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Pulse Canada

National Research Clusters

Since 2010, the Canadian pulse industry has benefited from participation in two national Pulse Science Research Clusters involving Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pulse Canada and all provincial pulse producer organizations (Alberta Pulse Growers, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers and the Ontario Bean Growers). Addressing pulse industry priorities through these research clusters is helping to ensure the Canadian pulse industry continues to grow in a globally competitive fashion.

In anticipation of a third research cluster under AAFC’s next agriculture policy framework, the provincial pulse grower groups and Pulse Canada have commenced work on an application to request funding in 2018 to 2023. For more information, contact

Cluster 1 (2010-2013)

Industry stakeholders from across the value chain reviewed the research needs of each pulse crop grown in Canada, and the following three research themes were addressed in Cluster #1:

Genetic Improvement – to enhance pulse characteristics in areas of nutritional composition and processing, and to increase productivity, leading to economic sustainability and increased competitiveness. Research focused on plant breeding and trait development leading to the development of pulse varieties with improved market traits, enhanced nutritional composition, improved adaptation to a changing climate, improved disease resistance and increased yield.

Agronomy and Sustainable Production – to improve product quality, increase grower competitiveness and improve rotational benefits to other crops. Research focused on development of beneficial management practices in various agro-climatic zones in the areas of crop rotation, weed management, nutrient use efficiency and disease management, leading to improved bio-economic performance of pulse varieties.

Processing and Utilization – to support market development in the whole food and food ingredient sectors to respond to consumer demand for healthier foods. Research focused on development of pulse-based foods and food ingredients, as well as the health benefits of pulse consumption for general wellbeing and weight management, and to mitigate obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Organizations that provided resources for this research include:

  • Alberta Pulse Growers Commission
  • Saskatchewan Pulse Growers
  • Manitoba Pulse Growers Association
  • Ontario White Bean Producers
  • Ontario Coloured Bean Growers
  • Pulse Canada
  • Innovotech
  • InfraReady Products
  • Bonduelle North America
  • Potato Growers of Alberta

Cluster 1 research was completed by universities, AAFC research stations, and provincial research institutions across Canada, including:

  • University of Alberta
  • University of Guelph
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • AAFC (multiple locations)
  • Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Agricultural Research Extension Council of Alberta

Cluster 1 research in Genetic Improvement projects included:

Pulse crop(s)

Title of research project

Research Team

Field pea – green & yellow Development of Genetically improved yellow and green field pea varieties and germplasm lines for Canadian pea growers Dr. Kan-Fa Chang (PI) – Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) Drs. Deng-jing Bing, Debra McLaren, Cecil Vera, David Gehl – multiple AAFC locations
Field pea, faba bean Trialing genetic materials into broad agro-climatic zones Mr. Mark Olson (PI) – Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development; Ty Faechner – Agricultural Research Extension Council of Alberta; Dr. Sherri Strydhorst – Alberta Pulse Growers; Dr. Manjula Bandara – AARD
Dry edible beans (various market classes) Improvement of dry bean for high yield, disease resistance and seed quality for sustainable production on the Prairies Drs. Parthiba Balasubramanian, Bob Conner, Debra McLaren,  Anfu Hou – multiple AAFC locations Mr. Chris Gillard – U of Guelph; Dr. Ron Howard – AARD; Michael Harding – Innovotech
Dry bean Selection of dry beans for improved nitrogen fixation and nitrogen use efficiency Dr. Newton Lupwayi, Parthiba Balasubramanian – multiple AAFC locations

Cluster 1 research in Agronomy and Sustainable Production included:

Pulse crop(s)

Title of research project


Field pea Integrated control of important diseases of field pea Drs. Kan-Fa Chang (PI), Bruce Gossen, Bob Conner, Debra McLaren – multiple AAFC locations   Dr. Stephen Strelkov – U of Alberta
Pea, lentil and  chickpea in rotation with wheat and oilseed crops Optimizing the frequency and sequence of annual pulses in rotation systems and their impacts on crop performance, biotic and abiotic stresses, and soil quality attributes Drs. Yantai Gan (PI), Chantal Hamel, Myriam Fernandez – multiple AAFC locations   Dr. Manjula Bandara – Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Pea, lentil and  chickpea Improving plant nutrition and drought tolerance through beneficial endophytic associations in pulse-based cropping systems Drs. Yantai Gan (PI);  Chantal Hamel; Newton Lupwayi – multiple AAFC locations. Dr. Vladimir Vujanovic – U of Saskatchewan; Dr. Zhongmin Dong – St. Mary University.
Chickpea Symbiotic chickpea genotypes for sustainable cropping systems Dr. Chantal Hamel (PI) – AAFC Dr. Vladimir Vujanovic – U of Saskatchewan
Lentil, chickpea, field pea Developing management options for herbicide-resistant weeds in field pea, lentil and chickpea  Mr. Eric Johnson (PI), Dr. Hugh Beckie – AAFC locations   Dr. Linda Hall – U of Alberta; Drs. Jeff Schoenau, Rick Holm and Chris Willenborg – U of Saskatchewan.
Field pea in rotation with barley, canola, faba bean Optimizing the use of peas in crop sequences for black soil zones Dr. Jane King (PI) – U of Alberta;  Dr. Sherri Strydhorst – Alberta Pulse Growers; Mark Olson – Alberta Agriculture
Beans in rotation with wheat, potato, sugar beet, oat Irrigated cropping systems for sustainable production: The Vauxhall irrigated rotation study Drs. Francis Larney and Newton Lupwayi – AAFC locations
Forage pea, yellow pea, faba bean Nitrogen fixation and multi-year N release from pulse crop residues Drs. Newton Lupwayi and Yoong Soon – AAFC

 Cluster 1 research in Processing and Utilization included:

Pulse crop(s)

Title of research project


Lentil Development of a lentil-based sports bar Drs. Phil Chilibeck (PI) and Gord Zello – U of Saskatchewan
Lentil, chickpea Thermal pre-treatment of pulses for innovative ingredients and consumer-ready meat products Dr. Phyllis Shand (PI) – U of Saskatchewan; Dr. Michal Aliani – U of Manitoba; Dr. Juanitha Wanasundara – AAFC
Beans (Black; navy; pinto; red kidney), field pea (yellow; green); lentils (green; red) and chickpeas Effect of pulse varieties on blood vessel function in individuals with Peripheral Artery Disease Drs. Peter Zahradka (PI) and Carla Taylor – U of Manitoba
Lentil, chickpea Effect of chickpeas and lentils on satiation, satiety, food intake and metabolic control Dr. Harvey Anderson (PI) – U of Toronto
Dry peas, lentils, chickpeas, faba beans A lifestyle intervention for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome Drs. Gord Zello (PI), Phil Chilibeck, Donna Chizen, Roger Pierson – U of Saskatchewan
Navy bean; red kidney bean Development of novel high fibre and easily digestible frozen bean products Drs. Joyce Boye, Claude Champagne and Byong Lee – AAFC locations

Cluster 2 (2013-2018)

Between 2013 and 2018, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian pulse industry is investing ~$18M in Pulse Science Research Cluster 2 to will address key challenges and research priorities identified by key stakeholders in Canada’s pulse industry.

Organizations that have invested in Cluster 2 research include:

  • Pulse grower organizations – Alberta Pulse Growers Commission; Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers Association; Ontario Bean Producers; Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.
  • Other industry organizations: AGT Food Ingredients; InfraReady Products; Western Grain Foundation
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Research activities are focused on four major areas that affect pulse growers:

  • Continuous improvements in agronomic practices
  • Genetically improved varieties that maintain Canada’s position as a global leader in pulse production
  • Food processing knowledge that facilitates increased use of pulses and pulse ingredients
  • Scientific evidence to support human health claims related to pulse consumption.

Cluster 2 research activites are being completed by research teams across Canada from the Universities of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Guelph, Toronto, Alberta, Memorial University, McMaster University, Alberta Research and Extension Council of Alberta, the Canadian International Grain Institute, and Alberta Agriculture and Agri-Food Development, as well as AAFC scientists in multiple locations across Canada. Progress within Cluster 2 research projects are reported at extension meetings and summer tours, published in scientific journals, industry grower association magazines, technology transfer articles and in the proceedings of research conferences.

Cluster 2 research in the area of Genetic Improvement includes:

Pulse crop(s) Title of research project Research Team
Dry edible beans (navy, cranberry, kidney, black, pinto, red, great northern, yellow) Selection for dry bean canning quality Dr. Parthiba Balasubramanian –PI (AAFC Lethbridge)
Dry edible beans (pinto, great northern, yellow, red, black) Early maturing lines with improved disease resistance Dr. Parthiba Balasubramanian – PI (AAFC Lethbridge); Dr. Syama Chatterton (AAFC Lethbridge); Dr. Robert Conner (AAFC Morden)
Dry edible beans (pinto, black, great northern, yellow, red) Microclimate management for white mould disease control  Dr. Syama Chatterton – PI (AAFC Lethbridge); Dr. Parthiba Balasubramanian (AAFC Lethbridge)
Dry edible beans (navy, pinto, great northern, black, red, pink, kidney, cranberry) Improve nutritional values of dry bean to promote its utilization in health foods Dr. John Lu – PI (AAFC Lethbridge); Dr. Parthiba Balasubramanian (AAFC Lethbridge)
Dry edible beans (navy, black, cranberry, dark & light red kidney) Development of dry bean germplasm and varieties adapted to south-western Ontario Dr. Peter Pauls – PI (U of Guelph); Dr. Frederic Marsolais (AAFC London); Dr. Parthiba Balasubramanian (AAFC Lethbridge)
Dry edible beans Developing herbicide tolerance in dry beans Dr. Frederic Marsolais – PI (AAFC London)
Dry edible beans (navy, black, yellow, pinto) Development of dry bean cultivars/germplasm with high yield, disease resistance and marketable seed quality for production in Manitoba Dr. Anfu Hou – AAFC Morden; Dr. Frederic Marsolais – AAFC London; Dr. Robert Conner – AAFC Morden
Commercial dry bean fields Develop and assess molecular diagnostic procedures for the rapid, specific and sensitive detection of root rot pathogens in symptomatic dry bean roots Dr. Debra McLaren –PI (AAFC Brandon); Dr. Stephen Strelkov (U of Alberta)
Dry edible beans (kidney, navy) Applied dry bean pest management Mr. Chris Gillard – PI (U of Guelph)
Dry edible beans Applied dry bean nitrogen management Mr. Chris Gillard – PI (U of Guelph)
Soybean Comparison of dry bean and soybean for agronomic traits, inputs, diseases and nitrogen-fixing benefits to following crops, water use and harvest losses Dr. Frank Larney – PI (AAFC Lethbridge); Dr. Manjula Bandara (Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development – Brooks); Dr. Newton Lupwayi (AAFC Lethbridge); Parthiba Balasubramanian (AAFC Lethbridge); Dr. Syama Chatterton (AAFC Lethbridge)
Dry edible beans Identify advanced dry bean breeding lines or co-op entries with resistance to common bacterial blight, anthracnose and white mold. Develop new methods for controlling halo blight in dry beans Dr. Robert Conner – PI (AAFC Morden)
Field pea Development of field pea varieties with improved disease resistance and harvestability Dr. Deng-Jin Bing – PI (AAFC Lacombe)
Field pea Develop and assess molecular diagnostic procedures for the rapid, specific and sensitive detection of root rot pathogens in symptomatic field pea roots Dr. Bruce Gossen – PI (AAFC Saskatoon); Dr. Debra McLaren (AAFC Brandon); Dr. Robert Conner (AAFC Morden); Dr. Syama Chatterton (AAFC Lethbridge); Dr. Stephen Strelkov (U of Alberta).

Cluster 2 research in the area of Agronomic Improvements includes:

Pulse crop(s) Title of research project Researchers
Soybean, faba bean Adaptation and establishment of soybean (Glycine max) under no-till in south Saskatchewan Chris Holzapfel – PI (Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation); Bryan Nybo (Wheatland Conservation Area)
Lentil Effect of seeding rate and seed size on lentil diseases, weeds, yields and profitability Dr. Steve Shirtliffe – PI (U of Saskatchewan)
Soybean Soybean Root Rot: Investigation and Integrated Management Strategies Dr. Debra McLaren – PI (AAFC Brandon); Dr. Stephen Strelkov (U of Alberta); Dr. Kan-Fa Chang (Alberta Agriculture & Agri-Food Development – Edmonton);  Dr. Sheau-Fang Hwang (Alberta Agriculture & Agri-Food Development – Edmonton); Dr. Robert
Conner (AAFC Morden)
Pea, Faba bean Evaluation of Field Pea and Faba Bean Germplasm for Alberta Growers Robyne Bowness (Alberta Agriculture & Agri-Food Development – Lacombe); Janette McDonald (Agriculture Research & Extension Council of Alberta)
Field pea, Clearfield lentil, lentil Managing Herbicide Resistant Weeds in Pulses with Alternative Modes of Action Dr. Hugh Beckie (AAFC Saskatoon), Eric Johnson (U of Saskatchewan)
Soybean, yellow pea Survey of nematode pests of pulse crops and 
development of rapid molecular quantification of soybean cyst nematode in soil
Dr. Mario Tenuta (U of Manitoba)
Lentil, Pea, Chickpea Frequency and sequence of annual pulses in cropping systems.  Phase II Dr. Yantai Gan – PI (AAFC Swift Current), Dr. Chantal Hamel (AAFC Swift Current), Dr. Manjula Bandara (Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development – Brooks)

Cluster 2 research in the area of Processing and Utilization includes:

Pulse crop(s) Title of research project Researchers
Pea, chickpea,lentil and bean,and associatedflour Characterization of structure, physicochemical and physiological properties of starch from Canadian grown pulse crops to develop novel functional food ingredients and functional foods for human health benefits Dr. Qiang Liu – PI (AAFC Guelph); Dr. Michael Thompson (McMaster University), Dr. Ratnajothi Hoover (Memorial University)
Peas, lentils, chickpeas, faba beans and beans – whole and split A quantitative assessment of the anti-nutritional properties of Canadian pulses Dr. Michael Nickerson – PI (U of Saskatchewan), Dr. Sue Arntfield (U of Manitoba), Dr. Janitha Wanasundara (AAFC Saskatoon), Dr. Rex Newkirk (Canadian International Grains Institute)
Seed coat fibre of yellow pea, lentil, and faba bean Utilization of yellow pea, lentil and faba bean fibre and starch for meat product applications Dr. Phyllis Shand – PI (U of Saskatchewan), Dr. Janitha Wanasundara (AAFC Saskatoon), Dr. Mehmet Tulbek (AGT Food Ingredients)
Lentil Thermal pre-treatment of pulses for innovative ingredients and consumer-ready meat products 11: Going Global Dr. Phyllis Shand – PI (U of Saskatchewan), Dr. Janitha Wanasundara (AAFC Saskatoon), Dr. Mark Pickard (InfraReady Foods)

Cluster 2 research in the area of Human Health Outcomes includes:

Pulse crop(s)

Title of research project Researchers
Chickpea, lentil Determining the link between pulse foods, gut health, and chronic disease Krista Power (PI)Lindsay RobinsonEmma Allen-Vercoe
Effect of a pulse-based diet on the health of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome: Phase II investigation Gord Zello
Lentil, pea Blood glucose attenuation and satiety levels in humans following consumption of whole lentil and yellow pea and their food products; effect of processing and starch fractions Dan Ramdath (PI)Alison Duncan
Lentil The Effects of Lentil Fractions on Short-term Blood Glucose, Insulin, Food Intake and Appetite Harvey Anderson
Beans (navy, pinto, black, red kidney), faba beans, kabuli chickpea, pea (yellow, green), lentils (red, laird) The effect of variety and processing on the protein quality of Canadian pulses for the human diet James House (PI)

Cluster 3 (2018-2023)

Pulse industry stakeholders have identifed the following national and provincial scientific research priorities for a profitable and sustainable pulse industry in Canada:

  • To increase pulse yields by 20% by 2027, concomitant with low cost of production and improved nutritional quality.
  • To have pulse crop option for every arable acre in Canada by 2027.
  • To increase utilization of pulses:
    • As whole food by 10% by 2023;
    • As ingredients in product categories such as analogues and extruded products by 5-10% by 2023;
    • As ingredients in new markets such as pet food (20%), aqua-feed (10%), and other industrial uses (10%) by 2023.

The Canadian pulse industry has invited the Canadian scientific community to submit innovative research proposals that align with one or more of the folloiwng pulse industry strategic research priorities:

Whole Pulse Production and Quality:
Research in advanced and disruptive genetic improvement approaches, agronomy and best management practices, and technologies that will increase pulse yields, reduce production constraints and costs, and improve the quality of Canadian pulses for existing and new markets, and assist the pulse sector in addressing climate change.

Pulse Ingredient Processing:
Pre-competitive research that will explore new technologies or approaches to address pulse utilization challenges and questions.

Pulse-based Products:
Pre-competitive research on genetic products that will fuel interest in new uses and marketing opportunities for pulses, and will include research partnerships with companies to accelerate pulse product commercialization worldwide.

Benefits of Dietary Patterns that include Pulse Consumption:
Theoretical modelling and/or clinical research data that will substantiate impacts of pulses on food affordability and security, diet quality, human health outcomes, health care costs and the environment.