01/10/2013 07:48 EST | Updated 03/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Ottawa, Saskatchewan give $6.5M to crop research projects in the province

SASKATOON - The federal and provincial governments are investing $6.5 million into crop research in Saskatchewan.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and his Saskatchewan counterpart, Lyle Stewart, made the announcement Thursday during Crop Production Week in Saskatoon.

The funds — 60 per cent from Ottawa and 40 per cent from the province — will support 38 different crop-related research projects.

Stewart said the money is critical for Saskatchewan producers, adding crop research has led to the continuing success of the province's agriculture industry.

Last year, Saskatchewan canola farmers were faced with crops exposed to blackleg, a disease which survives in the soil on canola residues.

Canola crops become increasingly susceptible to blackleg as the rotations tighten, and genetic mapping of blackleg in canola is just one of the projects that will be funding using the governments' investment.

"It helps us find answers to some research problems," said Brett Halstead, chair of SaskCanola.

"We're always trying to stay on the forefront of some of the issues we have as producers and research is one way of getting there. It is the most effective way of getting there. We really do appreciate the funding announcement today."

The money comes from the Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund, which have provided more than $57 million in research project funding since 2007.