990’s, a disease called blackleg threatened to destroy Canada’s fledgling canola industry.

Plant research helps save Canada’s canola
Blackleg rots the plant’s stem at ground level cutting off nutrients—resulting in as much as 30% crop yield losses. Researchers raced to find a solution. UAlberta plant scientist, Gary Stringham discovered a blackleg-resistance gene in an Australian canola then used biotechnology to create the blackleg-resistant Quantum canola, and other new varieties. In addition to being resistant to blackleg, Quantum also produced high yields. It was like winning the lottery for farmers and the canola industry.

Quantum canola
During Quantum’s first year of production, four Alberta producers more than tripled their yields. A year later, Quantum had captured nearly 30% of Western Canada’s total canola acres. Quantum’s worth to Alberta producers from 1995 - 1998 is estimated conservatively at $285 million. Today, Quantum contributes over $20 billion to Canada’s economy, and the blackleg resist gene Stringham discovered is now in most canola varieties.