Variety Registration in Canada

In western Canada, the Prairie Recommending Committee for Oat and Barley (PRCOB) is responsible for coordinating the yearly testing and evaluation of barley and oat candidate cultivars. This effort is made for the purpose of developing variety recommendations to be passed on to the Variety Registration Office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.




MINUTES OF THE FIFTH MEETING February 21-22, 1994, Calgary Alberta

The variety registration system originated with the 1923 amendment to the Seeds Act that required all agricultural and vegetable varieties to be tested for merit and licensed by the Minister of Agriculture. An amendment to the Act in 1937 exempted vegetables and herbs from the licensing requirement. A 1993 amendment to the Seeds Regulations exempted lawn, turf, reclamation and ground cover species as well as home garden potatoes from the registration requirement because of the highly subjective nature of determining merit in varieties of these crops.

The initial reason for establishing licensing was to permit only those varieties exhibiting merit to be sold in Canada. Since 1928, the Minister has had the authority to refuse to license a variety if it is found to possess inferior qualities that would impair its commercial value or fail to fit into the grain grading system. As a result of the 1992 regulatory review, it is clear that merit remains the overriding principle for retaining the variety registration system. The mandate of the system is:

  • to ensure that new varieties meet current requirements for resistance to economically important diseases,
  • to ensure high quality products for processors and for consumers and
  • to ensure that agronomically inferior or unadapted varieties are excluded from the Canadian marketplace.


Varieties of oats do not appear out of “thin air”. The contributors to development of oats in western Canada, are Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Provincial government initiatives, Universities, private industry and also individuals. These efforts date back to the beginnings of farming on the prairies. Influences and development initiatives these days come also from European, South American, American, Australian sources etc., which make contributions to the western Canadian oat scene.

Variety Registration in Canada

Beginning with a desire to overcome some agronomy challenge, emerging changes in field production machinery or challenges within the ecosystem of the oat crop, oat developers and breeders choose parental plants for combinations to meet the need.

From the initial hand pollination between oat plants of interest, 6 or 7 years or seasons pass by with selections being made to guide a group of plants in a genetic population toward entry into the Western Cooperative Oat Registration Trial (WCORT). Two years in the WCORT allow breeders, collaborators, competitors and interested industry parties to have a look at the attributes of a concentrated set of promising oat lines. Three more years or so will follow as successful oat candidates are field increased to be ready for a certified seed release to oat growers.

For those first 6 to 7 years of the breeding process, adaptation to local climate and geography, and continuing influence climate change, fixes the characteristics of an oat variety. The best adapted move forward. A full cycle of variety development extends beyond those initial years to approximately 10 to 12 years. This is a normal, expected, and productive cycle that needs, due to the amount of work involved, to take time.

Once reached the seeming completion is not yet met. Milling and agronomy evaluations will judge the finished breeding work before a variety comes into a wide appeal and industry acceptance.

Variety Registration in Canada