July 14, 2011 - The Western Producer
Canada's best source for agricultural news and information.
THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2011 VOL. 89 | NO. 28 | $3.75 MIDGE WARNING | BE ON THE LOOKOUT P5 SERVING WESTERN CANADIAN FARM FAMILIES SINCE 1923 | WWW.PRODUCER.COM SCARY SKIES BRING VIOLENT STORMS A storm system pushed its way from Sundre, Alta., to Red Deer on July 7, dumping up to 200 millimetres of rain and hail and spinning off three tornadoes. For more on the storm, see page 3. | PAT BOOMER PHOTO AGRONOMY | CANOLA ISSUES TRADE | CROSS-BORDER TRAFFIC BY ED WHITE Waterlogged soil | Lack of nutrients causes many fields to bolt early BY ROBERT ARNASON BRANDON BUREAU WINNIPEG BUREAU It has a reputation as a resilient crop, but canola is struggling to rebound from June's wet growing conditions in southwestern Manitoba, southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta. Many canola fields south of Manitoba's Riding Mountain National Park are bolting prematurely because the crop was sitting in soaked soil this spring, said Elmer Kaskiw, a crop production adviser with Manitoba Agriculture. "Canola is the one crop that hasn't recovered, as of yet, from the excess moisture," Kaskiw said. Much of the canola in southwestern Manitoba went in the ground before spring rain waterlogged the region's already wet soil. The rain compacted and pushed the remaining air pockets out of the soil, making it difficult for canola plants to establish healthy roots. "The soil couldn't breathe... so you've got poor root development and (the plants) couldn't find the nutrients in the soil," Kaskiw said. The stress impelled the plants to reproduce, which is why many canola fields in southwestern Manitoba were bolting in early July, even though they were only 15 to 20 centimetres high. "It didn't canopy ... so there is poor ground cover," Kaskiw said. Without a canopy, the canola crop in southwestern Manitoba could actually use a rain because hot weather is drying out soil and plants. However, Kaskiw hasn't given up on the crop. "Canola has that amazing ability to compensate and recover," he said. "I think the potential is there to recover, as long as we don't go into an extended period of time where we get hot temperatures ... and no rain." Murray Hartman, oilseed specialist with Alberta Agriculture, isn't as confident that canola in southern Alberta will recover from the wet spring. In an article he wrote for the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Hartman said experiments and data on waterlogged canola are limited, but he estimated that yields could be cut in half in some regions. access=subscriber section=news,crops,none Hauling grain to U.S. elevators once the Canadian Wheat Board loses its monopoly might not be as easy as many prairie farmers hope, says a North Dakota farm leader. "I can't imagine that there won't be an almost-insurrection if guys at harvest time are waiting in line behind Canadian trucks," said Eric Aasmundstad, president of the North Dakota Farmers Bureau. "I wouldn't doubt that we're going to see border protests, border blockades." Cross-border traffic of prairie wheat, barley and durum is now limited by the wheat board system, which makes its own large sales that are generally moved through the rail system. access=subscriber section=news,none,none CANOLA ROOTS STRUGGLE, PAGE 2 � CANADIAN WHEAT, PAGE 2 � The Western Producer is published in Saskatoon by Western Producer Publications, which is owned by GVIC Communications Inc. Publisher, Larry Hertz Publications Mail Agreement No. 40069240; Registration No. 10676 Canola roots struggle in wet, compacted soil Canadian wheat unlikely to get warm reception at U.S. elevators u|xhHEEJBy00001pzYv#:) JULY 14, 2011 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Box 2500, Saskatoon, SK. S7K 2C4 2 JULY 14, 2011 | WWW.PRODUCER.COM | THE WESTERN PRODUCER NEWS AGRONOMY | FROM PAGE ONE Canola roots struggle "Spring seeded crops, once they've been flooded a week, the average is almost a 50 percent yield loss," he said. "Often these (areas) don't get sprayed for herbicide because it was too wet to go in there.... I don't anticipate these areas to come back and be very productive at all." Research from China shows that adding nutrients can help canola recover from early season stress. However, with such a tight growing season in Western Canada, adding nitrogen and phosphor us to a soaked and yellowing canola crop isn't feasible because of the likelihood of an autumn frost, Hartman said. "At some point, for our tight season, anything flowering past the end of July isn't going to be economic." On the positive side, most of the waterlogged crop is in southern Alberta, which isn't the province's primary canola region. "The main growing area, central Alberta and the Peace River region, it was OK to dry and then it got wet. So we might lose a bit in the low spots, but (we) should get better yields in the high spots.... So we could still end up with above average yield (in Alberta)." INSIDE THIS WEEK REGULAR FEATURES Ag Stock Prices Classifieds Events, Mailbox Livestock Report Market Charts Opinion Open Forum On The Farm Weather 70 29 17 9 8 10 12 76 79 COLUMNS Percheron project: An Alberta couple remains focused on restoring their Percheron operation. See page 77. | WENDY DUDLEY PHOTO Barry Wilson Editorial Notebook Hursh on Ag Market Watch Animal Health The Bottom Line TEAM Living Tips Health Clinic 10 11 11 7 66 71 78 76 NEWS � WHEAT MIDGE: Farmers are TRADE | FROM PAGE ONE Canadian wheat not welcome Individual farmers will find it much easier to haul grain to U.S. elevators once the board monopolies disappear. Many farmers in the southern Prairies believe North Dakota and Montana elevators generally offer better prices than they receive through the wheat board and are keen to be able to access that market. However, Canadian exports to the U.S. have often run into trade problems when American farmers became upset over sales into their local markets. Hog, beef and grain have faced hostile trade actions that have temporarily blocked or limited access for Canadian products. Aasmundstad, who opposes marketing agencies such as the Canadian Wheat Board and the rich system of U.S. farm subsidies, said he is sure some farm groups will attempt to shut the border. "I'd be surprised if (they) don't demand that the borders need to be slammed shut," said Aasmundstad. "We're going to have that. It's going to happen." Aasmundstad also thinks a lot of U.S. farmers haven't realized the practical reality of the end of the wheat board, even if that is something they have called for for many years. "American wheat farmers, American small grains farmers, should have realized they should be careful what they wish for, because they might get it," he said. "Now that they're getting it, they might not be very happy about it." Aasmundstad is a free trade proponent and hopes that an initial flurry of anger from border-region farmers will fade as they get used to seeing more cross-border wheat traffic, as they do already with canola trade. He also hopes they embrace the general improvements in the wheat market that will allow farmers on the both sides of the border to create a more efficient industry that can compete with exporters such as the European Union and the former Soviet Union for sales to booming markets such as China. "We can't get in a fight with each other," said Aasmundstad. "Canada is not the U.S. farmers' enemy. Nor is the U.S. farmer the Canadian farmer's enemy. We have to unite." � � � reminded that now is the time to be on the lookout for wheat midge. 5 DRAINAGE TROUBLE: Alberta farmers want the province to solve their flood problems or pay them compensation. 14 OPEN MARKET: Cargill's president assures wheat farmers they will be in good hands in the open market. 15 LAND DONATION: The University of Lethbridge is excited about its first land donation. 22 � CWB VOTE: Ballots are in the � � � mail for the Canadian Wheat Board's plebiscite on the single desk. 26 MARKETING FEAR: A former logger warns livestock producers about the threat of environmentalists. 27 WATER EFFICIENCY: Canada is urged to reduce barriers to helping agriculture become better at using water. 69 LABOUR CRISIS: Producers find ways to cope with Canada's worsening farm labour crisis. 72 CONTACTS Larry Hertz, Publisher Ph: 306-665-9625 firstname.lastname@example.org Joanne Paulson, Editor Ph: 306-665-3537 email@example.com Michael Raine, Managing Editor Ph: 306-665-3592 firstname.lastname@example.org Terry Fries, News Editor Ph: 306-665-3538 email@example.com Newsroom fax: 306-934-2401 D'Arce McMillan, Markets Ph: 306-665-3519 firstname.lastname@example.org Karen Morrison, Farm Living Ph: 306-665-3585 email@example.com Paul Yanko, Website Ph: 306-665-3591 firstname.lastname@example.org Ed White, Winnipeg Ph: 204-943-6294 email@example.com Robert Arnason, Brandon Ph: 204-726-9463 firstname.lastname@example.org Karen Briere, Regina Ph: 306-359-0841 email@example.com Barbara Duckworth, Calgary Ph: 403-291-2990 firstname.lastname@example.org Mary MacArthur, Camrose Ph: 780-672-8589 email@example.com MARKETS 6 � CLOSING A CONTRACT: Farmers unable to � meet their contracts need to act now. 6 CHINA POWER: Analysts say China holds too much sway over commodity markets. 7 PRODUCTION 18 � DIRECT SEEDING: Forages can be direct � LIVESTOCK 65 seeded into terminated stands. 18 SCLEROTINIA: Spraying for sclerotinia can pay off for canola producers. 19 � HEIFER DEVELOPMENT: A U.S. company serves as a living science centre. makes a living out of breeding heifers. 65 68 � LIVING LABORATORY: A Nebraska ranch AGFINANCE 70 Corrections, clarifications The second place winner in the recipe contest on page 78 in the July 7 issue should read Mike Shewchuk. British Columbia does not offer a bounty on wolves, contrary to a headline on page 74 of the June 16 issue. A photo on page 75 in the July 7 issue was not taken at Hanley's fair, but featured Lucas Wiens of Winkler, Man., competing in mud races near Austin, Man., June 19. A story in the June 2 issue, Managing animals' pain is the right thing to do, should have specified that the drug meloxicam, used to relieve pain in cattle, has a 20-day withdrawal period if the injectable veterinary-approved drug is used. Because the tablet form is a human product, no withdrawal time has been established. � IDEA SHARING: Horticulture tours allow operators to share their experiences. into energy receives a funding boost. 70 70 � WASTE INVESTMENT: A plant to turn waste FARM LIVING 74 Barb Glen, Lethbridge Ph: 403-942-2214 firstname.lastname@example.org Barry Wilson, Ottawa Ph: 613-232-1447 email@example.com Canada Post Agreement Number 40069240 Advertising & subscription contacts are on the inside back cover. � BUS SERVICE: Alberta hopes deregulation � will improve the province's bus service. 75 ON THE FARM: A rare sheep breed is a conversation piece on this Ontario farm. 76 COULDA SHOULDA WOULDA DID Premium disease protection. PROSARO 04/11-14778-03B NEWS GRAIN INDUSTRY | USER FEES THE WESTERN PRODUCER | WWW.PRODUCER.COM | JULY 14, 2011 3 NASTY STORM PACKS HEAVY PUNCH IN ALBERTA CGC asks for major user fee increase Ottawa wants to avoid charging industry full amount of service costs BY BARRY WILSON OTTAWA BUREAU The Canadian Grain Commission is asking Ottawa to allow a sharp increase in cost-recovery fees to take effect April 1, 2012. If approved by government, it would cost farmers tens of millions of dollars in higher fees. In a July 8 interview, federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said he will wrestle with the question of how many commission costs provide a producer or industry benefit that should be charged to farmers and the industry and how many provide a "social good" that should be picked up by taxpayers. He acknowledged the pressure is on in Ottawa to reduce government spending. In the 2011-12 year, the government is promising more than $30 million to the CGC to cover a deficit. Ritz said the government plans to avoid charging the full amount to the industry. "What I hear as a politician is there's some social good, there's some that is cost-benefit for farmers. What we have to do now is walk that tight rope to decide which is which and come up with a package that addresses both of those issues." With cost-recovery fees frozen for the past two decades, the grain commission is under-funded, chief commissioner Elwin Hermanson said in a July 7 interview. "We are asking for a sustainable funding model that does not require this annual (funding) request to Ottawa," he said. "Ideally it would include increased cost recovery fees but if not, then a multi-year commitment from Ottawa for funding until the fee issue is resolved." After consultations last spring, the commission published the results of feedback that indicated pushback from producers and companies against the idea of sharp fee increases. The commission says that full cost recovery would increase fee revenue and industry costs 150 percent from $37 million to $91 million. Many in the industry wanted the Canadian Grain Commission to be reformed before fees are increased and others suggested any fee increase be phased in over three to five years. Ritz said department officials are looking at changing the Canada Grain Act but he was non-committal. One potential change would be to end inward inspections and change bonding requirements for grain companies. Another would be to decide if changes in the commission mandate are necessary because of government plans to end the Canadian Wheat Board single desk Aug. 1, 2012. Ritz would not commit to legislative changes to the commission during this parliamentary session. access=subscriber section=news,crops,none A July 7 tornado hit the Curtice farm near Innisfail, Alta., damaging grain handling equipment and buildings. | PAT BOOMER PHOTO GRAIN HANDLING | PORT OF CHURCHILL Churchill port can survive monopoly end Omnitrax speaks out | Company hopes wheat board can thrive in open market STORIES BY BRIAN CROSS SASKATOON NEWSROOM The company that owns the Port of Churchill said the loss of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on western Canadian grain sales will present challenges but nothing that can't be overcome through discussions between stakeholders. Mike Ogborn, managing director of OmniTrax, said his company is preparing for what it considers an inevitable end to single-desk marketing in Western Canada. "But we're looking for every opportunity we can to negate that impact." OmniTrax, which owns both the Churchill port facility and the Hudson Bay Railway Company (HBRC) that serves the port, moves 500,000600,000 tonnes of grain through the port each year. About 85 percent of that is CWB grain. Ogborn said the elimination of single desk marketing will present challenges but his company sees a strong future for the port and the railway. The company will focus on diversifying its business base, maintaining grain volumes and working with government on assessing and mitigating economic damages. "Today, a great deal of the volume that moves up the railway and through the port is Canadian Wheat Board product," Ogborn said. "We want to make sure that those consequences are known to the government, both provincially and federally, and then work with the federal government on potential mitigations of that adverse effect." Ogborn said OmniTrax officials are hopeful that the wheat board will continue to operate in an open market system and are encouraging open access=subscriber section=news,none,none dialogue between all stakeholders. "I think it's important that the wheat board remains in business," he said. "From a selfish standpoint, it gives us another company to work with, but from a Canadian perspective, it (the CWB) is well-versed in the market and well-positioned because of the reputation that is has around the world ...." Ogborn said the company will also be looking to expand business relationships with private grain handling companies. Although many of Canada's largest grain companies own their own port facilities, OmniTrax officials hope they can attract new business by presenting a sound business case for using the Churchill route. "For those companies that have (their own port) facilities, it will require having a business-like discussion and convincing them that moving a portion of their grain through the Port of Churchill is viable for them and is a good business decision," Ogborn said. "And there are certainly other grain companies that don't have those kinds of facilities that would also be potentially good partners for us. We're exploring all of those avenues with all grain companies." To offset potential reductions in grain movement, OmniTrax is hoping to increase shipments of inbound and outbound fertilizers, outbound wood pellets and pre-fabricated modules used in Canada's oilsands refining industry. Movement of dry freight items such as automobiles, appliances, machinery and other consumer goods is also increasing in the North, as is the transportation of fuel destined for mines, remote communities and other customers. Ogborn said Ottawa's decision to end the single desk will have no impact on the company's decision to spend $60 million on rail and port upgrades. GRAIN HANDLING | RAIL LINE CN discontinues key line for Churchill Canadian National Railway is planning to discontinue a portion of unused rail line in northeastern Saskatchewan between Tisdale and Hudson Bay, Sask. Warren Chandler, a spokesperson for CN Rail in Edmonton, confirmed that the company has reclassified a portion of its Tisdale, Sask., line to the "discontinued" designation. "On July 6, CN did place 55 miles of rail line between Kearly, (Sask.) and Mutchler (Sask.) on the discontinuance list," Chandler said. "This line has not been in use for over three years and has seen no traffic." Mutchler is just outside of Hudson Bay, Sask., and Kearly is 25 kilometres east of Tisdale. CN's Tisdale line is significant because it connects at Mutchler with another CN line that runs northeast to The Pas, Man. That line eventually connects with the Hudson Bay Railway system, which is the only rail line that leads to Port of Churchill at Churchill, Man. Gerry Breitkreuz, Conservative MP for the Saskatchewan riding of Yorkton-Melville, said CN's plans to discontinue a portion of the Tisdale line could open the door for other interested parties to acquire the track and resume east-west grain shipments to Mutchler. "If CN changes the status of the railway, this would be an excellent opportunity for another corporation to come in and fill the void that has been left," Breitkreuz said. "It would also allow our farmers another opportunity to ship their grain in a manner that best serves their business needs." Before a rail company can formally discontinue a portion of railway, it must inform the Canadian Transportation Agency of its plans, include its intentions in a mandatory network plan and advertise the line's availability to interested parties. After 12 months, a formal notice of discontinuance is issued and interested parties are then given 60 days to express their interest in buying the line for the purpose of continuing to operate the line. Interested parties have six months in which to negotiate a deal. If no deal is reached, the line must then be offered for sale to municipal and provincial governments. access=subscriber section=news,none,none 4 JULY 14, 2011 | WWW.PRODUCER.COM | THE WESTERN PRODUCER NEWS HAYING FINALLY UNDERWAY Haying is well underway in southern Alberta in the first week of July. Heat has finally arrived and is spurring crop development. Canola ranges from just starting to bolt to full flowering. Seeding varied from late April to the second week of June depending on location and rainfall challenges. This producer is haying south of Pearce, Alta. | MICHAEL RAINE PHOTO FARM POLICY | NEW FOCUS Ag ministers agree on farm program principles Growing Forward II | Agriculture ministers are scheduled to gather next year to ratify final package BY BARRY WILSON OTTAWA BUREAU ST. ANDREWS-BY-THE-SEA, New Brunswick -- Federal and provincial agriculture ministers have agreed to principles that will drive the next national farm policy framework and the emphasis is on innovation rather than safety nets. The goal, ministers said July 8 at the end of their annual summer meeting, is profitability, sustainability and adaptation. Changes to business risk management programs appear to be well down the list of ministerial priorities, although the refusal of Ottawa and the other nine provinces to embrace Ontario's call for federal funding for provincially designed support programs led Ontario minister Carol Mitchell to refuse to endorse the final communiqu�. When asked how the next policy framework will improve farm profitability, federal minister Gerry Ritz said innovation and increased trade are the keys. "I think the emphasis is on innovation and we hear that from industry groups constantly," he said. "Science and research, you know, a re-invigoration of results-based science and research, making sure that industry is involved in each of those steps. And of course, trade, opening up those trade ways." The next framework, Growing Forward II, is to take effect April 1, 2013, and ministers instructed their bureaucrats to translate the principles into concrete policy proposals by the time ministers meet again in September 2012, in Yukon to debate and ratify the final package. And Ritz, who complained during the federal election campaign that the opposition-triggered election had put on hold for several months policy framework consultations, vowed that five provincial elections scheduled for late 2011 will not set the process back. "I have no doubt that we will deliver on time," said the minister. "With a number of provincial elections coming up this fall, of course the bureaucracies stay in place and they all have their marching orders from this meeting as to what we need to negotiate and work towards." When pressed, Ritz said the next set of business risk management programs will be improved, though he offered no details. Canadian Cattlemen's Association president Travis Toews issued a statement endorsing the emphasis on innovation. He joined other farm groups in call- ing on the Conservatives to increase investment in research. "Significant investment is needed to renew and reinvigorate agriculture research to a more meaningful level w i t h i nv e s t m e nt s f o c u s i n g o n research outcomes that address industry priorities," he said. In Regina, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which claims thousands of farmer members, published the results of a member survey that indicated BRM programs are a low priority. O f t h e m o re t ha n 1 , 0 0 0 w h o responded to the survey, 72 percent said regulatory reform and reducing red tape were the priorities. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, which often has led the fight for better farm support programs, also focused last week on its campaign to develop a national food strategy. It hosted a round table with ministers that drew endorsement of the broad principles, but with few specifics. "The industry has taken the first step in moving towards finding broader solutions for the value chain, taking into account everything from promoting the Canadian brand and healthy lifestyles to sustaining economic growth and ecosystems," said CFA president Ron Bonnett. "For this to work, we need it to translate into policy. That's where government comes in, and we are ready and willing to work with them. High taxes were named by 68 percent as a priority, close to the 66 percent that cited market access. Improving business risk management programs came sixth in priority, named by 42 percent. FOR MORE FROM THE FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL MINISTERS MEETING, SEE PAGE 16. access=subscriber section=news,none,none HOGS | EXPANSION MORATORIUM Manitoba hog sector sees new law as vote-getting tactic Rules could backfire | Pork council says the NDP government's moratorium could result in less control over Lake Winnipeg water quality BY ED WHITE WINNIPEG BUREAU Manitoba hog producers worry about how a new law will affect their industry following this fall's provincial election. Farmers fear a re-elected NDP government will continue to blame the hog industry for Lake Winnipeg's water quality woes, and there have been no signs yet that a Progressive Conservative government would repair the situation. "Until after the election, it's kind of hard to tell where it will go," Manitoba Pork Council chair Karl Kynoch said about the implications of Bill 46, which was recently passed into law and is now the Save Lake Winnipeg Act. The legislation contains vague language about all new or expanded hog barns requiring state-of-the-art manure handling facilities that most farm groups see as an effective province-wide moratorium. The industry fears that the governaccess=subscriber section=news,livestock,none The Manitoba Pork Council says new regulations on hog barns and manure handling facilities to improve Lake Winnipeg's water quality are based on politics, not science. | FILE PHOTO ment has been targeting the hog industry to play to its political base because the new act's as-yet-unwritten regulations don't appear to be based on pragmatic water quality science. "We feel it was only done for the election, to get votes," said Kynoch about the new legislation. "The government's been beating up the hog industry for the past number of years." PC MLAs also voted for the bill, which Kynoch thinks they might have done out of fear of being seen supporting the often-attacked hog industry. "It doesn't matter what the Conservatives did, the government would have used it against them in an election," said Kynoch. Kynoch and Keystone Agricultural Producers president Doug Chorney urged politicians not to pass the law when a legislative committee held hearings on the law. Chorney said he used a pragmatic approach, noting that the legislation would reduce regulation of hog manure treatment in the Lake Winnipeg watershed rather than increasing it. "They've basically said you're not going to build barns, so all the finishing and growing capacity for the pigs to feed the Brandon plant will come from North Dakota and Saskatchewan, and we can't regulate them," said Chorney. "That will give us no control over nutrient management. We will have no control over the water quality of Lake Winnipeg by pushing the industry out of Manitoba." The industry hopes that either a reelected NDP government or a newly elected PC government will be able to back away from too-restrictive regulations once the election is over and focus more on helping farmers adapt their farming methods. Right now, the law on the books looks scary to many farmers. "Bill 46 could be the beginning of a lot of devastation," said Kynoch. CROP REPORT THE WESTERN PRODUCER | WWW.PRODUCER.COM | JULY 14, 2011 5 ADULT MIDGE PER FOUR OR FIVE WHEAT HEADS WARRANTS FIELD CONTROL MEASURES ONE PESTS | WHEAT MIDGE Monitor for signs of midge Infestation potential | Scout fields between heading and flowering stage BY WILLIAM DEKAY SASKATOON NEWSROOM Timing is everything and that goes for wheat midge too. Starting now, prairie producers need to be on the lookout for the insect pest. Combine this year's high moisture with a series of normal heat unit days, and midge numbers could be high. The potential for economically damaging infestations to wheat crops is highest in the dark brown and black soil zones. The silver lining for many producers is that heavy rain earlier in the spring meant many wheat crops were seeded late. Combine that with delayed normal heat unit days and wheat midge may miss some fields. "This year everything is delayed so we're into July before we're seeing much of an emergence," said Scott Hartley, Saskatchewan Agriculture's specialist for insect/vertebrate pest management. "High heat will probably accelerate things. If midge emerges quickly and crops are not in a susceptible stage, that's excellent. That's not good timing for the midge." It's a wait and see game for producers who didn't plant midge tolerant wheat, said John Gavloski, an entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture. "For people who seeded quite late, that might be the case, but a lot depends on how many growing degree days the crop and the wheat midge have experienced. It's a tough question to answer." He said midge is appearing in central Manitoba and a high emergence is expected. The insect appears when an area receives the number of growing degree days that it needs to maintain its life cycle. "We've seen that before, where they miss their opportunity to lay eggs in certain fields," Gavloski said. "If the fields aren't ready, they're going to keep moving until they find something to lay their eggs into that are ready." Hartley said regular field monitoring is key. Scout in the evenings, from 8 to 10 p.m. when the temperature is around 15 C and the wind is calm or light. Inspect four or five places in the field for a more accurate count. Hartley warned against taking action with first midge sightings because the males show up before the egg-laying females. "Premature spray wouldn't hit the real target," he said. "That's why we emphasize that it's not when you first see it. Regular monitoring is key to being able to get good control." The time between heading and flowering, when the boot swells and the wheat become visible, is the vulnerable stage because the midge can then access the plants to lay eggs. That's when regular scouting should begin. Plants are no longer susceptible when they start to enter out or go into flowering. At that point they've built up resistance. Spraying should start in the four days after the economic threshold is reached, depending on the chemical that is used. One adult midge per four to five wheat heads is usually enough to warrant control. It's a question of yield verses grade. One midge per four to five wheat heads can decrease yield by 15 percent. Wheat midge larvae can also reduce the grade of wheat, as can more than one midge per eight to 10 wheat heads. The Canadian Grain Commission limits midge damage in No. 1 CWRS wheat to two percent and eight percent in No. 2. The tolerances are similar in durum. "We use economic thresholds as a gauge for producers because their systems are all going to be different," Hartley said. "There may be different varieties; it may predominantly be a CPS grower, or a durum grower. They've got to make the final financial decisions themselves." access=subscriber section=news,crops,none CROPS | BUCKWHEAT Manitoba buckwheat acres shrink but Sask. climbs aboard BY ROBERT ARNASON BRANDON BUREAU BUCKWHEAT FACTS Phosphorus scavenger: � Aside from producing grain and providing nectar for bees, buckwheat also requires less nitrogen than other crops and is able to retrieve phosphorus locked in the soil. Its roots produce mild acids that release nutrients from the soil and activate slowreleasing organic fertilizers, such as rock phosphate. When the plant breaks down, it releases phosphorus for the next crop. Thrives in poor soil: � Buckwheat performs better on low-fertility soil and soil with high levels of decaying organic matter. That's why it was often the first crop planted on cleared land during the settlement of woodland areas and is still a good crop for rejuvenating overfarmed soils. Source: Sustainable Ag Research & Education Marc Durand should net a tidy profit from his 210 acres of buckwheat if the weather is just right this summer. Prices for the specialty crop are at "unprecedented levels" of around $15 per acre. Durand, who typically seeds 160 to 300 acres on his farm near Notre Dame, Man., knows he can reap profits because he has grown buckwheat crops that yielded 40 bushels per acre. "At 45 bushels per acre and $15 per bu., there's money to be made there," said Durand. Prices aren't always that high. Buckwheat was $12 per bu. last year and has traded around $8 per bu. in the recent past. However, Manitoba Agriculture buckwheat specialist Rejean Picard expects acres in the province to be similar to 2009 and 2010. "Talking to the seed suppliers and the processors, it might be ... around 4,500 acres," said Picard. Official acreage statistics are pending. Manitoba growers planted 30,000 acres of buckwheat 10 years ago, but In Japan, buckwheat is used to make soba noodles, which are often served cold in the summer months. | FILE PHOTO acreage shrank during the 2000s to the point where Picard said the crop is now in survival mode. "With the last two or three years being below 5,000 acres, it's really not enough for the industry to survive." It won't be because of lack of demand if Manitoba growers stop planting the crop entirely. Processors from around the world regularly call Durand, who owns and operates Durand Seeds, to ask about his buckwheat crop or seed. Japan remains the largest customer for Canadian buckwheat. The Japanese use it to make soba noodles, which are often served cold in the summer months. Yet, like other specialty crops, buckwheat acres have dwindled because farmers can generate higher profits growing canola. "As long as the price is not as good, or not able to compete with other crops in terms of net revenue per acre, that's what has been the problem (with buckwheat) the last 10 years," Picard said. Durand said buckwheat acres in Manitoba are unlikely to rebound to 20,000 or 30,000 a year, but he doesn't think the crop will vanish from the landscape. In his case, he grows buckwheat because it offers an opportunity to make money from his farm's marginal, sandy land. "We're not putting much into it and if we get something out of it, great. But if you put canola on that land and throw a whole pile of inputs on it and don't get a high yield, you're not making a whole pile of money." Buckwheat is tricky to grow, with potential yields varying from five to 40 bu. per acre. "In some years you think it's a good buckwheat year and there's no yield. And other years it doesn't look like a good buckwheat year, and you get high yields," Durand said. "It needs a period of stress during the summer ... which encourages the plant to set seed and reproduce for next year." Durand is encouraged by news out of Saskatchewan, where growers are trying buckwheat. "I think Saskatchewan buckwheat acres must be going up every year. I know a lot of organic farmers grow buckwheat. Either they grow it for grain or it's a great green manure for them, for phosphates." Canadian Organic Growers says farmers in Canada planted 771 acres of certified organic buckwheat in 2008 and 1,029 acres in 2009. Chantal Jacobs, an organic crop specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture, said she hasn't heard that organic producers are planting more acres of buckwheat in the province. Most organic producers plant peas and lentils to add nitrogen to the soil, she added. "I know the research shows that it is good for greenfeed, but it isn't a legume and we still like to get those nitrogen fixing crops in the ground." access=subscriber section=news,crops,none SEE OUR WEEKLY PROVINCIAL CROP REPORTS ON PAGES 24 & 25 � 6 JULY 14, 2011 | WWW.PRODUCER.COM | THE WESTERN PRODUCER MARKETS M ARKET S EDIT O R : D ' A R C E M C MILLAN | P h : 306- 665- 3519 F: 306- 934-2401 | E-MAIL: DARC E.M C M ILLAN @PRODUC ER.C OM Winter wheat? Visit www.secan.com for a retailer near you. Flooded fields, such as this one near Melita, Man., will make it next to impossible for many farmers to harvest a crop this year and fulfill their marketing commitments. | PHOTO SHARLENE BENNIE CROPS | PRICES Farmers need to act now on fall contract problems Soggy spring, late harvest | Recent drop in canola prices offers farmers an escape from penalties in existing new crop sales agreements BY ED WHITE WINNIPEG BUREAU Thousands of farmers might be caught exposed because of the sodden spring, but the recent market downturn is offering them a handy fig leaf to partially hide behind. Farmers in many areas will be unable to meet their existing new crop sales agreements because they won't be able to harvest most of their crops. Others have short futures positions they will need to roll out of because they won't have a crop with which to back them up. Fortunately, the recent drop in crop prices has made it less costly to get out of those commitments. "With the canola market dropping, they are escaping," said Errol Anderson of Pro Market Communications in Calgary. "I think the market, luckily, will allow them to get out without major penalties." Farmers use a wide range of strategies to hedge their price risk, using deferred delivery contracts, other production contracts, futures contracts and options contracts. Many advisers recommend farmers lock in prices for 25 and 40 percent of their expected production before the end of seeding so that profit margins can be protected. Locking in 25 to 33 percent of their production is considered safe for the average farmer because only in rare years do they harvest that low an amount of crop. But this year, like last year, is one of those bad years for growers who have been unable to seed that amount of acreage. Futures positions are easy to roll out of, and with canola prices recently falling well below $600 per tonne, many farmers with short positions will be able to gain from closing out. But it isn't as easy to get out of production contracts, in which a farmer promises to produce a set amount of crop with a grain company. The buyer isn't just speculating with price, but actually wants the crop. As a result, many advisers say farmers who won't have physical product in the fall should start talking to the companies