Our Top Picks- Seed Varieties for Spring 2024!

Our Top Picks- Seed Varieties for Spring!

January 09, 2024 | Kelly Barany, Chin Ridge Seeds (en-CA)

As we head into January, spring suddenly seems to be just around the corner! With that in mind, we have put together our thoughts on our top seed variety picks for 2024 and the forces that will be driving those choices. This year we have sorted our choices into these categories:

- Drought resistant varieties & crops

- Sawfly resistant varieties and strategies to prevent sawfly damage

- High yielding barley for grain and forage

- Wheat that differentiates - high protein and quality

- Durum opportunities and varieties with greater fusarium resistance

- New pea varieties

Drought Resistant Varieties & Crops!

Over the last few years we have seen dry conditions persist in southern Alberta & southwest Saskatchewan. As I write this, it still looks very dry across much of Alberta and Saskatchewan; and irrigation districts are concerned about water allocations for this spring. As a result, we think customers will be looking for drought resistant varieties and crops in 2024.

Barley Varieties for drought resistance: A couple of choices come to mind when we talk about drought resistant barley: CDC Renegade (New for 2024!) looks very good in the Seed Guide for yield in lower input conditions, as does Esma Barley. AB Wrangler Barley had one of our heavier bushel weight varieties and yields under drought conditions in the last few years. CDC Austenson has also been a reliable performer on our farm under dry conditions for bushel weight and yield.

Durum and Wheat for drought resistance: When it comes to durum for drought conditions our newest durum variety, AAC Schrader durum, is looking promising. We also have AAC Congress durum which has a reputation for some drought resistance. On the wheat front, we would recommend AAC Wheatland VB or AC Brandon, both of which seem to be reliable performers under a multitude of conditions.

Lentils for dry conditions (and to save money on fertilizer!): Lentils are a good choice for dry conditions and to lower your fertilizer input costs. We have a number of lentil varieties for sale in 2024 including CDC Simmie CL red lentils and CDC Nimble red lentils and a brand new Canterra variety of red lentils (more to come on this new variety). We also have a very limited amount of green lentil seed for sale including CDC Lima and CDC Greenstar.

Sawfly Resistant Varieties!

Sawfly was a four letter word last year on our farm, and if it is dry again in 2024, we anticipate continued sawfly pressure. Sawfly resistant varieties or strategies will be a priority for customers in 2024. Our two top picks for sawfly resistance are AAC Stronghold Durum and CDC Adamant VB Wheat.

AAC Stronghold Durum has stood up well to sawfly over the last 3 years. The strong solid stem straw not only fights off sawfly but also helps with lodging pressure under irrigation. It's a great choice for both reasons!

CDC Adamant VB Wheat is a hard red spring wheat varietal blend that has both sawfly solid stem resistance and also has some wheat midge resistance. Adamant is not a perfect solution for sawfly but generally is a better choice than other hollow stem hard red spring wheat varieties.

Sawfly Resistant Seeding Strategies - We recommend that you avoid seeding wheat or durum into stubble with bad sawfly pressure in the prior year. Instead seed a crop that is immune to sawfly like oats, pulses, or oilseeds; or less affected by sawfly like barley. If you do seed wheat or durum, then seeding a variety with some sawfly resistance is your best protection. If you can't seed a sawfly resistant variety, consider seeding heavier with non-sawfly resistant varieties and be prepared to swath if you see damage starting in your field.

This video is excellent in covering all the things to know about Sawfly!

Bin Busting Barley and Barley for Top Forage Yields!

Barley is still a very viable option in southern Alberta for this coming spring and new high yielding varieties are performing well under irrigation as well as dryland.

In addition, farming for forage isn't just for ranchers anymore. With the higher prices of hay and feed crops, we anticipate customers will be looking for crops that provide forage yield and high feed value. Double cropping (growing two forage crops back to back like winter wheat and barley; or fall rye and barley) will become even more common in 2024 as farmers try to maximize yields. Mixing a forage pea with a high forage cereal will be something customers will be looking at.

If you are looking for yield!, yield!, yield! then consider growing Esma Barley. The word is OUT now on this variety, as yields were extremely high in 2023 under irrigation. This variety is short and best suited to grain yield in our opinion.

CDC Renegade, mentioned above, yielded well under irrigation on our farm although it does require a growth regulator and water management. Renegade is our CDC Maverick replacement with a smooth awn and excellent forage/grain yields. AB Advantage is also a great forage / grain barley with its smooth awn and high yields and is in high demand in areas that do well with 6 rows.

For the dryland guys we have two great choices: New CDC Renegade, as discussed above, should definitely be considered. AB Wrangler works well where you want the option of doing both forage and or grain because it yields well for both scenarios, AB Prime has both forage and grain potential, and CDC Maverick with its smooth awn works wonderfully as dryland forage barley and cattle really seem to like it.

And finally, we still have CDC Austenson which has been a reliable barley under dryland or irrigation.

The latest & greatest Durum & Wheat varieties!


There are still some thoughts that durum prices could have some upside prior to spring and if prices do increase we expect durum interest to rebound. Yields were pretty poor on durum in the durum growing areas last year so customers who are replenishing seed will be looking for the latest varieties. That brings us to our exciting launch of AAC Shrader in 2024! This durum is the first durum variety to have an I (intermediate) resistance to fusarium. It has a wonderful big head and is nice looking variety. Yields look good in the seed guides and this variety should be a winner.

AAC Goldnet is a new variety and has proven to be an excellent yielder with high protein and quality much like Transcend which is in its parentage, CDC Defy is also a very strong yielder (head to head with Goldnet on yield). Both Goldnet and Defy are taller varieties, but both have been successfully grown on irrigation with a growth regulator. AC Stronghold, was discussed above because of its sawfly resistance, but with its strong stem and high yielding characteristics on irrigation, it has been a top seller for us in the durum category. AAC Congress and AC Transcend have been around for a few years now but we still sell these varieties because they have been successful for our customers.

Spring Wheat

We talked about Adamant, Wheatland and Brandon above but for seed quality and excellent standability on irrigation consider:

AAC Hockley provides excellent standability, yields and high protein. We have had feedback that Hockley gives a very nice heavy sample and last year's crop has been grading number 1 for our customers. It is definitely worth a look!

AAC Viewfield is our shortest variety with top in class standability so you can really push yields. This makes it a good choice for irrigation. It is easy to thresh, has good sprouting resistance, and has intermediate resistance to FHB.

Peas - market opportunities and soil health improvement!

Last but not least, we have some new pea varieties this year. I am not sure if they will be released for this spring - so call us and we will soon know! We are hoping to launch AAC Beyond yellow peas and AAC Planet yellow peas this fall!. We will still have AAC Carver peas as well. Carver is an early pea and seem to have a more breakage-resistant seed coat than Chrome's. We have been happy with the yields and disease resistance of Carver Peas. Prices for Green Peas have been strong - talk to us about our green pea varieties.

Let's not forget about forage peas. Many of our customers are now adding forage peas to their oats or barley forage crops in order to increase the protein content of the forage. We have an excellent supply of CDC Leroy forage peas for sale. We really like these forage peas because their small seed size and tkw make them an excellent choice for forage blends as they take less bushels/acre to seed and can be more readily blended with other crops like oats or barley. Leroy's hold their germ which is important for anyone wanting to grow them for seed.

A niche crop with opportunity - Yellow Flax!

The market for golden or yellow flax has grown over the last few years as consumers look for healthy alternative foods to add to their diet. In 2014, Health Canada gave approval to the claim that eating ground flaxseed lowers blood cholesterol levels.

The market for yellow flax is not as big as the market for brown flax but it does provide a price premium over brown flax.

We have a very nice yellow flax variety here called CDC Dorado. This variety has all the markers of a great nutritional flax and is nice to grow as it matures a bit earlier than some of the brown varieties grown.

That's a wrap!

We have so many great varieties of seed! Too many to talk about them all! See our full listing of varieties on our website; or give Kelly or Don a call at 403-223-3900 (1-800-563-7333) and we will help you find what you are looking for.