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Volume 39, Number 15 | OCTOBER 7, 2013



The next wave of canola research Western Canadian researchers hope to give new canola cultivars a shot in the peduncle by introducing genes from other plants LISA GUENTHER


ntroducing genes from other plants into canola cultivars will do everything from bump up yields to fend off flea beetles to impart disease resistance. Dr. Habibur Rahman, a canola researcher with the University of Alberta, is working on several projects to improve future canola cultivars. In one project, he and his research team are introducing genes from related crops such as cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, rutabagas, and Chinese kale to improve agronomics. “The main (goal) is to increase yield and to increase resistance to diseases like clubroot,” says Rahman. He also aims to improve other agronomic traits by diversifying canola’s germplasm. Right now Rahman is developing germplasm in greenhouses and conducting field trials. In two or three years they will be testing some of the hybrids. If a particularly promising hybrid comes along, it might move into commercial development, but right now the goal is to simply broaden the genetic basis of the canola germplasm. Viterra is contributing $1.6 million to the research in cash and in kind. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council is throwing in another $1.5 million. The University of Alberta and Viterra will share ownership of new cultivars emerging from this program. Rahman is also working on another project to produce earlier flowering canola. Once again, he is pulling in genes from cabbage and cauliflower type plant species. The genes cause canola to flower three or four days earlier in the field. “Now we are mapping the gene to find out where the genes are located (in the genome) and then trying to identify if the genes have any negative effect on yield,” says Rahman. Brassica carinata has excellent resistance to all known virulent blackleg strains in North America.

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Dr. Habibur Rahman is a canola researcher at the University of Alberta working to improve canola’s agronomic traits by diversifying the germplasm. Rahman hopes to transfer this resistance into canola. But first he needs to pinpoint exactly where in the chromosomes the resistance genes are found. Rahman also has additional projects involving clubroot resistance and molecular mapping of the resistance genes.

FIGHTING FLEA BEETLES WITH HAIRY CANOLA Researchers with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon were studying flea beetle behaviour on different plants when they noticed that flea beetles didn’t

like plants with hair. Instead of feeding, the pests jumped off the plants, leaving them undamaged. Dr. Margaret Gruber and her colleagues isolated genes responsible for hair growth from canola and a plant called Arabidopsis, which is related to canola. By inserting these genes into canola, they created a hairy canola plant that seems to repel flea beetles. Gruber says there is no yield penalty with the hairy canola plants they’ve developed. Seed quality and oil profile are well within the limits prescribed for canola as well. The hair appears on the leaves

and stems of the plants after the cotyledon stage. Although the cotyledons are hairless, they also repel flea beetles. “We’re trying to understand why, when they’re smooth, they’re resistant,” says Gruber. Gruber’s not yet sure whether a refuge system would be needed in commercial varieties. “But we’re starting to do those experiments and trying to get a sense if there was a large field of hairy canola, what would happen.” Gruber’s research has been supported by Western Canada’s canola producers associations, plus the Alberta and Saskatchewan

In This Issue

governments. She says they now have plants and seed ready for any companies that want to pick up the germplasm. But so far none have come forward to carry the research to the commercial arena. “They may not pick it up because it’s transgenic and it would require quite a lot of funds to take it through the Canadian regulatory system,” says Gruber. Gruber and her colleagues are now looking at how all genes involved in hair development express themselves in canola and a broader range of species related


Wheat & Chaff ..................


Features ............................


Crop Advisor’s Casebook


Columns ........................... 28 Machinery & Shop ............ 36 Cattleman’s Corner .......... 43

John Deere introduces new equipment SCOTT GARVEY PAGE 36

A 5,600-km fence to control wild dogs LEE HART PAGE 43

FarmLife ............................ 52



OCTOBER 7, 2013

Wheat & Chaff STAMPEDE




“That was fun! I invited them all back tomorrow for leftovers”


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f you let this issue of Grainews sit in a pile on your coffee table for a few weeks before you opened it up, we’re probably still working on harvest here at our farm in southeast Saskatchewan. Things have just been slow this season. We seeded late, and now we’re harvesting late. This is even true for the half of our crop that didn’t see hail damage. And you know how it is — once things get late, the days get shorter, and the whole harvest project seems to go on forever. It seems very wrong to have to climb out of the swather early so I can take our little boy to skating practice! I just hope I don’t wind up taking Christmas dinner out to the combine. It’s a bit disappointing, hearing reports of 100-bushel wheat crops when so many of our fields were taken out by a July hailstorm. But on the bright side, the wheat that wasn’t hail damaged and that we’ve managed to get into the bin has been some of the best crops my husband has seen on his farm. Unfortunately we barely got things started when a bunch of dark clouds settled in for a threeday rain. Earlier this year I wrote about our trip to the factory in Nebraska to watch our new Case IH combine roll off the assembly line. Now it’s out in the field. With a few minor kinks out of the way, all systems are go. The high-yielding wheat crop was a great way to break it in.

The new combine is performing well in the field.

IN THIS ISSUE First, here’s what’s not in this issue: A subscriber phoned in to let us know that in the September issue, we ran the weather map for July/August. Oops. We’re very sorry. There’s a more current map this time. Now, for this issue. I considered calling this “The Sirski Edition.” Not only do we have Andy Sirski’s regular Off-Farm Income column in the Columns section (Page 34), but Andy has also written a short piece on an old-time threshing fundraiser for the Canada Foodgrains Bank (Page 24). And, I’m very pleased to tell you that this issue also includes an article by Andy Sirski’s son, Steven.


He spent some time working on farms in Australia, and has written a great article explaining how you can do this too (or at least send one of your kids to do it). Find this on Page 18. One of my cousins worked on a harvesting crew in Australia one winter (summer in Australia). He came home with an outrageously disgusting story about putting a small kangaroo through a combine. I don’t know if this could actually happen or not (Steven didn’t mention if this happened to him). I do know that most of my relatives never like to let the truth get in the way of a good story, so I’ll probably never know for sure. Enjoy this issue. Leeann

Moonlighting Grainews staff


rainews field editor Lisa Guenther has been using her free time to write a book. It’s a mystery novel, set in smalltown Saskatchewan. She’s finished a draft, printed it out, and now she’s been awarded second place in the Saskatchewan Writers Guild’s annual John V. Hicks contest. If you’re not a Saskatchewan writer, you won’t know what this is. But trust me: it’s a big deal. There is fierce competition from across Saskatchewan, a cash prize and a formal dress banquet. And the best part is that the winning manuscripts generally tend to wind up as published books (finding a publisher is a big hurdle for fiction writers these days.) I’ll keep an eye on this, and let you know when Lisa finds a publisher and we can all read her book. Until then, we’ll keep her busy writing articles for Grainews like “10 best places to hide a body on your farm” and “How decomposing human corpses will affect your canola crop’s nitrogen needs.” Congratulations Lisa! On a related note, occasional Grainews contributor Anne

Anne Lazurko’s first novel Dollybird was recently published by Coteau Books. Lazurko’s first novel Dollybird has just been published. I may be biased (Anne is a friend, and I’m on the board of the publishing company), but I love this book. Dollybird is historical fiction, a book about the very beginning of farming in this country. It’s a story about the type of life some of my ancestors lived when they first came here. I would

have been a terrible pioneer — I complain when the WiFi in our house goes down for half an hour. But the men and women who first worked this soil lived through hardships I can barely imagine. And most of them didn’t even have smart phones. The main character of Dollybird, Moira, came to Saskatchewan in 1906. All alone. Then she became a “dollybird.” In those days, dollybird was a slang term for women who kept house for homesteading men. And some also provided… other services. Anne says, “Housekeeper or covert whore? A dollybird can be either or both, in the vocabulary of the times, leaving the community to draw its own conclusions about who or what Moira is in that settler’s soddy. Determined to find redemption in the midst of their derision, and to find joy despite uncertainty, Moira faces impossible choices with consequences beyond anything she ever imagined.” Anne’s book is published by Coteau Books. Find it in your favourite bookstore or online. † Leeann Minogue

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /

Wheat & Chaff Farm safety

Power line safety risks


ince 2010, there have been five farm fatalities in Alberta as a result of farmers moving equipment into energized power lines. The majority of farm power line incidents occur during the busy spring seeding and fall harvesting seasons. As such, Alberta’s Joint Utility Safety Team (JUST) wants to remind farmers to exercise extra caution during the hectic harvest season. Allan Kurtz, a third-generation farmer, has an important message for other farmers following his on-the-job incident. “Before my accident, I was always careful around electricity — but I didn’t know power could jump. My accident was a wake-up call,” says Kurtz, who lost both legs as a result of his incident. In preparing to move a grain bin, Kurtz believed he was taking the right precautions by measuring what he thought was a safe distance between the bin and an overhead power line before proceeding. However, once on top of the bin, a blinding flash of electricity arced from the line to Kurtz’s metal tape measure, send-

ing 14,000 volts of electricity coursing through his body. Farming is exempt from Occupational Health and Safety legislation, so farmers are less likely to have taken power line safety training than workers in other industries. Also, given that at certain times of year farmers are faced with many competing priorities around the farm and home, safety may not be top of mind. Kurtz believes many farmers simply don’t understand all the risks, just as he didn’t. For example, the size of farm equipment — like seeders and sprayers — has doubled since the 1950’s, while the

You might be from the prairies if...

height of power lines has remained the same. Because of the increased size of farm equipment, farmers should consider both the width and the height of equipment during field use and when moving or transporting equipment. They should also be aware that some lines can be as low as 3.7 metres, and severe weather can cause power lines to sag even lower. A number of safety precautions can help farmers avoid contact with a power line. “Plan ahead” and “Always ask yourself, “Where’s the line?” are the guiding principles. This includes having your local electrical utility determine the height of equipment and all power lines on a

farm, field and travel routes, so there is no guesswork involved. Equipment should always be lowered prior to moving it, and when folding or unfolding wings or extensions, always allow seven metres of clearance between equipment and power lines. Transporting equipment 4.15 metres or higher down any public road or highway requires a permit from Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation. If equipment or load is 5.3 metres or higher, your local electrical utility must be contacted at least seven days in advance. † JUST (Joint Utility Safety Team) is committed to helping foster a long-term “culture of power line safety” in Alberta. Learn more at

Agronomy tips from the field

Agronomy tip: seeding rate


You have petitioned the winter Olympics to have a poker derby. Weather Lore

Mackerel sky


ackerel sky, mackerel sky; Never long wet, never long dry. A mackerel sky is clouded by rounded, isolated cirrocumulus clouds that look like mackerel scales or herring bones. They are made up of ice crystals and may travel at speeds up to 160 km per hour, six to 11 km above the earth. A mackerel sky often forms in thundery weather which is neither wet or dry for very long. A variation of the proverb is: Mackerel sky, 24 hours dry. Because of the conditions that accompany a mackerel sky, we often see rain the day after its appearance. † Shirley Byers’ book “Never Sell Your Hen on a Rainy Day” explores over 100 weather rhymes and sayings. It is available from McNally Robinson at:

rowers are picking up on the practice of using higher seeding rates in wheat. The resulting stands are more dense, and can compete better against pests while exhibiting more uniform crop development with less tillering. To take full advantage of this best practice, you’ll need to translate the recommended plant stand density (for instance, Alberta Agriculture recommends from 18 to 30 plants per square foot for CPS varieties) into an optimum seeding rate. To do this, you’ll need to account for the varying seed sizes in different seed lots using the thousand-kernel-weight (TKW). And you’ll need to factor in the selected seed germination and mortality rates as well. This may sound complicated. Here is the formula to use: Optimum seeding rate = Recommended den-

photo contest

GIVE US YOUR BEST SHOT Fifth-generation farmers Kassandra Russell sent this gorgeous photo of one of her flax fields this summer near Drumheller, Alta. Kassandra and Calvin Russell have three daughters, (from left to right) Elyse (3), Emilia (4) and Everly (18 months). The girls will be the fifth generation on the farm. Kassandra wrote, “The coulee in the background is Drumheller, we farm just to the northeast. Our main crops are wheat, canola, barley, peas and flax. This field is right beside the girls’ Nana and Papa’s house (Craig and Janice Russell). We thought we’d snap a quick picture while the flowers were out before going for a visit.” Thank you for sharing this, Kassandra! We’ll mail you a cheque for $25. Send your best shot to Please send only one or two photos at a time and include your name and address, the names of anyone in the photo, where the photo was taken and a bit about what was going on that day. A little write-up about your farm is welcome, too. Please ensure that images are of high resolution (1 MB is preferred), and if the image includes a person, we need to be able to see their face clearly. Leeann

sity in plants/square foot x TKW in grams x 10.4 ÷ (% germination – % mortality). So with a recommended stand density of 25 plants/square foot, a TKW of 35, a germination rate of 95 per cent and a mortality rate of five per cent, here’s a sample calculation: Optimum seeding rate = 25 x 35 x 10.4 ÷ (95 – 5) = 101 lb./acre (The 10.4 value is a conversion factor, translating grams into pounds and squre feet into acres). After you’ve made your seed selection, use this calculation to help make sure you order the right amount of seed. Don’t let low crop density undermine good genetics. † This agronomy tip is brought to you by Christine Spasoff, Agronomic Service Representative for Syngenta Canada Inc. Christine holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan. She’s worked in the crop protection industry for 20 years, including 18 with Syngenta.




OCTOBER 7, 2013

Cover Stories Crop varieties » CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 1 6 6 6 D u b l i n Av e n u e , W i n n i p e g , MB R 3 H 0 H 1 w w w. g r a i n e w s . c a

The next wave of canola research


to the crop, such as mustards. They hope to use this information to develop a hairy canola variety without using transgenics by switching the right genes on or off. They’ve already found some Brassica napus plants that are naturally hairy, though not nearly as hairy as the transgenic plants they’ve already developed. Gruber says they’ll probably field test the non-transgenic plants next summer. Gruber and her colleagues are also looking at Brassica villosa, an extremely hairy plant native to Sicily and more closely related to broccoli and Brussels sprouts than canola. “Hairy canola has about a thousand times the number of hairs of a regular canola plant. This one has maybe 4,000 times (the hair of regular canola),” says Gruber. Researchers have plucked five genes that control hair development from Brassica villosa and inserted the genes into arabidopsis and canola. The genes don’t behave exactly the same in different plants. “In arabidopsis they seem to behave very similarly to the arabidopsis gene. But these other genes are behaving a little bit differently in canola. There is one gene that has increased the hair in canola,” Gruber says. † Lisa Guenther is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa.

Lynda Tityk Associate Publisher/ Editorial director

John Morriss

Edi tor

Leeann Minogue field Edi tor

Lisa Guenther Cattleman’s Corner Editor

Lee Hart Farml ife Edi tor

Sue Armstrong Machinery EDITOR

Scott Garvey Produ ction Dire ctor

Shawna Gibson Desi gner


Lynda Tityk

Ci rc ulat ion manag er photos: aafc

On the left is a hairy canola seedling, on the right is an unmodified canola seedling, in a greenhouse setting.

Heather Anderson president

of Glacier Agricultural Information Group

Bob Willcox H e ad O f f i c e 1666 Dublin Avenue, Winnipeg, Man. R3H 0H1 Phone: (204) 944-5568 Fax: (204) 944-5562 Adv ert isi ng Sa l es

Cory Bourdeaud’hui Phone: (204) 954-1414 Fax: (204) 944-5562 Email: Adv ert isi ng Serv ices Co -ordi nat or

This photo shows extreme flea beetle damage in a This picture shows seedling damage by flea beetles in a field plant. Researchers have found that flea beetles lab-based feeding damage bioassay. don’t like plants with hair.

Soil management

Tillage radish report This summer we planted tillage radish on a few acres of wet soil. This is what’s happening so far Leeann Minogue


ince the 2011 flood that left us with no crop to harvest from our farm in southeast Saskatchewan, we are still a little nervous about excess moisture. This was another wet spring, although not as wet as 2011. Because it was so wet, in midJuly my husband Brad though he’d try something new. He bought enough tillage radish seed to cover 80 acres. (The seed cost about $22 per acre.) The plan was for the plants to soak up some excess moisture, so we would can seed that land next year. And, we hoped the roots might break through compaction in the wet soil. These photos show how our tillage radish had fared in the field by early September, five This plant seems to have hit either a rock in the field, This photo shows two of the plants in our field. So weeks after seeding. † or compacted soil. You can see that the root stopped far, most of our plants are still small and thin, more Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews. growing straight down and split off sideways. like the one on the left than on the right.

At Farm Business Communications we have a firm commitment to protecting your privacy and security as our customer. Farm Business Communications will only collect personal information if it is required for the proper functioning of our business. As part of our commitment to enhance customer service, we may share this personal information with other strategic business partners. For more information regarding our Customer Information Privacy Policy, write to: Information Protection Officer, Farm Business Communications, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, MB R3H 0H1 Occasionally we make our list of subscribers available to other reputable firms whose products and services might be of interest to you. If you would prefer not to receive such offers, please contact us at the address in the preceding paragraph, or call 1-800-665-0502.

Arlene Bomback Phone: (204) 944-5765 Fax: (204) 944-5562 Email: Printed in Canada by Transcontinental LGM-Coronet Winnipeg, Man. Grainews is published by Farm Business Communications, 1666 Dublin Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3H 0H1. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40069240. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Subscription prices: For Canadian farmers, $49.35 per year or $79.00 for 2 years (includes GST) or $99.00 for 3 years (includes GST). Man. residents add 8% PST to above prices. U.S: $43.00 per year (U.S. Funds). Outside Canada & U.S.: $79 per year. ISSN 0229-8090. Call 1-800-665-0502 for subscriptions. Fax (204) 954-1422. Canadian Postmaster: Send address changes and undeliverable copies (covers only) to PO Box 9800, Winnipeg, Man. R3C 3K7. U.S. Postmaster: Send address changes and undeliverable copies (covers only) to 1666 Dublin Avenue, Winnipeg, Man. R3H 0H1. Grainews is printed on recyclable paper with linseed oil-based inks. Published 18 times a year. S ubscription in quiries: Ca l l t o l l f r e e 1-800-665-0502 U.S. subscribers call 1-204-944-5568 o r email:

Your next issue! You can expect your next issue in your mailbox about October 31, 2013

The editors and journalists who write, contribute and provide opinions to Grainews and Farm Business Communications attempt to provide accurate and useful opinions, information and analysis. However, the editors, journalists and Grainews and Farm Business Communications, cannot and do not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained in this publication and the editors as well as Grainews and Farm Business Communications assume no responsibility for any actions or decisions taken by any reader for this publication based on any and all information provided.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /



Managing wild oats Controlling wild oats is not an easy task. But researchers hope a six-year study will reveal a recipe to manage wild oats with fewer herbicides BY LISA GUENTHER


ild oats is one of our most common weeds and the weed we spend the most money on in terms of herbicides every year. And of course resistance is building up,” said Eric Johnson, weed biologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Johnson said that there aren’t many herbicide groups available to control wild oats. Group 1 and Group 2 herbicides are most commonly used, but there is a quite a bit of resistance to Group 1s. “There is a possibility that we could be using Group 2s more often, but we have cases of Group 2 resistance and we also have cases of multiple resistance,” said Johnson. Johnson is working on a project, led by Dr. Neil Harker, looking at using management practices to reduce wild oat populations. “Or, if the day comes that we have no wild oat herbicides available to us, that it’s resistant to everything, is there a way we can still manage wild oats?”

MANAGEMENT PRACTICES Researchers are currently in the fifth year of the six-year study, so they haven’t had a chance to analyze all the results yet. But they have seen benefits from some management practices, such as diversifying the rotation. For example, they added winter cereals, such as winter triticale, winter wheat and fall rye, to some rotations. A typical rotation in the study would include winter wheat, followed by winter triticale. At the annual Scott Field Day last July, Harker explained that summer annual weeds, such as wild oats, are becoming more common partly because farmers grow summer annual crops. Winter annual crops break that cycle. “We know they’re very competitive with wild oats because of their growth habit and the fact that they start growing earlier in the spring and compete very well,” said Johnson. Harker said the rotations that were herbicide-free for three years and included winter wheat and winter triticale sometimes controlled wild oats as well as the canola-wheat rotation. Full herbicide rates were applied to the canola-wheat rotation. Johnson said including a winter cereal only once in a four-year rotation doesn’t seem to have a big impact on wild oats over the long term. But “if you get a good stand of winter cereal, you might not have to use a (wild oat) herbicide that particular year. So that reduces the selection pressure.” And including alfalfa in rotation drives the seed bank down, reducing wild oat populations to the same levels as the canolawheat check. Johnson said the alfalfa results

are encouraging, but not surprising. The Scott Research Farm has an 18-year alternative cropping study that includes three years of alfalfa in the rotation. In annual cropping systems and other treatments where researchers have applied Group 1 herbicides regularly, about half the wild oats are Group 1 resistant, said Johnson of the 18 year study. “And in the plots that include perennial forages, it’s less than 10 per cent,” Johnson said, adding Dr. Hugh Beckie is examining the preliminary results from the 18 year study now.

Next year all the plots from the six-year study will be seeded to canola, and researchers will be able to analyze results. But Johnson said so far they’ve been able to manage the wild oats in some cases by using the right combination of management practices. Along with perennial and winter cereal crops, higher plant populations help the crop out-compete wild oats. And cutting barley silage at the early milk instead of soft dough stage prevents wild oats from going to seed and improves silage quality. “Not just one management


Eric Johnson, AAFC weed biologist, is working on a project using management practices to reduce wild oat populations. practice is going to solve their wild oat problem or manage their wild oat problem. It’s a combination of all these practices, and that’s what we’re hoping to show in this com-

prehensive study over a number of years,” said Johnson. † Lisa Guenther is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa.



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OCTOBER 7, 2013

Features Seed varieties

Flax after the reboot

The flax industry is ready to get back to business after the GM seed incidenct of 2009 By Leeann Minogue


he flax industry has been in turmoil since the fall of 2009, when genetically modified flax seeds were unexpectedly discovered in Canadian flax shipments to the European Union. Although the GM variety, Triffid, had been deregistered in 2001 and all Triffid seed was supposed to have been destroyed, Triffid seeds have been lingering in the system. The EU will not accept flax imports with genetically modified content, and the EU measures with a tough yardstick. Canadian exports must contain less than 0.01 per cent GM content — that’s less than one seed in 10,000 seeds. Since 2009, the Canadian flax industry has co-operated to calm this turmoil and get Canadian exports flowing to European buyers again. The main push has been the testing of pedigreed seed, farmsaved seed and on-farm production for the presence of Triffid. Since this program started, the percentage of farmer deliveries testing positive for Triffid contamination has fallen from 10 per cent in 2009-10 to around four per cent in the summer of 2013. And, the level of Triffid in the positive tests has fallen to close to the allowable level of 0.01 per cent.

photo: flax council of canada

Flax acreage declined rapidly after GM seed was found in exports in 2009. Now, acreage is climbing again. in 2014: CDC Sanctuary and CDC Glas. In order to ensure that these new varieties have not been contaminated by Triffid at any point in the system, seed growers multiplying the new varieties for SeCan had to sign stringent agreements. When farmers are talking to SeCan seed growers about these new varieties, Hyra recommends that they “ask about the process the grower went through.” There were strict rules about the distance between the seed flax and commercial flax crops and the number of years that the land where the seed flax was grown had been flax-free. “The distance and the time away from older production is an important part of that. That’s something we incorporated into the stewardship protocol,” Hyra says. Hyra is not yet sure which of these four varieties will be farmers’ best bet. “A lot will depend on what the trials show,” he says. Trial information will be available later in the fall. With Sanctuary and Glas being new varieties, Hyra expects that they will be picked up quickly. “They’ll be the first ones to sell

CDC Varieties Researchers at the Crop Development Centre have spent long hours in the lab to reconstitute two of the flax varieties that have been the most popular in the past: CDC Bethune and CDC Sorrel. (Originally, there had been plans to add “14” after the names of these two varieties next year to indicate that they’ve been reconstituted. That plan has gone by the wayside.) Both Bethune and Sorrel varieties are distributed by SeCan. Before the Triffid issue, says Todd Hyra, SeCan’s business manager for Western Canada, “Bethune and Sorrel were the two market leaders.” Together, these two varieties made up about 75 per cent of the market. SeCan will also have two new GM-free varieties on the market

Millions of acres of flax seeded in Canada Other provinces


1.8 1.6 1.4 1.2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 2009





Source: Statistics Canada, Field and Special Crops, Sept. 6, 2013; Saskatchewan Agriculture, 2013 July Estimate of Production

out, I’m sure,” he says. “The supplies are better on Sorrel.” “All of these have been in tests for the last while. In terms of overall yield, they’re very similar. Each one offers a slightly different benefit.” “Sorrel has the largest seed. That makes harvest easier. But Sanctuary will fit in the drier areas.” Glas is a higher yielder overall, with strong straw. However, it has a bit smaller seed. “Each one’s got it’s fit,” says Hyra.

Other varieties Not all flax seed varieties needed to be reconstituted. “The Crop Development Centre varieties are the ones that were reconstituted,” says Linda Braun, executive director of SaskFlax. Seed from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Viterra breeding programs didn’t come down through the same breeding pool,

and were never contaminated “Any certified seed from any of those other sources was fine. They’ve always tested negative,” Braun says. SaskFlax is confident that seed supplies will be strong for 2014, and that there will be enough seed available for the organization to meet its goal of one million acres of flax seeded in Saskatchewan next spring. Braun says SaskFlax was happy with the way the industry cooperated in the wake of the 2009 GM incident. “We’re quite happy,” Braun says. “It’s been a long process.”

Problem solved? With the EU’s tolerance level set near zero, ensuring that all traces of Triffid flax are completely removed from the system will be a challenge. Hyra believes it’s a challenge the industry can meet.

The amazing thing is, the whole industry’s been really cooperative on this one.” To make sure the system can be successfully rebooted, Hyra says, “everybody along the way has taken their lumps.” This included seed growers and farmers who had saved flax seed for their own use. “SeCan seedgrowers had to dump seed stock of old supply and old breeder seed.” To make sure that no Triffidinfected seed finds it’s way into the system, Hyra says, “the final push has got to be farmer-to-farmer.” For 2014, Braun says, “the farm stewardship program will still take effect. We still have to test that flax before going into the ground if you’re not using certified seed.” This program will be in place for at least another couple of years, Braun says, “to ensure our buyers that the protocol is being followed.” † Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews.

New Viterra varieties


iterra will have two new traditional brown flax varieties on the market in 2014. WestLin 70 is a traditional brown seed flax variety. Its yield is similar to Bethune. Ryan McCann, Viterra Generics’ seed commercialization manager, says “it has a larger seed size compared to other varieties.” WestLin 70 will be available from seed growers, or Viterra retails. WestLin 71 is also a traditional brown seed flax variety. McCann says WestLin 71 “was yielding about 103 per cent of Bethune last year.” However, he says, “it’s a little bit shorter than Bethune. Obviously, for guys that don’t like dealing with flax straw, that would be an advantage.” WestLin 71 will be available from seed growers. Seed supplies of both WestLin varieties should be very good, McCann says, “based on what we know today.”

Viterra is also continuing to offer its identity preserved yellow seed flax, NuLin VT50. This variety offers high omega3 content — 25 per cent higher than CDC Bethune. For farmers, McCann says, “its claim to fame is the premiums attached to it, as well as the yield over Bethune.” Farmers can only grow this variety though closedloop contracts with Viterra. McCann says there is increased end-use demand for NuLin. For 2014, he says, “we’re looking at substantial growth on the NuLin product.” For future years, Viterra is working on northern adapted flax varieties. McCann says Viterra’s flax breeder, Michelle Beaith, is focused on expanding the traditional flax-growing area, so Viterra will one day be able to offer farmers outside of these areas another oilseed option to fit into their rotations.

“Early maturity is one of the focuses, but not forgetting about increasing yields as well,” McCann says. “We’ve got testing happening in the northern parts of Western Canada to find varieties for that fit.” Many flax varieties will stay green for a long time, or the bolls will ripen before the stems. Beaith is trying to find a solution for farmers. “She’s trying to find varieties that have good stem drydown as well as the bolls.” While aspects of this work have found their way into current offerings from Viterra, and McCann says they have some varieties in co-op selection, he says, “We still have some work to really get that early, early maturing type.” As for Triffid, none of the varieties from the Viterra breeding program have had GM issues. “None of our varieties had to be reconstituted,” McCann says. † Leeann Minogue

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /



Bringing soybeans to the field Soybean acreage in Manitoba and Saskatchewan has rocketed up in recent years. Most of this growth is due to Ron Gendzelevich BY MELANIE EPP


f you ask western Canadian farmers when soybeans were first commercially grown in Manitoba, most would probably guess sometime around 1998. But soybeans have actually been grown in Manitoba for much longer than that — since 1992. Their numbers have increased dramatically with thanks almost entirely to one man, Ron Gendzelevich, owner and President of Quarry Seeds.

After testing them for three years, he finally settled on soybeans and canary seed. At that time, Gendzelevich’s 40 acres of soybeans represented half of Manitoba’s entire market. “I believe I was 50 per cent of the market share for soybeans,” says Gendzelevich. “There were approximately 80 acres growing that year, and I had 40 acres of it. So it gives you an idea of where we were.”


Ron Gendzelevich, founder of Quarry Seeds, once grew 50 per cent of the soybeans in Manitoba. Now soybeans are a major part of the provincial farm economy.

Although Gendzelevich comes from a farming background, he did not inherit his family farm. Instead, he built his own dream, starting from nothing. After graduating with a degree in plant science from the University of Manitoba in 1981, he worked for a number of agri-businesses, including Cargill. Eventually, in 1989, he bought a small farm northeast of Stonewall, Man., and started experimenting with cash crops, including corn, soybeans, navy beans, canary seed and lentils.

“Agronomy is the big driver for yields.”

— Rod Gendzelevich Since that time, soybean acres have exploded in Manitoba. According to Statistics Canada, on the national level, soybean area rose 10.5 per cent from 2012 to 2013, reaching a record area of 4.6 million acres in 2013. Interestingly, though, soybean acres in Ontario,

where most Canadian soybeans are grown, declined by 1.5 per cent to 2.6 million acres. The most substantial increase was seen in Manitoba, where acreage is up 35.6 per cent. In fact, it is the sixth consecutive increase in soybean area for Manitoba.

AGRONOMICS Back in 1992, Manitoba soybeans amounted to a shockingly low 80 acres in total. Why weren’t Manitobans embracing soybeans the way farmers out east were? It comes down to agronomics, says Gendzelevich. Manitoba’s highly calcareous colder soils were inhibiting inoculant development on soybean plants. On top of that, Manitoba soil tends to be very moist in the spring, which is not desirable for soybean rhizobium development. It means less nodulation, and therefore, lower yields. “I was very much struggling with how to properly get these beans to nodulate,” says


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OCTOBER 7, 2013

Features » CONTINUED FROM Previous PAGE Gendzelevich. “It took several years to catch on.” While Gendzelevich was getting advice “from all over the place,” none of it truly addressed his needs, until someone out of Ontario suggested he use a liquid and peat combination. “Finally, after a lot of frustration — using liquids, liquids and peats, doubling up the liquids, and doubling up the liquids and peats — it got a little bit better, but it still wasn’t quite there. It wasn’t until about five years later that finally I stumbled onto the fact that there was another formulation of inoculant. It was called granular inoculant.” That was in 1996. With granular inoculant, yields bumped from 24 to 28 bushels per acre to about 38 bu./acre. “The key thing we noticed is that the nodulation was intense. It was just loaded with so many nodules that you couldn’t count them. And it was reflected in the plant growth and the plant health and development.”

Promotion All along, as Gendzelevich worked for other companies, he was promoting the possibility of soybean crops in Manitoba. “It wasn’t until about 1998 or 1999 that the seed growers in the local area started to embrace it,” says Gendzelevich. By 2002, farmers and deal-

ers started to introduce better agronomic practices, such as granular inoculants with liquid, but they were still nowhere near perfect. Soybean area in Manitoba at the time was just breaking the 100,000-acre mark. “There was a lot of success in the late 1990s and early 2000s where the beans were yielding just below 32, maybe as high as 40 bushels, and that was good,” says Gendzelevich. “The variety selection had something to do with that too. Instead of having maybe one or two varieties to choose from, you had a half a dozen or better that were good, viable varieties.” In  2002,  Gendzelevich decided to quit working for other people and started his own company: Quarry Seed. “It wasn’t until about 2004 — and in that time period of time, I was actively looking for better ideas and also a chance to somehow redefine our company. And one of the things I noticed was that there were Roundup Ready soybeans in the States being grown.” Gendzelevich says that weed control was soybeans’ other weakness. “Conventional chemistry had a tendency to be a little weak at best. And soybeans were notorious for being a little dirty with weeds. I thought a Roundup Ready package would make growing soybeans more attractive because beans are relatively non-competitive at the early stages of its development.”

Ron Gendzelevich is positive about the future of soybeans in Western Canada. Finally, after several meetings with key individuals in the U.S., Quarry, in conjunction with Thunder Seeds out of Fargo, North Dakota, succeeded in getting a license to market Roundup Ready soybeans from Monsanto in 2005. At the time, though, there was a major lack of information from extension organizations — a source of constant frustration for growers. “There was no real pertinent information with regards to seeding rates and seeding dates, fertility and fungicides and all that kind of stuff,” says Gendzelevich. In 2006, Gendzelevich took

matters into his own hands and invested in putting up replicated agronomic trials on a five-acre site at Oakville, Man. Wi t h o u t   t h i s   i n f o r m a t i o n , making recommendations to Manitoba farmers was nearly impossible. Gendzelevich invited farmers to come and see the results of the trials for themselves at an event he calls the Valley Soybean Expo. Hosted by Quarry Seed, each year, some 200 to 250 farmers visit the Expo to learn more about growing soybeans successfully. “Now we taken it even further where we have approximately six to eight other replicated sites throughout Manitoba and Saskatchewan where we continue to do the fine-tuning where there are regional differences with regards to best agronomic practices that should be adopted by farmers,” says Gendzelevich. “We’ve found, in most cases, that agronomy is the big driver for yields.” Quarry Seed’s replicated trials can be found in Niverville, Stonewall, Beausejeur, Morris and Altona, Man., as well as Saltcoats, Regina and Halbrite, Sask.

Marketing soybeans While one would think that the marketing side of things would be more challenging than the agronomic side, the opposite is true when it comes to soybean production in Manitoba. In fact, Gendzelevich

says there were very few issues when it came to marketing. “Back then, because beans were new, the existing grain companies didn’t want to tie up bins in their elevator facilities, so a lot of the soybeans ended up getting directly shipped down into the States,” says Gendzelevich. Later, elevator companies started to get involved, but they graded the beans very cautiously, creating a new for small independent grain buyers to get involved to help that process. Soybeans are still shipped directly to the U.S., but close to half are now shipped by rail out west to Vancouver and Portland for export, as well. Gendzelevich is positive about the future of soybeans in Western Canada. He believes that Manitoba will eventually level off at the two million acre mark, while acres will continue to increase in both Saskatchewan  and  Alberta, although Alberta’s cooler overnight temperatures make growing soybeans there more challenging. As for Quarry Seed, they currently have 10 full-time staff and show no signs of slowing down. Gendzelevich hopes to increase his reach, ever so slowly, into the neighbouring provinces, and recently received his Roundup Ready corn license. † Melanie Epp is a freelance writer who specializes in writing web copy for small businesses. She is based in Guelph, Ont., and can be found online at

EXTENDED OUTLOOK FOR THE PRAIRIES Weather Forecast for the period of September 29 to October 26, 2013

Southern Alberta

Peace River Region Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 Fair, seasonal to mild. A couple of frosty nights. Look for one or two days with rain mixed at times with snow.

Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 Fair, seasonal to mild. A couple of frosty nights. Look for one or two days with rain mixed at times with snow, mostly west and north.

Oct. 6 - 12 Often fair and seasonable, but cooler outbreaks bring intermittent rain, except wet snow at higher levels.

Oct. 6 - 12 Often fair and seasonable, but cooler outbreaks bring intermittent rain, except wet snow at higher levels and north. Frosty nights.

Oct. 13 - 19 Temperatures vary but will average near normal. Expect variable weather from fair and mild to wet and cool. Blustery. Chance of wet snow.

Oct. 13 - 19 Temperatures vary but average near normal. Variable weather from fair and mild to wet and cool. Chance of wet snow mainly west and north.

Oct. 20 - 26 Fair overall, seasonable but cooler spells bring rain on a couple of days, with a chance of heavier snow. Windy at times. Cool.

Oct. 20 - 26 Fair overall, seasonable but cooler spells bring rain on a couple of days, with a chance of heavier snow. Windy at times.

2 / 13 Grande Prairie 21.7 mms


Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 Mainly fair with seasonable temperatures, but expect intermittent rain on a couple of days. Chance wet snow north. Windy at times.

Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 Highs often in the teens under fair skies, but expect rain and windy conditions on 2 or 3 days. Windy. Oct. 6 - 12 Unsettled as mild and dry days alternate with cool, wet days. Windy from time to time. Frost.

Oct. 6 - 12 Often fair, seasonal in the south but unsettled on 2 or 3 days with cool, wet and blustery periods. Periodic snow, frost north.

Oct. 13 - 19 Mostly fair, but periodic heavier rain on a couple of days in the south, with seasonal to occasionally cool temperatures.

Oct. 13 - 19 Look for changeable weather and temperatures from fair and mild to wet and cool. Chance of heavy rain. Windy.

Oct. 20 - 26 Weather and temperatures fluctuate from fair and seasonal to wet and cool. Chance of heavy precipitation. Occasional snow north.

Oct. 20 - 26 Variable from mild to cool under windy conditions. Unsettled as fair weather alternates with occasional rain.

Precipitation Forecast 0 / 14 Edmonton 17.3 mms

1 / 13 Jasper

30.9 mms


1 / 13

30.3 mms


2 / 14 North Battleford 0 / 16 Red Deer 20.2 mms

2 / 15 Calgary

Forecasts should be 80% accurate, but expect variations by a day or two because of changeable speed of weather systems.


15.5 mms

3 / 17 Medicine Hat 19mms cms Lethbridge 15.5 15.9 mms 26 cms 3 / 17

3 / 11 The Pas

0 / 13 Prince Albert

13.6 mms

2 / 15 Saskatoon 16.9 mms

21.6 mms


2 / 14 Yorkton

1 / 15 24.5 mms 3 / 16 Regina Moose Jaw 20.3 mms

2 / 15 Swift 18.3 mms Current 17.5 mms

Precipitation Outlook For October

33.2 mms

1 / 15 Weyburn 19.7 mms 2 / 15 Estevan 21.3 mms

2 / 15 Dauphin

31.2 mms

Much Above Normal Below Much above normal normal below normal normal

2 / 14 Gimli

39.8 mms

2 / 16 1 / 15 Portage 3 / 15 Brandon 32.7 mms Winnipeg 22.2 mms

Melita 1 / 16

28.2 mms

29.5 mms

Temperatures are normals for October 1st averaged over 30 years. Precipitation (water equivalent) normals for Oct. in mms. ©2013 WeatherTec Services

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Features Crop fertility

Busting the soybean fertility myth An Illinois researcher says soybean crops don’t leave excess nitrogen in the soil for next year’s crop By Scott Garvey


think the way we’re fertilizing soybeans is atrocious,” said Dr. Fred Belows, a professor and researcher at the University of Illinois. “Soybean does not add nitrogen to the soil. That’s another one of those urban legends.” Addressing those comments to a group of farm journalists, Dr. Belows was a guest speaker at Case IH’s 2014 model-line launch in Denver, Colorado this past August. He presented a summary of his extensive research into crop production and fertility. Although all of his work has been done in Illinois, many of his findings are applicable to crop production, here, on the Canadian prairie. His most surprising statements were on soybeans and the apparent misconception held by many producers that those crops don’t need nitrogen fertilization. Soybean, like alfalfa and other legumes, develops nodules on its roots that can fix atmospheric nitrogen and supply some of the plant’s fertilizer needs. But unlike the expectation with alfalfa, Belows said don’t expect soybean plants to produce an excess of nitrogen, let alone meet all their own needs.

Fertility management “One of the reasons farmers don’t fertilize soybeans is because it can get some of its nitrogen from the environment, from the nodules,” he said. “We used to think for every bushel of soybean we got a pound of nitrogen in the soil. It’s the other way around. For every bushel of soybean you produce, you remove a pound of nitrogen from the soil.” So, the reality, according to Belows, is farmers who want to maximize soybean yields will need to apply extra nitrogen. “Soybeans only get about 50 per cent of the nitrogen they need from the nodules,” he said. “The rest has to come from the soil. And soybeans is a crop that requires a large amount of nitrogen.” But applying too much can delay or even prevent the formation of nitrogen-fixing nodules, and producers will loose the benefit of plant-produced, free fertilizer. “It’s one of those cases when you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” he continued. “Because if you put too much nitrogen on those plants, it will prevent nodule development or shut them right down if they’ve already developed.” And Belows thinks overall fertility management on farms for all crop types may need to be rethought. “Soil testing was calibrated to yield in the ’60s,” he explained. “They’ve used the same recommendations for the last 50 years. In the ’60s, in the U.S., the average (corn) yield was 60 or 70 bushels per acre, 18,000 plants per acre. Now we’re growing double that yield with twice the plants.” Rather than rely on soil test data, Belows believes developing a better understanding of plants’ fertilizer needs and developing application strategies to better suit them is what’s needed to boost future yields. That involves knowing when

nutrients absorbed and where they are required in the plant. “You’re going to have to take advantage of technology to feed the plant what it needs when it needs it. I think you’re going to have to take a feedthe-plant approach.”

Six secrets to success Below’s research is aiming to increase soybean yields in Illinois by 25 per cent by the year 2020. To achieve that, he has developed a trial program he calls “Six secrets of soybean success.” Each of those six secrets is a factor that boosts — or limits — crop yields. First, is weather. But it’s something farmers can’t control.

Second, is soil fertility. Belows believes the fertility regime used by many farmers needs to be reevaluated, ensuring plants have access to adequate nitrogen and phosphorus. Third, is crop variety. Belows’ research has shown that yields can vary by up to 20 bushels per acre on the same fields simply because of variety selection. That is due mostly to varying disease resistance. Fourth, is applying fungicides when necessary. Keeping photosynthetic activity going strong in the plant’s leaves during pod filling is essential to maximizing yields. Fifth, is applying seed treatments. Ensuring early emer-

gence and early season vigor is important. Young plants that suffer early stress cannot make up for that later in the season. “Apparently plants sense their fertility earlier than we realized and they make irrevocable growth decisions,” said Belows. “It’s all about rapid growth right from the start, because you can never make up for lost yield.” Sixth, is row spacing. When planted at a reduced seeding rate, rows of about 15-inches allow for more space between plants within a row and increased branching. However, placing rows that closely can also promote more disease pressure due to reduced air circulation.

Dr. Fred Belows is a professor and researcher at the University of Illinois. For more information on Dr. Below’s research visit the website http://cropphysiology.cropsci. html. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

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More and more people are talking about Ares™ herbicide for Clearfield® canola. And smart growers are listening. Because only Ares controls the toughest flushing weeds and keeps them from coming back. Which means you save time and money in the process. So go ahead, and tell every canola grower you know. They’ll thank you for it, providing you don’t overdo it. To find out more visit or contact AgSolutions® Customer Care at 1-877-371-BASF (2273).

Always read and follow label directions. AgSolutions is a registered trade-mark of BASF Corporation; Clearfield and the unique Clearfield symbol are registered trade-marks and ARES is a trade-mark of BASF Agrochemical Products B.V.; all used with permission by BASF Canada Inc. © 2013 BASF Canada.

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2013-09-17 10:44 AM

newsprint - 240 ink density



OCTOBER 7, 2013


Barley bred in Alberta The first malting barley bred by the Alberta government was released to farmers in 2013 BY REBECA KUROPATWA


entley barley, a variety bred for its malting properties, was introduced into the marketplace this year after Canada Malting contracted 30,000 tons of it to Alberta and Saskatchewan farmers. This is the first malt barley bred by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) to be commercially contracted for malt. Dr. Patricia Juskiw, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development barley breeder with the Field Crop Development Centre at Lacombe, Alta., is originally from Manitoba.

While in Manitoba, she worked with Dr Metcalfe at the Winnipeg Research Station, spurring her love of working with barley. Juskiw then took a job in Alberta, working in agronomy, before returning to her passion of working with barley and becoming a barely breeder.

BENTLEY BARLEY Bentley barley is a two-row, hulled, malting barely, first registered in 2008. It consists of a combination of high grain yield and high biomass. “When looking at it in our trials,

we saw it was a variety that always maintained its preset plump,” said Juskiw. “Back then, in 2003-04, we had drought years. And, for the brewing industry, the seed plump is really important.” This was one of the main reasons the researchers decided to continue advancing the variety in their trials. “Going back the to the predecessor variety, Harrington, plumpness was one of its greatest traits,” said Juskiw. “Even in drought years, Harrington was able to maintain its preset plump, although it didn’t have great yields. The other competing

This barley was grown in Wawaneesa, Man. Juskiw believes Benltey will be a good fit for farmers across the Prairies. predecessor was AC Metcalfe which had better yields but sometimes lacked plumpness.” Bentley was found to have five to 10 per cent higher yield than AC Metcalfe (which has

five to 10 per cent higher yield than Harrington). Juskiw and team maintained Bentley’s preset plumps and knew this was a great replacement for Harrington. Other Bentley benefits are

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*Source: 2012 Field-Scale Canola Performance Trials Always follow grain marketing and all other stewardship practices and pesticide label directions. Details of these requirements can be found in the Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers printed in this publication. ©2013 Monsanto Canada, Inc.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Features how it modifies in the malt house and its quality parameters in the brew house, possessing some really nice flavour characteristics. Juskiw and team saw Bentley as a great variety for the craft brewing process, and have also found great interest in Bentley from Canada Malting. “When it comes to regions that are quite warm, where you don’t want to be putting a really hot variety with the conversion time being quit rapid anyway, Bentley’s traits look very good to the malting and brewing industries,” said Juskiw. “Bentley is a great fit for Prairie farmers, as it doesn’t matter where you grow it. It can be in high-yielding soil, high-moisture conditions, or otherwise. This is a variety that maintains its yield, percent plump, and is great quality. It also maintains low protein regardless of growing conditions.”

BENTLEY FOR BEER Low protein is a critical trait for malting purposes, and with Bentley, even if it is a moist year and you have a lot of nitrogen in the soil, it is more likely to maintain its protein content. In wheat, you want high protein, as that is what holds it together. But, in the malt industry, you want just enough and the right protein for the enzymes, so it will break down the grain’s starches and protein. “You want the right amount of enzymes, so they’ll break down the starches and protein into Free Amino Nitrogen (FAN),” said Juskiw. “Nitrogen is the most important nutrient needed to carry out a successful fermentation that doesn’t end prior to the intended point. “This way, the yeast can go a lot faster in converting sugars and amino acids into alcohol, which

is what it’s all about. So, potentially, if you have a grain with the perfect balance, you’d need less of it to create the same amount of alcohol. There is also potential to use more of it and have it as an all-Bentley malt.” Canada Malting has been interested in Bentley for some time now, but within the last two years, they especially view the variety is really fitting into this marketplace. S.A.B. Miller is the second- or third-largest brewing company in the world and they, too, are very interested in Bentley. Canterra Seeds, the seed company that has acquired the rights to market Bentley, is working hard to get those acres up to provide the kind of quality that Canada Malting needs. As well, the Chinese market is interested in the variety. “Something else quite unique about Bentley is we actually put it into forage barley co-ops as well


Bentley barley growing in the Peace River region, just outside Beaverlodge, Alta. as malting co-ops, for its huge biomass shields,” said Juskiw. “So, even if you lose a lot of yield due to hail, it can still be used for silage.” According to Canterra Seeds’ Brent Derkatch, the total acres seeded this past year should have been between 30,000 and 35,000, depending on seeding

It’s all tied up. When it comes to yield supremacy, it’s six of one, half dozen of the other. It’s been talked about, debated, and argued amongst growers across the prairies. When it’s all said and done, according to yield trials, Genuity® Roundup Ready® hybrids yield on par with the competition.* Like all contests this close, the debate rages on... for now.

rates. This would bring the total production to approximately 50,000 tons (1.5 tons per acre), with Canada Malting being the main buyer and the rest sold via other contracts or in the open market. † Rebeca Kuropatwa is a professional writer in Winnipeg, Man.



OCTOBER 7, 2013

Features Crop nutrition

Seed-placed fertilizer safety How much seed-placed fertilizer is safe? Pat Beaujot says any seed-placed fertilizer is risky business By Pat Beaujot


he cold, late spring this year  brought  many farmer questions regarding seed-placed fertilizer and how much starter fertilizer including phosphate (P) could be safely seed-placed. My answer is that with today’s seeding equipment and optimally placed sideband fertilizer, any amount of seed-placed fertilizer is too much! Why risk fertilizer toxicity and jeopardize germination and emergence when you don’t have to? I think the right question to ask is whether we need to risk seedling germination with seedplaced starter fertilizer at all, or can we put all the starter fertilizer in the side band close to the seed and still get the “pop-up effect.” Putting all the fertilizer in the side band simplifies seeding logistics, speeds seeding and can eliminate the risk of seedling toxicity.

Is safe really safe? In canola, the seed-placed challenge is especially difficult as it uses high rates of P but can only tolerate low levels of seed-

placed fertilizer. A 35-bushel per acre canola crop takes up 46 to 57 pounds of phosphate (P205) per acre. However, safe-rate guidelines published by Saskatchewan Agriculture caution that only 25 pounds actual P205 per acre (divide by 0.51 to get pounds of 12-51-0 per acre) can be safely applied in the seed row with a knife opener with a one-inch spread on nine-inch row-spacing. These recommendations are for good to excellent soil moisture and do not include other fertilizers like potassium or sulfur. In order to get the crop out of the ground fast with starter phosphorus and still satisfy the crop’s nutritional requirements, the choice is to either cut back on phosphorus fertilizer to meet safe seedplaced guidelines, which will have negative implications on long term fertility, or put some or all of the starter fertilizer in a sideband. From the research I have seen, and what I have seen in the field, I believe that all of the starter fertilizer can be put in a sideband if the sideband is optimally positioned. First, you need to look at

photo: chris bettschen

Differences in canola growth due to topography and seed-placed starter fertilizer. (Far left — mid-slope. Middle — knolls. Far right — flat ground.) the risk of seed-placed phosphorus on canola germination and emergence. In the Canola Council of Canada’s Growers Manual, research from Agriculture  and  Agri-Food Canada at Beaverlodge, Alta. showed that even small rates

of 10 to 20 pounds of P205 reduced days to emergence and per acent emergence. Just 10 pounds of seed-placed P205per acre increased days to emergence by five days, and 20 pounds increased days to emergence by 10 days. In moist soils, germina-

tion percentage dropped from 100 per cent with no seed-placed fertilizer to slightly over 80 per cent with 10 pounds and to 60 per cent with 20 pounds P205. But with dry soils, germination dropped to 40 per cent at the 20-pound P205 rate.

Runs in the family. There’s no stronger tie than the family who works together on the same land. For them, farming’s a tradition. And although each new generation has their own ideas, there are some things they will be reluctant to change, the things that have consistently performed for them, the things that aren’t broken. InVigor® – proud to be part of your family farm for over 17 years.

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B:22.5” T:22”


OCTOBER 7, 2013 /



4 2 0 -2 -4 -6 -8

P2O5 Range

In the field

B:22.5” T:22”


I have seen the same results in the field. One farmer trial at Bradwell, Saskatchewan used a starter blend for canola of 16-190-19 at a rate of 106 pounds per acre. The field was split with the blend either seed-placed or side-banded three-quarters of an inch below and 1.5 inches to the side of the seed. The field had received 100 pounds nitrogen as anhydrous ammonia the previous fall. In this trial, no differences were observed between the two treatments on overall yield, showing that starter fertilizer doesn’t necessarily have to be with the seed. However, the same farmer used the same fertilizer blend in a seedplacement on a different field with rolling topography. On this field,

the seed-placed fertilizer caused germination and seedling damage on the mid- to upper-slopes where the organic matter was lower and the soil drier. Another trial that we looked at compared seed-placed and side-banded P in a barley crop. Barley is more tolerant of seedrow fertilizer, and safe guidelines are set at 50 pounds actual P2O5 per acre. On this field at Aylsebury, Saskatchewan, the barley crop was seeded on a sandy loam soil and both treatments received 63 lbs of N and 35 lbs of phosphorus. In this trial, the side-banded phosphorus produced a two-bushel per acre advantage over the seedplaced P treatment. The farmer has since moved to side-banding all of his nutrients. †

ne of the pioneers of fertility research in Saskatchewan, Harry Ukrainetz with Agriculture Canada and AgriFood Canada at Saskatoon, looked at the effect of phosphorus placement on canola yield in the ’70s. Ukrainetz compared P placement one-inch below and one-inch to the side of the seed; one inch below the seed; and with the seed. His research clearly showed that seed-placing phosphorus provided some benefit at lower rates of 15 pounds P2O5 per acre, but yield decreased at higher seed-placed phosphorus fertilizer rates. However, when phosphorus fertilizer was banded below and to the side of the seed, yields were about two bushels per acre higher than seed-placed phosphorus fertilizer, and yields

continued to rise with higher rates, providing about five bushels per acre more canola at 35 pounds and six bushels per acre more at 55 pounds P2O5 per acre. In my experience, I think fertilizer placement 1-1/2 inches to the side and 3/4 of an inch below the seed is the sweet spot. This placement helps to ensure that in any soil condition, you can get the seed on firm soil but still be close enough to the fertilizer band. If you look at the research on how much fertilizer phosphorus to put with the seed and how it can affect the time of emergence and germination, it makes very little sense to me to put any significant amount of fertilizer with the seed if you can place starter fertilizer in an optimum side-band position. † Pat Beaujot

Effect of Seed-Placed P Fertilizer on Canola Emergence % Germination

Yield increase in Bu./Ac.



Optimum Phosphorus placement



















Days to emergence

Effect of P Placement on Canola Yield 10


P2O5 Range

Pat Beaujot is the president of Seed Hawk Inc.

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OCTOBER 7, 2013


Growing carinata With new higher-yielding carinata varieties on the market, farmers have another oilseed to add to their rotations BY LISA GUENTHER


n the mid-19th century, Captain John Palliser described the region that now includes southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan as a desert or semi-desert, and deemed the area unsuitable for settlers. Despite climatic limitations, farmers have settled Palliser’s Triangle, and they now have another hardy oilseed to add to their rotations — carinata, also known as Ethiopian mustard. Dr. Kevin Falk describes cari-

nata as a Palliser-type crop. Falk, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon, has been working with carinata since the mid-’90s. “The idea was to develop another oilseed or mustard for Western Canada to sort of broaden the scope that farmers had access to in field crops,” says Falk. “And it didn’t take long for us to realize that it was very drought and heat tolerant.”

CHANGING THE PROFILE Researchers pushed the oil content from the low 30 per

cent range to 44 per cent. They also wanted to change the oil profile. “We found by looking at the germplasm that we actually had a good number of lines that had very high erucic acid. So we decided that would be the route,” says Falk. “And that sort of lays the stage for a number of industrial applications it can go in, whether they be fuel, bio-plastics, lubricants, and those sorts of things.” Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. has been working with Agriculture Canada, and has commercially launched two carinata varieties


Carinata nursery plots at AAFC Research Farm in Saskatoon.

— Resonance AAC A100 and AAC A110. According to the latest carinata production manual, available online at Agrisoma. com, both varieties yield 18 per cent over the checks, which were AC Vulcan and Cutlass oriental mustard. Agrisoma rolled out AAC A110 this spring, and a media release states the newer variety yielded seven per cent more, on average, than the older carinata variety in performance trials. Falk says the varieties are quite similar. But the glucosinolate content is a little bit lower in A110, which opens up doors for meal utilization, says Falk. “The glucosinolates are an anti-nutritive when it comes to feeding. And the lower those are, the better off we are.” Researchers are already developing inbred lines, in preparation for developing hybrid varieties. They hope to be field testing hybrids in the next three years. “The future seems bright. I think there are a lot of uses for it. It fits nicely with the canola world because we’re not moving into the areas that are typically used for canola production,” says Falk.

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Carinata production isn’t restricted to the Palliser Triangle. It has been successfully grown as far east as the Maritimes. But Falk says Saskatoon is probably the northern fringe of where carinata should be grown, as it needs plenty of heat to BY DAN PIRARO


OCTOBER 7, 2013 /



Researchers have pushed the oil content of carinata from the 30 per cent range to 44 per cent. mature. Maturation grinds to a halt during extended cool, wet periods, though desiccants are an option. Carinata generally matures within a week of Argentine canola. But with the heat that saturated Saskatchewan this summer, the carinata was two to three weeks ahead of where it typically is. “It takes advantage of the heat,” Falk said. Carinata seems to manage with wet feet, too. The Saskatoon research farm was drenched in rain over two or three weeks this June. Falk says they lost a lot of material from the various Brassica species, but the carinata fared better than most. “We’re not quite sure why, but it seems to tolerate excess moisture and uses it,” says Falk. Falk says carinata is grown much like Argentine canola. “Seeding depth, all those sorts of things, are exactly the same.” Eric Johnson is currently working on a herbicide package at Agriculture Canada’s Scott Research Farm, Falk says. Meanwhile, the production manual suggests considering preseed burn-offs and crop rotations to manage weeds. Controlling weeds in crops preceding carinata is also an important strategy. If stands are well-established, the oilseed should be able to contend with most weeds, the manual states. Researchers are also working on clubroot resistance. Sclerotinia hasn’t been a serious problem for carinata so far, but the production manual recommends proper crop rotations to disrupt disease cycles. Carinata is immune to the blackleg races that are prevalent in Western Canada, Falk says. “We do have issues with alternaria, but we can select against it. We have quite a bit of variation,” says Falk. When it comes to harvest, farmers should wait until the entire plant has dried down, even if the seeds seem ready. Combining carinata with green stems will plug the combine, slow harvest, and suck up power, the production manual explains. Carinata can be straight cut. “It doesn’t shell very easily. You need pretty much a gale force wind to knock this material over or for it to shell out,” Falk says. † Lisa Guenther is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa.

Dr. Kevin Falk, AAFC Research Farm in Saskatoon says carinata is grown much like Argentine canola.

Carinata generally matures within a week of Argentine canola.

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OCTOBER 7, 2013


Get free information

The Canada Grain Commission offers free grading for farmers who take the time to send in a sample. Send yours in soon


very year the Canadian Grain Commission runs its Harvest Sample Program: a voluntary program that gives farmers free, unofficial CGC grade and quality results, and gives marketers information they can use to sell Canadian grain.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? Submit your sample by November 1 and get back a sample report that includes: • For cereal grains and pulses: protein content; • For canola: dockage assessment (that’s new for this year), and oil, protein and chlorophyll content; • For flax: oil and protein content and iodine value; • For soybeans and mustard: oil and protein content. You won’t get an official grade — the sample you send in won’t meet the minimum weight requirement (1,000 grams), dockage isn’t retained and you collect your own sample rather than a CGC grain inspector. But even an unofficial grade can be useful when you’re dealing with a buyer. Twylla McKendry, program manager of the analytical services crop section at the CGC’s Grain Research

Laboratory, says this can be very useful for farmers who are “shopping around” for a buyer for their grain. “We’re a third party, unbiased,” she says. And, she says, “This is free.”

WHY IS THE GOVERNMENT GIVING ME A FREE SERVICE? The CGC wants to use your samples. • They’ll use your samples to look at the effectiveness of current grain grading factors, and maybe make revisions to reflect processors’ needs. • They’ll use your samples to research grading factors, and, ultimately, find new markets for Canadian grain. • McKendry says the program is also helpful for end users. “It’s benefitting people in China, Japan, or wherever. They’re going to our website.” There, they’ll find information about the quality of the Canadian crop. With this information, she says, “they know they can get consistency from Canada.”

DO THEY REALLY NEED ME? McKendry says they always need all of the samples they can get. In years when crops are generally good, she says, “producers may not send in their samples because they know they have


Sample packages sent out

Packages Returned

Number of farmers returning samples





















* as of September 18, 2013. Source: Twylla McKendry, CGC top grades. But we still need these samples to ensure adequate representation for protein and quality assessment of the new crop.”

“We always need more producers to sign up.”

— Twylla McKendry The CGC hopes to get enough samples to make sure all areas of the Prairies are fairly represented. But, McKendry says, “We always seem to struggle to get enough samples from Alberta.” The CGC also needs enough

Breaking the yield Barrier 1-800-265-7403

samples of each type of crop for fair representation. “As a rule we don’t see enough mustard, flax, soybeans, or the smaller class wheat: red winter, Canada Prairie red and white, soft white spring, as well as pulse crops — peas, lentils, and chickpeas.” McKendry says, “We always need more producers to sign up, we lose some of our dedicated producers each year, because they are no longer farming.” This year, she says, samples are trickling in more slowly than usual. As of September 18, she had only received 749 samples. Of these, only 300 are red spring wheat. “Last year at this time,” she says, “I had 2,000 samples of red spring.” Without more samples, it will be difficult for the CGC to make an accurate estimate of Prairie protein samples. This low submission level is likely due to a late harvest

in many areas, and there is still plenty of time for farmers to participate.

HOW DO I GET A KIT? Ideally, you should sign up for your kit by October 15 to ensure that you can get your sample in by November 1. Online, at www.grainscanada., use the search feature and type “harvest sample kit.” You’ll find a link to an online form. Once you get your kit, you’ll have directions about where to send it. (Over the last three years, less than half of the kits that were sent our were returned with samples. Don’t be part of this statistic.) Once your sample has been evaluated, you can get the results online, by phone, or by email. † Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews.

HylandTM and the Hyland Seeds logo are trademarks of Dow AgroSciences LLC. 09/13-20278-02 GN


OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Features Soil management

Diversity in the soil A teaspoon of soil might just look like dirt, but soil scientists see a complex ecosystem affected by everything from crop rotations to fertilizer By Lisa Guenther


sing DNA technology, researchers are finding that microbial diversity in the sea is huge, said Dr. Marcia Monreal, soil microbiology scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. “But (their results) suggest the diversity in the soil is much larger.” Monreal explained that there is a food chain in the soil that includes bacteria plus other creatures such as fungi, nematodes and micro arthropods. “It’s a very dynamic system,” said Monreal. Plant roots discharge substances such as sugar, acid, polysaccharides and enzymes. Different plants release different materials into the soil, Monreal explained. These substances boost some populations over others. “But that doesn’t mean the other populations aren’t there. They just go dormant.” Monreal said some fungal spores, for example, can be dormant for 50 years before germinating. The plant root itself also affects soil ecosystems. “For example, legumes (roots) are soft and mushy and others have far more fiber. So with fiber you would be stimulating a different type of microbe, like fungi that could produce cellulose.”

sampling a few centimetres from the roots, they have found microbial populations responding differently to crop rotations. But Monreal said they haven’t seen clear results in how crop rotations affect specific soil species, with the exception of mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizal fungus grafts onto flax roots and scavenges nutrients and water for the plant. Plants such as canola and mustard don’t host mycorrhizae, and so planting flax the following year cuts the flax’s ability to take in nutrients. But preceding flax with a

mycorrhiza host, such as wheat, barley or a legume, ensures there’s plenty of mycorrhiza for the flax to work with. Monreal said, based on her experience, a crop can affect the soil ecosystem even after one year of a rotation. A consistent rotation may yield more long-term changes that are slow to happen, as microbe populations change with time. One population will benefit and grow very quickly on its favourite substrate, but then it decays, Monreal explained. “And then another one takes the

opportunity, and the other takes the opportunity, and you end up with a very different population.” Because soils are complex ecosystems, studying one species in isolation is ineffective. For example, one year Monreal expected to see more mycorrhizal activity in a zero tillage field. But rain created the perfect conditions for mites and other soil creatures that feed on mycorrhizae spores, reining in mycorrhiza numbers.

Soil management Farmers need to know how crop rotations and other management practices, such as tillage and fertilizer application, affect soil populations, Monreal said. “There are many management techniques. For example, in flax you may not need to apply phosphorus if the previous crop was properly fertilized.” If micorrhizal fungi are present, they will rummage through the soil for phos-

phate. There seems to be little benefit to applying phosphorus fertilizer to flax unless the soil is deficient. The soil ecosystem was a research focus in the 1980s and 1990s, Monreal said. “There was a lot of work done and people were trying to explain these things in a very rational, careful way.” Monreal said the John Innes Centre research is important and comments the scientists are on the right track. “Diversity in the soil could provide a lot of answers.” But Monreal said researchers are just scratching the surface in terms of understanding the soil ecosystem and its population dynamics. What’s needed next is for researchers to not only look at the details but also the broad picture, Monreal added. “It’s a very complex, interesting world. We haven’t been able to tackle it (just yet).” † Lisa Guether is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa.

Pencil out a NexeraTM canola contract for at least 500 acres before November 29th – and get a $1000 Signing Bonus. Pencil it out anyway you want. nexera canola makes you more, thanks to healthier premiums, performance and demand for heart-healthy omega-9 oils. See your nexera crusher or retailer. or visit Nexera RR Hybrids rank HigHest in grower satisfaction†.

U.K. research Recent research out of the United Kingdom gives us a glimpse into the soil ecosystem, and how agronomic practices affect it. Scientists with the John Innes Centre sampled soil from a Norfolk-area field. They then planted wheat, oats and peas in the field and took more samples after four weeks. “The soil around the roots was similar before and after growing wheat, but peas and oats re-set the diversity of microbes,” said Dr. Philip Poole, in a media release from the John Innes Centre. The soil in the area where wheat was grown mostly contained bacteria. Oats and peas grown in the same area bumped up protozoa and nematode worm numbers. Peas grown alone increased fungi. Researchers also seeded an oat variety that doesn’t produce normal levels of avenacin, which protects roots from fungus. They thought there would be more fungi in the soil samples as a result. But the soil included a more diverse population of protozoa and other eukaryotes. Eukaryotes include plants, animals and fungi. Researchers at the John Innes Centre are also looking at how to develop cereals that form a relationship with the same bacteria that allow peas to fix nitrogen. “Small changes in plant genotype can have complex and unexpected effects on soil microbes surrounding the roots,” said Poole. Monreal and her colleagues have studied the effect of crop rotation on soil dwellers such as mycorrhiza and bacteria. By soil

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OCTOBER 7, 2013

Features International farming

Lending a farm hand Steven Sirksi describes his working holiday in Australia, and tells you how you can get a job on a farm Down Under Steven Sirski


he  working  holiday scheme  demonstrates that it doesn’t take much to travel. Although you will have to front the cost of the visa and airfare, once you lock in your job, especially on a farm, you’ll find that you’re able to repay your debts fairly quickly. (The visa and the airfare are both tax deductible.) I worked a total of three jobs and travelled for a few weeks throughout Australia before flying over to the beaches of Bali, Indonesia. My first job was as a farm hand and chaser bin driver for the grape harvest. Unlike grain harvesters that carry their own hopper bin, the grape harvester does not. Instead, the grape harvester shakes the grape vines onto a series of conveyor belts, which drop them into a chaser bin one row over. Where grape harvesting is similar to grain harvesting is the need to get the crop off in good time. Often the farmer is given a specific time to deliver the grapes to the winery. One load (nine bins) can take two to three hours to harvest before the truck (semi) can depart. My second and third jobs involved driving seeder rigs for the extensive cropping program in West Australia. Seeding in Australia is pretty similar to seeding in Canada, except it’s warmer in Australia. If you’re from the

The STX 375 pulled a DBS Auseeder bar with a three-compartment tank for seed, liquid and granular fertilizer. We seeded clover, canola, oats, barley, and wheat in West Australia. Prairies, you might want to get some practice on hills before you go — some of the hills in West Australia can be pretty steep. Other than that, bring your mp3 player because some fields can be quite large — several hundred hectares long. Just remember to stay alert for the one electrical pole in the middle of the field. Most of the machinery they use in Australia is imported from North America. The tractors were

John Deere or New Holland and came in all shapes and sizes. Implements were usually from Canada (Bourgault) or Australia (DBS Auseeder). Most were purchased within the last few years and it’s rare that you’ll be using equipment much older than that.

All work, no play? Australia offers plenty of attractions and activities, ranging from

off-road driving to scuba and sky diving and numerous natural landscapes from Ayers Rock to the Great Barrier Reef. If you find you’re spending too much day by day you can always fly to Bali, Indonesia or anywhere else in Southeast Asia for a few hundred dollars (Thailand springs to mind). In Australia, you might spend about $100 a day; in most parts of southeast Asia you will only spend about $30 to $50 a day, and that’s being adventurous. Less if all you want to do is simply lie on the beach all day. But I’m not a under 31 anymore! That’s okay. New Zealand will take you until you’re 35.

Pre-trip checklist There are a few things you’ll need to do before you start running the tractor on an Australian farm.

Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers

1.  Get a visa: You can apply online for a visa that allows you to enter and exit Australia as much as you like. au/visitors/working-holiday/417/ apply-online.htm. This process only works if you’re between 18 and 30. Make sure you apply before you turn 31. Once your visa has been issued, you have one year to enter Australia. This means you can apply before you turn 31 and enter before you’re 32. If you’ve already missed the deadline, don’t worry. New Zealand will take you until you’re 35. 2.  Count your money: You may need to prove that you have a minimum of $5,000 AUD as you enter Australia. (This is about $4,800 Canadian dollars.) Bring a bank statement just in case. 3.  Buy plane tickets: I use


Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. This product has been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Acceleron® seed treatment technology for corn is a combination of four separate individuallyregistered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, trifloxystrobin, ipconazole, and clothianidin. Acceleron® seed treatment technology for canola is a combination of two separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients difenoconazole, metalaxyl (M and S isomers), fludioxonil, thiamethoxam, and bacillus subtilis. Acceleron and Design®, Acceleron®, DEKALB and Design®, DEKALB®, Genuity and Design®, Genuity Icons, Genuity®, RIB Complete and Design®, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready 2 Technology and Design®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup Transorb®, Roundup WeatherMAX®, Roundup®, SmartStax and Design®, SmartStax®, Transorb®, VT Double PRO®, YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2®, YieldGard Corn Borer and Design and YieldGard VT Triple® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Used under license. LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design are trademarks of Bayer. Used under license. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Used under license. Respect the Refuge and Design is a registered trademark of the Canadian Seed Trade Association. Used under license. ©2013 Monsanto Canada Inc.

308166_DLG_AZ_AT_CAN_Grainews_152,4x168,3_RZ.indd 1

By Dan Piraro

24.06.13 09:26 10801A-Gen Legal Trait Stewardship-Grainews.indd 7/29/13 1 3:56 PM

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Features or skyscanner. com to find a cheap ticket. Tickets usually remain cheap until three weeks before your planned departure. 4. Go to the bank: When you get there, you’ll need a tax file number (TFN) and a bank account. You can apply for the TFN online, but to get a bank account, you’ll have to apply in person with your passport and one other piece of identification. 5. Find a job: You can search the free, Australian governmentpublished Harvest Trail that lists the various crops and their harvest times (find it online at jobsearch. Or, search Australian newspapers such as Farm Weekly or The West Australian for job listings. 6. Prove your qualifications: You can use your Canadian driver’s license (including Class 1 or 3) for three months in one Australian state before you must apply for an Australian driver’s license. Check the laws and regulations on the Australia state licensing websites. Bring any other certificates you have. 7. Look at your wages: Food and accommodation are usually covered on the farm and you may be given a vehicle for farm use. Low season wages are around $20 per hour and you’ll usually work 40 hours per week. High season wages increase to $25 per hour and you’ll often be working 60+ hours per week with one day off. Most, if not all, employers will pay into what’s called a “super fund.” That’s your pension, which you can claim when your visa expires or is cancelled. 8. Be ready to pay taxes: If you work in one area for six months you will become a resident for tax purposes. That means you qualify for the $18,200 tax-free threshold; anything above that is taxed at 18 per cent. If you move around a lot (from city to city) then you won’t qualify for the tax-free threshold and will be taxed 32.5 per cent on your entire income. 9. Choose the best time to go: The best time to go for good wages and a lot of hours are during the seeding and harvest programs. May until July, then October until December or January for cropping. Grape harvesting begins in February. Livestock work can be found year-round. 10. Remember the weather: Australia’s seasons are opposite Canada’s. Winter falls between June and September. Southern Australia will get cold at night and hot during the day, while northern Australia gets really hot. Snow is rare Down Under, Aussies come to Canada to ski and snowboard! 11. Learn the language: Australians use a few different words than Canadians. A crescent wrench is a “shifter” and a wrench is a “spanner.” A combine is a “harvester.” A single semi-trailer is a “truck,” a two-trailer semi is a “B-double.” A Ford F-150, which we call a truck, is a “ute.” A tool is an “idiot.” Thank you is “ta” in some parts. “Root” doesn’t have anything to do with plants. Fields are “paddocks.” Hills are “undulations.” †

Left: A grape harvester and chaser bin come to the end of a vine row in South Australia. Top right: The grape harvester and chaser bin continue the 3/2 pattern while the runner hitches a ride. Bottom right: Steven Sirski, in front of the Darling Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia.


Anyway you pencil it out,

NexeraTM canola hybrids equal healthier profits. In 2013, Nexera is expected to return over $115 million over and above the value of commodity canola. Since its launch, Nexera has returned over $426 million to Western Canadian growers – with more than half of that coming in the last three years. “The higher returns are being driven by a number of factors,” says Kerry Freeman, Nexera Product Manager, Dow AgroSciences. “Superior canola yields combined with the grower premiums and incentives associated with Nexera canola are increasing returns. Strong market demand by new and growing end-use customers for heart-healthy Omega-9 Oil is also a big factor.” Freeman also points out that the heart-healthy Omega-9 Oil made from high-yielding Nexera canola is the new standard in today’s food industry. And the higher-value, end-use product translates into higher profits at the farm level.

Steven Sirski is a working traveller who has worked on farms in Canada and Australia and taught ESL in South Korea, Cambodia and Ukraine. You can read more about his travels on his website

Higher profitability starts with the proven performance of Nexera canola hybrids New Nexera canola hybrids increase the profitability equation, and the number of Nexera canola acres grown continues to increase year over year. The Nexera canola hybrid Roundup Ready® Series and Clearfield® Series each offer two high-performing hybrids that are changing canola. Their success is driven by a number of factors, including: • next-generation hybrid technology • industry-leading hybrid yields • early- and late-season hybrid vigour • excellent standability • superior disease resistance

Highest in grower satisfaction, too These new hybrids are ideal for growers in the mid and long-season zones who are looking for hybrid yields and higher profit. They offer yield potential equivalent to any competitive canola hybrid, and result in profitability that’s higher than other canola brands. In fact, Nexera RR Hybrids rank highest in grower satisfaction, according to Canola Evaluation and Intentions, Canada, 2012, Stratus Agri-Marketing, Inc. The option of the Roundup Ready or Clearfield weed control system allows Nexera canola growers to choose the system that works best for them. Either way, growers get the advantages of convenience, flexibility and superior weed control from a production system designed to help them make the most of the Nexera canola profit opportunity. For more information on Nexera canola, go to

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OCTOBER 7, 2013


Frozen soils: life under the soil More of our nutrients are lost of snow melt run-off than rain. Researchers are working on ways to lower this loss BY ANDREA HILDERMAN


© 2013  The Mosaic Company. All rights reserved. Fusion is a trademark and MicroEssentials is a registered trademark of   The Mosaic Company. MES-0595

r. B a r b a r a C a d e Menun is a research scientist at the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre (SPARC) at Swift Current, Saskatchewan. A soil scientist by training, Cade-Menum is the “nutrient cycling” scientist at SPARC. This role moves her

beyond traditional soil fertility, and includes nutrient transport from land to water. The focus of her research is to understand how nutrients cycle and move, particularly phosphorus, and to minimize the impacts of agriculture on the environment, especially with respect to water quality. Cade-Menun has been involved in the study of watersheds

and their conservation and is part of a Canada-wide Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) funded study that looks at protecting and managing watersheds and preventing excessive nutrient run-off. The Saskatchewan project started in 2009, and is testing a number of management practices that may help reduce nutrient run-off during the spring snow melt. Her study area is close to

Dr. Barbara Cade-Menun, nutrient cycling research scientist at SPARC. Moosomin, in the Pipestone Creek watershed. “On the Prairies, most of the nutrients get washed off in snow melt run-off, not in rain events as in other parts of Canada or the U.S.,” saysCade-Menun. “Here rain events occur when

plants are actively growing and nutrient run-off is negligible.” Many management practices have been developed to prevent run-off as a result of summer storms. “In the case of summer storms, particulate matter is eroded, which you can see as soil or mud moving in runoff water, for example,” according to Dr. Cade-Menun. “Snow melt is different. In that case, the nutrients are mainly dissolved in the melt water and it’s a lot harder to stop or prevent.” If this project is successful in finding ways to reduce snow melt nutrient run-off, it will not only improve water quality but also reduce farmers’ costs by keeping nutrients on the land where they are needed.


What fertilizer are you using?

Restoring wetlands is one management practice that works particularly in the socalled Prairie Pothole Region of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and South and North Dakota. “These potholes are seasonal and show up as depressions that fill with melt water in the spring,” says Cade-Menun. “Generally farmers have to seed around these water-filled depressions in the spring, but by summer they dry out and show up as bare spots.” Dr. Cade-Menun and her team are only looking at restoring wetlands on pasture. “Although the wetlands would be beneficial for


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griculture and AgriFood Canada’s Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre (SPARC) involves 19 scientists and a research land base of 2,300 hectares at Swift Current, Sask., and 1,300 hectares at Indian Head, Sask. This research centre was first established in 1920 to look at drought, erosion, frost, pests and other agricultural problems in the semiarid climate. Breeding is an important part of SPARC’s research program. AAFC says wheat varieties developed at SPARC are grown on about half of Canada’s wheat acreage. SPARC’s durum wheat varieties are make up more than 90 per cent of Canada’s total durum acreage. SPARC is just one of AAFC’s network of 19 research centres. † Leeann Minogue

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This map shows the Pipestone Creek watershed boundary and the location of the three farms that are cooperating in the studies. Farms M & B are involved in the pasture studies and Farm F in the cropland study. croplands, too, cropland farmers find managing around these seasonal potholes too time-consuming, as well as creating other potential weedy issues later in the season. In many cases, seasonal potholes have already been drained on croplands.” Another management strategy under study on pasture is infield winter bale grazing. Leaving the bales out on the pasture with the cattle is considered beneficial. The cattle would only be brought in if there is extreme weather. There are some savings: bales don’t have to be hauled in, manure does not have to be spread out of corrals after winter and cattle are healthier, not having been clustered together all winter. “In this case, we are really comparing nutrient run-off in the infield grazing situation to the situation where manure is spread in the fall against a summer-grazed pasture,” explains Dr. Cade-Menun. “In both cases — bale-grazing and manure-spreading — we see increased nutrient run-off versus a summer-grazed pasture. Although we have more work to do, we can say that farmers have to be careful where they graze cattle and where they spread manure. If the run-off stays on the land, the pastures will benefit from the nutrients in the runoff. If the run-off is likely to contaminate a domestic water source, a river, stream or lake, then that’s obviously not a good scenario.”

Snow melt water collecting in depressions in crop land.

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CROPLAND MANAGEMENT Turning to croplands, the team is looking at two management strategies. The first is a nutrient reduction strategy that has farmers getting fertilizer recommendations based on soil tests. “Instead of applying all this fertilizer at once, we are having the farmer reduce the recommended amount by one-third,” says Dr. Cade-Menun. “If the crop progresses well and conditions are favourable, a top-dressing can be applied in-crop. However, we haven’t needed to do that yet, mostly due to the weather conditions of the past few years.” The results of this trial are just being analyzed now as the site was not seeded in 2011 due to flooding. “This is a good example of why multi-year experiments are so nec-


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Cattle grazing bales left out in the field as part of the study determining if this practise will have a positive impact on nutrient run-off.

With infield bale grazing, the color of the run-off is decidedly darker that that coming from the summergrazed pasture control. The colour of the water from the bale-grazing sites versus the pasture controls is something Cade-Menun’s group has seen consistently for the three years of this study, as well as from another bale-grazing study they have at SPARC. They aren’t yet sure what causes the colour change.

» CONTINUED FROM Previous PAGE essary in agriculture,” explains Dr. Cade-Menun. “If we only looked at 2011, we would say it never stops raining in Saskatchewan and we should be growing rice. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but it does go to demonstrate we can’t ever rely on just one year of data.” The second cropland management practice under evaluation involves seeding marginal land with salinity issues to perennial forage — a blend of alfalfa, tall fescue, slender wheatgrass and tall wheatgrass. This may cut down on nutrient losses, compared to seeding fertilized crops that don’t grow well due to salinity. “There’s no guarantee that this will reduce nutrient losses,” says Dr. Cade-Menun. “A pasture is still living when it freezes compared to cropland where the crop is matured and removed. The pasture is still releasing nutrients.” This trial was seeded in 2011 and the results are still being analysed. It will be studied for another two years. This is a very complex area of study. Cropland and pastures both release nutrients, in similar concentrations but in different forms. For instance, in the case of nitrogen, croplands release more organic nitrogen; pasture releases more dissolved ammonia. Then there is the weather to contend with, and the multitude of other variables come into play. It’s also important to understand the cost-benefits of the different practises. In order to try and cover all these different areas that impact this study, Dr. Cade-Menun and her team work cooperatively with the University of Regina, Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, Lower Souris Watershed Committee, the University of Alberta and others. “Our community of scientists involved in this work wants to come up with some management strategies, easily adopted by farmers, that can mitigate against nutrient loss in snowmelt runoff in most situations, keeping those nutrients in the fields where they can be used by producers” says Dr. CadeMenun. † Andrea Hilderman has her master’s degree in weed science and is a member of the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists. She writes from Winnipeg, Man.

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OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Features Farm Safety

Close call on the farm

Machinery related accidents can make your life flash before your eyes By Lisa Guenther


armers face risk on a regular basis. Routine tasks can quickly turn life-threatening, as Dorothy Barr discovered while loading grain to feed her cattle. Dorothy and her husband, David Barr, farm just over 1,000 acres near Mervin, Saskatchewan. David also holds a full-time job off the farm, making seeding and harvest hectic. May 29, 2009, was one of those busy days. Dorothy’s afternoon agenda included harrowing, plus feeding her cattle. David was busy seeding, so she spent the day working alone. Dorothy drove the tractor to the neighbour’s farmyard, where the Barrs were storing oats. She

parked the tractor a few feet from the metal granary, close enough to pour oats into the front-end loader. She lowered the loader and set it at a 45-degree angle from the ground. The ground was fairly level, and the loader was heavy, so she set the brake and left the tractor running. Dorothy and David had cleaned bins this way many times, but as Dorothy climbed from the tractor, she had an uneasy feeling. “After I got out of the tractor, I looked at the tractor and thought, ‘Everything is fine.’ It must have been a sixth sense,” she says. To this day, Dorothy’s not sure if she did something differently, such as not lowering the front-end loader all the way to the ground. Dorothy stepped between the granary and the front-end loader

and began scooping oats into a fivegallon pail. She’d poured about five pails of oats into the loader when the accident happened. “It rolled ahead because of the weight (of the oats) in the (loader). I was able to pick one leg up in time, but not the other,” says Dorothy. Within three seconds, the frontend loader had pinched Dorothy’s right leg below the knee, pressing it against the steel granary. Her other leg was safe, inside the bin. “I was pinned. My life flashed before my eyes, literally.”

Most farm fatalities machinery related Dorothy is far from the only farmer to have an accident involving machinery. A

report recently released by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association recorded 1,975 farm fatalities between 1990 and 2008. Machinery-related fatalities accounted for 70 per cent, or 1,381, of the farm fatalities. Deaths as a result of being pinned or struck by machinery totalled 139. Dorothy cried and called for help for the first hour, but she was too isolated for anyone to hear. No one lived in the nearby farmhouse anymore. She had a radio in the tractor, and had been in contact with her mother-in-law and husband shortly before being pinned. But the radio was now beyond her reach. She didn’t have a cell phone on her, but even if she had, there was no cell service at the grain bin.

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“So I was hooped. All I could hope for was that somebody was going to think, ‘Where’s Dorothy?’” David wasn’t expecting to see Dorothy for several hours because she planned to go to 4-H in Edam that evening. She realized she might not be missed until late that night or even the next morning. Though it was warm during the day, she worried about spending a night trapped against the granary. “I was in a lot of pain, but I had my mind made up. I had to calm down. I had to keep with it.” After an hour, the pain faded, and Dorothy went into shock. She sat in the tractor’s bucket and waited. Birds chirped nearby, annoying Dorothy with their apparent cheerfulness. A cheeky squirrel, raiding the grain bin, ran across her foot. Nearly three hours after Dorothy was pinned, a neighbour came into the yard. When he saw Dorothy, he wanted to back up the tractor. But he wasn’t familiar with the machine and Dorothy, fearing he might accidently put the tractor into first gear, gave him three or four phone numbers to call for help. David’s uncle arrived and backed the tractor, freeing Dorothy. After being trapped for about three hours, Dorothy hobbled to the truck, and they rushed her to the emergency room in Turtleford. After a two-day hospital stay, Dorothy was released. The tractor didn’t break any bones. But Dorothy still has no feeling in part of her right leg, and she is in constant pain. She went to physiotherapy for a year after the accident, and she credits her physiotherapist for helping her regain mobility and manage the pain. “I can ignore the pain, but I can’t ignore the tractor (and loader). Life could have passed me by.” Despite the pain and nerve damage, Dorothy is active on the farm. She runs machinery, takes care of her cattle, and even resumed horseback riding last fall. Because she often works by herself, she now carries a cell phone, at her daughter’s insistence. She doesn’t load grain into the front end loader anymore, either. But she worries more than she used to. “And now I’m terrified of the tractor. I’m terrified of hills. I make myself do it. Because you don’t want to give up on life that easy.” Augers and moving machinery also worry her, but the she tries to overcome her fear by thinking positively. She also thinks about the different factors that led to her accident. Part of the problem is some people tend to be in a hurry because they’re “working a full-time job to support their farming habit,” Dorothy says. Farming is risky, the machinery is big, and every farmer makes mistakes, Dorothy points out. Farmers need to slow down and think about what they’re doing, she says. “We always get in a hurry. Seeding and harvest are hurried modes for every farmer. Everybody. Take the extra five minutes in your life for that moment and maybe you’ll have the extra 50 years.” † Lisa Guenther is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa.

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OCTOBER 7, 2013


41 threshing machines set new record

Experienced threshing crews gathered at Langenburg, Sask., in August to set a new Guiness Record BY ANDY SIRSKI


Top: Roughly 5,000 people came out to watch the event. Bottom left: Forty-one threshers working in one place was enough to break the record. Bottom right: The goal was to have volunteers bring in sheaves and have each machine thresh at least 40 bushels of grain.


orty two threshing crews from across western Canada and the U.S. gathered at Langenburg, Sask., in late August to help set a new Guiness Record for the number of threshing machines run at one

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time in one spot. The previous record was 29 threshing machines. The group raised over $60,000 for the Foodgrains Bank. The event was organized and run by many volunteers, businesses and other supporters from far and wide. The goal was to bring in sheaves and have each machine thresh at least 40 bushels of grain. While 42 machines arrived, one had a breakdown that could not be repaired in the field. Gordon MacPhee, retired farmer from Dauphin, Man had his Massey thresher at Langenburg. He didn’t bring a tractor so a kind fellow from Russell, Manitoba lent him a Lanz one cylinder tractor to run the thresher. Gordon said they had extra volunteers on hand so they helped feed sheaves into the threshers next to the Massey. In the photos you can spot the following from Dauphin: Raymond Rogerson, Lyle McNichol,Bert Parsons, Ken Cooper and Gordon MacPhee. Some belong to the Heritage Association in Dauphin that meets regularly, maintains old equipment and shows it off at the Dauphin Ukrainian Festival held south of Dauphin on the Long weekend in August. Next year the Festival will celebrate its 49th anniversary of continuous yearly entertainment at what is now affectionately called “The Hill.” Many other volunteers came with the threshers; some others just showed up. Sheaves were brought in from the nearby field on hay racks, car trailers, sweeps and semi trailers — whatever was available. It was a bright sunny day and roughly 5,000 people showed up at the event. The organizers didn’t charge admission but did pass a grain sack around and collected over $45,000 in cash for the Foodgrains Bank. Another $25,000 was donated from canola sold after the event. Harold Penner, who works for the Foodgrains Bank says this was a tremendous show of how people are getting together to raise money to feed others. Harold and the Foodgrains Bank also help organize dozens of fields around Manitoba where farmers donate land and equipment to seed, manage and harvest a crop that is donated to the Foodgrains Bank. This year farmers and their families donated 5,600 acres worth of harvested grains and oilseeds through 40 projects. You can donate grain to the Canada Foodgrains Bank at your local elevator, or donate cash. You’ll get a tax receipt for the value of the grain or the cash you donate. The mission of the Canada Foodgrains Bank is to end global hunger. Learn more online at † Andy Sirski is a regular Grainews columnist.

Grain News.indd 1

9/25/2013 10:21:06 AM

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Features Crop production


Crop Advisor’s casebook By Katlyn Galbraith


ne Manitoba farmer put the breaks on a routine scout as he approached his canola fields at the end of last June. When John — who farms more than 1,300 acres of wheat, canola, corn, soybeans and edible beans near MacGregor, Man. — pulled over to investigate what looked to him like uneven canola flowering, he found patches of canola plants with grey flowers in his fields. “I think I may have a sulfur deficiency in my canola fields,” John told me. “I’ve topped up with sulfur, but I’d feel better if you had a look.” The canola plants in John’s fields were at the 20 to 40 per cent bloom stage. In among healthy flowering plants were patches containing grey flowers with purple, cupped leaves. The fields had been seeded with an early maturing hybrid variety and sprayed with an incrop herbicide. In addition, a broad-spectrum insecticide and post-emergent herbicide for grass weed control had been applied. John had also applied fertilizer at a rate of 120-33-0-20, with 90 pounds of nitrogen as a liquid pre-seed, 13 pounds of nitrogen with the seed as 13-33-0-15S and 17 pounds of nitrogen at 28-0-0 dribble banded beside the seed. When John discovered the grey flowers in his fields, he topped up his fertilizer with 15 pounds of liquid sulfur on the advice of his seed rep.

It had rained two-tenths of an inch since the latest fertilizer application, which helped work the sulfur into the soil. John said the field looked less grey to him now, but that was the result of the flowers dropping off, leaving behind aborted pods. However, the canola plants located outside of the patches were still flowering properly. The remaining flowers inside the affected patches were lighter in colour compared with the plants located in the unaffected areas. I wondered if heat blast had played a role in the damage to the fields. Extreme heat can stress canola plants, which causes them to abort their flowers. The area had experienced high temperatures for the past week; however, no other fields showed any signs of heat blast, so we abandoned this theory. In my opinion, John had put down plenty of sulfur, and even with the precipitation the fields had received to date, the sulfur should not have moved out of the root zone. With the possibilities narrowing, examination of the soil profile revealed the patches of unhealthy plants were found exclusively on sandy soil at high and low elevations. Although tissue and soil samples would confirm exactly what was going on in the fields, I was on to the problem before the samples left the farm. I held up two groups of plants for John to examine: one group


local farmer called me when he noticed that his emerging pea field had plants with what looked like bites taken out of their leaves. Kelvin, who farms 4,500 acres of durum, wheat, peas, lentils and flax southeast of Swift Current, Sask., was providing details of his field management practices for our records when he mentioned this unusual leaf damage. Kelvin said he noticed the

was taken from the sandy soil and another from an unaffected region, which was composed of clay loam soil. John compared the plants. “Well, would you look at that,” he said. “I think we’ve got to the root of the problem,” I said. What is causing the grey flowers and purple cupping of leaves in John’s canola fields? Send your diagnosis to Grainews, Box 9800, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 3K7; email leeann. or fax 204-944-5416 c/o Crop Advisor’s Casebook. Best suggestions will be pooled and one winner will be drawn for a chance to win a Grainews cap and a one-year subscription to the magazine. † Katlyn Galbraith is a sales agronomist for Richardson Pioneer Ltd. at Dundonald in Westbourne, Man.

When John found patches of canola plants with grey flowers in his field, he suspected a sulfur deficiency.


Crop Advisor’s Solution By Charisse Garland

Katlyn Galbraith

leaf damage during a routine scout of one of his pea fields, which was at the three- to fournode stage at the time. “There are small notches on the outer edges of the plants,” explained Kelvin. “It appears to be damage from some type of bug.” Kelvin asked me to visit his farm and walk through his field to help him find the insect causing the problem since he was unable to spot the specific pest that could be responsible. After arriving at the field, I could see the damage was extensive.

There had been reports of insect damage in surrounding areas, and upon closer inspection of this particular field it was clear that some kind of pest had taken quite a bite out of the crop. The damage on the plants was typical of insect feeding, and the field borders were the worst-hit areas by far. From the size and shape of the bite marks on the leaves, I had an idea of what pest I was looking for. I waited until dusk fell, a time when some insects prefer to feed out of the

heat of the day, and that was when I spotted a pea leaf weevil! The weevil is among those insects that hide from the sun on the undersides of plant leaves and comes out to feed at dusk. The most damage is caused when larvae in the soil, hatched from beetle eggs, feed upon the nodules. The visible feeding damage is not what causes yield loss, but this nodule feeding. Kelvin applied an in-crop insecticide with his herbicide. He sprayed in the evening to reduce the chances of harm-

ing beneficial insects in his field. After spraying, the feeding ceased and no further damage was caused in the field. Fortunately, the damage to Kelvin’s field was minimal since we caught the pest early enough to mitigate the problem. Kelvin has a couple of options to consider for weevil management next year. He could apply a seed treatment registered for weevil control or budget for the use of an in-crop insecticide. † Charisse Garland is a sales agronomist for Richardson Pioneer Ltd. at Swift Current, Sask.

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OCTOBER 7, 2013


New triticale varieties offer wheat alternative

Researchers say triticale offers many advantages to farmers right across Western Canada BY JULIENNE ISAACS


riticale, a human-made hybrid of wheat and rye, has never enjoyed the popularity of either of its parent crops in Canada. However, researchers have found that triticale varieties offer so many benefits to western Canadian farmers that it may soon be included in their ranks. And if it doesn’t, it should. Traditionally, farmers have avoided growing triticale for a variety of reasons, chief among them the difficulty of marketing, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researcher Francois Eudes, a specialist in cereal biotechnology at Lethbridge, Alta. “Definitely the lack of clearly defined markets and big markets is an issue,” he says. “If you were to see a large demand for this particular grain, with clear and easily communicated messages of end-uses, that would trigger a response from farmers.” Currently, the markets available to growers are limited: triticale can be used for feed grain, silage, and ethanol or other bio-industrial uses, with some limited potential for development for use in food products. In general, it takes creativity and effort to find sure markets for triticale, and growers are more likely to choose cereals with established markets. Another reason for farmers’ hesitation to incorporate triticale into their rotations is insurance, says Brian Beres, a biologist and specialist in life cycles of triticale with AAFC. “You can’t insure triticale at the same rate as soft white spring wheat,” he says. “If you can’t [insure it at the same rate], it’s an easy decision not to adopt it, so triticale is really handcuffed.” But from an agronomic standpoint, triticale is superior to many other grains, such as wheat and barley.

HIGH YIELD POTENTIAL According to Beres, when compared to a general purpose or feed wheat or barley, triticale shows superior yields. And when comparing spring triticale to winter triticale, winter triticale shows a

From an agronomic standpoint, triticale is superior to many grains. However, marketing may be a challenge. similar yield improvement to that of winter wheat over spring wheat. “Some of those spring types will yield like crazy, but generally speaking there is a yield advantage with the winter triticale because you’re splitting your workload. It also shows better weed competitiveness because the canopy closes off earlier in the spring,” says Beres. “If you’re in a livestock area, there’s even an opportunity for fall or spring grazing.” Triticale also does well under stress, showing good yields when planted in marginal lands or bad soil, or even in drought conditions. “It’s well adapted to Nordic environments,” says Eudes. “With a rye parent, it’s very rustic, so it does extremely well in our rather cold environments.” The benefits of triticale don’t stop there. Beres says that the current trend toward tight canola rotations or wheat-on-wheat in Western Canada is creating pathogen buildup. What triticale brings to the picture is diversity, along with some impressive diseaseresistance. Most triticale varieties are resistant to stripe rust and fusarium head blight, and new varieties show improved resistance to ergot. This means farmers incorporating triticale into their rotations can rotate or even lighten their herbicide usage.

But the greatest benefit of growing triticale is all in the numbers. Beres has done studies on the stability of soft white wheat versus triticale across the prairies, assessing the stability of grain yield under different growing conditions. What he found was that in most cases triticale shows greater stability than other grains, including soft white spring wheat.

Two new spring triticale varieties show extensive improvements “Even based on the [premise] of a stable consistent supply of feedstock, triticale is, depending on the region, more attractive than soft white spring wheat,” says Beres. “That comes back to that old discussion of grain yield and how stable you can make that yield through zones across Canada. And triticale is up with the top.” Beres’ data from the stability study shows that triticale could be highly competitive for bioindustrial uses due to its high

grain and biomass yield and its stability. “In the case of triticale we have this compelling data set, and look what it shows in terms of stability! If you have good stability you have low risk,” he says.

NEW VARIETIES One reason triticale has sometimes been seen as a risky crop is its susceptibility to fusarium head blight and ergot. However, two new spring triticale varieties show extensive improvements over older varieties such as AC Ultima and Prongorn. Scientists at AAFC research centres in Lethbridge, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask., have developed two new varieties with improved disease resistance, higher starch content and increased yield potential. These new varieties, Sunray and Brevis, are expected to be available for general production next spring. According to Harpinder Randhawa, a wheat and triticale breeder with AAFC who worked on both varieties, Brevis, a mediumheight semi-dwarf type, shows the highest yield of any triticale variety. In tests, he says, “It showed very good agronomic performance, maturity, yield and test weight, with a slight improvement in fusarium

resistance. Brevis is very similar to the Pronghorn variety for fusarium resistance, and an improvement over other types. But the biggest improvement is in yield.” Highlights of Sunray include good ergot resistance, early maturity and high yields. “Sunray is good agronomically, and better than AC Ultima, but slightly earlier maturing,” says Randhawa. “And it shows quite a bit of improvement in ergot tolerance.” Ergot had been an area of concern for triticale, says Eudes, as it has for rye, but major progress has been made in varieties like Sunray. Today, when he visits fields he sees more ergot in durum wheat than in triticale. Eudes says both Sunray and Brevis have very interesting attributes. “They have higher yield than anything in commercial production,” he says. “These two have up to 10 per cent more yield than commercial varieties in some particular regions.” While farmers may still hesitate to incorporate triticale into their rotations, its improved agronomic characteristics and strong potential for bio-industrial applications may open doors down the road. It’s an alternative worth considering. † Julienne Isaacs is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and editor.

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Bio-industrial markets an option for triticale The Canadian Triticale Biorefinery Initiative is out of funding, but research into bio-industrial uses for triticale is still underway BY JULIENNE ISAACS


riticale, a human-made hybrid of wheat and rye, has never seen the demand enjoyed by its cereal cousins in Canada. Traditionally, western Canadian farmers have largely avoided using triticale in their rotations due to limited marketing opportunities. While triticale boasts high yields and high biomass, along with added benefits such as disease resistance and high tolerance to environmental stresses such as drought and poor soil, the lack of defined markets and poor crop insurance have made triticale seem like a bad bet to most farmers. That may soon change, as research has shown triticale to be an ideal crop for bio-industrial uses such as ethanol production and even the production of bioindustrial composites. New varieties Sunray and Brevis, slated to become available for general production in 2014, boast higher biomass and starch content than older varieties. According to Francois Eudes, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) cereal biotechnology specialist at Lethbridge, Alta., there are two major reasons why triticale is an ideal crop for industrial bio-refining purposes. First, triticale is highly competitive, out-performing other cereals under abiotic stresses, says Eudes. “But also, in very good soil, triticale out-yields wheat. Per unit of land, you get more straw and more grain,” he says. “If you want to move into the industrial biorefining industry, you get more feed-


stock per unit of land from triticale than wheat.” Second, triticale is not subject to the stringent quality requirements imposed on other cereals, such as wheat, says Eudes. This means that breeders can focus on yield and yield stability across regions. “The same variety can easily be grown on all regions of the Prairies. You won’t necessarily see that with wheat or other crop species, such as beans, which have very small regional adaptability,” Eudes explains. “With one breeding program, you can serve the farming community all across the provinces.” Eudes says that as triticale is not an export commodity, it would theoretically be easier to adopt novel technologies to breed hardier varieties of the crop, or to make processing it easier. “To improve the genetic characteristics of triticale would be much easier than in wheat — you don’t have to go through the quality registration process as with wheat,” says Eudes.

THE CANADIAN TRITICALE BIOREFINERY INITIATIVE Eudes is a board member of the Canadian Triticale Biorefinery Initiative, an organization which intends, according to its website, to see “significant triticale acreage grown in Western Canada, supplying locally established, worldscale biorefineries that produce a range of products and co-products: renewable energy, platform chemicals, biomaterials, biocomposites and more.” Under the federal government’s Growing Forward 1, the CTBI was granted $15 million from Ottawa

under the Agricultural Bioproduct Initiative Program to provide support to management and research teams all across Canada — including the National Research Council and AAFC, Alberta Agriculture, the University of McGill, the University of Alberta, and other universities and companies. In total, 11 different institutions were involved. With the funding and governmental support, triticale seemed poised to take the Canadian biore-

“In very good soil, triticale outyields wheat.” — Francois Eudes

fining industry by storm. “And then, the drought! This program has been discontinued,” says Eudes. “Under Growing Forward 2, there are new clusters and target projects, and in all cases they call for industry matching, which is difficult to find for an emerging industry.” All projects that were supported by this program have disappeared, but CTBI continues to exist with a core group of AAFC scientists who have pieced together enough funding to keep minimal research going. “I have some money for programs using triticale species,” Eudes says. “So we have a little activity but it has shrunk so much from the funding we got when the program was in place.” In total, the project had six years’ worth of funding, even

though the researchers had initially talked about 15 to 20 years’ worth of funding to develop the crop.

THE WAY FORWARD Even if the CTBI has run out of funding, new opportunities in industrial biorefining only show signs of increasing. And while there are elements of risk in growing triticale for these markets, it may be a risk worth taking, says Eudes. “One farmer in the Peace River area has grown a lot of spring and winter triticale, and he found a market in eastern Canada,” he says. “But he had to be more adventurous. Rather than saying, Well, we know that Canadian wheat will be purchased somewhere in the world, he took a risk planting, not knowing he would be selling his grain — and found a very good market.” According to Brian Beres, a biologist and specialist in life cycles of triticale with AAFC, farmer who are considering including triticale in their rotations should follow the same principals they’d follow with any other grain, beginning with an assessment of markets. “Are you going for a feed, a milling-type market, an ethanol market, or something where you want to produce lots of biomass? Variety selection is important, along with knowledge of production constraints that might be present in the coming year — whether pests or nutrient deficiencies,” says Beres. “Choose your variety and then position it in a way that allows you to maximize yield as much as possible.” Assessment of the need for

Triticale facts


ses: flour, breakfast cereal, livestock feed and forage First bred: 1876, by Scottish breeders First North American breeding program: 1953, at the Unversity of Manitoba Name’s meaning: Combination of the Latin words Triticum (wheat) and secale cereal (rye) Recent research: In a swath grazing trial at Lacombe, Alta., triticale for swath grazing showed almost twice the carrying capacity of barley. This was unusual, and related to seeding dates. Research in Saskatchewan has shown that when both crops are seeded in mid-June, production is about the same. †

Leeann Minogue

herbicides, which may be lower with newer varieties of triticale such as Brevis and Sunray due to their improved disease resistance, and timely application, is recommended. Farmers in high-yielding production zones should focus on straw strength and shorter varieties, while those in lower-yielding production zones should select taller varieties, as these are more competitive, says Beres. The most important suggestion Beres can offer is that farmers should exploit the yield potential and remove constraints as far as possible. † Julienne Isaacs is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and editor.


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ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Details of these requirements can be found in the Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers printed in this publication ©2013 Monsanto Canada, Inc.



OCTOBER 7, 2013

Columns Soils and crops

Temperature and EC mapping Soil electrical conductivity (EC) maps are becoming more common as an aid to precision map preparation. Interpretation is required By Les Henry


ield maps of soil electrical conductivity (EC) are becoming more common as an aid to preparing maps for Precision farming. This is a good addition to the information base. But, all the fancy equipment does is give you a number. Interpretation is required.

EC measurements First, remember that All EC measurements are temperature dependent. Other things being equal, high temperatures will give high readings and low temperatures will give low readings. Veris and EM38 are the two technologies in use for EC measurements. Veris provides a direct soil EC measurement — soil contact is required. EM38 is non-contacting. EM stands for electromagnetic. The instrument produces an induced electromagnetic field, then measures the soils’ response to that field. EM38 readings read a depth of about zero to two feet in horizontal mode and about zero to four feet in vertical mode. I am partial to the EM38 as I have drug it along the surface of countless pieces of ground. It is human nature to favour what you are most familiar with; I have no disparaging remarks about Veris.

Making the maps There may be those who tell you that EM38 maps can be made in the dead of winter with a foot of snow on the ground. Read on and draw your own conclusion. The table shows data from a transect of non-saline to severely saline soils in one small field on the University of Saskatchewan Goodale farm just southeast of Saskatoon. The soil in this field is medium textured dark brown soil on lake deposits — no stones. We measured soil salinity to a depth of 1.5 metres at several sites with widely different salinity. Then we took EM38 readings at each site every two weeks, year around for two years. When doing soil salinity investigations, the EM38 was our right hand. I would never investigate a soil without dragging an EM38 over it. But I never felt comfortable with the actual readings in early spring. It was usually late May or early June before the readings were normal. So, if you look at the table and think that EM38 maps can me made in winter — think again. In a January 2013 Agronomy Update Conference in Lethbridge, Shelley Woods of Alberta Ag gave an excellent presentation on all aspects of EC mapping with much more detail than is possible here. I have a copy of it on my desktop and am sure you can obtain a copy from Shelley (shelley.a.woods@gov. Her data was very similar to the data I’ve shown in this table, but she also included a very severely saline soil which had vertical EM38 readings of 75 on March 6 and 400 on May 20. My book, Henry’s Handbook of



EM38 reading (mS/m)



< 30

Sandy soils or very dry loam soils

30 to 100

General range for agricultural soils

100 to 200

Salinity seriously limits crop growth


Highly saline, annual crops barely grow

Source: Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water, page 82.

Soil and Water includes a detailed account of EM38 interpretation. I’ve included a couple of the tables from the book on this page.

The Summary EM38 always gives the right number. But, it is up to the person dragging it around to interpret what

the readings mean. It is largely a soil salinity metre. In non-saline environments the EM38 can be used to make soil texture maps but not without considerable knowledge and interpretation. So, caveat emptor — buyer beware. Fancy technology requires interpretation. † Les Henry

March 30

August 30




Severely saline




EM38 reading (mS/m)


0 to 2

0 to 50

Slightly saline

2 to 4

50 to 75

Moderately saline

4 to 8

75 to 125

Severely saline

8 to 16

125 to 200

> 16

> 200


Very severely saline

Source: Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water, page 82.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Columns Hart Attacks

When an old dairy farm goes to the goats The Hart farm in Williamsburg Township has new owners, and that is a good thing By Lee Hart

E Boer goats have now moved into the long-time dairy barn.

photo: lee hart

ven though I have never been a full time farmer, and in fact I haven’t lived on the Eastern Ontario family farm where I was born and raised for more than 40 years I felt a bit of a twinge earlier this year when family members were planning to sell the place. It was the right thing to do, but it was one of those Kunta Kinte moments… knowing I’d have to say goodbye to my roots. The farm was listed for sale in

late winter, a serious offer came forth in May and by late June the new people had moved in. After about 70 years, the Harts didn’t live there anymore. It had been a pretty typical Eastern Ontario dairy farm. When I was a kid it totaled about 240 acres that ran in a fairly narrow strip from one concession road back to the next. My grandfather and dad bought the first property in the early 1940s. That included some land, an old brick farmhouse built by a William Kennedy in 1860, along with the main hay

barn and stable and some out buildings. Dad bought a couple more pieces of land over the years, built a new stable in 1963 and at its peak, he was milking about 30 head. There was a fair bit of hardwood and cedar bush on the place, but on the open land he produced hay, some oats and of course pasture for the dairy cows. Most of the time there was also a flock of about 15 chickens, and for many years Dad also had a half dozen sows for a bit of pork production. It was a pretty typical operation for the day. It ran steady until the early 1990s. As Dad moved toward retirement years, the pigs went, then the dairy cows, and he sold a couple parcels of separate-titled land, so when the farm went up for sale in 2013 it consisted of the main house and farm buildings and 175 acres, including 58 acres of cropland. For the past 15 years or so Harts continued to live in the house, but the land was been rented out — soybeans were grown on some of the fields, and there were often a few beef cattle on pasture for the summer.

Going home

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I have been in and out of the “lane” that leads to the farmhouse a million times, but on August 31 my sister and I drove in the lane toward the house for the first time in our lives as visitors. In the yard we were greeted by Bill and Tammy Irven, who along with their two children Hailey and Matthew are now the new owners. We met a hard working young couple who have a real love for the farm life. Due to scale and economics I don’t see the place becoming a major commercial farm, but I can see the Irvens making it a good mixed farming operation. Bill is a service technician with Dundas Agri-Systems (Boumatic milking equipment) and Tammy is the livestock person. They have a few beef cattle and a couple horses, but her main focus is a herd of about 90 Boer goats raised for meat production. I never thought I would see the old dairy stable filled with goats, but actually it was a pretty good fit. There’s also a new pup and a couple older ‘coon hounds, and some cats with kittens. Looks like they have all the essentials. It is good to see a hard working young family, with plans and dreams take over the place. Now all they need is to win the lottery and find more hours in the day. There may not be any Harts farming the old place anymore, but there is a young family with plenty of heart planning to farm. It is good to see the land being used and appreciated by a new family and another generation, not left idle to be reclaimed by milkweed and goldenrod. It will be there anytime I want to visit. † Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at



OCTOBER 7, 2013


Contact choices

There are several kinds of contracts available. Find out which one is the best for you BY BRIAN WITTAL



hat is your storage You have ample storage to hold capacity? What your crop. You have no real cash are your cash flow flow needs other than immedineeds? Do you ate harvest related bills and you have any income tax issues? believe the markets are going to What crops did you grow and go up long term. You grew wheat, what pricing options are avail- canola and barley. And, you don’t able for these grains? What is want a lot of income for the the quality of your grain? What remainder of the year. is the market outlook, short Let’s assume you did some preterm (three to six months) and sales and/or price protection with long term (six to 18 months) for options on limited tonnes earlier each of these grains? in the growing season to cover What type of contract will your anticipated harvest expensbest help you meet your needs es and not exceed your income based on NSG your answers to these threshold for1tax2013-09-19 purposes. 12:50 PM MB 2013 Print Ad Reston Grain News.pdf questions? Once the grain is in the bin,









you can apply for the interest free grain cash advance if you need money to cover the last of your harvest expenses and or to live on while you wait for prices to improve. A cash advance is not considered income when you take out the loan, so it won’t impact your income if you take it out in the fall and pay it back with deliveries in the new year. This would apply to wheat, barley and canola. You may want to consider some possible price protection using options or futures contracts, just in case the markets don’t improve as you anticipated. (This would only apply to wheat and canola.) You

will eventually need to sell grain to sustain your farming operation.

INDUSTRY CONTRACTS If you are not set up to, or comfortable with trading futures/ options contracts, there are other contracts that offer pricing protection and flexibility together. Different companies offer different versions of a cash contract and/ or a deferred delivery contract. They may also include some kind of a floor price or minimum price guarantee clause. You get a guaranteed floor price and the opportunity to play the markets and price your futures at a later date; the grain company gets the grain when they need it to meet sales commitments. You can always defer the monies for tax purposes, but you need to be careful. Some companies are covered and secured against insolvency while others are not. The major grain companies are all bonded while some independent companies that used to handle

only special crops but now also handle wheat and canola may not be. So be sure to ask to see the company’s bond before you do any business with them. If you are not prepared to sell any grain because you believe the price is going to rise, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing any marketing. You need to be watching basis levels regularly. When you see an attractive basis, you should consider locking it in for a future delivery date that meets your cash flow needs. By doing this you establish a delivery period plus you lock in a lower cost of doing business with that company. You still have the ability to lock in the futures price at a later date when you believe the time is right.

CWB POOLING Those who would prefer a different method to price average and/or set a price guarantee for their grain will want to consider the revised CWB Pooling contracts available for wheat, durum, barley, canola and yellow peas. (Field peas have now been added to the list for the annual pool.) You can deliver into the early delivery pool, the annual pool or the winter pool. The difference between these pools is the length of time that the pool remains open for price averaging and the delivery period. You need to decide which pool will give you a better return. Are prices going to drop? If so, are you better to use the early pool to take advantage of earlier sales to help keep the overall price higher? Are prices going to hold and possibly improve over time? Then you are probably better to consider using the annual pool, as it price averages sales over a 12-month period, which would allow you to take advantage of any rise in the markets over that time. If you are not in a panic to sell grain, and you believe markets will increase then you may want to consider using the winter pool, which uses price averaging from sales during the last six months of the crop year (Feb to July). Once you sign tonnes into either of these pools you are relying on the CWB to do your pricing for you based on its sales, unless you choose the “futures choice pricing option,” which allows you to take more control of your own pricing. This pricing option is available with all three of the pool contracts. The CWB establishes a pooled basis, then you have the ability to lock in the futures price when you think the time is right, based on the futures month you choose to price on. The Act of God clause or Force Majure protects you so that if you sign up tonnes and then end up short due to production loss you do not have to buy out your shortfall. This clause is a good incentive to encourage you to sign up before the tonnage targets are filled. This helps the CWB know how many tonnes it has to sell, so it doesn’t miss out on any early sales opportunities. What combination of contracts is going to help you meet your marketing plan? Take some time to answer the original questions and you’ll be able to make better decisions about your needs the combination of contracts you should use † Brian Wittal has 30 years of grain industry experience, and currently offers market planning and marketing advice to farmers through his company Pro Com Marketing Ltd. (www.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /



Selling the farm With no kids to take over, this couple needs a solid financial plan to close out their farm BY ANDREW ALLENTUCK


n southwestern Manitoba, a couple we’ll call Martin and Louise, ages 57 and 50, farm 1,280 acres of oilseeds. The land, valued at $1,500 per acre, helps generate total pre-tax income of $84,570 per year. The couple has no debt, Louise has a small pension coming at age 60 from her previous employment with a farm supply company and they have $103,000 of investments in their RRSPs and other retirement accounts. It’s a picture of a family with tidy finances, but there are issues. They have no children but for retirement and other purposes, they have a farming corporation which, in the absence of a generational succession plan, will have the effect of postponing taxes and allowing capture of various credits, potentially including the $800,000 lifetime capital gains exemption. They want a $3,500 monthly aftertax income in retirement.

would be a capital gain. By using a portion of the $800,000 lifetime capital gains exemption, they would be able to avoid taxation. $480,000 invested in financial assets to produce a five per cent return would produce $24,000 per year or $2,000 per month. If the sale closing coincides with Martin’s sixtieth birthday, his monthly CPP benefits of $400 would add to their $2,000 income, bringing the total to $2,400 per month. Their RRIF could add another $200 per month and sustain this payout for 20 years, assuming a five per cent return per year. Renting out their land at $35 per acre per

year could add another $930 per month, bringing the total income to $3,530 per month before negligible taxes. The couple will have met their early retirement target, Mr. Forbes says. In the alternative to renting out the land, if Martin and Louise can get their full $1,500 per acre on the remaining land, it would be useful to consider sale, Mr. Forbes says. That sale would use up the remainder of the $800,000 capital gains exemption and produce a larger amount of capital from which to generate retirement income. The remaining assets in the corporation may be livestock and

possibly farm equipment. If the assets have been sold in full, the corporation can be wound down. Then the couple will need to select financial assets to generate income and to diversify their portfolio.

INVESTMENTS The proceeds of the first sale of 320 acres of prime crop land should be split into three investment accounts, says Mr. Forbes. First, Martin and Louise should set up Tax Free Savings Accounts and fill them to the current limit of $25,500. TFSAs take in tax-paid money and allow it to grow and to be paid out with no tax owing. The TFSAs can be used as cash reserves. Once the TFSA balances are topped up, the couple can put money into a joint fee for service, taxable investment account. Martin and Louise should work with a full service broker to create a portfolio of so-called dividend aristocrats, that is, companies which

have paid rising dividends on time for at least a decade, and corporate bonds with five year maturities at the lower end of the investment grade range. At their ages, a 70 per cent stock, 30 per cent bond ratio would be appropriate. Stock picking for a portfolio under $100,000 is hard, for it does not allow for a great deal of diversification. In the alternative, they could use exchange traded funds. If they do that, then the stock portion of their account should be equally-weighted ETFs in which each company has the same value. Equal weighting avoids the characteristic of market-weighted ETFS in which recent winners tend to have higher weights than average and the recent laggards lower weights. Buying winners heavily and laggards lightly is the opposite of “buy low and sell high.” As they get older, they can slowly increase bond weight. Government bonds pay little and are subject to tran» CONTINUED ON PAGE 32

ASK THE EXPERT We asked Don Forbes, a farm financial planner who heads Don Forbes Associates/Armstrong & Quaile Associates Inc. in Carberry, Man., to work with the couple. His analysis shows that, to preserve their success in farming and make an efficient transition to retirement, the couple will have to be attentive to capital gains rules and subsequent investment of funds received from the sale of their farm land and equipment. Were there children or grandchildren to whom to transfer the farming business, there could be a transfer at the deemed adjusted cost base and any gain on the property would be deferred. The rule, which applies to these intrafamily rollovers, creates a new cost base so that the person or persons receiving the farm get it at the amount the transferor is deemed to have sold it. Any subsequent gain over the transfer price would thus be taxable in the hands of the recipients when they dispose of it. Martin and Louise’s corporation holds their 1,280 acres as well as machinery and a herd of 150 beef cows with a separate value of $500,000. If the couple draws no salary from the farming corporation until 2014, the grain operation can be wound down, some of the herd retained and some new equipment — perhaps a truck and a new tractor — charged to the corporation. The goal is to make a smooth financial transition to early intermediate retirement when Martin and Louise would be able to maintain their farm and still have capital required for permanent retirement and a possible relocation to town.



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THE ACTION To generate the pre-tax income they’re looking for ($3,500 per month), they will have to sell two quarter sections of crop land. If they can get $1,500 per acre, they would have a gross sale of $480,000. Almost all of this sum

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OCTOBER 7, 2013


First harvest in the bag Former city slicker Toban Dyck found himself in bank in the combine cab after a long time away TOBAN DYCK


engaged in one of the ‘Sexiest activities in the world,’” said the man sitting in the rear passenger side. “I wish there was a way to bottle that.” He was talking about combining, and the four

of us were on our way to Big Iron in Fargo, North Dakota. There’s too much residue from my past urban life to agree with his assessment. But harvest is a rewarding season, and operating our Case 8010 Axial Flow was pretty close to what the Big Iron backbencher was getting at.

THE SEASON Domain Hard Red Spring wheat is a stalwart variety on my farm.


The first time Toban climbed into the driver’s seat, he felt as if there was no doubt he was meant to be a farmer. There have been whispers of a change, but you’ll have to hang tight for that conclusion. Carberry has been mentioned. Harvest went well; yields were average to good. But we dealt with lodging, and for the first year ever

— or at least the first one in a long time — we did not swath. The idea of straight-heading wheat that was lying on the ground and had been for quite some time had us scratching our heads. Should we swath? Should we desiccate due to

the potentially high levels of green stocks in those low-lying clumps? Do we keep header in fixed position or in flex? We increased our nitrogen rates last fall, hoping to raise protein levels. It worked. But it


SELLING THE FARM sitional portfolio losses as interest rates rise. However, corporate bonds tend to gain market value as business conditions improve parallel with rising interest rates. By sticking to the lower end of investment grade bonds and limiting maturities to five years, the couple should have positive bond returns in the range of three to four per cent per year. If Martin and Louise do not want to use a full service investment dealer, they can invest themselves in studying capital markets. The effort will be interesting and rewarding. If they work toward become active investors with a discount online brokerage, they can save management fees and perhaps raise their returns, Mr. Forbes notes. In the year in which Martin and Louise finally sell their beef cows, they can add the proceeds to taxable income. This surge in taxable income would be the best time to use up RRSP space, which is currently $89,900, in order to reduce taxes. At 65, Martin can add Old Age Security at $550 per year in 2013 dollars to $3,530 retirement income. Louise will have a defined benefit pension that can be transferred into a retirement account that will pay her $400 per month at her age 60 in 10 years. At that time, she would also have $425 per month Canada Pension Plan benefits. At her age 67, she could receive $550 per month in Old Age Security in 2013 dollars. This would bring total retirement income to $5,455 per month. “Martin and Louise are in a healthy position for starting early retirement and carrying on their cattle farming business as a sideline,” Mr. Forbes says. “They will have sufficient income from land and other assets they accumulated from several decades of full time farming. It will be a tidy winding down of a successful grain and cattle operation where there are no children to take over.” † Andrew Allentuck’s book, “When Can I Retire? Planning Your Financial Life After Work,” was published in 2011 by Penguin Canada.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /



If you haven’t been in a combine for a while, the inside of the cab can seem entirely foreign. also made our wheat stand very dense, which, combined with a few windy days in early development, caused most of the field to topple under its own weight. There were hiccups at the start. But there usually are, I understand. Flex mode was the answer, we learned from other farmers. The header gently followed the contours of the field, leaving virtually no stubble and picking up sections we had long given up on. And we soon realized there was no need to spray. The sentiment on Day 1 was “we should have swathed.” This had support from both my father and me. We capped at two and change miles per hour on the combine and

the auger on the header was giving us grief. We longed for the ease of the pick-up header. Day 2 we took less of a hard line. The auger was working well, save for a few clangy fingers. By Day 3, after every clang and clunk was fixed, we were straight-heading boosters.

MODERN DAY THRESHING I used my thumb and index finger to thresh wheat this year. The toggle, I think it’s yellow, that engages the largest and most expensive machine I have ever driven is tiny. It’s about the diametre of a soybean, less than an inch high, and only needs to move about a

Harvest is the best of times, but can be the worst.

quarter inch. This is a direction I didn’t see machinery going when I was a child, especially not combines. The hydrostatic lever, ergonomic and smooth, is also a marvel of technological complexity that for some reason seems odd in such a large, brute machine; perhaps a better fit for a sports car. Then there’s the monitor. I’ve programmed my grandma’s remote before, but this whole driving newer combines thing is something entirely different and foreign. Adult friends, people in their 30s, visit my wife and me on the farm. And these people — professionals, mature — want nothing more than to sit in the driver’s seat of the com-

bine. The ones with small children have an excuse, but many don’t. And it’s just as hard to get them out. It was new to the farm when I moved back. And the first time I was left alone to operate this mammoth thing, the combine, I felt as if there was no doubt I was meant to be a farmer. I was on top of the world. Until I wasn’t. The augers on most combines extend past the back of the machine a good distance. This is something I was warned about. Five minutes of threshing left in the day, just a small test plot, when I turned to start last row. I backed up a touch to square up, and started driving forward. I watched an entire

irrigation boom collapse to the ground in my rear-view mirror. The auger was pushed in, crimped, and the geometry of its pivot point on the combine shifted. I kinked the irrigation boom. Stepping out of the combine to make the call was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a while. My dad understood, and wasn’t upset. Harvest is the culmination of toil and decisions made, good or bad. It is the best of times, and can be the worst. But even then, even when it seemed like it couldn’t get worse, there is no season like harvest. † Toban Dyck is a freelance writer and a new farmer on an old farm. Follow him on Twitter @tobandyck or email

Growing together for generations. For 100 years, generations of families like the Corfields have contributed to the success of Richardson Pioneer. With 114 years of combined experience, the Corfields have made working for Richardson Pioneer a family affair.

“From my grandfather to my niece, our family has been working for Richardson for four generations,” says oat merchant Debbie (Corfield) Wosminity. “At Richardson, there is a focus on long-term

commitment to customers and employees. As a family, we’re proud to be part of that tradition.”



OCTOBER 7, 2013


Rules for selling stocks It’s important to know when to buy, but if you’re going to get into the stock market, it may be more important to know when to sell ANDY SIRSKI


hile buying right is important, in the type of market we now have I think learning good selling rules and using them is perhaps more important. In fact, often selling can save us from a wrong buying decision. For example, investors who bought shares in Enron, Nortel, Sask Wheat Pool and even Bombardier some years ago suffered huge losses. But selling right would have saved those investors big bucks, preserved their portfolios and prevented a lot of mental grief. Here’s the background: From August 1982 until early 2000, North America was enjoying a bull market. Stocks were volatile, seasonality was likely an issue for some investors and there was no high frequency trading. Many investors bought on dips or when they had new money and held onto stocks for years. It worked and, in most cases, worked well.

WHAT’S CHANGED? For one thing, high frequency trading can move stocks and indexes rapidly and often, with very little real news. These days many stocks are more volatile than they used to be, although the volatility index is quite tame. Seasonality has made its way into books, newsletters and the news — and the minds of many investors. Investors have documented why stocks move when they do and more and more investors are learning how to get in step with those seasonal moves. There is a lot of bad news going on in the world, but then there always was. I’m not so sure the bad news on its own causes volatility, but combine it with high frequency trading and hair triggers on the sell button and stocks can drop a lot faster than they go up. If you learn selling rules you can use them to help you sell your farm commodities. All you have to do is believe the sell signals. That usually takes some practice, and giving back some profit. BY DAN PIRARO


Investors using technical analysis lean towards being more active, so let’s look at some selling rules or guidelines. In my case, while I like capital gain, I don’t count on it with most of my stocks. So I like to sell covered calls and do spreads. Premiums are bigger for calls and puts on volatile stocks, but volatile stocks can also eat up equity and beat up an investor’s mind. I need selling rules. Maybe you do too, so here they are.

TWO SELLING RULES In his book How to Make Money in Stocks, author William J. O’Neil outlines two selling rules.

Rule one is sell if a stock drops eight per cent from the purchase price. Jesse Livermore and Rothschild would sell when stocks dropped three per cent. Livermore would also sell if the stock or commodity did not perform the way he expected it to, even if it was an hour after he bought. If you sell when a stock is down eight per cent, you only have to make 10 per cent to get back to breakeven. That’s quite easy to do. Plus, dropping 10 per cent likely won’t upset an investor’s mind or spouse very much. If you sell when you’re down 50 per cent, you have to double your money to get back to breakeven, and that’s

not so easy to do. Plus, generally, such a big loss will discourage an investor (or his or her spouse) and give the stock market a bad name. O’Neil’s second rule is sell if a winner drops 12 to 15 per cent from its top — unless of course rule one applies.

OTHER RULES 1. Sell when a stock stops going up. 2. Sell when you’re up a predecided amount, like 15 per cent. Some will say that if you follow this rule you’ll never feel the thrill of doubling your money on a stock. Suit yourself. But think on it: if you

made 15 per cent on our money in the first three months of the year you could take the rest of the year off and likely beat the market. 3. Sell when the Moving Average Convergence-Divergence (MACD) and Full Stochastic indicators flatten on top and start to roll over. Unfortunately the MACD is a lagging indicator and too slow to be a good selling indicator in a volatile market. The Full Stochastic will give a sell signal much sooner so I like to use it as part of my selling strategy. 4. Sell when the price drops through a trend line. If you set up “price performance” on your chart, when the price perform-

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Columns ance chart stops going up, that’s a sell signal. The general rule is that as long as that chart is moving up, hold the shares. When or if the daily price drops the price performance will start to roll over and it will be time to think selling. 5. Use a buy/ sell service and follow it. One service I’ve heard about lately is called Parabolic. I will be looking at it one of these days and will write about it another time. 6. Some investors sell when they find a better stock. That was okay in the bull market from 1982 on but these days I don’t think I would follow that selling rule. There are many good stocks and after they drop in price they become even better stocks if we have money to buy them. My favorite sell signal: In March 2012 I started to seriously track selling when the daily price of a commodity or my shares dropped through the 10-day moving average (dma). I have to admit I have not followed it perfectly and I won’t say that was part of the

research. Many fear being whipsawed if they sell at such a tight sell signal and that could happen. However my counter argument is that if you sell early and you’re wrong, at least you get the most of your money. If you don’t sell early and you are wrong you risk losing a lot more money or giving up a lot more profit. Some prefer to sell when a stock drops to the 20 dma — that should reduce the odds of being whipsawed so suit yourself. But this business of losing 50 per cent on a stock is something we should all avoid. It gives stocks a bad name, it can discourage us and it is very difficult to rebuild the portfolio. I know that when I lose big bucks on a stock I am not very proud of myself, or the business of stocks. I don’t get discouraged easily but some investors do. Losing money also gives the stock market a bad name. If we’re dealing with stocks we really are working a business. We should take losing money seriously just like we would in any other business.

When I sell out and I’m right, I like the strategy and the stock market. If I sell out and I’m wrong I can always buy the stock back or buy another one. But in the meantime I have the money. Taxes are certainly a factor and beyond the scope of this presentation. However, we are in the business of making money, and taxes are something we have to deal with. These days we have RRSPs and Tax Free Saving Accounts that can help us deal with tax issues. We have a nice group of members in our Technical Analyst Group in Winnipeg. We meet the first Wednesday evening of each month. There is a similar group in Calgary too. If you join the association, you will be sent notices about many webinars that you can tune into. If you want to go to a meeting, email me for details. Remember, the cost of belonging to these technical groups is tax deductible just like the cost of belonging to a farm organization or an employees’ union.

RECENT INVESTING ACTIVITY I have been selling calls on quite a few stocks. I bought West Jet (WJA) shares and sold a call below my cost and picked up an easy $500 or so in a couple of weeks. The share prices went up, so I bought the call back, sold the shares and kept the $500. My Bombardier shares are touching $5 as I write on September 9. The company’s new plane, the C series, is scheduled to have a test flight any day now. I expect shares will go up half a buck or so when the plane flies. Bombardier is paying a 2.5 per cent dividend while I wait for the plane to fly. I have a lot of shares of Bombardier at an average cost of about $4.58 per share. I sold calls on quite a few shares of First Majestic and IMG gold. Too many to count at this time. I continue to do spreads on a short list of stocks. Since we are in the period of “Sell in May and go away,” most of my spreads are called bear call spreads, where I

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buy a call on a stock with a low premium and sell a call on a share of the same company and same month but with a higher premium. I keep the difference, unless the share price comes up to my strike prices. I think doing spreads is the final skill I needed to learn about how to use options to bring in cash. The sequence goes something like this: Buy shares for dividends and capital gain. Buy shares to sell calls on to collect cash. Do not buy shares but do spreads is likely the third part of my option strategy. You don’t own the shares to do this, but you do need to have buying power in your trading account and be approved by the broker to do spreads. My standout stock for doing spreads has been Green Mountain (GMCR). This stock has weekly options which come and go very quickly, As of Friday, September 6, I had brought in something like $2,100 with that stock and I don’t even own any shares. On this stock it has been quite easy or me to pick up $200 to $400 or so per weekly spread. You can do the math, even if I don’t win 100 per cent of the time. Other stocks I do spreads on include Home Depot, Deere, Cat, Toyota, PotashCorp and Agrium. Potash bit me twice. The first time was my own oversight. The second time was when Russia’s potash miners ended the cartel and Potash shares dropped $10 overnight. But as of September 6, that account was within $1,500 of making enough money to offset those losses. I think that is quite an accomplishment. By doing some weekly spreads, I might have anywhere from four to eight weekly spreads per month plus five or six monthly spreads, which means I do 10 to 14 spreads a month. If I can make just a few hundred dollars per spread, it can add up to a lot of money in a year — as long as I don’t give the profits back through careless losses. Since this is in a trading account the profit would be taxed as capital gain. I teach all this stuff in my newsletter StocksTalk. On a personal note, I painted my 1979 Datsun the other day. The usual — half a litre of fire engine red Tremclad, a buck’s worth of masking tape and about three hours of work with a threeinch short hair roller. Looks great at 50 feet. Actually, looks good close up too. † Andy Sirski is mostly retired. He gardens, travels a bit, plays with his granddaughters and manages the family’s portfolio. Andy also publishes a newsletter called StocksTalk where he tells what he does with his stocks soon after he buys or sell or does covered calls or spreads. If you want to read StocksTalk free for a month send an email to and Andy will set you up for the free month.



ALWAYS FOLLOW IRM, GRAIN MARKETING AND ALL OTHER STEWARDSHIP PRACTICES AND PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Details of these requirements can be found in the Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers printed in this publication. ©2013 Monsanto Canada Inc.



OCTOBER 7, 2013

Machinery & Shop 2014 model introductions

John Deere unveils new equipment in Columbus, Ohio The green brand focuses on “delivering distinctive value” as the theme for its 2014 model-year lineupoffer new features By Scott Garvey


his is all about addressing the three primary value drivers for our customers: performance, uptime and cost of operation,” Luke Gakstatter, John Deere’s vice president of agriculture and turf sales and marketing for the U.S. and Canada told an audience made up primarily of Deere dealers at the company’s new product launch show in Columbus, Ohio. “When you see what we’ve done today, you’ve got to be proud,” he added. Following that address, a parade of new Deere equipment made its way across the stage accompanied by a light and video show emphasizing the improvements built into each one. While the event didn’t come close to unleashing the recordsetting number of new products Deere introduced in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2011, it did include several machines that will be of interest to western Canadian farmers.

Deere executives say the new products introduced in Columbus will add value to farmers’ bottom lines. This year most new machines from all the brands make the jump to Tier 4 Final-emissions compliant diesel engines ahead of the looming January E.P.A./EU deadline. Deere’s product reps claim that the company’s new engine technology will not only produce cleaner emissions, but will save producers a little money by being even thriftier with a litre of fuel. And Deere believes its emissions reduction strategy puts it into the lead in “total fluid efficiency,” a term repeated often by marketing

managers throughout the event. It refers to not only the consumption of diesel, but diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) as well. Grainews was at the Ohio launch and also managed to get behind the wheel of some of the new models that debuted to check them out for ourselves. In the following pages we take a look at some of the most notable new machines and features introduced for the upcoming model year. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

After watching a parade of new models, dealers make their way from the stands to a viewing area behind the stage to see the new machines up close.

2014 model introductions

Deere revamps its 5E tractor line Six models in the 45- to 100-horsepower range offer new features By Scott Garvey


ohn Deere has made major changes to its 5E line of utility tractors. Two new fourcylinder models, the 5085E and 5100E, with 85 and 100 horsepower respectively, replace the 5083E, 5093E and 5101E. And the four smaller, three-cylinder models from 45 to 75 horsepower that make up the remainder of the line now offer a wider range of options. “With six models from 45 to 100 horsepower within the 5E Series, customers can choose the power and options they want that best fits their needs,” says Scott Schadler product marketing manager. “The 5E offers a basic level of features and options in transmission, operator stations, and front axles that allows a customer to find a configuration that is a perfect fit for their applications and budget. Customers will be very pleased at what they see up and down the entire 5E Series line.” Because of their lower horsepower rating, the two larger models comply with Interim Tier 4 engine emissions regulations rather than the Final Tier 4 standard required by equipment over 175 horsepower. These two models come standard with a 12/12 power reverser transmission and economy PTO option built into the base price. And while Deere is now making the largest 5E models available with an open operator’s station, the smaller models can now be ordered with a cab. †

photos: scott garvey

Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

The 5100E replaces the existing 5101E tractor. At 100 engine horsepower, it’s the largest model in the 5E line, which offers economy features that make them the most affordable utility tractors Deere offers.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Machinery & Shop 2014 MODEL INTRODUCTIONS

Deere introduces the W235 windrower A new 235 horsepower model available in hay and small grains configurations joins the company’s windrower lineup BY SCOTT GARVEY


oes anyone notice anything similar between these swathers and that combine?” asked James Petersen, senior marketing manager for windrowers, as he stood between a group of farm writers and a row of machines in a field near Columbus, Ohio. “The cab,” he explained. “The S Series combines introduced this cab in 2012.” Partly to save R&D costs, the S Series combine cab has been grafted onto Deere’s brand new windrower, the W235. “It makes sense,” added Petersen. We have the same operators using both (the combine and the windrower). Using the same operator station brings a sense of familiarity to those running both an S Series combine and the new windrower. Inside the W235 cab, operators get a similar interior control arrangement — Deere’s CommandCenter display with all its functions, including integrated AutoTrac and JDLink telematics.

UPDATES AND NEW DESIGN The updated hydraulic steering system on the W235 better accommodates AutoTrac guidance than the mechanical system on existing models. “The windrower steers a lot differently than other vehicles (tractors and combines), so it’s a bit of a challenge to deliver accuracy with AutoTrac,” explained Petersen. “Our current solution today (on other windrowers) will get about seven or eight miles per hour before we start to see performance degrade because it’s a mechanical system. We’ve now replaced that with a hydraulic system which is much more accurate. We’re now seeing speeds up to 17 miles per hour.” Overall, the windrower is a completely new design. “This thing is all new from the ground up,” he added. The 6.8-litre, Tier 4 Finalcompliant diesel offers 35 more horsepower than Deere’s previous flagship model. And a newlydesigned intake draws air flow from the top of the hood rather than from the dusty environment closer to the ground, which minimizes chaff build up in the radiator and cooling condensers. A 19 per cent larger fan screen also helps keep debris out. A new header drive system keeps power flowing to the header in tough conditions, and adjusts to meet demand when the engine starts to lug. “We have a feature called Constant Header Speed,” said Petersen. “When crop conditions change, we’re maintaining that (header) speed and constant windrow formation.” The W235 will be available in two configurations, with a rotary header for hay crops or a draper for grains and oilseeds. The rotary will be compatible with 994 and 995 hay cutting heads and the draper version will come equipped with a 600D head. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

Launch of the newly-designed W235 coincides with the 50-year self-propelled windrower production milestone at John Deere.


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OCTOBER 7, 2013

Machinery & Shop 2014 model introductions

Two new sprayers from John Deere The company has updated its sprayer design, and a pair of new models is ready to join the Deere lineup for 2014 By Scott Garvey


his will be huge for us,” said a friend who is a salesman at a local John Deere dealership. We were talking about the all-new R4030 and R4038 sprayers Deere introduced at its product launch in Columbus in August. “They’ll sell out within a couple of days of starting to accept orders,” he added confidently. Brea Harms, John Deere’s product line manger for application equipment, shared his confidence in the new sprayers during a media briefing at the Columbus, Ohio, event. “What you’re going to say is ‘holy cow, you’ve changed those machines,’” she told a group of editors at the product launch. “It’s the first major redesign we’ve had for sprayers in 15 years, since we introduced the 4700 sprayer. We’ve redesigned these sprayers from the ground up. And we’ve redesigned the solution system from tank to tip.” The two new models find their place in the middle of the brand’s sprayer lineup, between the existing 4630, which is the smallest model in the line, and the flagship 4940. “We are going to continue forward with four models of sprayers, but we are replacing two this year,” she said. “The 4730 will be replaced with the R4030 and the 4830 will be replaced by the R4038.” If those new model numbers sound a little familiar, they should. The “R” indicates the specifications level, similar to how it’s used on tractors. And the 4000 Series becomes just the 4 Series. Deere wanted to stick with the four in the model numbers because the existing sprayer line has been pretty popular with farmers. “We did a lot of studies as we were trying to figure out our name and numbering,” explained Harms. “There’s a lot of brand equity in the 4000 Series sprayers, so we chose to keep the 4.” The 30 and 38 in the numbers represents the tank size divided by 100. So the R4030 has a 3000 litre tank (800 gallons) and R4038 has a 3,800 litre (1,000 gallons) capacity.

photos: scott garvey

R4030 and R4038 sprayers are an all-new design according to product marketing managers. They offer increased operating speeds and a improvements meant to provide efficiency gains for operators.

The design The two new models join the 4940 in offering integrated direct chemical injection systems to make blending tank mixes much easier. “Customers, in some cases, can just run water in the solution tank,” said Harms. “As we designed the R4030 and R4038, we tried to think of ways to help our customers overcome the challenges of glyphosate resistance and really focus on trying to drive efficiency in sprayer operation,” she said. “One of the key ways we’re able to do that is with integrated direct injection.” Raw chemical placed in either of two 50-gallon tank injection tanks flows through the same pump, while the contents of an additional, 35-gallon injec-

The John Deere GreenStar 2630 monitor is capable of controlling all application functions including raw-chemical mixing rates without the addition of another system controller. tion tank flows through another lower-volume pump, so spraying tank mixes becomes a much simpler process. Mixing rates can be controlled through the GreenStar 2630 in-cab display monitor. “We’ve partnered with Raven,” said Harms. “It’s totally integrated in the 2630 display. “You can calibrate it very easily.” That minimizes time spent on tank clean outs while making chemical change-overs faster and easier. It also helps prevent wasting chemicals. The pumping systems on the new models have been beefed up

to allow chemical flow to keep up with higher field speeds. To help understand how much, the new standard-flow pump now exceeds the capacity of the highflow option on existing models. “For that customer that knows he wants to apply high-rate liquid fertilizer, if he invests in an R4038 with the high-flow solution pump and high-flow plumbing he can go 18 miles an hour,” noted Harms. Overall, maximum working speeds have been bumped up significantly. Under the right conditions, the R4030 can operate at

Under the hood of the new sprayer models is a 6.8- or 9.0-litre Tier 4 Final-compliant diesel engine delivering 280 horsepower in the R4030 and 310 in the R4038. up to 20 m.p.h. In the field, and the R4038 can hit 25 m.p.h. Behind the tanks, a newlyredesigned plumbing system simplifies the piping system while eliminating low spots that can trap air or hold chemical. Both models can be fitted with 120foot flat-fold booms that feature swing link suspension and tridirection break away for protection. The number of boom sections that can be shut off independently has been increased to minimize overlap when spraying. To power the two sprayers, the R4030 gets a 6.8-litre PowerTech

PSS Tier 4 Final-compliant diesel that puts out 280 horsepower. Its bigger brother gets a 9.0-litre engine, capable of putting 310 horses through to the four-wheel hydrostatic drive. And like all of Deere’s new machines, there is an upgraded, more comfortable cab to make the work day a little more pleasant for operators. “It (the new sprayers) is a pretty big deal for us,” said Harms. “It’s something our customers have been asking for.” † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /



Soucy offers Deere tracks 9R John Deere tractors aren’t yet available with a factory track option, but now owners can equip their own machine with an aftermarket system BY SCOTT GARVEY


oucy is an aftermarket manufacturer of tracks,” explains Martin VanSteenbergen, western territory manager for John Deere. “In Western Canada the four-wheel drive 9R is the tractor that is mostly used. So, we wanted to come up with designs for that tractor. After making tracks for the 8R Series, the 9R’s tracks are very, very similar. We have rigorously tested the 8R and now we’ve come out with the 9R.” Soucy International used the 2013 Canadian Farm Progress Show to introduce its new track offering for 9R tractors to Prairie farmers. And a lot of people attending that event took notice. “There’s been a lot of questions. A lot of interest in the tractor,” said VanSteenbergen during an interview at the Regina show. “John Deere in Eastern Saskatchewan definitely has a lot of market share with their four-wheel drive. For the die-hard John Deere farmers this is definitely of interest.” Although the track systems offer advantages like a boost in floatation, farmers will have to be content

with lower speeds throughout the gear ranges in a 9R fitted with the Soucy system. “Since we are aftermarket, we cannot adjust any of the gear ratios in the transmission,” noted VanSteenbergen. “That’s why we made the sprocket as big as possible, to not lose (too much) speed. But we’re still losing 25 per cent.” The Soucy track system for the 9R Deere offers some brand new features, which the company has just developed. “It’s completely new,” he said. “It’s the next generation.” The company casts its own axle and bogies which now incorporate added strength. And the firm produces its own rubber belts as well, which now use four layers of steel belting for improved strength. Even the tread-bar pattern on the rubber belts is a little different than the standard chevron design farmers are used to seeing. When it comes to maintenance, the mid-rollers and idlers use oil bath hubs that require only annual or 250-hour oil changes. And there are eight 50-hour grease zerks on each module. “The big feature on the mid-rollers is they oscillate laterally and back to front,” says VanSteenbergen. “The dynamic tensioner, which is


Quebec-based Soucy International introduced its new track system for 9R John Deere tractors at the Canadian Farm Progress Show in Regina in August. supported by nitrogen accumulators will also go back and forth. So it (the track) will follow the flow of the roads a lot better.” Equipping a 9R tractor with a

set of Soucy tracks will set farmers back about $165,000, and expect to have a mechanic spend about 32 hours installing them. Soucy products are sold through

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OCTOBER 7, 2013

Machinery & Shop 2014 model introductions

Tracks on Deere combines now an option John Deere brings tracked combines to North America, and announces other updates to the S Series combine lineup By Scott Garvey


t the 2011 Agritechnica machinery show in Germany, John Deere introduced  a  track option for S Series combines sold in Europe. When Grainews asked back then if tracks would be made available here, Deere’s spokesperson said they eventually would, but the track system design would be different, because the company didn’t think the European-style track module met the needs of farmers in North America. At its product launch in Columbus, Ohio, in August, North American tracked S Series combines were finally unveiled. And as Deere promised two years ago, with a much different track system. Canadian farmers paying for the new option will get a track module with a high-idler design for better trash and obstacle clearance. “Tracks will be available for the S670, S680 and S690 equipped with a ProDrive transmission,” Kim Cramer of Deere’s Harvester Works told a group of journalists at a briefing during the Columbus event. “When harvesting in tough conditions, operators will be able to get in the fields earlier and harvest longer with the new track option,”

said Katie Dierker, division marketing manager at Deere’s Harvester Works. “The tracks can be ordered as a factory-installed option or ordered separately for our model year 2014 S Series machines.” Nothing changes in the combine driveline to accommodate the track systems, explained Cramer. So, farmers can switch between tires and tracks on the same machine. One advantage of that is farmers could remove and hold back their tracks, switching their trade in over to tires and reinstalling the tracks on another new S Series machine when they update their fleet. “When that customer trades that combine in, typically he’ll keep the tracks and the dealer can outfit his used machine with tires or tracks,” said Cramer. “There’s nothing unique about the tracked combine.” Because the tracked versions use the same driveline, the maximum ground speed of a tracked S Series machine will be slightly slower than a wheeled model. Removing tracks and installing them on a replacement combine could shave a bunch of money off the cost of a new purchase, although how much wasn’t quite clear. Pricing had not yet been set for the track systems at the time

photos: scott garvey

Dealers had a chance to try out this S Series combine equipped with the new track option in a mud pit at Deere’s convention in Columbus, Ohio, and compare it to a wheeled version in wet conditions. of the Ohio product launch. “We haven’t got pricing yet,” Cramer added. “It’ll be over $50,000. They’ll be comparably priced.”

Interactive adjustment There were other new S Series combine features for product reps to talk about as well. Aside from a leather cab interior package, most notable was the new Interactive Combine Adjustment system (ICA). ICA allows for automated, on-

the-go thresher settings. The system simplifies fine tuning the threshing mechanism to improve performance, which allows less experienced operators to do a harvesting better job. “It takes where we were with Automatic Combine Adjust (ACA) one step further,” explained Cramer. “Now it interacts with him (the operator). It will ask him questions, he can respond to it and it will give him recommendations on how to improve a situation, clean up the sample in

36-inch-wide tracks fitted onto a high-idler module can be ordered as a factory option or interchanged with tires on the three largest 2014 S Series combines, the S670, S680 and S690 when equipped with a ProDrive transmission. a grain tank or whatever (problem he wants to correct).” S Series models come with a new Engine Speed Management System which can reduce overall fuel consumption, especially during road transport. They also offer a new Dual Adjust Chaffer, which is designed to produce a cleaner grain tank sample. Up front, buyers will notice another new option: “The 630 HydraFlex draper header is new,” added Cramer. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

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OCTOBER 7, 2013

Machinery & Shop 2014 model introductions

7R and 8R tractors get new features A new transmission option and higher top-end horsepower ratings are on the list of improvements to Deere’s biggest MFWD models By Scott Garvey


0 years ago, in 1963, John Deere introduced its first powershift transmission, bolting it into the nowclassic 4020 tractor. At its dealer convention in Columbus, Ohio, the brand celebrated that anniversary by revealing its latest powershift design, the e23, which is now available on the new, five-model line of 7R tractors. The e23’s 23 forward gears (hence the name) have only a 15 per cent speed difference between them to make for a smooth shift from one to another. The 11 reverse gears have a 30 per cent jump. “We’re really excited about that e23 transmission,” said Ryan Hough, product marketing manager for tractors. “It takes those 50 years of (powershift) technology and brings it forward.” Although it’s still a mechanical transmission, Deere’s marketing reps say it offers the operator a close second in capability and efficiency when compared to an IVT (Infinitely Variable Transmission), while still providing the simplicity and reliability of a powershift. If, however, you really do want an IVT, all 7R models can be ordered with one. The two smallest models, the 7210R and 7310R are also available with the CommandQuad Eco gearbox as well. To spin those transmissions, all five 7R tractor models get a bump in horsepower. The 6.8- or 9.0-litre PowerTech PSS engines under the hoods, depending which model you look at, now give the 7Rs 210 to 290 engine horsepower. “We’ve increased the horsepower by 10 across the board,” said Carleton Self, Deere’s product manger for tractors. With Tier 4 Final emissions regulations coming into force this January for tractors in this horsepower class, Deere has opted to combine a series of systems to get NOx and particulate matter levels down to where they need to be. An improved, high-pressure, common-rail fuel system and series turbochargers now pack the cylinders with air and fuel. Cooled EGR reduces the amount of NOx created within the cylinders during combustion. Then, as the exhaust makes its way out, a diesel oxidization catalyst and particulate filter — along with the addition of a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system requiring the use of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) — scrub out more pollutants. “When you combine all of those things together and then add SCR, we believe we will have the lowest total fluid consumption of any tractor out there,” said Jerrod McGinnis, division marketing manager. “On the 7R, we anticipate total fluid consumption will decrease about two per cent.” Although other brands will be offering simpler emissions strategies, Deere believes the combination of treatments it’s chosen allows its PSS engines to operate with the lowest level of diesel and DEF consumption. Marketing reps emphasize it’s important to take consump-

tion of both fluids into account when talking about cost savings. “We don’t want any of our customers to think all we did was add SCR onto our engines,” said McGinnis. “We’ve done more than that. What we’re trying to do is hit what we call the sweet spot (of lowest diesel and DEF consumption).” Rather than talk about only fuel efficiency, Deere will be focusing on “total fluid efficiency” in its marketing campaigns. To keep those Tier 4 Final engines cool, the 7R tractors get a redesigned hood arrangement that is now easier to open, something a few owners criticized about the existing design. The cooling package is also 15 per cent larger, which allows for a slower fan rotation that minimizes the parasitic engine power loss from turning it. Inside the new CommandView III cab, operators get lower noise levels and a seat that swivels 40 degrees to the right to minimize neck strain when looking behind. The CommandArm gets some improvements as well, with a rearranged control cluster. A seven-inch 4100, Generation 4, CommandCenter display or optional 10-inch 4600 version are available. And working through the various digital screens becomes more intuitive, with a new layout that makes the screen pages look a lot like those on a smartphone app. “As we make this equipment more intuitive to use, that allows operators more flexibility in who they’re hiring to operate it,” said Holli Brokaw, AMS product manager. “Deere said we want to meet that ISOBUS standard, but we also want to provide a better user interface.” The CommandCenter is also compatible with video streaming from remote cameras.

photos: scott garvey

A new 8R tractor makes a dramatic entrance onto the stage at John Deere’s product launch in Columbus, Ohio.

8R tractors Just like the 7R line, the 8Rs get a jump in horsepower all across the model range, too. For 2014, there will be nine 8R and 8RT tractors with engine horsepower ratings from 245 to 370. The four smaller versions are available with either a 16-speed powershift or IVT transmission. Up from the 8345R, you’ll have to be satisfied with an IVT. “We’ve increased the engine horsepower ratings of all the new 8R models and boosted the maximum hydraulic flow capacity by 41 per cent to 85 gallons per minute,” said McGinnis. “This 8R option allows customers to operate at reduced engine speed while handling larger implements, such as planters, that require high, constant flow rates.” The new CommandView III cabs on the 8Rs are available with Active Hydro-Pneumatic Cab Suspension Plus to help smooth out the ride. Inside them you can even opt for a built-in refrigerator. For night operations, both the 2014 7R and 8R tractors get an optional LED light package that provides 40 per cent more illumination than the HID variety. “These tractors push productivity and comfort to a higher level to provide greater value to our customers,” said McGinnis. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

This mock-up shows the new CommandArm control arrangement and CommandCenter display monitor.

Redesigned hoods on the 7R tractor line provide better air flow and are now simpler to open. The coolers swing out for easier servicing.

Rolling across the stage during the launch show, the newest 7R tractors get a variety of upgrades and more horsepower.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Cattleman’s Corner world agriculture

Aussie farmers appreciate a good fence BY KIM NIELSEN


he slogan “A good fence makes a good neighbour” applies as much to an Australian farmer as it does in Canada. Looking a little closer you will see Australian fence is built differently and also very well. Aussies must appreciate neighbourly relations but also believe a fence should be built properly from the onset and built to last. Building a good fence is one thing but some of the pioneer fences in Australia went beyond staying on good terms with the neighbour. As a country that is home to an ecosystem unique in flora and fauna and vulnerable to the impact of non-native plants and pest animals, some fences were designed purposely to keep pest animals out of the pasture as well as to keep livestock in. The famous dingo fence that was built over a few years and finished in 1885 spans 5,614 kms from the southern coast west of Adelaide to north of Brisbane on the east coast. It was built following an aggressive and effective dingo depopulation campaign to prevent further livestock predation on the fertile sheep-grazing country of south east Australia. It is the longest fence in the world and still does its job today with ongoing patrols and maintenance along its entirety. I crossed the dingo fence on the Sturt highway to the central Australia back in 2008 just north of Coober Pedy, South Australia where the picture (bottom right) is from. This national initiative is truly impressive with every foot of the fence made of chicken wire dug part way into the soil. It is built into the outback and through desert country. The grass is hardly greener on the other side and only the most perseverant dingo would take on the challenge to go through it. Some did make it across before the fence was built and have crossbred with domestic dogs. These hybrid dingos or wild dogs cause much grief in many parts of Victoria, mainly in the hard-toaccess “high country” where they prey on sheep and young cattle.

BUNNY INVASION Another introduced pest animal that have brought much grief is the European rabbit, which began with a small release of just 24 rabbits in 1859 not far from where we live in Dunkeld, Victoria. The rabbit population exploded and in just 15 years, feral populations had reached the border to New South Wales well over 500 kms to the north, and made another 1,000 kms to Queensland in the next six years. The rabbits were truly let out before the hutch was closed and a desperate attempt to build an 1,800-km rabbit fence in Western Australia in 1907 failed as the little bunnies were already well established in the areas to be excluded. The development of rabbit diseases and the release of two viruses from 1950 and onward have kept the rabbit population manageable although resistance has now built up in the current population calling for new agent developments. Efforts to minimize the rabbit borrows and feed losses from the pest saw farmers build rabbit fences not unlike the dingo fence,

Kim Nielsen, left, with family members, takes a break during fencing operations in Australia.

This map of Australia shows the 5,600 km route of the fence built to keep dingos out of farming areas. with chicken wire forming the bottom part of the fence and these are still seen on many farms. Kangaroo fences do pop up as well to fence out one of the native pests that also have reached epidemic levels in many places including here in Dunkeld. Multiple lines of high-tensile wire leaning out from the pasture with several of them electrified have successfully excluded the hopping roos as they fear the height and the shock of the fence.

AN AUSSIE FENCE Switching to something a little more applicable to a Canadian farmer, the typical Australian livestock fence is very well built. I had an opportunity to work with my brother in-law on a few fencing jobs. Simon Mooney farms in the Otways in the southern part of Victoria and runs a fencing contractor business on the side. A multi-species fence will often have seven strands of high-ten-

sile wire with one or two hot lines, most often the top wire and the fourth. Simon’s new post pounder is an Australian Munro model using a small-diameter hydraulic auger followed by a vibrating pad driving the nonsharpened posts down. An end assembly consists of two heavier eight-foot posts with an eight-foot top rail and two loops of high-tensile diagonal tighteners. The high-tensile wire is blue in colour and comes in a three-foot diametre roll that sits nicely in the spinning jennys for easy unwinding. The blue wire is very nice to work with as it resists the recoiling — a poor feature of Canadian hightensile wire. All fences on 4-Clover ranch up in Rocky Mountain House are made from that type of Canadian high-tensile wire and I have, as many others, swore and cussed at the mess of tangled wires from the recoiling. I have seen the blue wire promoted in Canada a couple of years ago and hope it will gain pop-

photo: kim nielsen

A simple fence of wooden posts and heavy duty chicken wire runs more than 5,600 kms across southeast Australia.

ularity. Often the negative experience from the recoiling has turned people off of using high-tensile wire in favour of barbed wire. The Australian insulators and wire tighteners are not much different from Canadian brands but New Zealand Gallagher materials are obviously common here. Simon uses Gallagher exclusively, keeps the customer happy as the alternative products are often inferior. The fence posts are commonly seven feet long and spaced around 30 feet using three poly droppers between the posts to keep the wires spaced evenly and avoid hot wires from shorting out. Internal fences are often built with fewer wires and with the dry ground conditions during the summer it is common to have one of the tensile wires acting as a negative earth wire with the other one or two wires hot. I spent part of the past summer repairing fence on 4-Clover Ranch over the past grazing season. My fences are nowhere near the qual-

ity of a good Australian fence, but some aspects are rubbing off after my fencing stint with Simon. Tips and designs have been noticed — memorizing a proper figure-eight knot for splicing wires, memorizing the wire wrapping around the end post from the front of the fence post (not the back) and then the wire going “down the rabbit hole, back up and over” making the end knot resistant to animal hits. Gate crossing using insulated underground hot wire should be laid in 1/2-inch poly hose for increased shorting prevention with the hose bent once out of the ground to prevent water from entering it. The 3-2-1 rule should be used for fence energizer grounding; three ground rods, two metres in the ground, one metre apart. Needless to say a few updates were made 4-Clover Ranch fences. † Kim Juul Nielsen, retired manager of agricultural services, Clearwater County, Alta. is a summertime resident of Alcheringa, Dunkeld, Victoria, Australia and is Canadian summertime grazier of 4-Clover Ranch, Rocky Mountain House, Alta.



OCTOBER 7, 2013

Keepers & Culls Healthy, natural, organic trend spreads CONTACT US


Write, E-mail or Fax Contact Cattleman’s Corner with comments, ideas or suggestions for and on stories by mail, e-mail, phone or fax.


n some respects the term “consumer demand” always seems a bit elusive because I am never sure when consumers organize to say we want this or that, but retailer and processor demands are pretty real. It was interesting to read recently that A & W, the secondlargest burger chain in Canada, is switching to only natural, hormone-free beef in all of it’s 790 restaurants across Canada. It doesn’t appear there is a need to rush to produce all-natural beef for A & W. The company has that base covered as it buys meat from Alberta-based Spring Creek Ranch, which is owned by the Kotelko family at Vegreville. As well, A & W is also sourcing all-natural burger meat from Meyer Natural Foods in Montana and Teys Australia, which produces Grasslands cattle. The move by A & W, which it says is supported by 89 per cent of its customers, is another example of how “the shoe does drop.” The livestock industry has heard for the past 10 to 15 years, at least, that consumers will call the shots on what and how meat products are produced. It is not an immediate thing, but then we start to see examples of retailers or processors making announcements of the type of product they will handle. McDonald’s is very careful about its reputation. One of its U.S. egg suppliers got some bad media on an animal welfare issue, and they were dropped overnight. In the pig industry, pretty well all Canadian processors now are telling producers to switch over to loose-housing systems for pig production.

Mark Peters

NEW SALES MANAGER Canadian Bio-Systems has announced the addition of a new manager of sales and marketing to its growing team. Feed industry veteran Mark Peters has accumulated extensive experience over three decades working directly with industry and the farm gate across livestock production sectors. Based out of Manitoba, Peters will focus initially on the Canadian and U.S. markets. Peters has been involved in the feed industry in increasingly senior sales and marketing roles

Phone Lee Hart at 403-592-1964 Fax to 403-288-3162 Email

Kirsten Kotelko heads up Spring Creek Premium Beef, based in Vegreville, Alta.

Mike Kotelko, who along with his brother Bernie operates Kotelko Farms.

And the NewStream Farm Care newsletter reports: “While over 60 major companies ranging from Safeway Canada to Kraft Foods have announced welfare-related shifts to come in the next decade, companies right now leading the trend include: 1. Hellmann’s “Real Food Movement.” Take a close look at your mayonnaise jar and you may see some new wording on the label: “Made with free-run eggs.” This is part of a “Real Food Movement” the company first introduced several years ago. It started with a focus on sourcing and featuring local ingredients and the new cage- free wording represents the first foray into welfare-related branding under this program 2. Ben & Jerry’s ‘”Caring Dairy.” This iconic ice cream brand has introduced a “Caring Dairy” logo to its label that signifies how the company works with its farmer suppliers to contribute to “ice cream with consciousness through sustainable practices,” which include animal welfare approaches. 3. Costco private brand eggs. While pork and beef categories are also seeing a rise in welfarerelated branding, at the big mainstream food product level by far

the most prominent activity is on the cage-free eggs front. This is where Costco decided to go exclusively for its Costco private brand eggs label (Kirkland). Wal-Mart has adopted the same approach with its “Great Value” eggs brand and a number of other top world retailers appear are following suit with at least part of their egg offerings. All Costco-branded eggs are caged free and organic with both attributes stated directly on the product label.” You can read more about this at On the beef side I don’t often hear too much criticism of production practices, but the natural, hormone-free status appears to be a big selling feature. Not to take anything anyway from Spring Creek Ranch beef — the company produces a very nice Angus beef product — but I think it is interesting that A & W has gone this route. If I am waddling into an A & W for a Teenburger combo with fries, milkshake and side order of onion rings am I really concerned enough about my health to worry whether I have hormone-free beef or not? But that aside, good for A & W, and good for Spring Creek Premium Beef. Spring Creek started the company in 2003 with a vision

since 1984. During his career he has built a strong network of industry contacts and well understands industry challenges and opportunities. “For me the focus is always the end customer and delivering value to them,” says Peters. “That’s something that doesn’t change. I believe in the approach of CBS Inc., its lineup of high-quality products and its commitment to science and innovation.” Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. is an innovation-focused company that manufactures a wide range of products such as enzymes and other supplements used in feed, food, industrial and environmental applications. CBS Inc. products cover all major livestock feed sector. More information on the company and its products is available at www.

trucking and other handling pressures into the equation. Edouard Timsit, a University of Calgary veterinarian, says research shows increased levels of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) can be traced back to a sick feeder calf, often caused by too many stresses being placed on the animal at once. The research supports a common recommendation that calves should be weaned for at least 30 to 45 days before heading to a feedlot. Using DNA typing, Timsit’s studies show that the most common and destructive bacteria involved in the BRD complex (BRDC) — Mannheimia haemolytica — are mostly not spread from calf to calf during BRD outbreaks occurring at feedlots. This bacterium seems to attack the calf’s lungs after some stressful event, and it’s primarily the M. haemolytica bacteria that live in the upper respiratory tract as a part of the calf’s “normal” bacterial flora that do the damage. After some stressors, the calf’s immune system is unable to fight off the bacteria that have been residing in the calf’s nasopharyngeal area for months. According to preliminary

WEANING IS ENOUGH FOR ONE DAY A University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine researcher says weaning calves is enough of a stressor on its own at one time without adding

Write to CATTLEMAN’S CORNER, PO Box 71141 Silver Springs RPO, Calgary, Alta. T3B 5K2

A view of Christoph Weder’s new ranching operation near Hudson Hope in the B.C. Peace River region. that natural beef would catch on, and now they supply large grocery retailers, many restaurants and now A & W with their product. Further on the natural beef topic, I have to give credit to the Angus people for great marketing. If you see the name of a beef breed associated with quality meat or a healthy meat program it is 99.9 times out of 100, Angus beef. Has anyone ever seen a menu that featured 100 per cent, Triple A, Blonde d’Aquitaine T-bone steak? No. Occasionally Hereford may get a mention — their biggest claim to fame is on canned corned beef. Whether it is better or not… Angus gets the billing. And one more note on the Angus and natural beef topic, I see recently where Christoph Weder, CEO of

research by Jared Taylor at Oklahoma State University, Pasteurella multocida, another bacterial pathogen in BRDC, seems to be similarly opportunistic. Both researchers contend that BRD due to M. haemolytica and P. multocida may not really be contagious. The stress on the calf’s immune system, along with these bacteria that normally inhabit the upper respiratory system, could be all it takes to trigger a BRD event. While research is ongoing, the initial findings point more to the sick calf itself and less to the pen mates. Studies show a calf weaned for 30 days (45 days is better) is much more tolerant to thrive in the feedlot environment than a calf that is unweaned. Vaccinating the calf before moving is also important, but the work by Timsit and Taylor shows by adding too many stressors, the bacteria will travel to the lungs and likely cause disease. With weaning being the biggest stressor, there should be no other stressors that day, or opportunistic bacteria will likely storm down the trachea and set up shop, ready to cause disease. †

Heritage Angus Beef has relocated to British Columbia. Weder, who was a long-time columnist for Grainews and Canadian Cattleman is leaving the Spirit View Ranch at Rycroft, Alberta and moving west to Hudson Hope area in the southwest B.C. Peace River Region. Looks like a very nice place. Heritage Angus Beef has a network of producers who produce all-natural Angus beef with the company tapping into restaurant and retail markets across Canada and in other parts of the world. Weder reports he even got the guesthouse moved to the new spread, so everyone is invited over for a visit. †

COMING EVENT CANFAX CATTLE MARKET FORUM: The second annual Canfax Cattle Market Forum is set to run the evening of Nov. 26 and all day Nov. 27 at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino on Deerfoot Trail in Calgary. There are several good speakers lined up to give an overview of beef markets in Canada and other parts of the world. Perhaps one of the most interesting talks will be given by Colin Woodall, vice-president of the National Cattleman’s Association in the U.S. who is speaking on “The Fallacy of COOL.” It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about countryof-origin labelling issue. For more details or to register go to the Canfax website at: Cost of registration ranges from $200 to $250 depending on whether you are a Canfax member. †

B U I L D I N G T R U S T I N C A N A D I A N OCTOBER B E E F 7, 2013 /


Cattleman’s Corner

Beef biosecurity: Keep it simple Halt disease at the farm gate

Few places in this world are more hospitable than Canada’s beef operations. Each season beef farmers and ranchers welcome visitors to see their industry first hand. Feedlots work hard to share their knowledge with industry groups, often with an initiation to visit personally. The bottom line is that what’s good for industry relations isn’t always so good for disease control. With every busload of industry visitors, every carload of customers, friends, relatives and international travellers, comes the threat of disease spread. At an industry level that translates into a renewed interest in beef biosecurity. In fact some people think biosecurity is actually a government program but it’s not. At a farm level, this boils down to simple, straightforward strategies to protect herd health status and prevent disease from gaining a foothold. Much of this is grounded in common sense. UNDERSTAND RISK A key is to be able to identify the highestrisk visitors to the farm or feedlot. Lowrisk visitors include urban dwellers who have no livestock contact. Medium-risk visitors would include people who may visit farms regularly but have no contact with livestock. High-risk visitors include anyone with regular contact with livestock, such as veterinarians, livestock haulers, and those coming from abroad. QUESTION VISITORS AHEAD OF TIME Don’t hesitate to ask visitors if they are from or have been outside Canada and the U.S. in the previous two weeks. Ask if they have been on a farm or ranch or been exposed to livestock from outside North America in the past two weeks Ask if they have been exposed to a

Keep disinfectant available, and note some products kill viruses whereas not all will. situation which involves a reportable animal health problem in the past six months. If they answer yes to any of the above, contact your vet. Keep basic cleaning tools handy, such as a scrub brush, tub and bleach or disinfectant. Have visitors leave their name and contact information in a visitors’ log. Consider providing a pair of boots to wear upon arrival. WHEN YOU TRAVEL If you travel yourself, take precautions before you visit other countries and when returning.

Shower before you return, and scrub and disinfect footwear. Upon returning wash all clothes and dry on high heat. Don’t travel with footwear normally used around the farm. Send outdoor wear to the dry cleaner. And wipe personal items such as rings, watches, glasses, cameras, smartphones and suitcase exteriors with a solution of vinegar or bleach. Keep away from livestock including your own for 24 to 72 hours after you return. VBP CAN HELP VBP has components that can assist onfarm biosecurity efforts. That includes

animal  health  treatment/vaccination records, and a record of animals sold, purchased or died. Vaccination programs are important. Cow-calf producers should be thinking carefully about herd health status when sourcing replacements. MORE INFORMATION Canada now has a biosecurity standard for beef cattle, and the industry will be developing specific information to apply on farm. Don’t hesitate to ask for the latest. It’s a small investment with potentially big returns.


One implant. That’s it. You’re done! Avoid the inconvenience and stress of re-implanting. Do it right. Do it once. Merck Animal Health, operating in Canada as Intervet Canada Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA. MERCK is a trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA. Copyright © 2011 Intervet International B.V., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA. All rights reserved.

For more information, talk to your veterinarian or call our technical service at 1-866-683-7838.

® Registered trademark of Intervet International B.V. Used under license.

REV-XS Canadian Cattlemen QSHere.indd 1

13-07-24 14:49



OCTOBER 7, 2013


Our first run-in with water hemlock DEBBIE CHIKOUSKY


his summer during haying my son noticed a questionable weed in the field he and his father were haying. We have been reading our Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada book a lot this summer trying to identify many wild flowers growing in our area we have never seen before. This turned out to be a good use of time since he was able to immediately spot outcroppings of a plant that looked suspiciously like water hemlock. There is also a weed in our area that again is non-poisonous cow parsnips (Heracleum maximum) which is what most of the locals believe this weed to be. To be safe we conferred with the local Manitoba Agriculture and Rural Initiatives office to get a positive identification of our hemlock and were unpleasantly surprised to find out we were right. We in fact are growing a bumper crop of this weed. Their recommendation was to cease all use of this land till we can eradicate the hemlock.

HOW BAD IS IT? The next question had to be “so how poisonous is it?” Rhubarb leaves for example are poisonous but a 145-pound mammal has to

eat 11 pounds to die. But considering I remembered learning that Socrates committed suicide by drinking a glass of hemlock I encouraged my husband this plant deserved further research. We learned one root can kill a 1,600-pound cow and that all parts of the plant are toxic. Proper identification is crucial. Water hemlock has narrow leaves with sharp tooth-like margins. The flowers are small, white and in umbrella-like clusters. The roots are very bulbous, which distinguishes it from look-alike plants such as cow parsnip, which also has narrow leaves, but lacks toothlike margins and bulbous roots. Cow parsnip is also very common in our area, but it is generally a larger plant and has very large fan-like leaves. In drier conditions, cattle and other livestock can graze cow parsnip and it actually has good feed value. In fact, there are areas where cow parsnips are harvested for silage and the cows have a greater milk yield then cows fed on clover and timothy grass silage. The cow parsnip silage also provides a higher amount of digestible protein, volatile fatty acid, and cellulolytic activity and carotene values. Water hemlock on the other hand cannot be fed. It is deadly fresh or in dried hay. When ingested, it attacks the central nervous system of the animal. Salivation and frothing at the mouth are often the first signs of poisoning. This is promptly followed by muscle twitching,

seizures, coma and death. It is also associated with cattle birth defects and can pass in the milk of an animal. Although there is some documentation that the poisons dissipate, the longer it is dried there is no real data to show when it is safe to use. This is also a very deadly plant for humans. All parts of the plant are poisonous and it closely resembles wild caraway so if it is in an area people should be very careful. Even ingesting a small part of the root can be fatal. Livestock poisonings from water hemlock generally occur in the early spring when cattle eat the young shoots, which appear before much else is growing. Hemlock likes wetter conditions so is often found around dugouts, streams and other water sources. It generally does not like a lot of shade so is often in the open. Apparently a lot of the toxins found in the rest of the plant during the other parts of the year are more concentrated in the root in the fall. Therefore the late fall — when other vegetation is sparse — is another critical time when poisonings occur from eating the bulbous roots. The plant in its entirety can be pulled out easily which is how livestock, especially cattle, gain access to the roots.

CONTROL MEASURES Our farm pastures have not been contaminated but hayland has. Since one plant can produce 30,000 seeds that remain viable for three to six years, and it


This is a close-up of the spiked leaves on a water-hemlock plant reproduces solely by seed, this will make eradication interesting. The recommendation from the agriculture people is to plough it under this fall so that the plants rot. At this time it is clearly visible due to the white flowers/seed heads and it is quite tall. In the spring, once the area greens up, we are supposed to disc it lightly. The idea is to kill what might have grown without disturbing seeds which should be far enough underground as to not germinate. Then they said to reseed the area to hay and we should be fine. What we may do is cover the area with rotted manure then disc further reassuring ourselves that we aren’t just replanting this weed.

It only takes one bulb of the water-hemlock root to kill a full sized cow. This will be our course of action along with having to purchase replacement hay from an area that is not having a sudden problem with the weed. This problem made me think of stories my Gran told me as a child about her husband walking his fields in the evening after supper to pull offensive plants. Maybe we all need to be spending a bit more time getting reacquainted with our land since we must have had this weed for a few years and never noticed it till it was a large problem. † Debbie Chikousky farms with her family at Narcisse, Manitoba. Visitors are always welcome. Contact Debbie at debbie@


A poisonous weed that is rarely seen when picking and do not cut into the bulbous roots. Protective eyewear would also be a wise precaution. The plant is a perennial so try and pull the entire root out. This is generally easy, especially on the bigger plants, by grasping right at the base of the plant. Any small leaf shoots should also be removed. Dispose by incinerating, desiccating or composting. As with all poisonings it is far better to prevent rather than treat the disease. Be vigilant in subsequent years in case regrowth from a root bulb can occur and check pastures before livestock are turned in. The seeds are not considered toxic but removing before plants go to seed goes without saying.



ith the wetter spring and summer, sightings of western water hemlock have increased. Prior to 2006 I personally had only seen one occurrence of this highly toxic plant in 25 years of practice. This year in a short time several findings with multiple plants in our practice area a great distance apart have been identified. This is one of the most potent poisonous plants known to cattle. One root bulb can kill a mature cow very quickly. It is important to be on the lookout for this toxic plant and inform your neighbours if it has been sighted in the area. With the suspicion of any toxic plant identification is critical. Water hemlock has narrow leaves with sharp tooth-like margins. The flowers are small white and in umbrella-like clusters. The roots are bulbous and this distinguishes it from look-alike plants. It is commonly confused with water parsnip, which also has narrow leaves, but they do not have the tooth-like margins and the roots are not bulbous. Cow parsnip is also very common in our area but it is generally a larger plant and has very large


This full-sized water-hemlock plant is often confused with cow parsnip.


fan-like leaves. In drier conditions cattle and other livestock can graze cow parsnip.

Rarely are cattle suffering from hemlock poisoning found alive as death can occur within 15 minutes. Most are reported as sudden deaths around water sources. Here veterinarians must rule out other causes of sudden death such as blue-green algae poisoning, anthrax, blackleg or bloat. Many of these toxins appear to be increasing in frequency. Convulsions and other nervous signs such as frothing and clamping of the jaws are observed if the animals are found alive. Treatment by the veterinarian would consist of trying to control the convulsions. No specific antidote exists but depending on the amount consumed low-level

SPRING AND FALL HIGH RISK Poisonings to water hemlock will generally occur in the early spring as the young shoots are among the first plants to green up, and also in fall as pastures run low. A sun-loving plant, hemlock is usually found out in the open but near dugouts or along streams and other water sources. If you have problems identifying this or other potentially toxic or noxious weeds there are several sources for advice. The local

agricultural fieldman or crop specialist is well versed in identification. It is important these fieldmen also know this plant is present in your geographic area. Sprayer operators are also excellent reference sources as that is their job to identify weeds in order to select appropriate sprays. Veterinarians are well trained in the treatment of the poisonings and could reference pictures of the toxic plants. Water hemlock control involves manual removal as plant numbers are generally low, close to a water source and there can be a fair distance between plants. The poison is toxic to humans so use gloves

poisonings can recover with no long-term effects. All species of animals could be susceptible but cattle, sheep, goats and bison because of their grazing patterns are most susceptible. They are all less fussy grazers and in conditions of low forage availability will go after these lessdesirable plants. Cattle, especially because of the pulling action of their grazing, are most susceptible. Deaths in horses and swine have also been documented. Fortunately poisonings are very rare because conditions must be right between stage of plant growth and the lack of other available pasture. Rotational grazing systems where large numbers of animals are forced onto a small area could actually increase likelihood of exposure to hemlock if it was present. When walking onto pastures be ever vigilant of what species of grasses, forbs and weeds are present. This gives us clues as to the health of the pasture where production can be improved where overgrazing has occurred and if we can prevent poisonings by removing some toxic plants in the process so much the better. Fortunately death from water hemlock is rare but it should be considered when there is a sudden death with very little post-mortem findings. † Roy Lewis is a Westock, Alberta-based veterinarian specializing in large-animal practice. He is also a part-time technical services vet for Merck Animal Health.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


The Dairy Corner

Factors affecting proper reproductive rates BY PETER VITTI


eproductive rates are falling at an alarming rate in high-milk-producing dairy cows. The latest estimates from many university and extension studies show there is a decline of 0.5 to one per cent per year among North American dairy herds. Many of these studies suggest a rise in milk yield is to blame, while other research shows that high milk yield is only incidental to poor reproduction. Regardless of the debate, most people will agree good nutrition in milking dairy cattle is crucial to good milk and good reproduction. When dietary nutrients are well balanced for milk production and reproduction, soon after calving they help return the dairy cow to a natural reproductive cycle soon (21 days) after calving. Initially, they (along with other internal hormones and metabolites) play a complex role upon the endocrine system of the cow, which stimulate the pituitary gland in the cow’s brain to produce special hormones that initiate the entire reproduction process. The non-pregnant cow has follicles; blister-like structures that appear on the ovary. These follicles grow from microscopic cells producing the growing ovum (unfertilized egg) and produce more reproductive hormones. During maturation, the follicle ruptures to release the ovum to be picked up by the oviduct for fertilization by the bull’s sperm. Even under ideal conditions, of the thousands of eggs produced by the ovaries, only some of the ovulated will develop normally and have a chance to be fertilized.

easy for a high-milk-producing cow to resume strong estrus cycles. Unfortunately, reproduction takes a very low priority in obtaining this nominal amount of energy, compared to energy needs for body maintenance and milk production. It means that early-lactation dairy cows that can’t consume enough dietary energy to meet high levels of milk production are put in a “negative energy balance” (NEB) for about six weeks after calving. As a result, they are more susceptible to suffer from silent heats and the onset of ovulation. Reproductive research shows NEB can adversely affect the normal development of follicles by

disrupting the involvement of local and systematic production of hormones. It has been shown when a cow has poor energy intake there is a significant decrease in the level of specific hormones that trigger normal estrus cycles after calving. Other similar studies demonstrate the release of large amounts of fatty acids from the breakdown of body fat is also poisonous to fertile egg cells, even if they are released during the ovulation process.

PROTEIN ALSO A FACTOR Similar to dietary energy, prolonged protein deficiencies in dairy cattle have been shown to

reduce reproductive performance. But an imbalance of too much protein formulated into the diet is likely to be the respective culprit. If excess dietary protein is fed above the cow’s protein requirements with the imbalance being wasted, rumen-soluble protein will result in high blood-urea nitrogen (BUN) and high milk-urea levels (MUN), which are associated with high ammonia levels in the uterus (originating from the bloodstream). These unfavourable conditions are thought to lead to failure of the fertilized egg to attach to the uterine wall and therefore responsible for many early embryonic deaths.

MINERALS AND VITAMINS Mineral and vitamins also play a significant part in healthy dairy cow reproduction. For example, a calcium imbalance or milk fever after calving is also associated with lack of smooth muscle tone in the reproductive tract, which may delay uterine involution, and increase the incidence of retained placentas that often lead to resumption of nature estrus cycles. Phosphorus is called the “breeder mineral” involved in energy metabolism and a dietary imbalance with calcium is cited

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ENERGY IS KEY Of many nutrients important to reproduction, energy status is the largest and first limiting nutrient that seems to affect fertility the most; despite the actual energy requirement for reproductive activity such as follicular growth, ovulation, and early embryonic development is very low. A lactating dairy cow requires less than 3MJ of metabolizable energy (ME) compared to 60 MJ for basal body needs and up to 250 MJ for milk production during early lactation. Based on these low energy needs, one might assume it would be

» continued on page 48

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OCTOBER 7, 2013

Cattleman’s Corner RANCHER’S DIARY

The mystery of who is cutting gates HEATHER SMITH THOMAS



ndrea had a tough time for a while after losing the fragile skin on the sides of her knees; the pain was excruciating — like being burned all over again. Our doctor put her on antibiotics after her legs became hot and swollen. They are doing a little better now; the raw areas are starting to fill in around the edges. Young Heather and I are coming along with Dottie’s training. This past week we got her used to wearing a breeching (to hold the saddle in place because she doesn’t have enough withers to keep it from going onto her neck when she’s going downhill). The first day we put it on, she was scared and ran circles around Heather at the end of the lead rope. When she calmed down she realized it wasn’t hurting her, and from then on she was calm. We no longer have to get off and reset the saddle when going downhill. Freddy (the cow that almost died) is doing better but still very thin. She was covered with horn flies last week, so Friday I put delousing pour-on (which also kills flies) along her back as I fed her some alfalfa hay. By the next morning there were NO flies on her. We’re still keeping her separate from the other cows so they won’t beat up on her as she continues to recover. On Saturday Dani rode with me for four hours up through the 320 and high range to check gates, troughs and Michael’s cattle. That night we had a birthday dinner for Charlie — turning 12 — at Andrea’s house. Sunday afternoon Andrea, the girls and I went for a short ride — Andrea’s first ride in over a

month (since before she went to the fire camp). She bandaged her raw knees but they were still so painful that we only rode about 30 minutes. Today the kids went back to school. I rode Dottie on a short ride on the low range, with young Heather riding Ed as my “babysitter horse.” Afterward, while she waited for old Chance to eat his mush (watered alfalfa pellets and senior feed), Heather worked with Sprout (the seven-year-old spoiled mare we bought last year), teaching her better ground manners. We’ve been pasturing Chance and Molly for Heather this summer. Currently they’re grazing along the ditch bank pen above the little pasture where Freddy and her calf are living. Chance has bad teeth and can’t chew his food. Heather feeds him a big tub of “mush” once a day and it takes him an hour to eat it. While she waits for him to eat, she does ground work with Sprout and Willow (the yearling filly).

SEPTEMBER 7 Andrea is riding Sprout again, with bandages over the raw areas on her knees. Last Friday she rode with Dani and me to check range cows and gates. When we headed out through the sagebrush from the big salt ground, Breezy got caught in a snarl of old wire; she jumped and bucked and nearly fell down. Fortunately the wire broke and she kicked out of it before we had a bad wreck. This is wire the Bureau of Land Management left out there after they made a temporary fence to keep cattle out of the area that burned in 2003. The wire is a serious hazard, dragged around by wildlife and cattle. Michael and Carolyn rolled up a pickup load of it a few years ago but there’s still some left. On Sunday Lynn, Andrea, Charlie and a friend took two four-wheelers to the high range and spent the afternoon rolling


Young Heather works with Dottie getting her used to the breech which keeps the saddle in place when walking downhill. up as much wire as they could carry home. The next day they went back and rolled up more. Thursday afternoon a big storm knocked out the power line into our valley. The power was off for 17 hours. Friday morning we carried water from the creek for flushing the toilet and got several gallons of drinking water from my brother’s spring above the upper place. We led some of the horses to the creek to drink. We were about to haul water from the creek to the rest of the horses when the power came back on that afternoon.

SEPTEMBER 17 Last Sunday afternoon Andrea and I rode Breezy and Dottie up the ridge to the 320 to check the fence. Carolyn had seen a cow on the mountain behind their house the evening before. When we rode up toward our fence we encountered five pairs — range cows from the high range. Our gate was wide open. Someone had cut all six wires. The range cows had come through our place, so we knew there must be a gate open at the top as well. Michael and Carolyn and young Heather were riding on



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in situations of inactive ovaries, delayed sexual maturity and low conception rates. Trace minerals such as copper, zinc, manganese and selenium (along with vitamin E) activate enzyme systems that drive reproductive processes as well as play antioxidant roles, which promote good cell health in reproductive tissues. Meeting the current National Research Council (NRC) requirements for energy, protein, minerals, vitamins and water are generally recommended by dairy nutri-

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Andrea rolls up some of the abandoned barbed wire left strewn across the range by the Bureau of Land Management.

the range across the canyon, helping those ranchers round up. We could see riders bringing cattle out of Cheney Creek. Andrea called Michael on his cell phone (fortunately we had cell service on our ridge and he did, too) and told him what we’d discovered. We tied up the gate temporarily with baling twine (which I always carry in the jacket tied to my saddle) and came home to switch horses, since Dottie is too inexperienced for cow sorting. Michael, Carolyn and Heather hurried back across the canyon to their corrals to grab some wire to fix the gate. We got home with Dottie and Breezy, grabbed Ed and Sprout, and trotted back up the ridge to the 320. Almost all of Michael and Carolyn’s cows were down in the northeast corner, which was strange, but that’s why they hadn’t come out the gate on the ridge. We hurried up Baker Creek and found four more pair and a calf. The gate in Baker Creek was okay, so the leak had to be the top ridge gate. We hurried up through the timber to the ridge and met up with Michael, Carolyn and Heather. All their cows and calves were

accounted for. None had gone out the open gates. The top ridge gate had been cut and thrown open, with cattle tracks, horse tracks and fourwheeler tracks coming through. Someone had taken cattle from the high range and pushed them through our 320-acre pasture to the low range! We rebuilt the gate, rode back down Baker Creek and checked the two side gates and rebuilt the bottom ridge gate. There were four-wheeler tracks coming down through that gate and on down the ridge. It’s still a mystery. Did hunters cut the gates to come through on four-wheelers? Did a rider cut the gates and bring range cows down through or bring them after the gates were already cut? Yesterday Michael and Carolyn rounded up their yearlings and hauled them down to our corral. This morning at daylight we sent our calves with Michael’s yearlings to the sale at Butte, Montana. The calves are only five months old and not very big, but hopefully they will bring a good price. †

tionists to supply the necessary nutrients in dairy diets, not only for high milk production, but for good reproduction in dairy cattle.

required more services per conceptions and had longer calving intervals than control cow groups. • Feed a full complement of macro-, micro-minerals and vitamins. Total calcium and phosphorus needs should be provided at required levels and often in a 2:1 ratio for lactating dairy cows. Insure that proper levels of trace minerals and vitamins are fed and balanced. It is known that zinc fed in excess will inhibit the absorption of manganese and copper that could lead to “silent heats” in dairy cattle. The above recommendations of sound dairy nutrition upon dairy reproductive performance boils down to avoiding too little or too much of any particular nutrient formulated in the dairy diet. However, the perfect diet that promotes both high milk production and excellent reproduction at the same time might not even exist, but we certainly should try our best in the formulating one. †

KEY POINTS TO FOLLOW Here are some specific recommendations that also help promote good milk and reproduction in dairy cattle: • Set up a proper transition cow diet (three weeks before cows calve and three weeks postpartum) in order to promote good dry matter intake and a body condition score of 3.03.5 in susceptible dairy cows. Otherwise a similar close-up group may be created. • Increase the energy density of the early-lactation cow diet. Research shows by adding “bypass fats” to the dairy diets of dairy cows within the first 100 days of lactation reduces NEB and significantly increases pregnancy rates. • Review protein intakes. Cornell researchers demonstrated that dairy cows fed excessive protein as little as 10-15 per cent above natural requirements

Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband Lynn near Salmon, Idaho. Contact her at 208-756-2841.

Peter Vitti is an independent livestock nutritionist and consultant based in Winnipeg. To reach him call 204-254-7497 or by email at





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OCTOBER 7, 2013

Cattleman’s Corner THE MARKETS

Cattle outlook remains positive





Yield reports from Western Canada are higher than expected and abundant feed grain supplies are expected to keep input costs under pressure. There are a fair amount of risk supporting the cattle market moving forward but there remains a sense of caution in the feeder complex. Feedlot managers don’t want to bid up replacement cattle until positive margins have been realized for a few months. The industry needs to experience some equity rebuilding in the feedlot sector to sustain and justify higher feeder cattle prices. U.S. cattle-on-feed inventories as of August 1 were 10 million head, down six per cent from August 1, 2012; placements during August were reported at 1.9 million head, down a whopping 10 per cent in comparison to last year. The drought of 2012 caused an abnormal placement schedule but 2013 is turning back to a more normal seasonal pattern given favourable pasture and forage conditions. However, the industry is anticipating a year-over-year decline in on-feed numbers through the winter given the lower available supplies of feeder cattle.

eedlot operators in southern Alberta are cautiously optimistic moving into the major fall sales run of yearlings and calves. Alberta packers were buying fed cattle in the range of $118/cwt to $120/ cwt in mid-September, which is slightly above breakeven for most pen closeouts. After a very difficult financial period over the past 12 months, feeding economics appear to be slowly turning positive for the fall and winter. Feed grain prices remain under pressure and deferred live cattle futures are slowly trending higher which should bode well for margins given the current feeder cattle prices. The economy appears to be improving and restaurant traffic is poised for stronger volumes longer term. Wholesale beef prices have stayed firm but with tighter beef supplies projected over the winter, packer margins are projected to improve which should translate into higher fed cattle prices and spillover into the feeder market.

The USDA has fine-tuned its beef production estimates for 2013 and 2014. Second-quarter beef production in 2013 was actually higher than last year. A year-over-year increase is also expected in the third quarter of 2013. This is a major change in the supply equation and has kept fed cattle prices relatively stagnant through the summer and early fall period. However, a yearover-year decline in production is expected in the fourth quarter of 2013 and then a sharper drop is projected in the first and second quarters of 2014. Live cattle futures for April and June of 2014 have potential to incorporate a risk premium due to the uncertainty in production. In the accompanying table note the lower beef production projection for the final quarter of 2014, which would be the smallest in the last five years. The caveat on these numbers is actual carcass weights. Lower corn prices could result in additional pounds on each carcass. While the supply situation is expected to tighten, the demand equation appears to be steady and will mildly improve in line with the seasonal tendency for food expenditures. In July, U.S. at-home food spending was up six per cent while away-from-

home spending was only up a marginal 3.5 per cent. The main factor driving restaurant traffic for quick-food and full-service restaurants is the amount of disposable income for the average consumer. July data shows U.S. disposable income was only up 2.2 per cent in comparison to July, 2012. Average U.S. ground beef prices in July were up 11.8 per cent over July 2012 but retail sirloin steak values were down 3.3 per cent. Clearly, consumers continue to shy away from higher-valued product in favour of lowercost beef. This is a main factor influencing the value of the carcass. Looking forward, this trend is expected to continue as price-conscious consumers are struggling with inflation running at two per cent. Looking at the seasonal pattern of spending, consumers generally eat and spend more on food in November and December, which should keep beef demand stable to slightly higher in the final quarter of 2013.

OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK I’ve been fairly optimistic for feeder cattle prices in previous issues. Larger Canadian and U.S. corn crops are confirming earlier

price projections for replacement cattle as feeding margins start to improve and look positive over the next four- to five-month period. Feeder cattle in U.S. auction markets are trading near record highs and have been leading the Canadian market. Feeder cattle exports to the U.S. are running 72 per cent above last year. However, now that feedlot margins are more favourable in Western Canada and feeding efficiencies are more comparable, the export pace may ease later in fall. I’m expecting prices for feeder cattle to climb by $10/ cwt to $15/cwt over the next six months. Feedlot margins are currently in positive territory and are expected to improve in the final quarter of 2013 and first quarter of 2014. While feed grain prices are trending lower, feeder cattle prices are projected to percolate higher. Fed cattle values are expected to remain stable until early November and then ratchet higher into the spring period. Consumer incomes remain relatively stagnant which will limit the upside in fed cattle prices. † Gerald Klassen analyzes cattle and hog markets in Winnipeg and also maintains an interest in the family feedlot in Southern Alberta. For comments or speaking engagements, he can be reached at or call 204 899 8268.

Moving cattle to pasture, 1938.

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OCTOBER 7, 2013 /



Don’t underestimate the value of a good mineral program PETER VITTI


utumn is a great time to assess your cow herd’s mineral program and choose a good beef cow mineral that best fits your operation. Beef producers should buy goodquality commercial cattle mineral containing balanced levels of essential minerals and vitamins. Some of these essential trace minerals such as copper, zinc, manganese and selenium are actually required in higher amounts during gestation compared to the cow’s immediate days after calving. When consumed in proper amounts, they promote good gestation health for the next several months and up to the calving season. Unseen by our naked eye, microscopic amounts (re: milligrams) of copper, zinc, manganese and selenium act as “on” switches” in specialized proteins (enzymes), which in turn are activated antioxidants; destroying dangerous “free radicals” produced during a normal immune response against disease. Without sufficient levels of these essential trace minerals in the cow’s body to activate these protective enzymes, free radical compounds would be simply allowed to multiple. As a result, they oxide and destroy vital immune cells and thus may compromise the entire cows’ immune system.

GOOD FOR COW AND CALF These same trace minerals important during a cow’s pregnancy are also circulated through her placenta and help develop the fetus/calf’s protective immune system as well as contribute to antibody-enriched colostrum production. For example, a recent study performed at the University of Liege in Belgium fed 0.5 mg/kg selenium (via selenium yeast) to Belgian Blue cows. It was found that these cows gave their superior selenium status to their unborn calves through the placenta and this transfer continued once the calves were born by consuming higher selenium in the colostrum and later milk. These cow-calf pairs were judged by the researchers to be the healthiest animals of the experiment. Another reason we want to build up immunity in gestating cows with a good mineral program is to improve the effectiveness of postcalving cow vaccination programs. It is well established that many cattle fail to acquire good “vaccination take” (increase antibody titers); not because there is something wrong with vaccine, but because beef cows are marginally or severely deficient in certain trace minerals that are essential for a strong immune response. Furthermore, no vaccine seems to be effective without good trace mineral status in fledging new beef calves as they convert from a passive to permanent immune system. Fortunately, a good cattle mineral program in pregnant cows

can be chosen and fed for the next six months with relative ease. It’s a matter of feeding a well-balanced commercial cattle mineral along that complements the macro-minerals of provided forages as well as meets all their respective trace-mineral and vitamin requirements.

KEY POINTS ABOUT MINERALS Consider six parameters of a good cattle mineral taken from the guaranteed analysis and feeding directions of a common feed label: 1. Complementary macro-minerals to your forages. Calcium and phosphorus are listed as percentages and usually formulated in either a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio. For example: a fall/overwintering cattle mineral

might contain at least nine to 12 per cent P to complement inadequate P level found in mature forages and stubble pastures. 2. Good trace mineral levels. A good cow mineral should contain levels of copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, iodine and selenium that at least meet the cow’s NRC requirements to prevent a basic or “primary deficiency.” Some minerals are fortified with extra trace mineral such as copper to correct “secondary” mineral deficiencies caused by dietary factors that bind up it up and makes much of it biologically unavailable to the cow. 3. Trace minerals of greater bioavailablity. Some research suggests cattle fed “organic or chelated” trace minerals (i.e. — mineral proteinates) respond more favourably

to disease challenges or stressful conditions due to assured good trace mineral status/strong immune system. This class of specialized trace minerals offer advantages of superior absorption, retention and metabolism in the cow’s body compared to respective inorganic trace minerals. 4. Adequate A, D and E levels. Vitamin A and D are often included to meet each animal’s respective requirements. In particular, Vitamin A is involved in the immune response against pathogens, where it is required for the production of white blood cells to fight disease. Vitamin E plays an antioxidant role in animal cells, which is also associated with a strong immune system. 5. Feeding directions. The general recommendation to meet mineral and vitamin requirements of gestation beef cow is to feed commercial cattle mineral so that each cow should be consuming between 56 to 112 grams (two to four ounces) of salt-free mineral per

day. If salt makes up at least 25 per cent of this mineral, one should adjust suggested mineral intakes, accordingly. 6. Purchase price of the cow mineral.There are several features of a commercial cow mineral, which determine its cost. A standard cow mineral costs about $25 to $30 per 25-kg bag and a special fortified cow mineral (i.e. organic trace mineral) may cost up to $45 per 25-kg. In most fall situations, it’s a costeffective exercise to implement a well-balanced mineral feeding program for gestation beef cows that closely matches their increasing mineral demands as the fetus grows inside each cow. As well as these minerals helps building immunity against disease. The profitable value of a timely mineral program ultimately is measured with a healthy freshened cow and healthy newborn calf. † Peter Vitti is an independent livestock nutritionist and consultant based in Winnipeg. To reach him call 204-254-7497 or by email at



OCTOBER 7, 2013


Could you find 1,000 gifts on your farm? ELAINE FROESE


was basking in the glorious harvest sunshine and exquisite fresh air on my walk this morning as my cellphone rang. “Hi Elaine, it’s Charlie (not his real name)… Do you remember me?” The phone was crackling, but he repeated his name, and I said, “Yes!” noting the desperation in his voice. He needed a listening ear and some options for a sibling who was pushing for a Thanksgiving family meeting. After 10 years of coaching farm families, and almost 20 years of crafting a Thanksgiving column, I should recall the trends. As Thanksgiving approaches farmers

are bent on getting the harvest off as quickly as possible. Their disgruntled family members are intent on having “A BIG FAMILY MEETING” just after Mom gets the turkey bones put away for soup. Do not do this! Keep the family celebration time separate from the business planning time. Strong families need to celebrate being a family. The celebration of Thanksgiving is for folks to gather and be thankful for the blessings of the past year, and look forward to creating more good times together. Some families are grieving the loss of a loved one, and this October 14 will be the first Thanksgiving with a significantly empty chair at the table. Be kind and loving to one another as you all grieve losses differently. Successful farm businesses that are profitable have a habit of

meeting on a regular formalized basis to discuss the strategy and operations of the business. This family business meeting is more effective when it is held on a different day than the day the family eats turkey together! I receive a number of calls in late September leading up to Thanksgiving that deal with strategies to cope with disgruntled siblings who are coming “home” at Thanksgiving to set the record straight. Be prepared. Invite all of the family to the Thanksgiving table on Sunday, October 13 for turkey. Craft an agenda for the family vision meeting that will be held on October 14 after a full breakfast. The folks who have to travel will want to head out after lunch. Set some guidelines, and ask for input via email before you meet.

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Ask, “What is the most important thing for us to discuss as a family? Why is this so important to you? What is your vision for the farm? What is your vision for the family? Get people to start thinking about these things before they drive up your lane. You might even want to book a local hotel boardroom or neutral space away from your farm home. Go to Staples and buy a flip chart, you can write it off as a farm expense, and while you are there buy the “EASY” button. You’ll need it to keep a sense of levity in the meeting. Raid your kid’s old bedroom stash of stuffed toys, and pick out an appropriate stuffed animal that you can toss to each other as a talking stick at the meeting. Whoever holds the animal gets to talk, without interruption. Buy a copy of Ann Voskamp’s

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book A Thousand Gifts. Ann is an amazing writer and photographer who lives on a farm in southern Ontario. Her blog at is one of my favourite things, and a great inspiration to be thankful for simple blessings. Ann’s book is the result of a challenge made to her to be able to count 1,000 gifts. She does this on her farm with very creative writing and thoughtful responses to all that happens around her. Recycle that hardly used Hilroy scribbler or science notebook as your new gratitude journal. Start today by documenting at least five things you are grateful for. Today I am grateful for great harvest weather, a loving, faithful husband, clean tap water that is not brown like Winnipeg’s, garden tomatoes, and affectionate adult children who hug me any time. These things are poignant since I received an email this week from a woman whose 15-year marriage has just crumbled, calls from a distraught farming son grieving the loss of his dad, a stressed-out dairy woman who feels trapped, and queries from an off-farm working guy who wants to know how to get family meetings started for his family farm’s legacy. Grab some untreated corn seeds and put one on each plate this Thanksgiving. Have each person speak of one thing they are thankful for. Your resilience as a farmer is increased when you have a positive attitude, have learned to count your blessings, and you know how to be content in many circumstances. For those readers who are people of faith, you might enjoy reading Faith Today’s article on my work. They have dubbed me “Canada’s Farm Whisperer.” Here is the link: faithtoday/20130910#pg64. This fall, Dr. Megan McKenzie and I are busy compiling our new book Farming’s In-Law Factor. If you have a story that you would like to share with us, or if you would like us to coach you briefly through an in-law issue you are experiencing, please email me at with IN LAW FACTOR in the subject line. Harvest is late this year, and with those pressures, along with the demands of community and coaching, I am thankful to get good sleep, and take one day at a time. At 56, and turning 57 at the end of this month, I am the “poster child” for the average age of a widow in Canada. So I am thankful to have a husband, and for tools that help women cope with loss. I hope to get more of my documents in order again this winter. Are you up to the challenge that Ann Voskamp took? Can you count 1,000 things on your farm that are gifts to you? If you do five a day, in just 200 days that will be 1,000. Practise thankfulness every day of the year, not just in October. Happy Thanksgiving! † Elaine Froese, CAFA, CHICoach farms with her husband, son, and daughter-in-law near Boissevain, Manitoba. Visit www.elainefroese. com or “FARM FAMILY COACH,” or like her on Facebook at “FARM FAMILY COACH.” Invite her to activate your audience at your next ag conference. Elaine is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and Canadian Association of Farm Advisors

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Home Quarter Farm Life

Training the ‘untrainable’ Father and son travelling cross-Canada rescuing horses BY CHRISTALEE FROESE


hese horses were odd by any standards. The three of them in the outdoor pen were lean and muscled and somewhat on the light side for weight. They were not particularly attractive as one was a standardbred — a breed that features a ‘‘jug” head that looks too big for its body. They stood out like a sore thumb on this farm I love to visit and I surveyed the scene with suspicion. Why were these three horses here? Then I was introduced to a middle-aged man with a thick Australian accent and his 14-yearold son, and as we talked, an inspiring story of animal rescue emerged. Joe Guy Brewer and his son Zac are travelling across Canada by horse. The Australian natives began their cross-country journey in British Columbia in May. They will travel approximately 4,000 miles over six months, riding horses that are considered to be “unbreakable.” The rescue horses they ride are typically destined for sale and slaughter. Joe, a professional horse trainer and long rider, hears about the horses through word of mouth and is often gifted them. He uses his unique horse sense to learn about the emotional scars the horses have and he heals them using trust to bridge the gap. Within days and weeks on the road with Joe and Zac, all of these “untrainable” horses become quiet friends who lift up their hooves for trimmings, nuzzle in for affection and glide beneath their riders in quiet subservience. “I’m one of the few long riders in the world who takes unbreakable horses only, saves them from going to glue and from when I meet them to when I see them seven days later, I’m riding them on the highway heading across the country,” said Joe who is completing his second trip across Canada. “I love the challenge of putting yourself out there, not knowing what’s down the road, knowing your diet is going to change dramatically and knowing that you’re going to be sleeping on the hard ground after riding six to seven hours a day.” Joe and Zac camp out on the road, looking for abandoned houses, old barns or trees for shelter from the elements. They buy groceries as they go, depending on the proceeds from the sale of Joe’s book Just Another Dream as their only source of income. Occasionally, they will come across fellow horse people who offer them a hot meal or shelter for the horses. At this Saskatchewan rest stop, I learn Zac is riding a 14-yearold standardbred named Deuce. The large-headed gelding had previously been a racehorse, after which a Blairmore, Alberta rancher bought him to pull his grandkids on a cart, but every time Deuce was hitched up, he thought it was race time and became a wild beast. The owner

gave Deuce to Joe and Zac, hoping the pair could train him for horseback riding and pass him on to a forever family while on their cross-Canada trip. After six weeks, the Brewers said Deuce was a quiet, well-mannered horse that would be perfect for any family. Joe and Zac always set up camp so that they can see their horses. While many people along their cross-Canada ride have offered them a bed, they always refuse because they need to sleep near the horses to ensure that their new four-legged travel companions are safe. The morning of my visit, Zac had risen to find that the horses were safe, but discovered that a

raccoon had stolen his breakfast right out of a plastic container. “That cheese bun was the only reason I got up,” laments the homeschooled teenager. He had dragged himself out of his sleeping bag at 6 a.m. to ensure that he and his dad were travelling in the cooler hours of that hot summer day. Yes, the horses were odd by any standards, but once I heard their story I realized how exceptionally beautiful they are and how exceptionally awesome Joe and Zac are to have rescued them. For more information, visit or email † Christalee Froese writes from Montmartre, Sask.

Joe Guy Brewer (l) and his son Zac are travelling across Canada.

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OCTOBER 7, 2013


Being thankful for what you have makes complete sense… JANITA VAN DE VELDE


while back, I shared the story of discovering that our daughter Isla has a magic eye — one that turns inward whenever she’s not wearing her glasses. The medical term for it is Strabismus — as defined by medical professionals, it’s the term used for eyes that are not straight. When you have it, your eyes don’t focus on the same objects and the eye will either turn in, or turn out. The culprit is usually a muscle that’s not working properly, thus affecting the eye’s ability to focus correctly. Binocular vision allows the brain to receive images from both eyes, and puts them together to form one image; if the brain starts receiving a blurry (or different) image from one eye, then eventually the brain will stop paying attention to the blurry image and just use the good one. Brains are smart that way. Why choose fuzzy over clear? The bummer is that eventually this favouritism of the good eye over the bad may lead to the eye getting even weaker. Over time, this leads to issues with depth perception and left untreated, can even result in blindness in the weak eye. (Please note that I’m not an optometrist… I’m a mere mortal attempting to summarize what I’ve learned over the past few months.) Since receiving Isla’s diagnosis almost two years ago, we’ve attempted a few things. She wears glasses to correct her vision — as soon as her glasses go on, both eyes are straight. As soon as those glasses get knocked off, the one eye turns inward almost immediately and she goes cross-eyed (Exhibit A). This is usually when she excitedly

Exhibit B proclaims, “I see two Mommies!” which causes my heart to break in two. Lord knows seeing one of me is traumatic enough. To strengthen the weaker eye, we patch the good eye for two hours every day in an attempt to force the weaker eye to focus and gain strength. This pirate routine doesn’t always go down well. We usually try to do it when she’s here at home to avoid other kids teasing her about it. I don’t think anyone means any harm by shouting, “Hey, what’s that thing on your face?” however, it does make her feel self-conscious. I keep telling myself it’s not a big deal. And it isn’t. It’s just the thought of her getting teased about it “breaks my heart into infinity pieces.” (My six-year-old son’s new saying when he doesn’t get his way.) I get that kids will get teased… we all got teased for something, didn’t we? To a certain extent, it can result in good things; being the target on the playground forces you to develop other weaponry, such as a strong sense of humour. That, or really selective hearing. It also leads to choosing your friends wisely early on in life — real friends — the ones who deserve you. We recently took her to see an

eye specialist; after almost two years of patching, we have yet to see any marked improvements in her one eye. Our hopes were that they could do surgery on the eye muscle to straighten it as this is often the course of action that’s taken when the eye refuses to co-operate. On the way there, Isla asked me, “Mommy, can I stop wearing glasses after I see the doctor?” I responded, “I don’t know, honey. I do know that you’re pretty darn perfect either way.” I’m not going to lie… I walked into that appointment fully expecting that they would agree to fix her eye. I was not expecting to walk out in tears, attempting to swallow a mouthful of disappointment, frustration and fear. The specialist informed us that she did not recommend operating on Isla’s eye because her problem is due to an inner eye muscle, and that’s harder to correct. If they go in and alter the eye muscle, and it’s not done correctly, then the eye may overcompensate in the other direction. She added that eye muscle surgery does not correct the underlying problem, which is that the brain is not receiving proper images from both eyes. I then argued that a lot of people have had surgery on the eye and

that it’s worked, so why wouldn’t she do it for Isla? She answered, “I don’t recommend it for her eye. If you keep patching for the next four years, then I think there’s a very good chance it should get better by the time she’s eight years old.” Sensing my imminent fall from grace, she went on to say, “This is the eye she’s been given. She’ll be fine.” As we shuffled out of her office, tears started pouring down my face. I slipped on my sunglasses, but not quite fast enough for my little detective. Isla turned her face up towards mine, scrunched up her wee nose to keep her glasses from falling down and said, “Why are you sad, Mommy? Are you sad because you miss Grandma? I miss Grandma, too.” God bless her. God. Bless. Her. In that moment when my faith should have been the strongest, I was at my weakest. I needed her to say that… I needed to know that she had already moved on. I needed her faith when mine wasn’t there. I needed her reminder of the blessings I already had, standing right there in front of me, when my only focus was on what I couldn’t make happen. After the appointment, we headed back to Manitoba to resume our vacation out at the farm. As a special treat for Isla, my sister and my nieces got Isla’s favourite horse from the pasture so she could go for a ride. Seeing her with this massive beast, my palms got sweaty and my heart was beating wildly as I obsessed over her falling or getting kicked in the face. But her? She was in heaven (Exhibit B). Once again, my little four-year-old reminded me to grab hold of this life and squeeze every drop of good from it while we’re here. (Including hiding her glasses from Mommy.) She’s fearless — full of faith, power and a lust for life. Me? I’m more of a Doubting Thomas. Perhaps not

Exhibit A the best example for my children, but I’m working on it. I have faith, although I often question and doubt outcomes that can’t be classified in black and white. I don’t do well in the land of should be and very good chance. This is how I’m wired. It’s also likely why I’ve already booked an appointment to see another specialist; he may very well tell me the exact same thing, but maybe by then I’ll be ready to believe it. In the meantime, I’m doing my best to let my faith carry me through while chanting, “This is the eye she’s been given. She’ll be fine.” This Thanksgiving, rather than focusing on what we don’t have, let’s be grateful for what we do. Most importantly, cut yourself some slack when you fall on your face from time to time… if God had expected perfection, He would have sent us all out the chute with a cape. Instead, through His grace, let’s do the best with what we’ve been given. And we’ll be fine. † Janita Van de Velde grew up on a farm near Mariapolis, Man. She holds a bachelor of science degree in agricultural economics from the University of Manitoba, and has worked for a financial institution since graduating. She lives in Regina, Sask., with her husband Roddy and their children Jack, Isla and James. Her first novel, Postcards Never Written, was the recipient of the Saskatchewan Reader’s Choice Award and also listed by CBC as one of the top funny books in 2009. She donates a portion of proceeds from the sale of her book to World Vision. For more information, or to order her book, visit her website at Follow her blog at www.postcardsneverwritten. It’s her yet-to-be-rated material. Consider yourself warned.

Art in the community BY EDNA MANNING


olourful mosaic murals and brilliant flower beds welcome guests to Doreen Kalmakoff’s art studio near Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. ‘Spirit of the Prairie’ has become a well-known art and teaching studio and students come to this peaceful, rural location for instruction, inspiration, and encouragement to follow their artistic dreams. “I always encourage my students to pursue what’s in their hearts, and to take classes that will lead them to their goals. I think it’s important to keep those dreams alive,” she says. Kalmakoff grew up on a small farm in northwest Saskatchewan and taught school in the area. After marrying, she put her career on hold while she and her husband John (also a teacher/ farmer) raised their two sons. “Being a stay-at-home mom afforded me the opportunity to take some art classes when I wasn’t coaching sports, cooking

for hired men or operating the combine at harvest.” Kalmakoff returned to teaching after their two boys entered university, and it was about this time her dream of seriously pursuing art began to unfold. After retiring from teaching school, Kalmakoff created her home-based art-teaching studio. Advertising initially brought a number of local students, then word of mouth led to interest from surrounding communities. Through the years, her art has branched off in a variety of areas including murals, mosaics, decorative floor mats and hypertufa garden art. “People are looking at art for other areas of their homes and gardens, not just on the wall. “About 10 years ago the mosaic bug got me. With mosaic, there’s no such thing as failure, and people of all ages can create something personal or something they enjoy. Kalmakoff’s paintings lean toward abstract. “I like to create narrative in my paintings by establishing a mood, and through the use of line,

and repetition of colour and shape, the paintings become a visual journey for the viewer. Because the faces are not realistic, the viewer can define the mood,” she says. A show this year at the Station Arts Centre in Rosthern featured a portraiture series by Kalmakoff, representing Prairie people. “I wanted to honour the courage of pioneer women and how their decision to come to this country made a future for all of us,” she says. Kalmakoff has been involved in murals in several communities since 2005, Saskatchewan’s centennial year, when she was asked by one of the town’s shopkeepers to jazz up her building with a mural for the town’s centennial celebrations. “As the mural developed, other businesses asked to have one done.” Kalmakoff’s efforts to promote art in the community also led her to organize a rural art tour to showcase the artisans and homebased businesses in the area. ‘1240 and Beyond — An Adventure in Rural Life’ is an annual, selfguided, two-day tour in July

Doreen Kalmakoff with some of her art. which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year (visit She finds great satisfaction in teaching and taking art into the community. “Teaching the basics first is so important — basic skills and materials to use and how to use them. I like to lay a foundation of knowledge and have students build on that. I respect each person’s individual creativity and help them develop their potential,” Kalmakoff says.

As well as having a rewarding art career, she says her greatest joy is her family. “My family’s always been very important to me. My greatest joy today is having our family together and having all seven grandchildren painting around a big table in the studio,” she says. For more information about her art, contact Doreen Kalmakoff: (306) 497-2801; email: john. † Edna Manning writes from Saskatoon, Sask.

OCTOBER 7, 2013 /


Home Quarter Farm Life SINGING GARDENER

Now’s the time to build up the immune system Plus, make some mini greenhouses from plastic milk jugs TED MESEYTON


atch a falling leaf during autumn and you won’t catch a cold all winter! I can’t verify whether that bold statement is true or just a fable. Actually, it’s not that easy to catch a leaf as it tumbles from a tree to the ground. Well as always, I have more than enough to tell. Before I know it, my Singing Gardener page is full. It’s good of you to come by. I’m mighty happy to have you tag along with me. By the way — thank you for subscribing to Grainews!

TIME TO BUILD THE IMMUNE SYSTEM Cutting back on sugar helps. Now that we’re into autumn, let’s do ourselves a favour and cut down on sugary-laden foods, sweets and beverages. Don’t wait for flu season or a cold to come visiting. Be aware that excess consumption of sweet things can weaken the immune system within a half-hour and its effect remains that way for more than five hours. So says Michael Murray, a well-known naturopathic doctor. To remain healthy this winter he recommends intake of no more than 15 to 20 grams of sugar in any given three-hour period. Did you know that as little as four ounces of many fruit juices contain natural sweetness that converts to about 12 grams of sugar? So may I suggest — let’s all monitor our sugar intake.

GIVING LEMON AND CRANBERRY JUICES THEIR DUE Sour is good! Squeeze juice from half a lemon into a glassful of slightly warm water. Stir in three or four tablespoonsful of unsweetened, unfiltered pure cranberry juice and drink it first thing in the morning. This duo is a great abdominal support that provides energy and boosts the immune system. Or, try alternating fresh lemon juice and water one day and unsweetened cranberry juice with water the next. Has your doctor ever suggested: “your system is too acidic?” Let it be known that lemons may seem acidic by their own nature but are surprisingly alkaline once metabolized inside the body. Whether you agree or not, there’s a strong consensus that drinking lemon juice in warm water actually helps reduce overall acidity and draws uric acid from the joints often resulting in a reduction of pain and inflammation. Got colon elimination challenges? Lemon juice encourages regular bowel movements, is a great digestive aid and liver cleanser. It’s been known for centuries

that lemons contain powerful health-promoting benefits such as antibacterial, antiviral and immune-boosting components to help fight infection.

PLANT AN OUTDOOR FALL GARDEN It’s normal for many flowers, herbs, tomatoes, papery-husk tomatillos and ground cherries to self-seed — popping up here, there and anywhere the following spring. Gardeners told me about their morning glory vines and potato plants that volunteered this year. The preferred method for fall planting is to deep till your soil and have the seedbed ready in advance. Keep an open eye and listening ear to weather reports. Carrots, kohlrabi, radishes, winter leaf lettuce, garlic cloves, parsley, parsnip and spinach can be seeded 10 days or more before the forecast suggests soil is going to freeze and remain frozen. The trick is to avoid any germination before freeze-up. You’ll have extra time to do other things come next spring. Here are best fall planting dates according to the moon for annuals, herbs, leafy greens and veggies that produce their edible portion above ground: October 10, 11, 12, 15, 16 and November 7, 8, 11, 12. For veggie root crops, transplanting, including flowering perennials, shrubs, trees, food perennials such as grapes, rhubarb and raspberries, lily, daffodil and tulip bulbs: October 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26 and November 20, 21, 22. However, don’t wait if weather doesn’t allow delay.

EMPTY FOUR-LITRE MILK JUGS … make excellent mini greenhouses for starting seedlings. Thoroughly wash empty jugs. About midpoint carefully cut the top half all the way around (see picture) leaving enough at the rear of the handle to fold back as a hinge. Fill the bottom half with good-quality starter mix. Moisten lightly and store in an unheated greenhouse, cold frame, garage, root cellar or storage shed in readiness for planting next spring. However, you can actually experiment by planting seeds in prepared jugs this fall then allow them to also freeze over. For example: plant two or three tomato seeds in individual jugs that are then placed inside a large clear plastic bag, fastened together at the top with a twist tie. Each pre-planted jug is kept frozen during winter. At the appropriate time in spring, remove from storage and place in a sunny, protected area. Once seeds germinate, monitor closely for moisture, temperature and provide air circulation. Transplant extras into other containers and leave only one


The Singing Gardener uses empty four-litre milk jugs as miniature seed-starting enclosures. Punch a few drainage holes in the bottom of each. Cut three-quarters of the way around the top half and leave the edge opposite the jug handle to use as a hinge. Fill the bottom with starter mix, moisten and plant two or three tomato seeds. Fold down the top half and fasten the cut seam with masking or duct tape. Ted also places four milk jugs filled with water around individual hybrid teas and other tender roses at beginning of freeze-up to help bring them through winter. tomato plant to flourish within its own private mini greenhouse. The very best dates for fall planting tomato seeds are October 24, 25 and the morning of October 26 until noontime.

HELLO GARDENERS AT YOUNG, SASK. Matter of fact — hello to all gardeners wherever you are across this great land. I continue to hear from many, including Ruby and Henry Soderberg who live an hour southeast of Saskatoon. Ruby didn’t mention whether a high percentage of youthful gardeners live in and around Young, Sask. but they surely all must be young at heart. Ruby writes: We had a great crop of potatoes this year. I got my seed from T&T. I have Blue Viking, Alta Blush, Agria, Dark Red Norland. I really like Alta Blush and Blue Viking. The Blue Viking is a white-flesh potato with a purple skin; not blue inside. We moved to this place in 2010 when we had so much rain our garden was under water. 2011, I planted some garden but nothing did well, so we got a load of topsoil for 2012 which was great when it was damp but baked very hard when dry so we added some manure that spring. A friend of mine had a lot of disease in her tomatoes so I watched mine. A few of mine started spoiling in the garden so I picked and disposed of them right away. I watched the ones I took into the house and disposed of any that showed signs of spoiling. It was only as they ripened that they spoiled and there were not a lot. I was careful to dispose of the plants. Last fall we added a lot more manure and I worked it in this spring then planted my potatoes. Should I work the garden good or since I did OK this year should I just lightly work it? I moved my tomatoes and have no sign of any spoilage this year. I am bagging my potato tops this year and will dispose of them out in a bush on our land. Now I hear potatoes can have the same disease. Is that true? Also, my zucchini has mildew growing on the leaves and stems. Ruby. Ted’s reply: Yes — it’s true that tomatoes and potatoes including

It’s known as the master cleanser that aids the body but it is not lemonade. Combine the following in 10 ounces of cool water and sip slowly, but be prepared to sneeze: 2 tablespoonsful of pure lemon juice (about 1/4 lemon), 2 tablespoonsful of 100 per cent pure Canadian maple syrup and one-tenth teaspoon or less of red hot cayenne pepper or just a few grains of hot pepper to start until the body adjusts. Cayenne breaks up mucus and warms the body. Keep the tissues handy. peppers are all susceptible to the same disease, blights and fungi that can remain in soil for many years and are spread by splashing rain. Apply several layers of newspaper around each tomato plant up to the stem and top with a mulch of dried, unsprayed grass clippings, leaves and compost. Trim off bottom tomato leaves and avoid using the same exact spot over and over again. Churn up the soil really well during fall, especially just before a good frost. Many insect pests are brought to the surface and will freeze or are unable to work their way back down. Light tilling is better than none but deep tilling is best. Many plants including zucchini are subject to mildew, especially during warm temperatures and high humidity. Keep tomato and zucchini plants well spaced as good air circulation is critical. Here’s a formula tested by a South American researcher from Brazil. It’s safe, simple and effective. Prepare a mixture of one cup of cow’s skim milk for every two cups of water. A weaker solution may not work as well. Apply as a spray over zucchini and other

squash vines, on both leaves and stems. It mildew-proofs them in no time flat. Don’t wait until powdery mildew starts to appear. Practise prevention with weekly applications from springtime onward and provide a germicidal effect that stimulates plants to become more resilient. †

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I’m reminded of a song I sing with these words: Sow ’em on the mountain, reapin’ in the valley. We’re gonna reap just what we sow. Nothing makes Thanksgiving dearer to the heart, than the old-fashioned kind where being thankful is an art, another harvest safely gathered before winter winds and snow, with thanks for health, family and caring friends we know, each life has its harvestings once days of youth have flown, from deep within furrows of years gone by, we reap exactly what we’ve sown. My email address is

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