The commercial development and evaluation of a low erucic acid rapeseed variety
Reynolds, John Robert
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The objectives of this thesis are to describe the problems and procedures followed to contract the crop, segregate the seed and products, and evaluate the oil characteristics of low erucic acid rapeseed. In addition to maintaining seed purity during field production, it was also necessary to develop "in plant" procedures for oil extraction and refining. Special techniques were devised for grading the seed with respect to erucic acid levels and green seed content. Collaborative studies with several domestic oil processors were carried through to final product evaluation but market development work with consumers was not initiated. The adverse nutritional data on high erucic acid oils which was presented at the International Conference at St. Adele in 1970 indicated the need for an immediate reduction of erucic acid levels in food products. The availability of low erucic acid seed in commercial quantities, and the processing and utilization experiences with the seed and oil, permitted an immediate and complete switch-over to low erucic acid varieties in Canada. This gave Canadian plant breeders a lead time of several years over those in other countries to develop high yielding and more adapted varieties of this new genotype. Canada became the first country to offer low erucic acid seed and oil in world markets. It will take years for other countries to develop and convert to low erucic acid varieties and offer competitive quantities in the world trade. In addition, the Canadian experiment gave other countries confidence that their plant breeders could develop similar varieties and only limited legislative action was instituted against the use of high erucic acid oils until local genotypes with the desired nutritional properties were brought into production.