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Volume 39, Number 16 | OCTOBER 21, 2013



New canola varieties for 2014 These nine new canola varieties hitting the market in the spring of 2014 contain a range of agronomic traits BY LISA GUENTHER


s we’ve done in past years, Grainews has surveyed seed companies to round up lists of new seed varieties that will be on the market for the first time next spring. The nine new canola varieties for spring 2014 contain a range of agronomic traits. One of Viterra’s new varieties, Proven VR 9562 GC, is clubroot resistant. Bayer’s InVigor L140P and Viterra’s XCEED VT X121 CL are less likely to shatter. And each company offers new varieties with significantly higher yield than checks.

BAYER InVigor L252 Yielded 110 per cent of the checks (5440 and 45H29) in the 2011 and 2012 Western Canada Canola/Rapeseed Recommending Committee (WCC/RRC) trials. Rated R to blackleg. Maturity one day later than the checks’ average. Suited to all growing zones in Western Canada. Medium height, good standability. Oil content superior to the checks. InVigor L261 Yielded 107 per cent of new checks in 2011 and 2012 WCC/RRC trials. Resistant to blackleg. Maturity is two days later than the average of the checks. Suitable for all mid to long-growing zones in Western Canada. Tall height, good standability. Oil content equal to the checks. InVigor L160S Contains the sclerotinia tolerant trait and is also blackleg resistant. Yields 97 per cent of new checks in 2011 and 2012 WCC/RRC trials. Maturity is two days later than the average of the checks. Suited to mid to late growing zones in Western Canada. Medium height. Oil content is equal to the checks. InVigor L140P Includes pod shatter reduction trait. Yield equal to new checks in

Publications Mail Agreement Number 40069240

There are nine new canola varieties for spring 2014. Each company offers varieties with higher yields than checks. 2011 and 2012 WCC/RRC trials. Matures half a day earlier than the average of checks. Suited to all growing zones. Short to medium height, rated R for blackleg. Oil content equal to average of checks.

BRETTYOUNG 6044 RR Top-yielding mid-maturity Roundup Ready hybrid suited to all canola production regions of Western Canada. Medium height hybrid with excellent standability. It is rated R for blackleg and has a yield index of 132 per cent relative to 46A65/Q2.

VITERRA XCEED VT X121 CL Clearfield hybrid. Rated R to blackleg and fusarium wilt. Yields 125 per cent of VT Oasis CL. Matures a day earlier than VT Oasis CL. Very good standability. Bred specifically for brown and dark brown soil zones to tolerate heat and drought. Improved pod shatter resistance for straight cutting.


Proven VT 530 G Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid. Rated R to fusarium wilt and MR to blackleg. Yield is equal to Proven VR 9559G (check), and maturity is nearly a day earlier than check. Excellent standability. Proven VR 9562 GC Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid. Rated R to blackleg, fusarium wilt, and clubroot. High yielding variety (104 per cent of InVigor L130). Maturity equal to InVigor L130. Very good standability. Proven VR 9561 GS Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid rated R to blackleg and fusarium wilt. Also has sclerotinia resistance. Very good standability. Matures a day later than check (Proven VR 9557 GS), and yields 102 per cent over check. † Lisa Guenther is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa.


This canola was grown at the Scott Research Centre in Saskatchewan.

In This Issue

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


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


Crop Advisor’s Casebook


Columns ........................... 20 Machinery & Shop ............ 28 Cattleman’s Corner .......... 38

New corn varieties for 2014


Case IH showcases its equipment line


FarmLife ............................ 45



OCTOBER 21, 2013

Wheat & Chaff STAMPEDE




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wo men dressed in camouflage green were standing on the step. I’d never seen either of them before, but I opened the door anyway. “We just wanted to bring you some bacon,” said the one wearing the bandana. Then he handed me a white plastic bag that weighed about 10 pounds. I like to think nothing phases me. But I guess the guy in the camo suit could tell I was a little thrown off. “It’s really good bacon,” he said. Now I noticed he had an American accent, and the truck parked in front of the house had a Minnesota license plate. “Great bacon. From Wisconsin.” I suppose I should have started off with “Thanks,” but I was still trying to figure out what was going on. Don’t Americans have a thing about Canadian bacon? Is Wisconsin known for it’s bacon production? Isn’t that the state with cheese? “You know you’re in Canada, right?” was all I could think of to say. “We know. But you don’t have anything like this bacon up here. You’ve never had anything like this. It’s maple smoked. You’re going to love it. People drive hundreds of miles to get this bacon.” I must have looked skeptical. “This bacon is really something special. The next time we come up, you’ll be asking if we have more bacon.” Now I’d figured them out. These two guys must be running an under-the-table, backof-the-pickup unlicensed meat business. Hauling supply-managed goods over the border illegally for higher-price resale. He probably had a freezer full of corn-fed turkeys in the back seat of the truck. Maybe some of that Wisconsin cheese. I was wrong. “Your husband helped us out the other day, so we just wanted to bring you something. You’re going to love this bacon. Let me tell you how to cook it…”


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Find us on Twitter: Leeann Minogue is @grainmuse Lisa Guenther is @LtoG Lee Hart is @hartattacks Scott Garvey is @machineryeditor

I’m not a hunter, but I’ve always liked hunting season. I grew up near the South Saskatchewan River, north of Swift Current. In the 1970s and 80s, that area was the centre of a major migration flyway. We would drive to the riverbank at sunset and watch thousands of Canada geese fly back to the water for the night. Hundreds of flocks of sandhill cranes would pass over our farm on their way to the river, with the odd whooping crane in the mix, to keep us looking. Loud honking was a soundtrack for harvest and back-to-school. My uncle used a pit digger to dig pits on the edge of a field, deep enough for a hunter to

sit in. One year my dad spent hours in his shop, using a jigsaw to cut out hundreds of bird shapes out of plywood, then painting them black. They set these up in the field as decoys to attract passing flocks. This was the only time of year we had many tourists around. Somehow most of the international travel guides managed to leave out the chapter on Lacadena. Apparently some tourists want to go someplace with restaurants and theatres. But there were quite a few tourists in hunting season. One fall, we heard that Larry Hagman (the star of the TV show “Dallas”) was hunting just south of the river from our place, hunting. There’s nothing like some international attention to make your place seem more special. In the 1970s, My grandparents made friends with a group of hunters from Minneapolis. The same group of guys came back year after year. The Americans would set up a couple of trailers in the side of my grandparents’ yard, along with some tarps to sit out under and some clotheslines to hang birds. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my grandparents and their American friends for at least four years in a row. (I don’t remember these guys hauling any bacon up, but I’m sure they brought something. And they definitely played a mean game of rummoli). Then my grandparents took a trip south and stopped overnight in Minneapolis. “We gave Jerry a call from our hotel room,” I remember Grandpa saying. “But he said he’d get back to us, and hung up the phone pretty quick. We waited a half hour or so, then we figured he wasn’t going to call us back at all. They didn’t have any time for us when it wasn’t hunting season.” I imagined that must have been pretty disappointing. “But then,” Grandpa’s story went on, “I’ll be darned if he didn’t call us back at the hotel. He’d needed some time to call the rest of the guys, but now he had everything organized. He insisted we come straight to his house.” They’d meant to spend one night in the city, but ended up spending the whole weekend, meeting their friends’ wives and kids and being treated like royalty.

THE BACON That brings me back to the bacon. I didn’t know anything about it, but earlier in the week my husband had given them permission to hunt birds in a slough not too far from our house. They’d spent three days back there, enjoying the scenery, getting to know the moose and being grateful for my husband’s hospitality. “We caught all the birds we can take home and as many as we could eat,” Camo-man said. “We love coming up here.” “We have to drive back to Minnesota in the morning so

we can get back to work. But we’ll be back in a couple of weeks. We’ll try to bring you some more bacon.” I like gifts. But I was still a bit confused by all this bacon. But I took the bag, and — since I have manners — put a handful of freshly-baked cookies into a Ziplock bag in exchange, and the two hunters were on their way. Since we suddenly had a refrigerator full, we cooked up some bacon the next morning. Within five minutes, our whole house smelled like delicious smoked maple. It wouldn’t have surprised me if people driving by our yard smelled it stopped in to see what we were doing. Then, we tried it. Wow. Normally, I like bacon about as much as the next person, but I’m not some sort of bacon fanatic. At least I wasn’t until I tried this. But Nueske’s bacon is really something. Camo-man was right. We’ve never had bacon like it. My husband even went online to look up the company listed on the package. Sure enough. The website says Wisconsin-based Nueske’s sells the “world’s finest applewoodsmoked meats.” The site says, “Here’s the bacon so good it won national acclaim from The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Cuisine Magazine…” If we ever get within 200 miles of Wittenberg, Wisconsin, there’s no doubt at all that we’ll be making a detour to stop in for more bacon.

HARVEST UPDATE Despite the gut-wrenching hail that cleared a huge path through here in July, multiple breakdowns, weather disruptions and end-of-season short days, harvest is progressing on our farm. Where we didn’t have hail damage, we’ve had great crops. A few of the hail-damaged fields came out a little bit better than we’d dared to hope. It’s still a little upsetting to see our Facebook friends posting photos of the big piles of grain they’ve had to leave out in the yard because they ran out of bin room, but we can always hope for next year.

IN THIS ISSUE You probably noticed from the cover that this is our annual new varieties issue. Every year Grainews checks in with seed sellers and ask for lists of new varieties hitting the market for the first time in 2014. This year, Lisa Guenther took a turn sending out emails and putting the documents together. Remember, these lists are only the new varieties, not all available varieties. You’ll find lists of new canola, soybean cereal varieties in the front pages of this issue. You will not see new pulse varieties — we’ll run these later in the year, in a pulse-themed issue of Grainews. I hope you find them useful, Leeann

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /

Wheat & Chaff Farm safety

Safe storage solutions


he cup may runneth over for many grain farmers this fall with higher than average yields following a moist spring and temperate summer. Not too hot, not too cold, just right for the proverbial bumper crop. But all that abundance can create some logistical challenges — and safety concerns — when it comes to improvising adequate grain storage solutions. Farmers that have maxed out their grain bins may look for temporary storage space in quonsets or machine sheds. But these facilities should be used with caution and only after careful risk assessments have been conducted. For one, they weren’t built for grain storage, so if you are going to fit a round peg in a square hole, you have to make sure the structural integrity of the building is strong enough to withstand the pressure of all that grain. Contact the manufac-

turer or check with your ag retailer to be sure one way or another. If you don’t know, don’t chance it. Secondly, they weren’t designed for grain removal. If you have to squeeze your auger, skid steer, or loader into and out of your temporary grain storage facility to access the grain, you could also run into dangerous air quality concerns like carbon monoxide and exhaust from your internal combustion engines. Add to that grain dust, and the potential for organic contaminants from grain mould or other biological hitchhikers and you could have a recipe for serious airborne hazards. In other words, someone working without a proper respirator and other appropriate personal protective equipment could at worst be overcome by fumes and suffocate, or be susceptible to dust-related health conditions like Farmer’s Lung. Grain bags are another fairly widely used and commercially available tem-

porary storage option. Grain bags run about 10 feet in diametre and are a great storage solution if used according to their intended design. However, if wildlife, particularly deer or rodents, manage to puncture or chew through the plastic and help themselves to some of your grain, creating a route for moisture infiltration, you are likely to end up with some spoiled grain that might hamper removal efforts. Never, ever, enter a grain bag for any reason. The structure could collapse on you, you could be engulfed in grain, or you could be overcome by oxygen depleting or toxic gases present in the tube. Either way it’s not worth the risk. Lastly, make sure to dispose of grain bags according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Resist the urge to burn single-use bags once they have outlived their useful purposes. It may seem convenient but burning plastics at low temperatures releases potent pollutants

that are not only very bad for the environment but also hazardous to anyone downwind. And it’s illegal. Finally, a note on rodenticide, commonly known as rat poison. Whether you are storing your extra grain in temporary storage bins, quonsets, machine sheds, or another improvised facility, if you are having difficulty with vermin and need to use rat poison, keep in mind rodenticide is a slow anticoagulant. Rats don’t usually die immediately after consuming it. Depending on the variety, they usually slow down after consuming a lethal dose, with death occurring one to two weeks after ingestion. In other words, they become slow moving, toxic — but temping — prey for cats, dogs, and other carnivores. So make sure to keep pets and children far away from rats, and the poison, until the situation is under control. When it comes to grain storage, there’s more at stake than protecting an abundant yield. Take precautions and protect yourself, and your loved ones, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labour together. † The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association is online at

Crop protection

Control cutworm, flea beetle

You might be from the Prairies if...


u P o n t ’s   n e w insecticide treatment Lumiderm became available to Western Canadian canola growers this fall. Lumiderm controls both cutworm and flea beetles, using the new active ingredient cyantraniliprole (Group 28). Canola growers using Lumiderm can expect up to 35 days protection from cutworm after canola is planted — that’s enough time to carry the crop through the critical stages of seeding growth. †

Your employer allows you time off to harvest grain.

photo contest

Weather Lore

GIVE US YOUR BEST SHOT Graham Svatos sent us this historic photo of his brothers, Jerry, Kelly and Douglas. Graham says, “The boys are working on a Cockshutt 80 gas tractor that was seized in one of my Dad’s farmyards south of Oyen, Alberta. By the way, they got it running!” A cheque for $25 is on its way to Graham. To see a cheque like that in your mailbox, send your best shot to leeann. 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

Onion forecasters


nion skin very thin, Mild winter coming in; Onion skin thick and tough, Coming winter, cold and rough. Many weather sayings are based on a fairly widespread belief that nature always averages things out so that we can remain close to normal As it applies to the onion — a cold rainy summer might produce a thin-skinned onion, whereas a hot, dry summer is more likely to produce an onion with a thick and tough skin. This rhyme is telling us that if the summer is cool, we can expect a warm winter. Conversely, if the summer is warm we can expect a cold or rough winter. Right or wrong, this theory of balance has produced many weather proverbs. † 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:




OCTOBER 21, 2013

Cover Stories Crop varieties

New soybean varieties for 2014 After record acreage in Manitoba in 2013, seed companies are pushing for earlier maturity to expand the soybean growing area

By Lisa Guenther

While last year there was only one new variety that required less than 2400 crop heat units, there are several coming to the market for the first time in 2014. NorthStar Genetics Manitoba has one variety, NSC Moosomin RR2Y, that requires fewer than 2300 crop heat units. NSC Moosomin RR2Y will be available in very limited quantities next year.

DEKALB 24-61RY Excellent tolerance against brown stem rot. Also has high standability ratings and excellent no-till adaptability. Very good emergence and seedling vigour. Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield traits. 2475 heat units. 23-60RY Excellent tolerance against white mould. High emergence rates and great seedling vigour. Very good standability and no-till adaptability. Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield traits. Rated at 2375 heat units.

DuPont Pioneer P001T34R Dupont describes P001T34R as an ultra-early maturing variety. Matures earlier than DuPont Pioneer’s 900Y61. Average canopy

width. Very good early growth and harvest standability. Very strong iron deficiency chlorosis tolerance. Roundup Ready. 2350 heat units. P002T04R Another ultra-early maturating variety, maturing earlier than 900Y61. Has excellent early growth scores and harvest standability. Above-average canopy width and built in Phytophthora resistance (Phytophthora gene 1k). Good iron deficiency chlorsis tolerance. Roundup Ready. Rated at 2350 heat units.

NorthStar Genetics Manitoba NSC Vito RR2Y Very tall, excellent pod height off the ground, along with early maturity makes this an excellent variety for first time growers. Well suited for fields with uneven topography or stones. Yielded 103 per cent of check in two years of Manitoba provincial trials. Rated at 2350 heat units. NSC Niverville RR2Y Includes soybean cyst nematode resistance. Exceptional yield potential in a mid-season variety. A top yielder in 2012 Manitoba provincial trials averaging 113 per cent of the long-season check. Strong iron deficiency chlorosis rating. Excellent fit for the Red

River Valley of Manitoba at 2450 heat units. NSC Moosomin RR2Y Ultra early variety expected to push soybeans into areas with shorter growing seasons. Compact, erect plant with short internodes and very dense podding. Data from plot and field scale trials to date have shown excellent yield potential. Requires less than 2300 heat units. Very limited availability in 2014. NSC Tilston RR2Y Early-mid season variety. Tall with very good pod clearance and exceptional standability. Yielded 104 per cent of check in 2012 Manitoba provincial trials. Rated at 2400 heat units. Limited availability in 2014. NSC Mollard LL Liberty Link soybean variety which was the earliest LL variety grown in the U.S. The variety has excellent iron deficiency chlorsis tolerance. Well suited for the longer growing season zone of Manitoba at 2450 heat units.

Pride Seeds PS 0035 NR2 Early, high yielding RR2 variety. Combination of strong soybean cyst nematode resistance and above average iron deficiency chlorsis tolerance.

Excellent standability and disease tolerance. This variety has good plant height with excellent canopy at 2375 heat units.

Quarry Seed TH 34006R2Y Excellent spring vigour out of the ground. Great yielder for mid-and-full season maturity zones. Branches very well to fill in 20-inch rows and greater. Excellent fit for growers planting on 30-inch rows. Very good stalk strength and standability. Rated at 2475 heat units.

SeCan McLeod R2 A Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield oilseed soybean that combines very early maturity and good yield potential. Excellent podding height, upright growth habit and a medium-bushy plant type. Has a tolerant rating to iron chlorosis. Rated at 2375 heat units. Gray R2 A Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield oilseed soybean with a bushier plant type for wider row spacing. Good podding height, and very good lodging resistance. Gray R2 is rated as semitolerant to iron chlorosis. Rated at 2450 heat units. † 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

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

Arlene Bomback Phone: (204) 944-5765 Fax: (204) 944-5562 Email: Printed in Canada by Transcontinental LGM-Coronet Winnipeg, Man.

Publications Mail Agreement No. 40069240.

Canola performance trials Commission (SaskCanola) and the Manitoba Canola Growers Association. Funds also come from seed company entry fees, and the B.C. Grain Producers Association assists by conducting trials. The trials are overseen by a governance committee that includes grower group representatives, oilseed specialists, seed


Grainews is published by Farm Business Communications, 1666 Dublin Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3H 0H1.

Crop varieties » CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

he list of new variety options on our cover is helpful, but when it comes time to make the final decision, you’re going to want to look at the cold, hard numbers. Canola performance trials are funded by The Alberta Canola Producers Commission, the Saskatchewan Canola Development

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

company representatives and the Canola Council of Canada. The final results combine small plot data with field scale trials, to give you a better indication of what you might see in the field. Last year, canola performance trial information was available by November 9. This year’s release date will depend on har-

vest completion. Once the data is released, you’ll find the new data online at Last year, there were two years of data to compare: 2011 and 2012. This year’s results should be even more useful, with three years of data online. † Leeann Minogue

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.



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Your next issue! You can expect your next issue in your mailbox about November 11, 2013

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.

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 21, 2013 /



New corn varieties for 2014 There are more than 25 new corn varieties on the market for 2014, some with new low maturities BY LISA GUENTHER


estern Canadian farmers will have their pick of several new corn varieties for next spring. Seed companies have pushed maturity as low as 2125 heat units (DEKALB’s DKC26-28RIB). Many of the new varieties include technology traits, such as Refuge-InBag (RIB) and insect protection traits (Genuity VT Double PRO, Genuity VT Triple Pro Corn, Herculex I Insect Protection gene, and YieldGard Corn Borer gene). Some varieties also include Roundup Ready 2 (RR2) and Liberty Link genes, granting herbicide resistance.

Corn acre increase


n June, Monsanto Canada announced plans to invest $100 million over 10 years to produce corn hybrids that could be grown more widely in Western Canada. In Monsanto’s press release, Mike Nailor, corn and soybean lead for Monsanto Canada, said “Farmers in Western Canada are some of the most sophisticated in the world but most haven’t had the option to grow corn in the shorterseason climate that characterizes Western Canada.” Monsanto’s research will focus on developing corn with earlier relative maturities. Monsanto predicts that its “Canadian Corn Expansion Project” could increase Western Canadian corn acreage from 300,000 to 500,000 acres (mainly in Southern Manitoba), to eight to 10 million acres by 2025. Nailor said, “There will definitely be a learning curve but farmers are innovators and strong adopters of technology. I don’t doubt for a second, that given the tools, they will drive corn acre expansion across the west if the yield and profitability potential in corn remains strong relative to other cropping options. †”

BRETT YOUNG E53B22 R New silage and grazing hybrid. A VT2Pro Complete RIB for corn borer protection. Very tall plant with excellent spring vigor suited to the 2200 to 2500 corn heat unit regions. Rated at 2350 heat units. E47A17 R Top performing grain hybrid for yield and drydown in a medium tall plant. Fast emergence and early maturity. Excellent drydown and high bushel weight. Excellent stalk strength. Rated at 2200 heat units. E47A12 R Delivers the same grain yield

and drydown as E47A17 R but with the Genuity VT Double PRO RIB complete for corn borer protection without the need for a separate refuge. 2225 heat units. E48A27 R A medium maturity grain hybrid with excellent drydown and yield. Medium tall plant. Rated at 2250 heat units. E48A29 R Same genetics as E48A27 R but comes with Genuity VT Triple PRO RIB Complete for corn borer protection with 10 per cent ref-



Farmers will have several new corn varieties to choose from in 2014.




5525 CL yield, PROFiTABiliTy And mARkeTing FlexiBiliTy 5525 CL has been a proven performer across the Prairies in the many different environmental conditions experienced over the past few years. Able to compete with the best in any system, 5525 CL is among the Clearfield® leaders in the field and, as always, offers complete marketing flexibility. One more benefit of growing 5525 CL: the new Ares™ Clearfield herbicide—another proven winner. If you are planning to grow canola next year, take a look at 5525 CL. In the end, it all comes down to performance and BrettYoung brings a new standard of excellence to the field.


Leeann Minogue



Jon MontgoMery 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist – Skeleton 2008 World Championship Silver Medalist

CHeering For Jon in 2014

BrettYoung is a trademark of BrettYoung Seeds Limited. Ares is a trademark and Clearfield and the unique Clearfield symbol are registered trademarks of BASF Agrochemical Products B.V. All used with permission by BASF Canada Inc. All others are trademarks of their respective companies. 13023 09.13



OCTOBER 21, 2013

Features Crop varieties

New cereal varieties for 2014 There will be six new wheat varieties, two new barley varieties and two new oat varieties for 2014, with new disease resistance options By Lisa Guenther


eed companies are offering 10 new cereal varieties for 2014. Along with raising yields, breeders are beefing up disease resistance. Two wheat varieties, Syngenta’s SY433 and Viterra’s Proven CDC VR Morris, have moderate fusarium head blight resistance (FHB). Canterra’s AC Emerson is rated resistant to FHB. Secan is also rolling out two new barley and two oat varieties. One oat variety, CDC Brown, is already approved for milling, while AC Stride is under evaluation. On the

barley side, maltsters are developing CDC Kindersley. CDC Anderson is suitable for feed barley, and also has potential for a malting barley.

Wheat Canterra AAC Bailey Hard Red Spring Wheat Suited for all wheat growing areas of the western Canadian Prairies, especially short season zones. Matures four days earlier than Carberry. Yields two per cent higher than Lillian with a notably higher flour yield and stronger gluten. Rated R to leaf and stem rust.

AC Emerson Hard Red Winter Wheat Suited for the winter wheat growing region of the Canadian prairies. Yields 100 per cent of CDC Falcon. Excellent lodging resistance, a high test weight and improved protein content. Will be included in the milling class. Rated R to stem and stripe rust, and fusarium head blight (FHB). Syngenta SY433 Canadian Western Red Spring Hollow stemmed, awned wheat. Yield 101 per cent of AC Barrie (check). Good pro-

tein. Good milling yields with acceptable flour colour. Excellent absorption, stability and mixing tolerance for baking. Excellent polyphenol oxidase (PPO) levels and makes good noodles for export markets. Very good resistance to leaf, stem and stripe rust, loose smut and bunt and moderate FHB resistance. CDC Desire Canadian Western Amber Durum Excellent protein and colour characteristics. Similar height characteristics to AC Strongfield but with an earlier maturity and enhanced standability. Resistance

uge included in the bag. Rated at 2300 heat units.

DKC30-07RIB Refuge integrated in the bag. Excellent emergence rates as well as drought tolerance and grain dry down. Great emergence and seedling vigor. Strong silage hybrid. Genuity VT Double PRO traits. 2325 heat units.


Dupont Pioneer

CROPLAN 2280AS5222 Exceptional performance in cool growing conditions. Early flowering variety with excellent northern movement. Exceptional yield potential in environments with favourable moisture. Ears are consistent and girthy with some flex. Rated at 2525 heat units.

P7632R This variety has very good drought tolerance. Also has above average stalks and root strength, plus good husk cover. RR2. Requires 2150 heat units.

new corn varieties for 2014

CROPLAN 3080AS5222 Strong grain yields and quality silage in warmer growing conditions. Large, consistent and girthy ear. Performs best at medium to high populations with a fungicide application. Good early emergence and early-season growth. 2800 heat units.

DEKALB DKC26-28RIB Refuge integrated in the bag. Excellent tolerance to common rust. Also has very strong stalk and root strength and excellent grain dry down. Genuity VT Double PRO traits. Rated at 2125 heat units.

P7632HR Very good drought tolerance, good husk cover, and above average stalks and root strength. Technology traits: RR2, Herculex I Insect Protection gene, and LibertyLink gene. Rated at 2200 heat units. P8016AM Is an Optimum AcreMax product, meaning it has integrated refuge for above ground insect control. Moderately resistant to Goss’s wilt. Also has very good drought tolerance and strong root strength. Average grain dry down. Technology traits: RR2, Herculex I Insect Protection gene, YieldGard Corn Borer gene, and LibertyLink gene. 2350 heat units.

Viterra Proven CDC Thrive Canadian Western Red Spring Clearfield tolerant. Moderately resistant (MR) to stem rust. Intermediate to leaf rust and stripe rust. Yields 112 per cent of AC Barrie, and matures less than a day over AC Barrie. Good standability, high protein. Milling quality. Proven CDC VR Morris Canadian Western Red Spring

photo: lisa guenther

There are 10 new cereal varieties on offer for 2014.


to leaf rust, stem rust and stripe rust. Similar to AC Strongfield in terms of FHB rating.

Maizex Seeds Inc. MZ 1610R Exceptional spring vigour, broadly adapted performance and rapid grain drydown. Roundup Ready grain hybrid. Rated at 2300 heat units. MZ 1633DBR Rapid grain drydown combined with a robust plant type and dominant performance. Integrated refuge grain or silage hybrid for European corn borer and glyphosate tolerance at 2300 heat units. MZ 1445DBR Superior stalk strength, attractive fall appearance and exceptional grain testweight. Integrated refuge grain hybrid for European corn borer and glyphosate tolerance. Rated at 2300 heat units. MZ 1710DBR Outstanding spring vigour and solid disease tolerance combined with rapid grain drydown. Integrated refuge grain hybrid for European corn borer and glyphosate tolerance at 2350 heat units.

Pickseed PS 2305VT3P RIB Good disease package. Very good grain quality. Extremely fast dry down. Tall plant height. Technology traits: Genuity VT Triple PRO RIB

Complete version of PS 2304RR. Rated at 2350 heat units. PS SilEx VT3P RIB Grain and high performance silage. Very good stalk strength. High test weight. Very tall plant height. Technology traits: Genuity VT Triple PRO RIB Complete. Rated at 2350 heat units.

TH 7574 VT2P RIB Excellent dry down. Excellent stalks and roots. Tall with nice ear placement. Excellent looking race horse type hybrid. Rated at 2050 heat units. TH 4574 RR This is a Roundup Ready only version of TH 7574 VT2P RIB.

PS 2348VT2P RIB Excellent grain quality. Very good stalks and greensnap tolerance. Very good tolerance to drought and Northern Leaf Blight. Medium-tall plant height. Technology traits: Genuity VT Double PRO RIB Complete technology. Rated at 2375 heat units.

TH 7577 VT2P RIB Excellent STG. Outstanding performance in yield. Short/medium size hybrid with nice ear placement. 2125 heat units.

PS ExLeafy VT2P RIB A silage specific leafy variety. Good emergence and early season development. Very good stalk and root strength. White cob. Good stress tolerance. Very tall plant height. Genuity VT Double PRO RIB Complete technology. Rated at 2625-2775 heat units.

TH 3378 RR (also available in conventional) Early maturing full dent hybrid. Good silage choice for early or late planting. Prefers better soils and fertility. Tall, strong plant. Semi flex cob. 16 to 18 row. Rated at 2250 heat units.

Quarry Seed Quarry Seed distributes Thunder Seed varieties in Canada. Thunder recently acquired Prairie Pacific Seeds. Any silage corn hybrids that Prairie Pacific had in their lineup now have Thunder Seed names. Following are their new varieties.

TH 4577 RR Roundup Ready only version of TH 7577 VT2P RIB.

TH 3382 RR (also available in conventional) Tall plant with large cobs. Full dent. Adaptable across many soil types. Great finish. Likes heat. 16 to 18 row. Rated at 2400 heat units. † Lisa Guenther is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa.

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /



Breeders are beefing up disease resistance with new varieties. Yielding 117 per cent of AC Barrie. Matures 1.4 days earlier than AC Barrie. Very good standability. Milling quality. Rated MR to leaf spotting, stem rust, leaf rust and fusarium.

Barley SeCan CDC Kindersley Two-row malting barley. Yields 106 per cent of AC Metcalfe and matures one day earlier. Shorter, stronger straw. CDC Kindersley also offers improved test weight, kernel weight and per cent plump compared to AC Metcalfe, with an excellent malt quality profile. Under market development by Canadian maltsters.

Seed companies have 10 new varieties on offer for spring, 2014.

Bred in Canada to feed the world. Cereal seed from Syngenta helps you harvest opportunities wherever they are. We’ve been breeding wheat in Canada for four decades, setting unprecedented standards for yield, quality and sustainability. The world depends on Canadian grain, and Canadian growers count on Syngenta.

CDC Anderson Six-row malting barley with yield potential 103 per cent of Legacy. Shorter, stronger straw and earlier maturity. Was recommended as a malt with a malting profile similar to the checks but with lower malt beta-glucan. Strong straw and high grain quality makes it an excellent feed variety. Upside potential for malt should the demand arise.

Oats SeCan CDC Big Brown High yielding brown hulled oat with excellent milling quality, good smut and crown rust resistance. Yield potential is 104 per cent of CDC Dancer, 105 per cent of AC Leggett. It has higher per cent plump, lower per cent thins and higher kernel weight than CDC Dancer. Matures three days later than CDC Dancer. CDC Big Brown is currently on the list of approved milling varieties for Richardson Milling in Portage la Prairie. AC Stride High yielding, white hulled oat with good smut and crown rust resistance. Yield potential 108 per cent of CDC Dancer, 107 per cent of AC Leggett in Western Canada in the Co-ops. AC Stride has medium height, but excellent lodging resistance and is well adapted across the prairies. Currently under milling evaluation. †

Visit or contact our Customer Resource Centre at 1-87-SYNGENTA (1-877-964-3682). Always read and follow label directions. The Alliance Frame, the Purpose Icon and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. CASE IH is a registered trademark of CNH America LLC. © 2013 Syngenta.

Lisa Guenther is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Saskatchewan. Contact her at 5906-1I-Syngenta-CerealSeedAd-SPS-Grainews.indd 1

13-09-27 9:08 AM



OCTOBER 21, 2013


Adding diversity to boost wheat yields UK reports of potential wheat yield increases of 30 per cent sound too good to be true BY LEEANN MINOGUE

L NIAB researcher Dr. Phil Howell says yield increases of up to 30 per cent have been produced in early field trials.

ast spring, the UK-based National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) announced that its researchers have bred a “synthetic” wheat variety that could lead to new varieties that yield up to 30 per cent higher than today’s varieties. Announcements like this seem too good to be true. But there is science behind the claim, and there may be reason for optimism. In a press release the NIAB’s CEO, Dr. Tina Barsby, explains that mod-

ern wheat varieties are based on a cross between an ancient wheat and a wild grass species that took place in the Middle East 10,000 years ago. This domesticated cross has given us higher yields, but yield increases have slowed over time. Barsby says, “This is partly because domestication has eroded wheat diversity, and the possibilities for improvement from within the current wheat germplasm pool are reaching their limit.” Mitchell Japp, Saskatchewan Agriculture’s cereal specialist says, “Because the genetic diversity in



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modern wheat is reasonably narrow, it is challenging for breeders to continue to get yield gains, improve disease resistance and maintain quality.” The reason it is difficult to introduce more genetic diversity into wheat is that the wheat that resulted from the original cross is a hexaploid plant — a plant with three pairs of chromosomes. Hexaploid plants can’t be crossed with species that have only one or two pairs of chromosomes. To get around this limitation, scientists at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico developed a method of creating “synthetic wheat.” The first step is to cross two wild wheat variants and create a triploid — a plant with three single chromosomes. Then, the result is exposed to a chemical, colchinine, each chromosome makes a twin of itself. The resulting plant, synthetic wheat, has six chromosomes, and can be crossed with regular hexaploid wheat varieties. Synthetic wheat doesn’t have the characteristics farmers or end users need in a commercial product, but it can be used to create useful new varieties Japp says, “Adding diversity that provides a source of disease resistance, yield or quality, can assist breeders in further advancing the wheat we have.” CIMMYT developed more than 1,000 lines of synthetic wheat in the early 1980s. However, Ros Lloyd, NIAB communications manager, says, “Very little large-scale crossing had been done on commercially available northern European/temperate varieties.” Senior NIAB plant breeder, Dr. Phil Howell, said in the press release that synthesizing the original wheat plant has transformed the wheat improvement process. “Yield increases of up to 30 per cent have been produced in early field trials, despite the past few years being cold, wet seasons where lack of sunlight depressed yield.” When Howell began his research, Lloyd says, “He was surprised at the unexpected yield gains produced and therefore expanded the program. He began with a crossing program with the spring wheat variety Paragon (easy to cross and able to produce several generations in a year) and has moved onto the winter variety Xi19 (some springlike tendencies). He is currently expanding the program, crossing with other current varieties and working with U.K. commercial plant breeders.” Japp is cautious about reports of early yield gains from this program, or any other. He says, “We sometimes see spectacularly high yields come out of trials, but as a variety is tested over time, those massive gains are somewhat muted.”

LOCAL RESEARCH CDC VR Morris and CDC Stanley were bred at the Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan. Proven® Seed is a registered trademark of Crop Production Services (Canada) Inc. CPS CROP PRODUCTION SERVICES and Design is a registered trademark of Crop Production Services, Inc.

10834C-CPS-CDC_VR_Morris-GrainNews-JRPage.indd 1

2013-10-04 9:48 AM

Dr. Richard Cuthbert, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada wheat breeder at Swift Current,

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Features Sask., says Canadian researchers have spent a lot of time introgressing ancestral traits into wheat, for disease and pest resistance. “One example that comes to mind is leaf rust resistance. A gene named Lr22a was discovered by researchers at the AAFC Cereal Research Centre over 35 years ago and we are now just getting it into a usable state. With consistent breeding effort (multiple rounds of crossing and selecting) we now have lines with the gene which yield and perform as well as current commercial cultivars. The major problem is what we refer to as “linkage drag” — unwanted characteristics come along for the ride with ancestral genetics.” Cuthbert is also cautious about early high yield predictions. “It is quite easy to get a high yielding wheat line if you don’t place emphasis on selecting for necessary traits which include maturity, height, lodging, disease resistance, end-use quality, etc.” Cuthbert has personal experience with this in his own lab. “I was just doing some selecting this afternoon and noticed I have a line in a CWRS type cross that yields more than 37 per cent above the population mean over multiple testing sites. I am fairly certain we will find will not meet end-use quality (low protein), or we will find it doesn’t meet disease resistance requirements. But, you never know!” † Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews.

Modern Wheat Aegilops speltoides (BB)

Triticum urartu (AA) Chance hybridisation

Wild Emmer Triticum dicoccoides (AABB)

Synthetic Wheat Durum Wheat Triticum turgidum durum (AA, BB)

Controlled hybridisation

unstable triploid F1 (ABD)

Wild Goat Grass Aegilops tauschii (DD)

Chramasome daubling

Chance hybridisation

Modern Wheat Triticum aestivum (AA, BB, DD)

Wild Goat Grass Aegilops tauschii (DD)

Stable Synthetic Hexaploid (AA, BB, DD)

B:11.5” T:11”

photos: niab

Left: At NIAB, pollen from wild goat grass is placed ontoS:10.25” prepared ears of durum wheat. Seeds begin to form, and are transferred to a petri dish to germinate. Right: Goat grass, pictured above, is one of the wild wheat relatives used in NIAB’s program to introduce genetic diversity into new wheat lines.

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Evelyn Winkler, LANGDON, AB or 1 888-283-6847 or contact your Bayer CropScience representative. Always read and follow label directions. InVigor®, Liberty® and LibertyLink® are registered trademarks of the Bayer Group. Bayer CropScience is a member of CropLife Canada.




OCTOBER 21, 2013


Signing stewardship agreements Seed sellers and farmer surveys say stewardship agreements are well-received BY JULIENNE ISAACS


tewardship agreements are agreements between seed companies or breeders and the farmers who buy seed containing advanced technology. These agreements give the farmer the right to use the seed for a limited time. In Canada, stewardship agreements are becoming common practice for some crops, such as certain varieties of genetically modified canola and traditionally bred varieties of field crops like midge-tolerant wheat. In large part, stewardship aagreements exist to protect the long-term via-

bility of the seed’s built-in capabilities, such as disease tolerance and insect resistance. A c c o r d i n g t o To d d H y r a , SeCan’s business manager for Western Canada, the primary goal of stewardship agreements is to protect both the technology and the environment, and keep the seed useful in the long-term, protecting growers’ investment. “I was hired by SeCan about six years ago, and one of my first tasks was to be part of the team that started the stewardship program for midge-tolerant wheat,” Hyra says. “We asked how we could protect the technology and also allow for broad uptake.”

Midge-tolerant wheat is based on the Sm1 gene, which contains a naturally occurring mechanism that causes an increased phenolic acid release in wheat kernels, preventing orange wheat blossom midge from consuming the plant. All nine varieties of midge-tolerant wheat sold in Canada include a 10 per cent refuge — in other words, 10 per cent of the seed is susceptible to midge. Entomologists say this 10 per cent refuge will prevent resistance to the Sm1 gene from developing in midge populations over time, ensuring that the midge-tolerant wheat stays midge-tolerant. The stewardship agreement for midge-tolerant wheat allows farm-

ers to save seed for one generation past Certified seed. In developing this program, SeCan’s team of consultants considered everything from a traditional “release and don’t worry about it” model to a certified seedonly model. “By adding 10 per cent refuge, the models demonstrate that we could go to 90 years of tolerance,” says Hyra. “All of the first products in 2010 and every year since have had the same mechanism of tolerance. If it’s broken everything is lost.” And practically speaking, there is a lot to lose. Sm1 is the only known gene that confers midgeresistance to wheat, and it took

more than 15 years and a massive financial commitment to develop.

FARMERS’ REACTIONS Stewardship agreements must be signed before farmers can purchase midge tolerant wheat seed. In SeCan’s case, a database management company stores each agreement as soon as it is signed. The company keeps track of the year each grower buys each batch of seed. “If someone bought in 2010 and didn’t buy in 2011 or 2012, they’d be a candidate for review or audit,” says Hyra. “2013 was the first year that we started the

*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 21, 2013 /


Features audits, and we’re following up with growers now.” Hyra says growers’ reactions to the stewardship agreement have been almost wholly positive. Each year SeCan surveys growers who purchased the seed. Forty to 50 per cent of growers invited to participate in the survey have accepted, says Hyra, and the results show “overwhelming support” for the program. According to the survey, “92.8 per cent of midge tolerant wheat growers in 2012 agree it is critical to have a stewardship program in place to ensure the effective life of the midge tolerance gene is protected.” Percentages have been similar in previous years. Seed sellers say they haven’t heard any negative feedback from growers about the requirement to sign a stewardship agreement. Lynnell Olson, an agronomist and sales manager for Archerwill, Sask.-based Seed Source Inc., says

orange wheat blossom midge continues to be a concern in her region and neighbouring rural municipalities. Seed Source carries a number of midge tolerant wheat varieties, including AC Goodeve, CDC Utmost, AC Unity, AC Vesper and AC Shaw, and these have been well-received by growers in the area. “The farmers love it because it’s so many acres that they don’t have to worry about,” she says. “When there are complaints about the variety they’re never about the stewardship agreement.” Olson spends a lot of time going over the stewardship agreements with her customers, and she says complaints are never related to the contracts, but rather the year or the conditions affecting the crop. Education is important, says Olson, because too much emphasis can be placed on each variety, and not enough attention paid to best management practices for growing it.

“It’s a good tool to use, but it’s definitely not a miracle pill,” she says of midge tolerant wheat. “We are going to get a year where wheat midge is high, where we’ll have to spray whether or not we have the technology. But in general, we get lots of positive feedback about the variety.” Greg Friesen is a co-owner of Tez Seeds Inc. near Elrose, Sask. Tez Seeds sells AC Shaw and CDC Conquer, and demand is high for these varieties. He says the company considered a variety of factors when deciding which seed to grow, but the midge tolerant varieties have a lot of promise. “We looked at which varieties offer good yields, and we looked at disease packages and the allaround benefits. And insect tolerance was something we felt would benefit farmers,” he says. In Friesen’s view, stewardship agreements make sense from every

angle. “From our perspective on the stewardship agreement [for midge tolerant wheat], the big thing is that it helps protect the technology and ensure that it will be around for years to come. “Years of research have gone into this gene. If it becomes susceptible to midge, then we’re all back to spraying. So it’s a win-win for everybody.”

CLOSED LOOP CONTRACTS Stewardship agreements vary from company to company, and every contract is different. Dale Adolphe, executive director of Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, says that “stewardship” is a term that can sometimes be applied in different ways. “When it comes to GM canola, there have been technical use agreements which are more ‘right to use a technology’ than they are stewardship,” he says.

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.

O c c a s i o n a l l y, s t e w a r d s h i p agreements contain marketing restrictions requiring farmers to sell their crops to approved markets. These are called closed-loop contracts. In these caeses, the seed supplier, producer, handler and processor work together to produce a product that stays out of the mainstream grain handling and transportation system. Adolphe says, “It is closed loop in the extent that the production is not on the marketplace — it is held in the hands of the companies and individuals involved in the closed loop contract.” For now, it seems the benefits of growing and selling varieties which require stewardship agreements outweigh any negatives, if acreage is any indication. † Julienne Isaacs is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and editor. Contact her at



OCTOBER 21, 2013


Stars of the exceptional harvest Many Prairie farmers have seen exceptional crop yields in 2013 BY LEE HART


ith adverse weather and killing frost holding off until sometime in late October, farmers across Western Canada say the 2013 harvest has produced everything from reasonably good to exceptional yields. The sun wasn’t shining everywhere. Some farmers contacted for the late October Farmer Panel say rain and hail later in August and September were an issue in trying to get a crop

combined, but others say overall it has been a very good season.

FRED GREIG RESTON, MAN. Too much moisture has been the issue for Fred Greig of Avondale Seed Farm and other producers in the Reston area of southwest Manitoba. Greig who crops about 5,000 acres of grains, oilseeds and pulse crops for both pedigree and commercial seed says they had some “crazy rains” during the grow-

ing season, and rains during harvest made combining a challenge. Greig says yields were great in areas where crops didn’t get drowned out or hammered by hail. “We hear reports of phenomenal crops in other parts, but right here it has been a challenge,” says Greig. “You don’t have to go very far — like maybe 30 minutes in any direction — and crops are great, but in this part of southwest Manitoba and southeast Saskatchewan we’ve been struggling with moisture.” Greig says he was impressed with the new AC Emerson, which has

improved fusarium head blight resistance. AC Flourish looked good too, but AC Emerson was a bit better. Greig says the NSC Reston RR2Y soybeans handled the weather well and were looking good. And among Hard Red Spring wheats he was impressed with Cardale, a semi-dwarf that stood well. AC Carberry did well also but he believes it shelled out more.

LINDA NIELSEN STARBUCK, MAN. In south-central Manitoba, Linda Nielsen put the combine away Oct. 3 after a great growing season and a great harvest. “Other years we’ve had to fight it, but nature was certainly on our side this year,” says Nielsen, who produces grains, oilseeds and soybeans. Nielsen was impressed with nearly all crop varieties, saying she had “some phenomenal yields.” She was really impressed with the 1012 RR Nexera, which yielded

CEREALS Nor thAmerica 2 13 Fairmont Hotel, Winnipeg | 5-7 November 2013

close to 60 bushels per acre. She also had a field of 2012 Clearfield Nexera that produced 42 bushels. “My previous record here was 38 bushels, so I am really pleased with that 60 bushel per acre crop,” says Nielsen. “The Clearfield variety was still good, I am not complaining, but the Roundup Ready Nexera was very impressive.” Nielsen also had Clearfield 859 spring wheat with a “phenomenal 70 bushel yield,” and the Souris oats came in at 105 bushels per acre. Her first-ever soybean crop, Dekalb 24-10 R2Y had a very respectable 40 bushel yield.

KRIS MAYERLE TISDALE, SASK. There was nothing exceptional, but all crops were looking “very good” as Kris Mayerle headed into the last half of his harvest in the Tisdale area. He estimated farmers were 50 to 70 per cent complete in that area as of early. “We have combined some or all of everything, and yields have been very good,” he says. “We have been fighting a bit of rain the last couple weeks, but otherwise it has been a pretty good year. Crops grew well, but at the same time disease levels were low, which is a nice surprise.” Mayerle says peas took a hit due to wet conditions, but all wheat had above average yield. “One newer crop that seems to be doing very well is fababeans,” says Mayerle. “We had a few acres in 2012 and put in half a section this year. We haven’t combined it yet, but it is looking good and standing very well. It seems to handle excess moisture better than other pulse crops.”


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Josh Fankhauser put the combines away Oct. 3 as well, wrapping up an excellent year on his southern Alberta farm, northwest of Lethbridge. “We had one quarter that was hailed out in early July, which is very little for us, we silaged what was there, then reseeded it to oats as a cover crop and will soon be turning the cows into that for fall pasture,” says Fankhauser. “But other than that it was just a very, very good year.” Yellow peas came in at average yields, but Fankhauser says all other crops were “exceptional.” “If I had to pick one crop that stood out it was AC Carberry hard red spring wheat,” he says. “All our wheats were amazing, but we grew about half our wheat acres to AC Carberry and the other half to AC Unity and I was very impressed with Carberry.” AC Carberry is a semi-dwarf, high protein variety with improved fusarium head blight resistance. AC Unity is semi-dwarf hard red spring wheat with tolerance to orange wheat blossom midge. “What I liked about Carberry is that it stood well, and even without fungicides I got an amazing yield,” says Fankhauser. “Unity grew taller and then decided to lay flat. It had good yield but wasn’t fun to combine. Carberry has better disease resistance, but does nothing for bugs.” “The combines held together ’til the end, the crew wasn’t trying to kill each other and yields were great,” he says. “It was a good season all the way ‘round.” † Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at

Grain News.indd 1

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OCTOBER 21, 2013 /



Winter wheat crop survival Be ready for spring. Learn the three common ways to assess winter wheat survival BY ANGELA LOVELL


inter cereal cultivars all have different abilities to withstand winter conditions, so knowing the potential for winter survivability of a particular variety is useful. The measure of winter-hardiness potential is known as the Field Survival Index. Once the seed is in the ground, snow cover plays an important role in winter wheat survival. Snow buffers the soil from low air temperatures, and is particularly crucial from December 20 to March 20. Light fluffy snow provides better insulation than hard packed snow and a minimum of 10 cm of snow is needed to provide adequate insulation. If areas of the field have been left bare during the critical winter months, the risk of winter kill in these areas is increased. This is why seeding into standing stubble is important — to reduce the risk of winter kill. The crop needs time to recover in the spring and even crops that get a late start can still produce high yields. Spring management is crucial, especially in terms of providing adequate nitrogen fertilization to maximize yield potential. Knowing how well the crop has survived winter will help farmers decide whether to abandon the winter wheat crop and re-seed a spring crop or begin applying nitrogen and other inputs to make sure the crop has the nutrients it needs to reach maximum yield potential. The important message is not to be too hasty to write off a winter wheat stand just because it looks thin or ailing. If the crop is producing new white roots there is a good chance that it has survived the winter and is recovering well. There are three common ways to assess winter survival.

1. SOD EXTRACTION METHOD Extract several “sods” from the field with a shovel. Warm up the sods inside while keeping the soil moist. In five to seven days, assess the crowns for new root growth, which indicates the plant has survived. Extract sods from average areas of the field and from less than average areas, such as knolls, headlands where lower snow trapping usually occurs, and low spots where excess moisture and winter icing could have happened.

2. BAG TEST METHOD This method was developed by Ducks Unlimited in North Dakota and has five easy steps: 1. Dig or chisel plants out of the soil without damaging the crowns. 2. Rinse the soil off the crown and roots. 3. Using scissors, trim off the roots and leaves and all but one inch of the stem above the crown. 4. Put the crowns in a Ziploc bag and puff some air into it before sealing. 5. Keep at room temperature and observe every two days. Repeat the rinsing and air every two days.

Plants that are alive will extend leaves and grow new white roots. If new growth is not observed after six days, consider the plant dead.

3. WAIT FOR SPRING METHOD This method requires you to wait until the crop breaks dormancy and new root growth commences, which could take until mid-May, depending on spring conditions. Dig up some plants within the field, as looks can be deceiving. Plants with brown, dried leaves may not necessarily have suffered winter damage, while green, overwintering leaves are not necessarily signs of a crop that has survived. Rinse the plant roots with water

and examine the crown for the development of new white roots. If new roots are developing, and the crown appears white and healthy, the plant is likely in good condition.

The crop needs time to recover in the spring You should still scout your winter wheat fields regularly until you are sure of sustained growth. Some plants can green up in the spring but then slowly

die. This happens when there are enough nutrients in the crown to allow the plants to green up, but if plants are injured over the winter, there can be vascular damage so the nutrients cannot move into the plant. Root rot diseases can also infect and kill the plants. Because soil warms slowly in the spring, at least one to two weeks of spring growth at warm temperatures should be allowed before making a final estimate of winter damage to growing plants. Optimum plant stands are 20 to 30 plants per square foot, but winter wheat has aggressive tillering abilities, which can help compensate for lower plant densities.

The most difficult winter damage to assess occurs in fields where not enough snow was trapped during the winter months. Areas that had little snow cover during the coldest winter months can have patchy survival in the field, and often end up as problem weed patches. Everyone must decide what percentage of crop loss justifies re-seeding, but once the decision is made to re-seed, surviving winter wheat plants need to be eliminated quickly to make sure they are not using up soil moisture and nutrients that will be needed for the subsequent crop. † Angela Lovell is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist living and working in Manitoba. Find her online at





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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 BiotechnologyDerived 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. Genuity and Design®, Genuity®, Roundup Ready® and Roundup® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. ©2013 Monsanto Canada Inc. Proven® Seed is a registered trademark of Crop Production Services (Canada) Inc. CPS CROP PRODUCTION SERVICES and Design is a registered trademark of Crop Production Services, Inc.

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OCTOBER 21, 2013

Features Crop varieties

Winter wheat field trials Data on new winter wheat varieties looks promising, but traditional varieties will still have their place By Angela Lovell

AC Flourish is another recent variety that was introduced on reliminary results from a commercial scale this year by Manitoba Crop Variety SeCan. It also did well in the Evaluation Team (MCVET) MCVET trials, averaging 89.25 trials show promising bu./ac. over four sites compared yield data from new varieties of to the 77.8 bu./ac. yield of CDC Canada Western Red Winter wheat Falcon, which moves to the (CWRW) developed by Agriculture Canada Western General Purpose and Agri-Food Canada. (CWGP) class on August 1, 2014. It’s generally thought that these new CWRW varieties will offer The results a long awaited replacement for Across five yield plots, AC Falcon. Emerson will be commerEmerson yielded an average of cially launched next fall through 79.4 bu./ac. and ACC Gateway Canterra Seeds and is the first averaged 81.2 bu./ac., although wheat in Western Canada to be Manitoba Agriculture, Food and rated as resistant to Fusarium head Rural Initiatives (MAFRI), who blight. A limited supply of Gateway conducts the MCVET trials, cau- will be available from Seed Depot tions that this is only a one-year under an identity-preserved proyield trial result for these two gram and1full commercial SEC_MIDGE13_T_GN.qxd 10/7/13 5:46next PM fall Page newly registered varieties. release is planned for 2015.


Flourish is the first new CWRW to get put through its paces by farmers across the Prairies, who in the past have often struggled to achieve the 11 per cent protein target of Falcon that was required by the grading system if they wanted to achieve a milling grade. “Falcon was the main player for a long time and had been a very good performer and everyone was looking for something new,” says Todd Hyra, SeCan’s business manager for Western Canada. “Other products had come along but they were either taller or weaker strawed or were general purpose instead of milling class. When Flourish came along it had short straw, early maturity and meets the milling class for CWRW so everything aligned for it” Hyra estimates around 250,000

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acres of Flourish have been planted in 2013. It appears that the variety is performing well and it’s an easy transition for winter wheat growers wanting a new milling variety to replace Falcon. “We are very pleased with the way Flourish has performed and with the uptake by farmers,” says Hyra. “It’s the first year in the marketplace and the plant stature, the height, the maturity and the lodging resistance lines up very nicely with where Falcon was.”

Protein and price spreads Ironically the protein spread between Falcon and Flourish this year was very small and most winter wheat in general had abnormally high protein levels between 12 and 14 per cent says Curtis Sims, a winter wheat grower from MacGregor, Man. who is also a member of the Winter Cereals Manitoba Inc. Board of Directors. Sims is also a winter wheat seed grower and has been multiplying Flourish for the last couple of years. Agronomically, he says, there is little difference in growing Flourish to Falcon. The biggest difference is in the price spread. “The difference between straight feed wheat is around $5.75/bu. and a milling grade of winter wheat is more like $6.50/bu. or $6.70/bu. There is a solid price spread that didn’t use to be there and that might push some guys who are selling to the elevator towards Flourish or a bit of Emerson instead of Falcon,” he says. “But at the same time the spread between winter wheat and spring wheat is much tighter than it was, so it’s really not that the feed wheat has gone down, it’s more that the value of winter wheat has come up dramatically relative to spring wheat over the past few years.” This financial incentive alone, says Sims, is encouraging more winter wheat acres. Around 1.16 million acres of winter wheat were planted on the Prairies last year according to Statistics Canada, but more winterkill than usual meant around a third of them had to be re-seeded in the spring. Sims doesn’t think that will put too many farmers off seeding winter wheat. “For most farmers one year’s experience with some winter kill is not enough to deter them that much. These things happen a bit in winter wheat and you get your re-seeding benefit when you go again, so you’re not really behind. You get a second chance without any real big loss.” The indemnity available for reseeding winter wheat has been reduced in Manitoba this year to 25 per cent of coverage from the previous 75 per cent if the crop fails before June 20. “For 2014 producers will be eligible for 25 per cent of their coverage if they have a winter wheat failure early in the Spring,” says David Van Deynze, Manitoba Agricultural Services’ manager of claim services. “If they are able to re-plant a canola crop say by May 10 they usually don’t lose any yield and haven’t really then suffered any more hardship than the lost seed cost. So we think it will still adequately cover

More information


or more information about growing winter wheat check out www.WinterCereals. ca. This website is run by Ducks Unlimited. DU supports winter wheat growers because waterfowl nesting in winter cereals have a higher nesting success than those nesting in spring-seeded crops. †

Angela Lovell

producers and not be such a drain on the program.” More of a factor, says Sims will be late harvest in many areas, especially of canola, which is the preferred stubble to seed winter wheat into. At time of writing it was well past the crop insurance deadlines for winter wheat seeding across the Prairies and in many areas harvest was still underway, but Sims feels there will still be a lot of winter wheat acres seeded providing conditions allow it, despite the crop insurance deadlines. “With good moisture conditions and good heat we still expect quite a bit of winter wheat to go in whether it’s a little after the crop insurance deadline or not,” says Sims. “I suspect that there is going to be pretty solid acres going in this fall. The shift to newer varieties will probably be a gradual one, says Jake Davidson, who sees it as a natural progression, rather like the shift in some winter wheat acres to Ptarmigan a few years ago to serve the feed and ethanol markets. “I think there is going to be a little confusion next year,” says Davidson. “But people will grow these new varieties and in the next couple of years what could potentially encourage a bigger shift to varieties like Emerson is a bad fusarium year, but even then you are still going to see people spraying fungicides, because Emerson may have a resistance rating but in reality there is no such thing as resistance.”

Growing new varieties Adoption of new varieties will still be held back to a certain degree by the amount of seed available. Only a limited amount of Emerson was available this fall, but quantities of Flourish are expected to be in line with demand. “Most of the [Flourish] seed is spoken for or is already in the ground,” says Hyra. There is increasing interest in Flourish and the other varieties, which Sims feels will all have their place. “For people who are growing Falcon basically for feed for their own use, like many Hutterite colonies do, then it won’t matter so much which variety they choose and they will probably stick with Falcon,” says Sims. “I suspect we may see a little more Emerson perhaps east of Portage la Prairie where they have more fusarium pressure on a regular basis. There is certainly a strong demand for Flourish as people are responding to the marketing changes.” † Angela Lovell is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist living and working in Manitoba. Find her online at

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Features Crop production

Winter wheat survival tips Five tips to give your winter wheat the best chance to fight winter kill By Angela Lovell


inter wheat acres have been seeded. Crop  survival through the winter will be largely determined by seeding and management practices. Even with the best management, a hard winter may expose the crop to winter kill or injury, but there are some things farmers can do to give their winter wheat fields the best opportunity for maximum yields. Following are five tips for winter wheat growers (with thanks to Pam deRocquigny, Cereal Crop Specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives).

Tip  1 Record the growth stage before freeze up. Much of the survivability and yield potential of winter wheat will depend on how well the crop establishes in the fall. Plants that reach the optimum growth stage of three-leaf to one tiller heading into winter will have better winter survivability than those that are only at the one-leaf growth stage, or have germinated but not emerged, or have not germinated at all.

Tip  2 Keep notes. Over the winter months, take note of winter stresses such as cold snaps — when they occur and their duration. Note the length and timing of snow cover. For winter survival, good snow cover in February and March is best. These notes will be useful when it’s time to assess winter survival and crop life in the spring.

Tip  4 Control weeds. Control of winter annual weeds, such as stinkweed, shepherd’s purse, flixweed and narrow-leaved hawk’s beard is best achieved by a herbicide pass in the fall, after the weeds have germinated but just before freeze-up. If fall control wasn’t possible they should be treated in early spring and have to be sprayed before the weeds bolt, which is usually in April or early May. Winter wheat can compete well and choke out most annual summer weeds once established. Where possible winter wheat should not be grown on cereal stubble. Volunteer plants and weeds can provide a reservoir of diseases that can infect healthy

crops. Volunteer wheat can provide a “green bridge” for wheat streak mosaic virus and, if present, should be eliminated as soon as possible. Grassy weeds and volunteer cereals are also hosts for take-all, root rot and ergot. It’s important to control grasses and volunteer cereals along fence lines or in neighbouring fields, as they can be a common source of ergot inoculum.

Tip  5 Read your insurance contract. No one wants to think about a total loss but just in case, farmers should check their provincial guidelines for details about seeding deadlines, which can vary by province, and insurance options for winter wheat. Some provinces

may offer specific winter kill or re-seeding insurance programs in addition to yield loss coverage. Manitoba’s winter wheat growers should remember that there are changes to AgriInsurance for winter wheat coverage for crops seeded in fall 2013. Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) will no longer be offering a Stage 1 indemnity (50 per cent of coverage) for winter wheat. Farmers will continue to be eligible for a reseeding benefit of 25 per cent of coverage (down from 75 per cent) if these crops are damaged prior to June 20. More details are on the MASC website. † Angela Lovell is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist living and working in Manitoba. Find her online at

Online resources:


here  are  several online sources for information about winter wheat. •  Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (for information about provincial crop insurance programs): masc.nsf/program_winter_ wheat.html. •  Manitoba Soil Fertility Guide: at, search for “soil fertility guide.” •  Winter Cereals Produ c t i o n   M a n u a l :   w w w. plantsci/winter_cereals/ winter-wheat-productionmanual/index.php † Angela Lovell

Canada’s most trusted sources for ag news and information is now fully searchable.

Tip  3 Scout for disease and pests. It’s never too early to start scouting winter wheat fields. Scout regularly and more often when weather conditions could favour disease development. Ergot, tan spot and leaf and glume blotch inoculums can overwinter in crop residue so a longer crop rotation with non cereal crops may help prevent these diseases. Winter wheat has little resistance to fusarium head blight (FHB), but can potentially avoid the prime infection period if the crop flowers early, which again is often pre-determined at seeding. Some varieties have improved resistance to FHB like CDC Buteo, which has a MR (moderately resistant) rating. A new CWRW variety, AC Emerson, has an R (resistant) rating and will be commercially available next fall. Timing of foliar fungicides is crucial to allow for effective control. Early and careful scouting is essential to help assess how much disease is present at growth stages when it could potentially impact yield potential and determine whether fungicide application makes economic sense. Disease control should be the main deciding factor when applying fungicide. Application when there is no disease can help speed the development of fungicide resistance in some pathogens.

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OCTOBER 21, 2013


It’s raining nitrogen Besides the nitrogen you buy and apply, nitrogen also gets to the soil through rain and snow BY REBECA KUROPATWA


nvironment Canada has been operating the Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network, CAPMoN, since 1983. CAPMoN measures precipitation and air chemistry, including wet deposition of nitrogen. “Deposition” describes chemicals moving from the atmosphere to the earth’s surface, either as a liquid, or in dry form. A common form of nitrogen deposition takes place when nitrogen comes to the ground along with rain or snow. CAPMoN measures nitrogen in precipitation in two forms: nitrates (nitrogen oxide emissions from transportation and other sources) and ammonium (ammonia emissions from fertilizer and other sources).

NITROGEN DEPOSITION Robert Vet, physical scientist with Environment Canada’s Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate in Toronto, measures and analyses atmospheric deposition and air pollution data. “The amount of nitrogen deposition on fields is a result of many factors, including different emission sources and emission strengths of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3) in different areas of the United States and Canada (often dependent on wind direction),” Vet says. Usually, the highest nitrogen wet deposition in Canada is found

in regions with the highest nitrogen oxides emissions. “The highest wet deposition of ammonium occurs in areas with the highest agricultural emissions of anhydrous ammonia (NH3) from fertilizer and livestock,” says Vet. The highest wet deposition of total nitrogen (nitrate plus ammonium) occurs in the southern parts of eastern Canada. “Lightning is one of many sources of nitrogen creation in the atmosphere, though only a fraction of the national total of nitrogen oxide plus NH3 emissions.” Other atmospheric nitrogen sources include industry and energy, human waste, agricultural fertilizer and soils, livestock, natural terrestrial systems and transportation. Paul Makar, a research scientist with Environment Canada’s Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate in Toronto, helps to create, evaluate and apply computer models used in air pollution policy scenarios and forecasting. According to Makar, a key source of nitrogen oxides is combustion, from automobiles, industrial plants, or even lightning. As for NH3, most of it comes from agriculture (primarily animal husbandry, manure and fertilizer), with the remainder coming from other industrial and human activity sources. Makar and others use air pollution models to predict where and how much nitrogen (and sulphur) deposition will occur.

Dr. Craig Drury, research scientist and soil biochemist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, studies nitrogen transformations in soil, focusing on management practices that influence nitrogen transformation in agricultural soils. He looks for ways to minimize nitrogen loss in agricultural soil and optimize crops’ nitrogen uptake. “We have two processes that occur — dry deposition (where particulate ammonium is deposited onto the soil) and wet deposition (which is nitrogen that is in the precipitation, whether that be rain or snow),” said Drury.

NITROGEN DEPOSITION IMPACT Recently, Drury has been looking at the impact of different nitrogen sources and methods of fertilizer application on reducing soil ammonium ionization losses. “With ammonium emissions from soils, they come from either livestock operations or fertilizer application,” said Drury. “With livestock operations, you have ammonium emissions in barns from excreted manure, from storage of it, or from application of it on the land. “One estimate is that about 78 per cent of ammonium released is from livestock operations, with the balance being from fertilizer application.” How much atmospheric nitrogen is deposited on your


Researchers measure nitrogen levels in snow to determine total amounts of nitrogen deposition. agricultural land varies depending on many factors, such as precipitation, your proximity to industrial emissions sources of nitrogen, as well as your proximity to a livestock operation with a lot of manure application and storage. “Depending on the region, we may see values between three to five kg per hectare on a provincial basis, and as high as 15 to 28 kgs of nitrogen per hectare, per year, in some years and locations in southern Ontario,” said Drury. There is no doubt that there is value to this, at the current cost of nitrogen in fertilizer. “It has a value of about a quarter of a million dollars, if you look at the national perspective,” explained Drury. “But, if you look at the total requirements per crop, it may represent three to four per cent of your crop requirements.” Although the amount of nitrogen in snow or rain is actually quite low for the overall crop needs, nitrogen in precipitation is readily available. With snow, various factors affect the amount of nitrogen that actually makes it into the soil. “Ideally, you’d have less runoff and more infiltration where the nitrogen species can be used by the crops growing the following spring,” said Drury. “I think the larger question is how you factor in all the different

nitrogen inputs and how you can manage the whole system more efficiently. “If you’re looking at nitrogen from fertilizer, if it’s urea-based, it needs to be incorporated into the soil or you need to use an inhibitor to slow it down. If you’re using a manure system, you want to avoid ammonium losses and optimize the amount available to crops.” Drury advises better accounting for all nitrogen sources, by being aware of the processes occurring in the soil and opportunities to manage it to optimize crop production. Not only is this good for the environment, but it is also good for your pocketbook and overall crop management. “In Canada, the current cost of nitrogen is about $1.39 per kg of nitrogen fertilizer, so deposition in your area might be worth $5 or $6 per acre or even more,” said Drury. “And, when you have a lot of acres, it adds up.” Early season soil tests are a good way of determining how much nitrogen is present in the soil, so you can adjust your fertilizer rates accordingly. During years with a greater amount of snow cover or if you are in an area with greater deposition rates, you may not require quite as much fertilizer or manure as other areas that have less. † Rebeca Kuropatwa is a professional writer in Winnipeg, Man.

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OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Features Crop production

Crop Advisor’s casebook



o say Glen was puzzled by the lodging of a number of crops at his mixed grain and cattle farm would be an understatement. “I have no idea why the crops are

lodged,” he told me. “This is very peculiar since there hasn’t been any major wind or rain recently.” It was mid-July when I travelled out to Glen’s operation, where he farms 1,600 acres of wheat, canola, peas, flax and barley near Kenton, Man., to help

him determine what had caused his lodged crops. Glen showed me plants lying down in fields of barley, flax and wheat. The lower stems of the damaged plants of all three crops had kinks in them. Regardless of what Glen told me over the phone, it did look like a storm with intense wind or rain could have caused this damage. “Are you sure there haven’t been any weather events here recently?” I asked. “Barely a breath of wind or drop of rain this past week,” he said.

With no other visible clues to go on, field history felt like a good place to begin. “The fields had been too wet to grow any crops the previous year,” said Glen, “so last year’s fertilizer went untouched.” He applied anhydrous ammonia last fall as well as his regular fertilizer application in the spring for this year’s crop. I had a pretty good idea now of what was causing the damage to Glen’s crops; however, tissue tests would be needed to confirm my suspicions.

What is causing a number of different crops to lodge on Glen’s farm? Send your diagnosis to Grainews, Box 9800, Winnipeg, Man., R3C 3K7; email leeann.minogue@ or fax 204944-5416 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. † Kathy-Jo Lepp is a sales agronomist for Richardson Pioneer Ltd. at Brandon, Man.

Top left:  Glen was puzzled by the lodging of a number of his crops. In mid-July, it looked like a storm with intense wind or rain could have caused this damage, but Glen said there had been no weather events. The lower stems of the damaged plants of all three crops had kinks in them. With no clues to go on, field history was a good place to begin.

Crop Advisor’s Solution



rey flowers and purple cupping leaves brought John’s routine scout of his canola fields to a screeching halt at the end of last June. From the road, these three fields looked as if they were flowering unevenly, but on closer inspection John found grey-coloured flowers on plants at the 20 to 40 per cent bloom stage. John, who farms more than 1,300 acres of wheat, canola, corn, soybeans and edible beans near MacGregor, Man., called his seed rep immediately, suspecting sulphur deficiency was causing the damage. At the advice of the seed rep, John applied 15 pounds of liquid sulphur. Then he called me. “I think I may have a sulphur deficiency in my canola fields,”

he said. “I’ve topped up with sulphur, but I’d feel better if you had a look.” The fields in question had been seeded with an early maturing hybrid variety and sprayed with an in-crop herbicide as well as a broad-spectrum insecticide and post-emergent herbicide for grass weed control. John informed me he had 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 as 28-0-0 dribble banded beside the seed, as well as the recent application of liquid sulphur. It had rained two-tenths of an inch since this latest fertilizer application. “Since applying the liquid sulphur, the field looks less grey,” said John.

I told him it was probably due to the flowers dropping off the plants, leaving behind the aborted pods; meanwhile, outside of the damaged areas, the plants were flowering normally. I thought John had put down plenty of sulphur, and even with the rain, there should have been enough nutrient in the root zone. Tissue and soil sample results taken from areas of the field where the liquid sulphur had not been applied confirmed there was plenty of sulphur in the plants and soil. The results actually indicated the soil and plants were slightly low in potassium, although the plants were not exhibiting symptoms of potassium deficiency. It was the soil composition that gave us the first clue to the cause of the grey flowers and purpling and cupping leaves. All damaged plants were found exclusively on sandy soil. The healthy, normally flowering plants were growing on clay loam soil. I pulled up some plants growing in both soil types for John to examine — one group had little

to no taproots and the other had a normal, healthy root mass. When the plants growing in the sandy soil were developing, I explained to John, all of the nutrients they needed were right there for them, thus they developed abnormally short taproots — one inch or less. The precipitation that fell after root development caused nutrients to leach further down in the soil profile, away from the plants’ roots, and at this stage of growth — the flowering stage — the plants did not waste energy making roots while producing flowers to set seed. Canola plants growing in sandy soil must be watched carefully for the development of poor rooting, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Sandy soils do not supply some nutrients as well as clays, so a strong root system is critical for proper nutrient uptake. Plants may exhibit increased susceptibility to disease and heat stress if they suffer from nutrient deficiencies. There is nothing John can do about the pods that have already been aborted. However,

soon after my visit to his operation, John reported to me the plants in the problem spots were now flowering normally on the tops of the racemes. Although the plants in these patches will mature later than the rest, they will produce some seed. Going forward, John must manage the sandier patches in a different manner than he would the rest of these fields. Through variable rate technology he could increase the nutrients applied to these areas or use different sources of nutrients to minimize losses to leaching. John could also choose to go in with a liquid sulphur to top up the nutrient available to the canola every year to rectify the problems associated with the lighter, sandy soil. It may also be possible to seed earlier to establish strong root systems sooner in the season, before heat and drought stress affect the crop. At the time of writing, the three canola fields had not been swathed, but we’ll be watching what they yield with interest. † Katlyn Galbraith is a sales agronomist for Richardson Pioneer Ltd. at Dundonald in Westbourne, Man.



OCTOBER 21, 2013


Grain drying made easier Grain drying is surprising controversial. OPIsystms recommends advanced managmenet systems to get your grain dry BY REBECA KUROPATWA


n September 27 Dr. Chandra B. Singh, a biosystems engineer and grain management expert at OPIsystems Inc., in Calgary, Alta., gave a public lecture titled “Debunking the Night-On Fan Strategy for Grain Drying,” in Winnipeg. At OPIsystems, Singh is responsible for developing and testing algorithms, computer-based modeling, and sensing technology to enhance OPI’s OPI-Integris Advanced Grain Management system solutions.

It is common practice in Western Canada to dry high-moisture grains via in-bin natural air drying. “In the past, traditional practice was to run the fan continuously, after loading the freshly harvested grain into the bin,” said Singh. “Although continuous fan operation for in-bin drying can be effective in some years, it isn’t the best method and may result in non-uniform drying, excessive energy consumption and major shrink loss due to over-drying.” With fans in continuous opera-


Dr. Chandra B. Singh says drying grain only at night could result in significant losses.

tion, grain will go through multiple drying/rewetting cycles as the weather changes. This is inefficient. “Equilibrium moisture content (EMC), defined as the moisture content of grain at which grain is in equilibrium with surrounding air at specific air temperature and relative humidity, is the most important concept in grain drying,” said Singh. In humid air conditions with high EMC value, grain will gain moisture. In dry air conditions with low EMC value, grain will be over-dried. Both of these conditions result in poor drying and excessive energy consumption. “With intelligent fan control, the fan automatically runs when good quality ambient air is available,” said Singh. Running the fans only when the EMC is in the target moisture range avoids over-drying or re-hydration and promotes uniform drying.

“We recommend using intelligent fan control.” — Chandra B. Singh


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Even for farm bins equipped with optional low-temperature heaters for use in wet or delayed seasons, Singh says natural air, in-bin drying is the most energy efficient, high quality grain drying method (as long as the system is well designed and managed). “There is some misconception about the use of low temperature heaters for in-bin grain drying,” said Singh. “Many people think the heater should only be used in colder weather conditions. However, the best and most efficient heater use is in humid conditions (to bring down the EMC).” As cold air is usually dry, a heater may only reduce the already low EMC. Air at a temperature below 5 C has very low drying potential. Using a heater at temperatures below 5 C will not increase the drying process and may over-dry the grain’s bottom layers. BY DAN PIRARO

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Features According to Singh, once night-time temperatures dip below zero, no further drying occurs, suggesting that grain harvested late, and/in cooler than usual fall conditions may not have the opportunity to dry to required levels (running fans only at night). Larger and taller bins often lack the recommended minimum one cubic feet of air per minute bushel (cfm/bu.) needed for natural air drying. “This is one of the most important factors affecting the drying rate,” said Singh. “If the airflow rate is insufficient, an additional fan should be added (or replaced with a large sized fan) or grain should be filled to shallower depth during drying.”

INTEGRIS SOFTWARE The IntegrisPro system automatically monitors and controls grain storage, and offers different fan controls for different situations. The complete system includes cables that measure temperature, relative humidity and moisture content at five different levels in the bin. The measurements taken by the cable can be monitored on a computer or a hand-held device. When things go awry, the software can deliver warnings by text, email, or by sounding an alarm. For in-bin drying, the software recommendation is using natural air drying (NAD) without the heater and self-adapting variable heat (SAVH) mode, with supplemental heat only as needed. The NAD mode allows the fan to run automatically when good quality, ambient air is available and both temperature and EMC are in their target ranges. The SAVH uses supplemental heat with a 3 C to 5 C temperature increase to reduce the relative humidity (and have the EMC in target range) in humid conditions while also accelerating the drying process (calendar-wise). SAVH also automatically adjusts the operating bands to select the best quality air throughout the drying process. “Controlling the drying process by a simple rule of ‘night only fan on’ could potentially result in failure of drying and spoilage of grain, leaving the farmer with a significant loss,” said Singh. “With our simulation work using the Regina, Sask., historical weather data, we’ve shown that running the fan only at night is ineffective whereas NAD and SAVH IntegrisPro controls give optimized results.” Singh warns that using cold air is not a better way to dry, although “we also don’t want to BY DAN PIRARO


use hot air with very low EMC value to avoid over-drying and shrink loss. “As grain is sold on weight basis, grain with moisture below straight grade level is a direct loss to the farmer. That is why we recommend using intelligent fan control (to avoid shrink loss).” According to Singh, the return on the technology investment is less than two years, based on shrink and energy cost savings alone. “If you consider the potential spoilage due to mould, recovering your costs can occur very quickly,” he said. “We also have online tools to help determine the investment return for each situation.” The IntegrisPro control system is already available and being successfully used by thousands of North Americans, with Singh and team continually updating and improving it with new technology. † Rebeca Kuropatwa is a professional writer in Winnipeg, Man.




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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 BiotechnologyDerived 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. Genuity and Design®, Genuity®, Roundup Ready® and Roundup® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. ©2013 Monsanto Canada Inc. Proven® Seed is a registered trademark of Crop Production Services (Canada) Inc. CPS CROP PRODUCTION SERVICES and Design is a registered trademark of Crop Production Services, Inc.




OCTOBER 21, 2013

Features Bee health

Good news for bee survival Many news reports leave us pessimistic about the long-term future of bees. But the Alberta Beekeepers Commission says it’s not all bad news Editor’s note: This article has been submitted by the Alberta Beekeepers Commission. e would like to take this opportunity to respond to the many articles in the media recently regarding the use of pesticides and their interaction with honeybees. In particular neonicitinoid insecticides are the ones in the spotlight and it seems most of the reported incidents have been in the Ontario and Quebec regions. We would like to bring you up to speed as well as commend a few stakeholders on recent announcements which we consider positive actions.


Good news First, Health Canada has released a Notice of Intent, NOI201301, Action to Protect Bees from Exposure  to  Neonicotinoid Pesticides. (The full notice can be found on the Health Canada website at With this Notice of Intent, Health Canada is seeking input from stakeholders, including the beekeeping industry, as well as implementing some requirements for the 2014 seeding season. I believe this is a very positive action by Health Canada.

Secondly,  DuPont  Pioneer has announced that it will offer neonicotinoid-free seed treatment for corn and soybean in Canada. Once again, we believe this is a positive action taken by the seed/ pesticide industry. Bayer CropScience has recently announced even more good news. (find full information at Bayer CropScience introduces a new class of chemistry as an alternative to Imidacloprid. The new active ingredient is a systemic from the butenolide chemical class and is active on sucking insect pests. The acting ingredient is flupyradifurone. It will be marketed under the trade name Sivanto. It is marketed as a “bee friendly” product with no bloom (application) restrictions. It will be registered in 2015. A host of annual and perennial crops have been tested for aphids, leafhoppers,  psyllids,  scales, thrips and whiteflies. It causes a rapid feeding cessation effect from both soil and foliar applications. It is active via ingestion and contact. It is an adult knockdown product that controls nymph and egg stages. It is systemic for root uptake and translaminer from foliar applications. It has, says Bayer, minimal impact on beneficials. The label includes a four-hour reentry interval.

Neonicitinoid insecticides are in the spotlight when it comes to bee health issues. Bayer has been actively involved in finding solutions to improve bee health for more than 25 years. Its Bee Care Program includes further research to improve bee health.

Bee safety As you can see, there seems to be good progress being made on reducing the risk and exposure

MOVING AT THE SPEED Of TEcHNOlOGy 1-800-265-7403

of possibly harmful chemicals to bees. There are of course some other efforts being made as well, but these are just ones from the recent weeks. So as a lot of the public is being told nothing is being done, we would beg to differ. Thanks to a combined effort from the Canadian Honey Council (the national beekeepers trade organization) along with other stakeholders, and the

photo: alberta beekeepers commission

effort to have meaningful discussion, it would seem progress is being made. The Alberta Beekeepers Commission would like to thank these organizations for the steps being taken and the efforts that have been made to have a sustainable beekeeping industry in today’s ever changing agricultural climate. † Gertie Adair is the general manager of the Alberta Beekeepers Commission.

®™Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. 09/13-20278-01GN

By Gertie Adair

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /



Holding a farm party After holding a celebration on his farm, Toban Dyck has tips TOBAN DYCK

setting sun across our acreage hoping to squeeze a few more minutes of warmth from the evening: I can’t name anyone who has spent time on our yard and regretted it. If I were a more nefarious sort, I’m sure I could charge my friends hotel rates for our spare bedroom and they would still make the trek. But I would never. My parents both turned 60 this year, and to celebrate this milestone, my siblings and I threw what I think was the best party this farm has ever seen. There was a tent nestled in an area where it looked like it had been for ages, tables scattered seemingly at random around the yard, lights lighting up the antique obscurities in my mother’s flower beds, and signage helping people navigated the

Toban Dyck is a freelance writer and a new farmer on an old farm. Follow him on Twitter @tobandyck or email

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he walk from machine shed to the house is about 200 metres. On cloudless, still evenings, when something natural like dew has forced the end of the harvest day, this walk is rewarding. The end of a good day. The yard looks so huge with no one on it. And I feel selfish for not sharing. And then the first car arrives. You tell them where to park: “Near the straight-header on north section of yard, beside that grey Dodge.” Then you wake up, sore, tired from using

strange, previously unused sections of your brain, and wondering how such a once daunting event ran so smoothly. And then the epiphany: Why do we not host these parties every fall, or quarterly? Flashback to two weeks prior: Our neighbours threw a party for a farm that has been in their family for over 135 years. Heritage Farms are worth celebrating. The gathering was great, exciting, special, and inspiring. They made it look easy, which got my wife and me thinking. There were about 90 people milling about on our yard that evening, perfectly timed between wheat and soybeans. The gathering triggered something in me, all the people laughing, smiling, chasing the

Enormous tablecloths. We had to borrow. And we’ve since bought a few. Chairs. We didn’t have enough, and had to draw from neighbours and my parents’ hardwood, custom-made set. The cost of this party would have tripled, had it rained. Phew. Big coffeemaker. We were able to borrow one, leading me to think there must be a few other farms out there stocking such. Farms don’t operate in a vacuum. We often call on our friends and farmers nearby for help, and they do the same with us. It’s less so now, but farming and the farm lifestyle still contain some of that same pull-together attitude the people who settled this land must have had. We don’t do this alone; we do this as community, and we should celebrate accordingly. Happy fall! †

acreage. Each element was new to the farm, and everything fit. The yard was gorgeous, thanks to the oodles of hours my mother and father spent on it, the food was deserving of special praise, and the whole thing, the people, the setting, the coming-togetherness, was something no city party could ever match. I recommend it. Some practical considerations: Banquet tables. Every farm needs at least two of these. We had to borrow from our neighbours, who had four. They were very helpful through the entire process, offering advice, supplies, and enough sweet corn to feed us through the seven bad years. Coolers. We had to borrow these from a handful of people. We will buy more. A large grill. A large grill is something most farms have already. Slow cookers. They are not expensive; have at least two on hand. And maybe more if you’re going the quarterly party route.

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OCTOBER 21, 2013


The philosophy of investing Andy Sirski looks back on his investment career, and shares seven things he’s learned over the years ANDY SIRSKI


ately I’ve had the pleasure of chatting investments with one of my sons, and he’s made me think. I hope I have returned the favour. I bought my first shares in the summer of 1961, and a lot of my current assets are stocks. Like many serious investors, my house is not my most valuable asset. Stocks are. I don’t regret any thing I’ve done with stocks but if I was starting over, I hope I would use some of the details I’ve learned through a combination of the school of hard knocks and just good old plain experience. Fortunately or unfortunately, both schools can cost money and we have to live through that. And we did.

1. INVEST IN GOOD COMPANIES The definition of “good company” can vary from expert to expert. I don’t pretend to know every good company but I know a few. One good quality is: does the company have pricing power? I think Disney (DIS) does. It has been raising the price of tickets year after year. If I were a young investor, I would likely buy some shares in Disney. In my memory the shares have gone from somewhere to $75, split three for one and now are about $65. Yes, the market value to us Canadians did go up and down as the Canadian dollar roamed around but over time this company has made investors a lot of money. I own some now and I do sell covered calls on them. Disney pays a dividend of just over one per cent per year. I have not tracked the dividend closely but I suspect the company raises the dividend often enough to make a good difference long term.

2. BUY ARISTOCRAT STOCKS This is a special name given to stocks that have raised their dividend for years and years. I write down the names of companies as I find the ones that have raised the dividend for years. One is spice BY DAN PIRARO


company McKormick (MCK) and another one is Heinz (HNZ). The problem with these stocks is they get expensive and could drop when interest rates go up. I don’t own either one. And, of course, we can’t buy Heinz now because Warren Buffet’s company bought out the company. I bought Heinz through the dividend reinvestment program and need to do the paperwork to get paid for the shares. In my memory the shares went from $48 to the mid-$30s during the bear market. Buffet is paying us $72 per share. In Canada, Fortis (FTS) has raised its dividend often. I bought shares in 1995 for $36, they went

to $100, split four for one and now trade at $31 and the dividend goes up regularly. Yes the price of shares has dropped 10 per cent and could drop more as interest rates go up so you need to be a little careful. I think Intel (INTC) has raised its dividend often and some believe Microsoft (MSFT) will too. We do have to be somewhat careful with buying high dividend paying stocks. Interest rates have been dropping since 1982, which is a long 32-year drop. The drop has been extended because central banks are printing money and keeping the cost of money low. This has certainly made dividend paying stocks goose returns that

might be hard to match over the next part of the interest rate cycle where rates are likely to go up. But over time, good dividend payers have made long-term investors good money.

3. CANADIAN BANK STOCKS Canadian banks get mixed reviews. Skeptics claim they are overleveraged and are in danger of crashing. Supporters point to rising dividends, the oligopoly that Canadians banks have in Canada and stricter business rules than U.S. banks face. I think each Canadian bank has its strengths and weaknesses. If I

owned shares, I would sell calls on the shares twice a year, nicely above the price of the day. I could likely double the dividend. If I were approved, I would also sell naked puts on my Canadian bank shares to boost returns a bit more.

4. AVOID START UPS I made a lot of money with a successful start up called Consolidated Mining (CLM) and that one spoiled me. I thought every start up could double my money. They might, but they can also test your patience and not double in a short time. I did okay with one start up,

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Columns Copper Mountain (CUM), because I sold calls on most of my shares and then sold them at $3.60 as the daily price dropped through the 10-day moving average. But CUM sure showed us that start ups can be risky. I do own shares in another startup, Thompson Creek (TCM), but it is only a start up on its new copper mine in British Columbia. It has other operating mines. I sold calls on my batch of 8,000 shares; some for October and some for November. The company is mining copper and gold ore in B.C. but is so far stockpiling it to sell later this year. Sherritt (S) and Osisko (OSK) are two other startups that cost me money, so I’m a little more careful now. Sherritt has businesses all over the world and is starting a new slurry nickel mine in Madagascar, but share prices have stayed flat for some time. OSK dropped from a high of $16 to a low of $3 and now is over $5 in spite of the low price of gold.

ONC is working on a cure for cancer. The drug has passed Stage 2 where research shows it does reduce cancer in most patients but it needs to pass Stage 3, where the drug has to work better than others on the market. Share prices dropped to under $2.70 which was eight or nine per cent below my cost so I sold my shares and will watch.

5. UNDERSTAND THAT STOCKS GO UP AND DOWN Many don’t believe in technical analysis when dealing with stocks, and they have their reasons. I have been following the strategy of selling some or all of a stock when the price drops through the 10-day moving average. It has worked very well when I did it; when I did not I have regretted it. Some worry that shares will get whipsawed if they sell at that point but I say we will have sold out near a high and have the money. I bet a lot of people would be very

happy if they had sold their silver and gold and related stocks when the daily price dropped through the 10-dma. Stocks like Enron, Nortel, Rim and others have never recovered so selling was a good move. Even Disney was $32 before the market crashed, dropped to a low of $16 in late February, 2009 and took until March 2010 to get back to its old high of $32. Some investors are more afraid of missing out on gains than of losing money and so they do not sell until their attitude and shares are beaten up very badly. Or their spouse gets after them. This gives stocks a bad name but the stocks are just doing what they do. Investors are the ones who buy and don’t sell when losses are small. In any case, looking at charts of a stock can give us a picture of what big money is doing with a stock. If money is buying, stocks will stay flat or go up. If money is selling we can be sure the price

of those shares will drop. A good selling rule like selling when the loss is small can help us stay away from big losses.

6. LEARN TO SELL COVERED CALLS Some argue that selling covered calls on a stock will limit gains. And that is true if we are in full bull market and own stocks in rising sectors. I’ve been selling covered calls since 2003 and here is what I have learned (partly the hard way). In a rapidly rising market I limit my gains because shares go up rapidly and climb above the price we sold calls at. In a flat market I keep the dividends and collect money from selling the calls. In a falling market, if you don’t learn to sell as the price was falling at least you collect cash to reduce your losses. During the bear market of 2008 I sold calls, bought back at a low price when shares dropped and sold calls again at lower strike

Growing Confidence

prices. My stocks dropped a lot but the actual value of the portfolio dropped one per cent in 2008 as the market dropped over 50 per cent because I kept bringing in cash every week or month. Here’s a recent example: I paid $12.87 for shares in First Majestic (FR). Then I sold a call with a strike price of $15 and collected 75 cents per share. Share prices dropped and I kept the money. The other day I sold calls for with a $13 strike price and took in another 85 cents. My cost now is $12.97 0.75 - 0.85 = $11.37. The shares are now at $12.60. If I can pick up 60 or 80 cents every second month, those shares will bring in $6 or $7 per year. If I owned shares in Canadian banks I would choose a price I would like to sell at, above the price of the day, and sell calls a few months out. Every time I do the math, this strategy would about double the dividend, give me some capital gain and pay me a nice dividend in the meantime. I’m likely going to buy back shares of Bonavista (BNP) one of these days. I sold them to make my trading account a pure account for doing spreads. I have now recovered all the money I lost on PotashCorp and Agrium shares when PotashCorp dropped overnight and took Agrium with it. My education is almost over on spreads. Soon I will own some dividend payers in the trading account so my money earns some cash besides the spreads, and I can use the dividend investment tax credit.


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I have seen several concept stocks come and go and mostly I let them go by. I missed out on some great profits. Microsoft was one (although I did buy at $46 and sell at $93). Cisco, Dell and Oracle are others. Berkshire shares (Warren Buffet’s company) were trading at $8,900 around 1989. I recall we talked about the stock at work. I didn’t buy. The shares now are $172,000. Now we face Tesla (TSLA) the allelectric car that has no dealerships. Yes the car is pricey but the idea of not buying gasoline is attracting buyers. And the company is setting up a charging station system, a battery trade in system and a lease buyback program. I made money as shares moved up to $58 and now they are pushing $200. I bought 20 shares for $190 each for my wife’s RRSP. They might be part of her future for life. I don’t know if I will sell them at $170 (down 10 per cent) or keep them for her retirement. I know that if I had used the minus eight to 10 per cent selling rule I would have a lot more money, and if I had owned just a few of these concept stocks I would have a lot more money. Now I we own Tesla, which might still be called a start up, but at least I have my toe in the water, not my whole foot. If the shares keep going up I will buy more. It they drop eight per cent or so, I hope I sell out. If you use strict selling rules, you don’t need to fear stocks. You might miss the occasional turnaround, but you’ll protect your capital, which always gives you another day. † Andy Sirski is mostly retired. He plays with his granddaughters, gardens, travels a bit and actively manages his family’s investments. Andy publishes a newsletter called StocksTalk. Read it free for a month by sending an email to



OCTOBER 21, 2013

Columns Understanding market bulls and bears

Make the most of market information Learning the meaning behind differences in futures prices and basis levels can you the knowledge you need to put more cash in your pocket By Brian Wittal


hat are the markets telling us today about selling our grain tomorrow? Let’s start with the obvious information and work forward from there. Futures prices for grains have steadily declined over the past few months because the world crop is looking to be a fair bit larger than last years. This is helping to replenish world stocks and should lead to a larger carryout into next year, which has buyers world wide a lot more comfortable.

So how is this reflected back to you? Well the most obvious answer is lower price quotes for your grain from the elevator company or grain brokers. This is where we need to start separating the wheat from the chaff, or more specifically splitting out the futures price and the basis and looking at each of these price components separately to see what it is the markets are telling you. This will allow you to start making better strategic pricing decisions and take advantage of pricing opportunities when they pop up. Let’s look at the futures prices in more detail, specifically,

futures spreads and what they are telling us.

The futures spread The “futures spread” refers to the dollar value difference between one futures month and the next futures month. For example, say November futures are $485 per tonne and Jan futures are at $492/t. There is a $7/t spread. The futures spread is a calculation based on costs of handling and storing the grain. The futures spread can change on a daily basis depending on supply and demand for that grain. The

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spread value is the amount that a buyer is willing to pay to try to secure grain for future delivery. The amount if based on a value set to offset what the buyers’ costs would be if they had to pay to store the grain over the time period, including the cost to borrow the money sooner to buy the grain sooner. With canola, for example, if there is a $10/t difference between futures months (that is, the forward, or further away, month is at a premium to the nearby month), you could probably consider that to be what is referred to as Full Market Carry. If the spreads are at Full Market Carry, the market

is trying to entice you — the seller — to hold your grain until a future date to take advantage of those spread values. Simply put, buyers are offering you a premium that pays you to hold and store your grain. They’re paying you some interest to hold your grain until a the specific time period when they need the grain. If the spreads are narrower, they are telling you that buyers want to purchase and take delivery of your grain sooner than later, to meet their needs. The reduced spread in their futures bid will give you less incentive to hold your grain — the market is not paying you enough to cover

B:21.6” T:21.6” S:21.6”




OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Columns the costs of storing your grain, or recover the interest lost by not making the sale sooner.

BASIS Basis is the other important component in establishing a price for your grain. Understanding how and why the basis is maneuvered by grain companies and brokers can tell you a lot about what is happening in the market, and help you to make better marketing decisions. The basis is where the buyers cover their costs of doing business (costs like freight and handling), and where they make their profits. This is also how they try to control the flow of grain into their facilities. Freight and handling costs are a fairly static cost that don’t really fluctuate much during the year. But the profitability component of the basis can and will vary greatly, depending on the company’s need for your grain.

This last year in central Alberta, we saw canola basis range from -$20/t to +$45/t. This was an unusual year because of the tight supplies and increased demand for canola. Now, with the record new crop that is anticipated, basis levels are ranging from -$12/t to -$25/t. So what is a good basis? That depends on the year. Last year a good basis in Central Alberta was +$15/t. This year a good basis will probably be in the range of -$10/t because of the large crop and the competitive world oilseed marketplace. What should you watch for when it comes to basis and what it is telling you about the marketplace?

BASIS TIMING Grain companies are making sales yea round, and they need to make sure they have grain coming into their system year around to meet those sales needs.

They will offer attractive basis levels months in advance to secure tonnage for a sale. You will see this quite often early in the new year with canola, for example, as companies try to get farmers to commit some tonnage for early harvest deliver (September or

Consider your cash needs months in advance October) to meet early sales commitments. Companies will offer very attractive basis levels for those months starting early in the new year (January, February and March). Those attractive basis levels usually only last a week or two before they disappear, because the company has signed up sufficient tonnage for that delivery period to meet its needs.

As grain companies’ sales progress through the year you will notice basis levels for the forward months getting more attractive than nearby months. As a seller, you need to pay attention to this. If you need to sell grain to meet your own specific cash flow timelines, you should consider your cash needs months in advance. Watch for basis levels to narrow for that time period, then lock them in when they are attractive, rather than waiting until 30 days before you need to deliver to decide to price your grain. It is quite likely that the basis 30 days prior to delivery will be wider than earlier in the year, because the grain companies usually have their nearby sales needs met months in advance — their nearby basis will be wide as a way to discourage deliveries they don’t need. Depending on the year, paying attention to basis levels could mean

a difference of $10 to $40 per tonne that you could put in your pocket.

QUICK REVIEW Here’s a quick review of the discussion. • If futures spreads are narrow, that tells you buyers are looking to buy sooner than later. • If futures spreads are wide, that tells you buyers are trying to get you to hold your grain and deliver it later in the year, when they need it. • If basis levels are narrow, grain companies are looking for grain to meet sales commitments. • If basis levels are wide, grain companies don’t really need or want your grain at that time. Here’s hoping your harvest was a success. † 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. Contact him at

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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OCTOBER 21, 2013


Investing in war Investing in times of war means profits for a few at the expense of many. But investing in an unknown outcome is a long shot BY ANDREW ALLENTUCK


he prospect of the U.S. entering into yet another Mid-East conflict, this time taking on Syria (or if not Syria, then another wretched dictatorship which annihilates its own people) raises a financial question: is war good for business? It matters in Canada too, for we are inevitably drawn into American conflicts, pay interest rates heavily influenced by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, and have our commercial laws drafted to be in harmony with American interests. The idea that business follows the flag or, if you prefer, that the flag follows business, is standard left wing rhetoric. There are examples, of course. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Britain and Spain created empires to furnish raw materials and to buy products of the home country without the interference of customs duties. Conquest of Aboriginal peoples was swift and cheap. Empire came at low initial cost, never mind the high cost of European diseases given to peoples who had not experienced them before or tropical diseases that devastated European soldiers and administrators in the colonial outposts. Strictly on a cash flow basis, the Spanish looting of Mexico and Peru, for example, brought immense quantities of gold and silver to Europe. Spain

used its booty to wage war against Protestants, particularly English ones, lost the war and found that its imported gold had so driven up prices and its rape of forests for lumber to build ships so wrecked its economy that it went into depression for 400 years. Louis XVI financed the American War of Independence by loaning money to the rebellious English colonies. They gave France bonds in exchange, then defaulted. Louis ran out of money, and called the Estates General, a body that had not been assembled for 150 years. The various classes in the assembly refused to pay, the mobs came next and the French Revolution followed. That was 1789. Within the next quarter century, Napoleon, who crowned himself to French emperor, lost a fifth of all male children born between 1760 and 1790 in his campaigns, ultimately unsuccessful, and had to sell the vast territory of Louisiana, essentially the central part of the United States, for a pittance. The United States got one of the cheapest land deals in history, a vast amount of real estate that made its westward expansion possible with the stroke of quill pen. Its gain was huge, for as a non-combatant in the Napoleonic wars, it had no losses that had to be written off. A century later, in 1914, AustroHungarian emperor Franz Josef,

tired of having his wife (killed by an assassin in Switzerland), his son Rudolf (suicide/murder, though it is said that Rudolf had a bad case of depression), and his nephew Franz Ferdinand (assassinated in 1914) mowed down by terrorists, started World War I. Joined by the German empire, the two countries fought battles on an industrial scale, which, together with the trench-bred Spanish flu that spread around the world at war’s end, killed perhaps 50 million people, mostly in Europe. Franz Josef died before the end of the war, which saw the dismantling of the Austrian empire. Germany lost a few colonies in Africa and had to shrink its eastern and western borders. Germany was required to pay vast reparations to France and the U.K., created a hyperinflation to prove it could not, and laid some of the groundwork for the outbreak, two decades later, of the Second World War. The war Franz Josef started to protect his empire caused its destruction, set the groundwork for the collapse of the Kreditanstalt, the empire’s largest bank, and paved the way for the Nazi surge from a band of thugs in Munich to controllers of Europe, architects of genocide and then, of course, to self-destruction via invasion of the U.S.S.R. where the once mighty Wehrmacht suffered 90 per cent of all its casualties in the war.

The Second World War, arguably the creation of German and Japanese imperialism, saw the destruction of major German cities, the burning of most cities in Japan (not to mention the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki), vast destruction of areas of China, population reduction by starvation (especially Manchuria where Japanese authorities experimented with bubonic plague), the devastation of the Chinese nationalist government and its ultimate replacement by Communism under Chairman Mao, and the loss of vast numbers of civilian lives to starvation and wartime annihilation in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. To find profit of any sort in this orgy

Invest in productive enterprise, not destructive war of destruction is to indulge in a fantasy. Even the few German companies such as chemical maker Bayer, steel maker Thyssen and auto maker Volkswagen which had generated sales and profits in the period from 1936 to 1945 had massive losses of plant and equipment on the their balance sheets. No major German firms escaped devastating losses in the Second World War. Some firms did recover. Hugo Boss made fancy uniforms for the SS and went on to regain its sartorial stature in civilian dress several decades later.

BENEFITTING FROM DESTRUCTION There are countries able to benefit from warfare. The U.S. was a lender in the First World War, had relatively few battlefield casualties and emerged as world power largely by arriving late in the conflict and suffering minimal losses. In the Second World War, the U.S. acquired vast amounts of British assets and gold through

Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers 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.

lend-lease programs, and gained industrial supremacy for much of the remainder of the 20th century. U.S. casualties in the war were small by comparison to losses suffered by the Soviet Union or to losses suffered by Britain through bombing of cities and ultimately to the loss or surrender of its colonies in 1960 and following years. The seemingly endless wars in the Middle East are no different. They are devastating to the capital bases of combatants and profitable to the foreign countries that supply them. Syria will not be different. From a Syrian point of view, the vast destruction one sees on television represents accelerated capital destruction, depreciation on steroids. Hotels in Jordan, next door to the conflict, are full and making money. Taxi drivers helping refugees flee Syria are making money. But this does not mean that war in Syria is generally profitable, for what is spent on flight or, for that matter, rebuilding Syrian cities when this war ends will not be spent on other things. In the end, Syria will have suffered massive destruction of cities, devastation of its capital reserves, loss of productive people who have taken their money and families out of the country, and have acquired hundreds of thousands of returning refugees who will need food, housing, medical care and jobs. Syria may rebuild its cities, but it will have to borrow to do it. The country will emerge in perhaps decades with stylish buildings and a deadweight of debt that may take half a century to pay off. That war is good for business is just not true in a general way, as we can see. However, the threat of war maintains defense industries in many countries. Some companies that make military aircraft, for example, are profitable. War is dreadful, but it does, of course, have spinoffs. Investing in the unknown benefits of vastly destructive processes is always a long shot. What is important is to be early investing in arms making companies in lands far from the battlefield, late in arriving after cities are leveled to buy cheap real estate, ready on the sidelines to invest in companies that will rebuild what weapons have destroyed, and, of course ready with charity to funnel some profits back to the nations wrecked by causes of the moment which, in retrospect, seem trivial. As the twentieth century was shaped by Franz Josef’s pique over the murder of his nephew, whom it is said he actively disliked, the twenty-first is likely to be shaped by questions of control of the Middle East. Other real estate — the Americas, central Asia, China and southeast Asia, India, Australia, and Europe are already spoken for. Nobody lately has designed a war for profit and the old idea that there is big money to be made is armed conflict is wrong for participants and precarious for those who buy the bonds of the combatants. After all, if your debtor loses, you will be in the same position as those who bought Russian government bonds in 1914 and 1915 on which the Bolsheviks defaulted, Imperial Chinese bonds in 1923, and pre-Castro national bonds in Cuba. Best bet — invest in productive enterprise, not destructive war. The odds of losing are just too high. † Andrew Allentuck’s latest book, When Can I Retire? Planning Your Financial Life After Work, was published in 2011 by Penguin Canada.

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OCTOBER 21, 2013 /



Soil Fertility is a long term contract As a good harvest rolls to an end, Les Henry reflects on the long-term value of soil fertility LES HENRY


t looks like the 2013 crop will go down in history as perhaps the biggest volume of grain harvest ever — at least in Saskatchewan. Most farmers got a pleasant surprise when the combines rolled. Unheard of yields were common — farm bins and elevators quickly filled up. Grain bags became scarce and smiles all around. A good dose of credit goes to Mother Nature (see Henry’s rules of farming in the sidebar). Ample rain in June and early July, cool weather in July and endless sun and warmth to ripen and mature crops all helped to fill bins. Then ideal harvest weather in may areas allowed dry, high quality grain to be harvested. Note: We must remember that not all folks have been so lucky. Our fearless editor can tell you some different stories. But, many of us were very lucky. Mother Nature gets a lot of credit, but the superior management of Western Canadian farmers played a very big role as well. Quality seed of new and improved varieties, precision seeding equipment, good weed control and unprecedented fungicide application for disease control all contributed to the full bins. And the cumulative effect of decades of annual fertilizer use can take a big bow.

Some analyses of long term data conclude that about half of our current crop yield is due to fertilizer use. (Note: CCA keeners can read Agronomy Journal 2005, Volume 97 pages one to six for more information.) 1960 was the year I crawled off the 132 Cockshutt combine on Brunswick Farm at Milden, Sask. to attend the University of Saskatchewan — straw still sticking out my ears and dirt under my fingernails. Fifty three years later I am still proud of the dirt under my fingernails. It has been a huge thrill to see it all happen. For most of the early years we looked at fertilizer application as a year by year event with little thought of residuals. But we now

know that there are significant residuals over decades of fertilizer use and those residuals help to keep the grain cart running at harvest. Recent analysis of long term nitrogen and phosphorus experiments at Swift Current show that 98 per cent of phosphorus fertilizer used over decades has been recovered in wheat grain produced. Nitrogen recovery is over 100 per cent — as it should be if there is no great loss. The Scott, Sask., Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada farm has a wheat field that still grows 15 to 20 bushels per acre after 100 continuous years with no nitrogen fertilizer. So, we can easily see that soil fertility is indeed a long term contract.

FARMLAND PRICES The current numbers being quoted for farmland prices and annual cash rents seem way off scale to this old fossil. And, there seems to be little attention paid to the history of the land. A quarter section that had high rates of liquid hog or feedlot manure applied for many years will show higher yields for many years when compared to similar land with no such history. A quarter section that has seen annual rates of 40 to 60 lbs./ac. P205 and 80 to100 lbs./ac. of nitrogen for 25 years is not the same quarter as one of similar soil with smaller applied rates. Probably the best soil test to

pick up such history is the available phosphorus test. I wonder how many buyers ask for soil test data? We need better economic analysis of long term soil fertility data to aid farming decisions of the future.

WORD OF WARNING By the way: In central Saskatchewan, at least, we have now had: 1. Four irrigation years in a row. 2. Three years of perfect harvest weather 3. Prices unheard of in the memory of many farmers. Beware the other side of average. † J.L.(Les) Henry is a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan. He farms at Dundurn, Sask. He recently finished a second printing of “Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water,” a book that mixes the basics and practical aspects of soil, fertilizer and farming. Les will cover the shipping and GST for “Grainews” readers. Simply send a cheque for $50 to Henry Perspectives, 143 Tucker Cres, Saskatoon, SK, S7H 3H7, and he will dispatch a signed book.




D D (








Most accounts of modern crop yields and fertilizer use start at 1960. The graph of global fertilizer use from 1960 to date closely parallels the global cereal crop production.

Henry’s rules of farming Rule 1: Mother Nature is in charge. Rule 2: If in doubt, see Rule 1. Rule 3: If you do not like Rules 1 and 2, find a different calling. Les Henry



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OCTOBER 21, 2013

Machinery & Shop 2014 MODEL INTRODUCTIONS

Case IH showcases its equipment line Members of the farm media gathered in Denver, Colorado, in August to get a look at the new 2014 Case IH machinery lineup SCOTT GARVEY


n the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Case IH marketing staff assembled members of the farm media on the fair grounds used by the longrunning National Western Stock Show. The company used that venue to unveil its 2014 machines and talk about the new features built into them. Discussion around the introduction of Tier 4B engines — mandated at the end of this year by emissions regulations — dominated much of the news at the event. But there were also

many other new features to talk about across the full range of Case IH products. As we’ve done with other manufacturers’ 2014 model introductions, we’re showing you the highlights of that launch in this Machinery and Shop section. To get a video look at some of the new Case IH models, as well as those from the other major-brand events, check out Grainews online. Go to grainews. ca and click on the “videos” link. Scroll down the page to the E-Quip TV heading. That’s where you’ll find several videos from machinery launches and other events, with even more coming online over the coming weeks. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at


Case IH proudly showed its 2014 line of equipment to members of the farm media at an event in Denver, Colorado, in August.


New mid-size Patriot sprayers Tier 4B engines and updated features offer farmers enhanced performance and more power on Case IH’s new 3240 and 3340 sprayer models BY SCOTT GARVEY


ase IH introduced two new, updated models to its Patriot sprayer line for 2014 at an event in Denver, Colorado: the 800-gallon 3240 and its brother, the 1,000-gallon 3340. Both offer new engines and new system features. Along with most of the other machines in its stable that use engines over 174 horsepower, Case IH will include a Tier 4B diesel under the hood of these new sprayers in 2014. They will still use the FPT 6.7-litre engine; but along with cleaner exhaust from the updated SCR technology that allows them to conform to Tier 4B emissions standards, the engines will crank out a little more power. “The models that they replace, starting with the 3240, go from 220 horsepower up to 250 rated horsepower with a power bulge or boost to a maximum of 270,” says Mark Burns, marketing manager for application equipment. “When we get into the 1,000-gallon machine (the 3340), we take that rating from 250 horsepower to 285 with a maximum of 309. With the increased horsepower comes an increase in productivity, being able to handle those tough field conditions with higher speeds.” Burns notes that the previous models these sprayers replace used Tier 3 engines. These machines bypass installation of Tier 4A engines entirely and go straight to Tier 4B. So there are fuel economy gains to be had with the new engines that most other machines saw when they made the jump to Tier 4A. “As replacement for the (earlier) models, we’re going right to Tier 4B emissions compliance,” he says. “We’re going to see, on average, a 10 per cent fuel savings.”

OPERATOR CONTROLS Like most manufacturers, Case IH engineers are keeping all sprayer operation functions within the main monitor (in this case the Case IH AFS screen), which will greatly simplify things for the user and avoid cab clutter from incorporating other systems monitors.

“We’re going to take those technologies and move them to the next level.” — Mark Burns

“The control system, the AFS 700, is the single interface between the operator and the machine,” says Burns. “From applications control to guidance functions as well. It’s built into the entire design and it’s how we handle all the evolution. As these features continue to evolve, we have a system that’s capable of handling all the new technology and not adding another level of complexity. Currently with AFS 700, we not only have the capability of rate control and guidance, but we’re working with things like automated boom height control and section control.” The new Patriots boast the ability to set two different droplet sizes from inside the cab, which the operator can switch between if weather conditions change. And instant on-off control shuts product off at the nozzle. “That gives us instant pattern at the right rate, at


Two new sprayers with 800 and 1,000-gallon capacities offer updated boom control features and fuel economy improvements over the models they replace. the right pressure, so we get that good coverage coming out of the corners as well,” adds Burns. Case IH is moving to an even greater level of product flow control on these models, going from ordinary section control on booms to managing overlap down to individual nozzles. “With AIM Command PRO we’re going to take those technologies and move them to the next level,” says Burns. “This

advanced spray technology builds on the features found on the AIM Command spray system, such as constant rate and pressure over a wide range of speeds.” And including turn flow compensation will change the flow rate out of each nozzle in a turn to ensure even coverage across the boom from tip to tip in corners. “Being able to shut nozzles off

one-by-one rather than boom sections is going to mean huge cost savings for operators,” he adds. “By incorporating turn compensation we’re going to vary to pulse width of each solenoid across that boom. Based on its position and the angle of the turn we’re putting on the correct amount of product per nozzle across that boom section.” † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Machinery & Shop 2014 MODEL INTRODUCTIONS

New draper headers Case IH includes built-in, low-speed transport capability and other engineering improvements in its 2014 draper header offerings BY SCOTT GARVEY


e’ve invested $30 million in manufacturing improvements to create a world-class production facility, and another $30 million in research and development dedicated to header design,” says Kelly Kravig, Case IH marketing manager for combines and headers. And the new 3152 and 3162 draper headers are one of the results of that R&D spending. “We’ve got two series of draper headers,” he continues. “The rigid 3152, for wheat barley and canola. We’ve also got the 3162 Series of flex drapers. All of them feature our new, patented centre-cut knife design.”

TRANSPORT WHEELS But arguably the most innovative design feature these headers offer is the built-in, low-speed transport wheels. The headers have attached transport wheels that fold into position hydraulically. Then the header can be disconnected from the feeder house and immediately hooked up behind a pickup truck,


The rigid 3152 and flex 3162 draper headers from Case IH offer a built-in, low-speed transport feature. Wheels can be folded into place right from the combine cab readying the header for road transport in a few seconds. flex three inches up and three inches down. “It also gives us the ability to handle rocky field conditions better,” says Kravig. “It flexes up over those rocks. We have an indicator on the inside that allows the operator to know how much the bar is flexing.”

“One of the questions guys ask is why buy a draper header,” he says. “It’s very simple: productivity. Bottom line: with a draper head you’ll get more acres per hour. Because of the way the crop is cut, it lays down on these draper belts and is fed heads

first into the feeder house. It’s a very efficient way of feeding the combine. This allows you to increase field speeds from one to one and one-half miles per hour.” † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at


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or even the combine itself, for movement down the road to another field. “They offer easy, in-cab deployment of the low-speed transportation system,” Kravig says. “It’s all done from inside the cab.” And the company had other design improvements to talk about as well, which includes an entirely new knife drive system. “For years header design had a wobble box on the left side, or on both sides,” says Kravig. “The problem with wobble boxes is as headers get wider that box tends to create vibration and stress. What we were trying to accomplish is how do we come up with a simpler design that is more efficient. In the centre of this head is a single drive. It’s like combining two drives, two wobble boxes into one very compact design. It provides more driving force than a single wobble box. It’s very smooth with less vibration.” The reels on the draper headers use a cam-action design that allows the fingers to lift the crop and sweep it across the header, laying it down in the correct, heads-up orientation. The cutter bar on the 3162 will

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2013-09-19 3:21 PM



OCTOBER 21, 2013

Machinery & Shop 2014 model introductions

New, bigger Magnum Case IH announced its intention to offer a 380-horsepower, CVTequipped Magnum a year ago; now it’s ready By Scott Garvey

T photos: scott garvey

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SFM13-10_02-8.125x10-GN.qxd 12:40 PM Page 1 With 380 rated horsepower, its at the top of The 380 CVT Magnum has now been9/26/13 released to the marketplace. the range of MFWD tractors.

he day of the longawaited release of the biggest Magnum ever, the 380, has arrived. The highhorsepower, rigid-frame, MFWD tractor is finally ready to go out to dealers. Case IH announced its intention to add the 380 CVT to the


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Magnum line about a year ago, long before they were ready to release it. At an event in Denver, Colorado, marketing reps officially introduced it to the media. That tractor brings the total number of models in the 2014 Magnum lineup to nine, spanning the 180 to 380 rated horsepower range (155 to 315 p.t.o.). The new 380-horsepower, CVTequipped tractor tops the size charts for a rigid-frame, MFWD machine. And it’s also the largest to offer a CVT transmission as standard equipment. In fact, a CVT is the only transmission option for this tractor. In addition, all models, including the 250, 280, 310 and 340, are now available with a CVT. “Throughout our Magnum line you now have the option of a powershift or CVT transmission,” says Dan Klein, Magnum marketing manager. “Our CVT features four-range technology that we introduced several years ago on our Puma tractors. We’re now bringing that into the higher-horsepower segment, maximizing the mechanical efficiency and ability to put the power to the ground with variable speeds, doing that more efficiently and with less fuel, by allowing that tractor and transmission to achieve the optimum balance of horsepower and traction.” Of course, the Magnums get new Tier 4B engines as well. The four smallest tractors get a 6.7-litre FPT diesel, while the largest five use an 8.7-litre version. These engines provide up to 14 per cent power growth, plus up to an extra 35 engine horsepower with power boost. “We added variable geometry turbochargers in our 280 to 380 horsepower tractors giving a wider torque range to improve performance,” notes Klein. “Our new Magnum 380 CVT tops out at 435 maximum-boosted engine horsepower.” The intake system on the higher-horsepower tractors has been redesigned to bring in cleaner air, easing demand on the filtration system to keep dirt out. “We changed the air intake system on the larger tractors,” Klein goes on.

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OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Machinery & Shop

“We’re going to increase those (filter) change intervals.” To keep their engines running, fuel tank capacity on all the models has been increased. “All of our Magnum tractors come with higher fuel carrying capacity to keep the tractors in the field longer,” he adds. The new tanks are also designed to allow better access to the right side of the tractor cab. “Moulded steps are formed into the fuel tank for easy access to the right-hand side of the tractor, so I can quickly and easily clean those windows.” To help keep heavy implements or loads like grain carts under control, the large models will continue to offer an engine brake. “The Magnum 250 to 380 still features Case IH exclusive engine brake technologies,” says Klein. “We want to maintain control without relying so much on service brakes or operator control.” Underneath the engines, Magnums offer new front-axle options and improved suspensions that will accept front duals as a factory option. “All of our Magnums are now front dual capable from the factory with a new front-axle design and better suspension,” confirms Klein. Inside the Magnum cabs, the same enhanced multi-function lever and control arrangement available on the Steigers finds a home here too. “We’re going to enhance that (multi-function lever) with bigger buttons and backlight, more positive feel,” explains Klein. “So when I’m doing other things, I know where I’m at (touching control surfaces).” †




Left: Magnums use Case IH’s standard control layout, including a new button arrangement on the multi-function control lever. Right: Steps and grab handles are built into the fuel tanks on the right side of Magnums to improve access to the cab windows for cleaning and maintenance.

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Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at


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OCTOBER 21, 2013

Machinery & Shop 2014 model introduction

Case IH unveils new Steiger 620 A 12.9-litre Tier 4B engine boosts the flagship Steiger model to new horsepower heights By Scott Garvey


new  620-horsepower Steiger made its debut in front of a group of farm writers in August in the same Denver arena that hosted the initial 1996 introduction of the Quadtrac. In the dim light, the new, bigger Steiger 620 Quadtrac roared dramatically through a doorway and into the open with all its lights ablaze, followed by a couple of smaller companions. Since that first 1996 Quadtrac introduction, maximum horsepower ratings in the Steiger line have grown by about 200. And the new model 620 offers 20 more rated engine horsepower than the 600, which topped out the group last year. The engine in the 620 actually peaks at 682. That, according to products reps, entitles it to the claim of being the highest-horsepower ag tractor currently on the market.

It’s about productivity “What’s it all about,” asked Mitch Kaiser, marketing manager for Steiger tractors, as he stood in front of the parked 620. “It’s about productivity. It’s about what customers want. They want more horsepower to get across that field faster, more efficiently, to cover more acres per day and lower their ROI.” Along with the new 620, the brand is also bringing an additional 540-horsepower model into the Steiger family. “There’s a whole new line of Steiger tractors,” he added. “We’re going to go with seven new models: 405 peak horsepower to 682. We’ll have four tracked versions and for every horsepower model we have wheeled versions. If you look at the tractors we have up here, we’re talking about efficient power. We’re talking about the power to save you one to two per cent overall fluid costs.” That modest cost reduction is the result of the stuffing new Tier 4B engines under the hoods of the full line of high-horsepower Case IH products to come off assembly lines starting in 2014. In an earlier presentation, CaseIH vice president Jim Walker played down direct in-engine diesel consumption improvements saying, “Hopefully we can hang on to what we have.” But instead of fuel consumption, “total fluid consumption” is now the industry buzz phrase. It refers to combined diesel and DEF use — some brands are even


photos: case ih

Top:  Case IH pushes the upper horsepower limit on its line of Steiger tractors with the introduction of a 620 model. Marketing reps are claiming that rating makes it the most powerful ag tractor on the market. Bottom:  An updated control handle uses softer, easier-to-locate buttons, something customers had asked the company to include. The swivel seat now gets integrated ventilation and cooling.


OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Machinery & Shop including less crankcase oil use due to longer oil change intervals in that equation. In fact, no manufacturer is really claiming large reductions in diesel consumption with the jump from Tier 4A to Tier 4B engines. Case IH and its sister brand New Holland, which uses the same FPT engines, will be the only major ag equipment manufacturers to use just SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) to meet the Tier 4B standard. “We’re at about 95 per cent efficiency at converting NOx (in the SCR system),” explains Leo Bose, Case IH training manager. “Our closest competitors are probably in that 80 to 85 per cent range. The SCR system is actually separate from the engine. There’s no exhaust gas recirculation. So we can tune that engine for maximum horsepower. But at the end of the game we’re running it for efficiency.” The patented SCR mixing chamber used by FPT, has been redesigned for Tier 4B and, apparently, is much more efficient, which helps lower DEF use. That combined with a fine-tuned “Diesel Saver” engine management system and two-stage turbocharging helps the big Steigers deliver more efficient power at a slightly reduced total fluid consumption rate.


Left: The Rowtrac Steigers also get a bump up in horsepower, with the introduction of the new, larger 500. Right: Mitch Kaiser, marketing manager for Steiger tractors points out some of the features on the Quadtrac system during the launch of 2014 model-year equipment in Denver, Colorado, in August.

Plan to attend the 7th Annual Master Seeders Conference - November 27 in Regina, SK. Go to for more information.

OTHER FEATURES But the new engines have other features to offer too. “We’re giving our customers 30 per cent faster response time on low-end torque,” explains Kaiser. “We’re doing that with a lower-pressure design cooling circuit. We’ll have a cooling system for each turbocharger. We cool that air more effectively, packing it into each turbo. So each one has more cooled air, which compresses better.” “We’re going to offer 24 different versions of that tractor (Steigers),” he continues. All will get power from a 12.9 litre diesel, except for the smallest version, the 370, which will run with an 8.7. Updated cab design and a relocated exhaust stack helps improve visibility, which can be enhanced at night with a new 360° lighting package. On the control array, Kaiser says the control arm has undergone another improvement. “We talked to customers who said they wanted as many control features as possible on the control arm. But we also got feedback. Customers said can you make this handle a little better? We’d like a to see bigger, softer buttons that have a better tactile feel.” So engineers added them. The 40° swivel operator’s seat remains a feature, but now you can get it ventilated and cooled. “By doing that we’re putting air through the bottom and back cushion the same as the automatic climate control in the cab,” says Kaiser. The seat also gets more adjustment positions with a slideout lower cushion for improved thigh support. And Case IH is adding more muscle in the Rowtrac line as well, with the addition of a new 500-horsepower version. “It’s the first in the industry,” announces Kaiser. “It’s the highest horsepower row-crop tractor ever produced. I can seed, till and plant with it or pull a grain cart. It’s a tractor for all seasons.” † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at scott.garvey@

The Leader in Overlap Control SeedMaster now offers Auto Zone Command™ & FLIP™ (Full Last Implement Pass) as standard features on its on-board and tow-behind tanks. Auto Zone Command prevents costly input overlap by instantly stopping product flow in up to 10 metering zones. The more zones you control, the more money you will save.

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FLIP is SeedMaster’s patented mapping software that activates Auto Zone Command and halts product flow the first time openers pass through an overlap area. Product is then applied on the last pass, preventing double seed and fertilizer from being applied, and avoiding any seedbed disturbance. The Big Payback – Savings using a 10 zone, 80 ft. drill Year


Overlap%No Zone Command

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Savings per Acre

Cost Savings/ Total Acres









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The diagram illustrates how SeedMaster’s Auto Zone Command turns off seed and fertilizer to each zone during headland passes. Without Auto Zone Command, the large area in red would receive double inputs, wasting considerable dollars.

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OCTOBER 21, 2013

Machinery & Shop 2014 model introductions

Case IH looks to make inroads in the livestock sector From updated utility tractors to improved hay tools, the brand offers new models intended to appeal to livestock producers By Scott Garvey


n the last 12 months we’ve launched four new series of Farmall tractors,” Case IH’s Zach Hettrick told a group of farm writers who were seated in an arena at the company’s 2014 Denver product launch, in August. “We’ve talked about CVT transmissions in the Magnums, today we’re bringing them to you in a compact tractor,” he added. Those new Farmall models with CVTs and updated options lists were among the machines in its 2014 product line Case IH hopes will grab the attention of livestock producers.

Moving into livestock The red brand, which over the years has developed a strong following among cash crop producers, is making a move to expand its market foothold in

the livestock sector. “We tore a page out of our high-horsepower product success,” continued Hettrick. “We added nine new livestock specialists to the business. We’re bringing our business model forward. We’re going to continue to grow this business.” After Hettrick made his initial comments, he passed the microphone to Brett DeVries, Case IH’s hay and forage marketing manager. Then, a parade of brand new haying implements made its way into the arena. “I’m proud to introduce the new RB565 round baler,” said DeVries, as a tractor and baler made it’s way to the centre of the equipment display. “This baler produces a five by six bale size. The big thing on this new baler is we get 20 per cent more capacity. We get more reliability with the new pickup and better belts. It’s also more operator friendly. At the end of the day

photos: scott garvey

Case IH is targeting livestock producers with its four lines of Farmall utility tractors. The Farmalls are one of the few in this horsepower class that can be ordered with factory duals. there are a lot of new things on this baler.” After the baler moved on, a Farmall tractor and mower conditioner pulled up behind him. “Here we have the all-new DC133 disc mower conditioner. It has a 13-foot cut width,” DeVries explained. “We also offer a DC163 with a 16-foot cut width. They’re both centrepivot models. The 132 was its predecessor. We took all the good things on that machine and made it better. We went to

an all-new, large-disc cutter-bar system. Larger, flatter discs do a better job with cut quality.” The mower conditioners also offer larger, heavier components powered through a simplified drive arrangement. And there are wider conditioning rollers capable of leaving a wider windrow that can reduce the amount of drydown time required for hay to cure after being cut. Also included in Case IH’s livestock equipment offering for 2014 is an all-new series of self-

propelled windrowers. “The new WD3 Series has three models,” said Hettrick. “The 1203 at 120 horsepower, the 1903 at 190 horsepower and our flagship machine at 230 horsepower. This is really the first windrower in the industry to come out of the factory with OEM-installed precision farming components. That’s an industry exclusive, We run it with our Pro 700 monitor, which is common across all (Case IH) product lines.” The WD3 Series windrower also boasts a high, 24 m.p.h. transport

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OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Machinery & Shop

The new RB565 round baler offers sturdier pickup components, a new feeding arrangement and better belts. speed without having to reverse the operator’s station. That speed is possible due to the new, more responsive steering system and suspended rear axle. For cereal and oilseeds producers, WD3 models are available with an all-new draper header, and they offer twin 40 gallon-per-minute hydraulic pumps, one of which has a dedicated flow to the knife to prevent stalling in heavy crops. The baler, mower conditioner and WD3 Series SP windrower, however, are sister products to

those wearing a different shade of red paint and marketed by New Holland, which, of course, is the other brand under CNH Global ownership. The two marquees have been sharing some engineering and technology for several years. A look at the respective brochures for the baler, windrower and mower conditioner shows both the Case IH and New Holland versions share the same base specifications. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

Top: The new WD3 Series SP windrowers include two base models. One for hay and forage growers who need a mower conditioner header and another for cash crop producers who want a draper header. Bottom: The DC3 series mower conditioners have a simplified and beefed-up driveline along with wider conditioning rollers.

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OCTOBER 21, 2013


Get your cell phone to work in the shop A cell phone signal booster will keep you in touch with the world from inside a steel-clad building BY SCOTT GARVEY


he workshop has now become the nerve centre on many farms. Today’s shops often include things like an office and employee lunchroom, not just equipment repair stations and spare parts. The trouble is, cell phone reception inside these buildings — which usually have metal siding and interior lining — is about as good as it would be if you put your phone in a lead-lined box. However, there is a way to

cure that problem: by using a cell phone signal booster. Regular Grainews readers may remember we tested a mobile cell phone booster last spring by installing it in a pickup truck. This time we take a look a more expensive system, Wilson Electronic’s DB Pro, and see if it can do the job inside a building. This is how the system works. The DB Pro’s external antenna picks up the signal from a cell tower, boosts it, and rebroadcasts a stronger signal within a building from a second

antenna. So there are three components to the system, the receiver antenna, the booster and the interior antenna. As soon as you walk into a building serviced by the DB Pro, Wilson claims your access to a cellular signal will be much better. To prove it, they sent us a DB Pro kit to install in a workshop and see for ourselves. So, we did just that. Here’s how our experience went. Wilson has a list of certified installers across Canada that are authorized by the company to install the system. They sent it to


The DB Pro cell phone signal booster kit comes with everything required to install it in a farm shop, except a mounting mast. us in case we wanted to recruit professional help, but the DB Pro is advertised as an easy do-it-yourself project. So in true Grainews style, we opted to tackle it ourselves (along with the farm workshop owner, of course). We watched Wilson’s online

installation video and read the instructions in the kit, then jumped to it. The first step in the installation is figuring out where the existing cellular signal is strongest. And in order to measure how much improvement we were going to get from the DB Pro, we took some baseline signal strength readings. We used an ordinary cell phone to do both. Watching the signal readout strength on a cell phone (see www. for instructions on how to use your phone to do that), we walked around the workshop we were going to install the DB Pro in. We installed the exterior antenna on the side of the building with the strongest signal. Something the DB Pro kit doesn’t include is a mounting mast for the exterior antenna. The farm owner had a mounting bracket from an old satellite TV receiver lying around, which we used and it worked perfectly for the job. It was attached to one corner of the building near the roof to give us ample room to aim the antenna, which is directional. With the antenna in place, a hole was drilled in the wall to feed to coax cable through. Inside, we ran the cable down the interior wall to the booster, which needs to be positioned near an electrical plug. From there a second coax cable line feeds out to the interior antenna, which should be mounted near the centre of the area to be served. Wilson recommends mounting it to the ceiling in the centre of the building. But that posed some accessibility problems for us, so we opted for the middle of a sidewall instead. If your shop is more than about 75 feet long, you may need more than one interior antenna to get a boosted signal through the entire building. In our case, one antenna was enough. The

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Connecting the coax cable to the interior antenna was the final installation step.

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Machinery & Shop

Left:  An old satellite TV receiver mast was used to mount the DB Pro exterior antenna to the workshop wall. Middle:  Once the antenna was in place a hole was drilled through the wall to feed in the coax cable. Right:  The system picks up cellular signals on an exterior antenna, boosts and rebroadcasts them from an interior antenna. basic DB Pro kit comes with just one, so for larger shops you’d need to order additional interior antenna(s) and a line splitter to feed coax out from the booster to both. If you have a very large building, you can contact Wilson, and they will figure out exactly how many interior antennas you’ll need. Once the system was installed, all we had to do was adjust the gain on both booster frequencies until we had green lights, which meant the DB Pro was operational. All that process involved was turning two dials until the signal lights went to green. In all, the whole job took less than an hour and didn’t require any special tools or skills. So we can vouch for this being an easy DIY project. Now for the important part: did it work? Our initial readings showed the outside, unaided signal strength around the shop ranged from -91 to -85. What does that mean? Lower numbers indicate stronger signal strength. According to Wilson, -50 is about as good as it gets for a strong, excellent signal. Higher than about -110 and they consider you have no service. Inside the shop with the doors closed, signal strength when we started was -113. Cell phones would ring when there was an incoming call, but answering one required sprinting for the door to get outside. With the DB Pro up and running in the shop, the boosted signal strength ranged from -75 to -77, depending on where you stood in relation to the inside antenna. The chart that came with the Wilson kit placed that signal strength well into the “good” category. It was now possible to go inside the office in the shop, close its door and make a call with crisp, clear reception. The result was phone service inside the building was now much better than the “poor” category of reception we got outside. The DB Pro is available from various retailers in Canada. When we looked online, we found offering it for as low as $389, discounted from their regular $742 retail price. For more information visit † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

Ask about the 2013 model and its many new features and schedule a free demo!



OCTOBER 21, 2013

Cattleman’s Corner changing gears

Going, going… almost gone Crowfoot Cattle Company preparing to close the gate on purebred business BY LEE HART


allas Jensen plans to be checking out the historical sites of Israel this winter at just about the same time over the past 33 years that he has been worrying about how cows are calving. And he is looking forward to the change of scenery. Jensen, who along with family members has been operating the Crowfoot Cattle Company near Standard, Alberta for more than three decades, is retiring from the purebred cattle business. A complete herd dispersal sale of 600 head Red and Black Angus cattle is planned for November 29 and 30, at the ranch about an hour east of Calgary. It’s been a good run — always some ups and downs — but he’s looking forward to the seeing the last animal leave the place. “It is just time for a change,” says Jensen. “I am 63. It has been a lot of work over the years, the industry is changing, the cattle industry is regaining some strength right now, it is a good time to exit and do some things we want to do.” Jensen has no immediate plans for the future other than taking a trip with his wife Sandy after the dispersal sale. He was born and raised on the more than 100-yearold family farm. His dad and mom, Elmer, 99, and Leona, 98, still live close by and are still quite active and independent. The 3,000-acre family farm will still be there when the trip is over. He just has to decide what he wants to do next.

LAUNCHED IN 1980 Jensen launched into the purebred cattle business in 1980. His dad operated a commercial cow-calf operation on the farm that is traversed by one branch of Crowfoot Creek. The place has about 2,000 acres of pasture along with about 800 acres of annual cropland. Jensen kept the few purebred Angus cattle from his dad’s commercial herd and starting building his own. Also for many years he has worked in partnership with his nephew Chris Jensen, who owns the nearby Crowfoot Valley Ranch. They bought bred cows and heifers and continued to build the Red Angus herd. In 1999 with the purchase of the complete herd

from Walling Angus in Winnifred, Montana they introduced Black Angus to the ranch. “Red and Black Angus, they are all good cattle,” says Jensen. “We introduced the Black Angus primarily for marketing reasons. Some customers prefer red cattle and some prefer black.” The herd grew. With various business arrangements they were running anywhere from 800 to 1,000 head of mature females. But 1999 also began a series of unrelated events that would mean big changes for the ranch over the next seven years. “I remember when the drought started,” says Jensen. “The last rain we had was August 19, 1999 and it didn’t rain again for three years. Even the grass died.” With cattle to feed, no pasture and little winter feed, Jensen knew he needed a solution, so he bought a 2,300-acre farm near Indian Head, Sask., just east of Regina. He trucked cattle there for pasture, and also began buying hay from Manitoba, which got them into the haying business for a few years, as well. It started raining again in 2003, but the rains arrived just in time for the BSE crisis to hit the Canadian cattle industry. Along with the commercial producers, BSE sat the purebred livestock business back on its haunches. Jensen use to sell up to 30 bulls a year to the U.S. and generally the BSE cloud depressed all aspects of the beef business. Also about this time Jensen was dealing with a marriage breakup from his first wife and that began a lengthy and financially demanding settlement process. “Several things happened there in a few years that all hit the farm business, so in 2006 we decided we needed to clear up debt,” says Jensen. That required the sale of 1,100 head of mature purebred cows. “We did keep 350 heifer calves, and we started again.”

REBUILT THE OPERATION Perhaps a bit more modestly, the Crowfoot Cattle Company has rebuilt over the past few years. For the dispersal sale in November the company will be offering 600 females (450 cows and 150 heifers) and their calves at auction, along with herd sires. “The purebred industry has

Dallas Jensen is looking forward to new life experiences that don’t include raising purebred cattle. changed too,” says Jensen. “I don’t want to sound old, but back in the day we could sell every bull and not even put an ad in the paper. But it is much more competitive now. There is a lot more technology involved when it comes to marketing.” In recent years he has marketed about 150 yearling and twoyear-old bulls annually, through an annual farm sale as well as private treaty. Looking at the economies of scale, Jensen says with the cost of technology, marketing and advertising purebred operations really need at least $400,000 to $500,000 in sales to make it pay. Jensen has been busy over the past few months preparing for the dispersal sale. Compiling a catalogue is one part of it, but he’s made a video of each cowcalf pair, each heifer, and each herd sire for the ranch website, As well, the video of each animal will be played during the actual sale days. The calves have been weaned since the video clips were made. The cattle will be out on pasture, and buyers attending the farm sale will bid on each animal or each lot after watching videos on a large screen in the sale barn. He also sells through the Strathmore, Alta. based TEAM (The Electronic Auction Market).

Some of the fall bull calves that will be sold into the yearling bull market at the Crowfoot Cattle Company dispersal in November. “And I try to do it all myself, which is stupid. This stuff is way over my head,” Jensen says in his farm-home office which is cluttered with paper, cameras and desktop and laptop computers. As Jensen prepares to close this chapter on his life, he has no regrets about leaving the purebred beef industry. “I’ve worked hard all my life, but now I look forward to doing some of the things we like to do,” he says. “The cattle industry has been good, but there is more to life than raising cattle. Between Sandy and I we have four amazing children who are doing well, but now it is the par-

ents’ turn to get out and experience things.” “Going out on a high note,” Jensen gets a bit philosophical. “I believe in this industry we have to remember that the real source of wealth is the sun, the rain and the soil,” he says. “As producers we need to minimize the amount of iron and diesel fuel we need and let the cattle do the harvesting of the wealth without huge input costs. The more we can let cattle do the work the more environmentally and economically sustainable we become.” † Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at

fencing tips

When one pair of hands isn’t enough BY HEATHER SMITH THOMAS


uilding and maintaining fences is always a chore, but there are some techniques that can make the job easier, whether it’s a pole fence or a wire fence. Here are a few tips that might be useful.

HANDY POLE HOLDER When working by yourself building a pole or board fence

(or putting up poles or boards for any type of construction) it can be difficult to keep the other end of the pole or board in place as you nail your end. An easy way to hold that other end is to use an adjustable nylon tie-down strap with a hook on each end and adjustable tighteners. These are the straps that are used to tie a motorcycle or ATV in a trailer or vehicle to keep it in place and upright when

hauling it somewhere (one end of the strap is hooked to the vehicle and the other end to the motorcycle, and tightened up as you position it, pulling on the end of the strap that sticks out — it slips through a clamp and shortens the strap). The clamp has a thumb release for unhooking it. When putting up poles or boards with no one to hold up the other end, you can secure the motorcycle strap to the post

above where you want the pole or board. Just a loop around the post will hold it if you tighten it up so it cannot slip. Then you can make a loop around the pole or board to hold it at the proper height while you nail the other end. The strap will hold a heavy pole or board securely in place, making your task a lot easier. †

photo: heather smith thomas

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

Anchor one end of the tie-strap to the top of the post and adjust the loop to hold the rail.

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Cattleman’s Corner INDUSTRY NEWS

Co-ordinator hired for Sask VBP program VPB RELEASE


young Saskatchewan cattleman with practical on-farm experience and excellent skills in working with producers and industry associations has been hired to carry the message of best production practices to Saskatchewan beef producers. Coy Schellenberg of Beechy has been named the new provincial co-ordinator of Canada’s on-farm food safety program for beef cattle, the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program. “Participation in this national producer-led program in Saskatchewan is important,” says Kim Hextall, Sask VBP working group chair. “Understanding food safety risks at the farm level contributes to our effort to enhance customer and consumer confidence in our product.” Schellenberg has direct practical and business experience as a cowcalf producer himself, in addition to experience in delivering programs to producers. “Being raised and living on a cow-calf operation and with a forage and beef industry background, he brings first-hand knowledge of the issues that producers face,” says Hextall. Schellenberg’s background includes beef production, forage and rangeland management, environmental stewardship, and delivery of extension programs. Prior to this position, he has worked with various producer and industry led groups in furthering knowledge of forage and livestock production and invasive plant species management. He was also asked to participate on the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Youth Advisory Committee. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan in 2008.

for producers to do so. He plans to update the Saskatchewan VBP website as an information source, and to increase program exposure across the province. The effort to build VBP participation in Saskatchewan is part of a national plan led by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. A multisector stakeholder group developed the Verified Beef Production program to uphold confidence in the practices of Canada’s beef producers. The program has undergone two technical reviews by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and maintains its technical status. It is a low-cost practical program which outlines industry sanctioned practices. Numbers show there is overall growth across Canada with over 17,100 beef operations trained in VBP. Two thirds of Canada’s

beef production now comes from VBP-trained operations. Per cent of cow-calf production from VBPtrained operations is at 33 per cent and feedlot, 83 per cent. Schellenberg’s work is directed by a multi-stakeholder producer advisory group called the Saskatchewan QSH/VBP Working Group Inc. This group sets policy and direction for implementation of the national beef on-farm food safety program in Saskatchewan. It is comprised of producer representation from Sask. Cattlemen’s Association, Sask. Stock Growers Association, Sask. Cattle Feeders Association, Sask. Ministry of Agriculture, and other interested stakeholders. All members are producers or those with a beef production background. † More information on VBP is available at or contact Schellenberg directly at phone: 306-859-9110 or e-mail:


Coy Shellenberg (and family) is the new co-ordinator of the Saskatchewan Verified Beef Program.

Got mobile?

KNOW PROPER PRACTICES The Verified Beef Production is aimed at getting all producers on board with proper production practices that help ensure the production of high quality and safe food. The VBP delivers workshops and supplies materials about potential hazards and the importance of good record keeping. Key areas covered in the program include education on proper animal health management, cattle shipping, use of medicated feeds and pesticide control. “The VBP program is easy to participate in and provides producers with a level of recognition for what they do,” says Schellenberg. “Most producers are doing many of the practices, so this just explains the outcomes the industry is aiming for and provides recognition for doing so. All cattle that go into food production spend approximately half of their life on cow-calf operations. Everything we do at the cow-calf level is as important as the rest of the beef chain. We all contribute to the end food product.” Support for delivery of workshops, communications and assisting producers to implement VBP is provided by programming through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. Schellenberg’s role will be to build participation from the cowcalf sector in a manner that is easy

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OCTOBER 21, 2013

Keepers & Culls Natural may be different, but not better LEE HART


o sooner last month had I talked about A & W Restaurants announcing they were switching to natural, hormone-free beef in all their restaurants as part of the healthy-eating trend, and TV commercials showing happy, healthy people eating A & W burgers started. In that commercial the personable “manager” played by actor Allen Lulu is asking customers what they think of the new hormone-free burgers. And surprisingly these happy, young consumers said “they were just delicious.” I don’t know if anyone said they were better than the toxic, hormone-laden burgers, but you certainly get that impression. In many respects, I have no issues with someone marketing natural or organic meat products. If that is what the customer wants, great. And if by some chance they happen to be more tender or more flavourful that is great too. But I bristle when the slant is that these natural beef burgers are better, because conventional beef isn’t good for you. Consumers like to follow price, but they are also easily swayed by advertising. And that type of advertising rings the alarm bell again that conventional beef is bad. The Alberta Beef Producers didn’t

mention A & W in particular but in a recent release they took issue with the restaurant chain’s move. “Alberta Beef Producers is very concerned about recent advertising campaigns from some food-service and retail food businesses that seem to present a negative view of our conventional food production methods, systems that have given Canadians one of the best food supplies in the history of human civilization. “These businesses are choosing to serve their customers beef from cattle that are raised without the use of safe, proven growth products that improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental footprint of beef production. “This beef is different from the vast majority of beef that is produced in Canada, but in our view, it is certainly not better beef. We are disappointed that these companies are effectively turning their backs on over 68,000 Canadian cattle producers and more than two billion pounds of safe, nutritious, high quality Canadian beef that is produced annually from cattle raised using highly ethical and sustainable methods. “In some cases, these businesses will be serving their customers imported beef because the companies have not taken the time to find Canadian suppliers of the particular kind of beef they want. “As an organization working on behalf of over 20,000 cattle producers in Alberta, ABP is reluctant to publicly attack potential customers. However, we do want to remind consumers that there are retail stores, restaurants, and

quick service restaurant chains that support Canadian cattle producers and are committed to serving only Canadian beef in their establishments. We encourage Canadian consumers to seek out and support these businesses.” So that is what ABP had to say. I am not sure what critics consider as being all the hazards of conventionally produced beef, but I have heard one concern is that use of growth promotants will increase estrogen levels in humans. So I was interested in a chart posted by Alberta farmer Rod Bradshaw that

showed a comparison of how hormones in implanted beef contribute to estrogen levels. If this research is correct I think it will be more important for the beef guys to get on board with a campaign protecting the public from pea soup and cabbage.



Searching for a better way to handle manure BY LEE HART


he Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) has put money into an ongoing PAMI research project looking at better ways to handle raw manure so it not only produces energy through biogas, but also results in a nutrientrich solid material that can be used as fertilizer. The $51,000 from SSGA has gone into the Solid-State Anaerobic Digester (SSAD) project, which PAMI built and has been operating at the Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC) near Humboldt, Sask. for the past two years. It is a multifaceted project, says Joy Agnew, a research engineer who is leading the project. “One component of the project is looking at capturing biogas from solid raw manure and using it to produce energy,” says Agnew. “And another aspect is looking at the value and uses of the solid material after it has been through the digester.” Most cow-calf operations don’t produce manure conducive for stockpiling. But any intensive livestock operation does produce collectable quantities that do have to be managed. Manure in the proverbial manure pile doesn’t improve with age. It doesn’t compost on its own. In fact stockpiled manure can lose up to 70 per cent of its nutrient value just sitting there.

There are other manure digester systems operating or being tested, but the feature of the PAMI SSAD project is that it is working with dry manure. The SSAD project doesn’t need added water so the byproduct doesn’t have to be separated and there are no issues about handing liquid. At the WBDC farm, PAMI has built a pilot SSAD plant that can process up to 20 tonnes of manure in a batch. Right now they are even “cooking” a batch that is a combination of manure and potatoes. It is the type of digester than can use any type of organic matter, including cull or waste material from a grocery store, to produce not only biogas but the nutrient-rich byproduct known as digestate. “We’ve run four batches through the plant this year with very positive results in being able to produce and collect the biogas — a combination of methane and carbon dioxide”, says Agnew. “And now we are looking how to best handle the digestate.” Raw dry manure, mixed with a bit of digestate to inoculate it, is placed in the digester. It is heated up and allowed to cook. What’s left after biogas has been removed is a slightly drier product “that doesn’t look a whole lot different than material that went in,” says Agnew. It is darker, drier, has more consistent particle size, is more nutrient stable, and has less odour than


Left: Raw manure is loaded into a large waste management tub converted to serve as manure digester. Once loaded, the tub is covered and sealed. Right: After 45 days of cooking, and biogas has been extracted, the nearly ordorless digestate is removed. raw manure, but the SSAD process doesn’t compost it.

NUTRIENT COMPARISON The SSGA funding is targeted at research on how to best handle and make us of the digestate. The project is comparing the value of different materials to that of straight stockpiled manure. Agnew is looking at measuring the nutrient value and landapplying digestate as it comes out of the digester, at the value of composting the digestate and comparing them to simply composting manure. Which gives producers the most nutrient

value and the biggest bang for the buck? “It is also important to consider the environmental aspect as well,” says Agnew. “The digestate is a much more stable, nutrient-rich material, with less odour, which are all important factors as we consider good environmental stewardship.” The big picture around the SSAD project is to find an economical and practical way to handle large volumes of dry manure to not only produce energy from biogas, but also an economical, valuable and environmental sound organic fertilizer. Agnew says Pound-maker Agventures, a large commercial feedlot

and ethanol plant, next door to the PAMI SSAD project is interested in the technology if it can be scaled up to handle an operation of their size. Potentially they can use the biogas to produce electricity and heat for their own operation, and hopefully find a smart way to better handle manure from the feedlot. Along with SSGA funding toward a specific part of the research, the SSAD project is being supported by PAMI, the Western Economic Development Fund, Natural Resources Canada and Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. † Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


Cattleman’s Corner RANGE MANAGEMENT

Understanding grass and grazing basics HYLAND ARMSTRONG


he most important factors influencing the response of grasses to grazing are a combination of environmental conditions, plant genetics and management. Management includes factors such as the timing, intensity and frequency of the grazing event during the plant’s growth cycle. Understanding how grasses develop and the impact grazing has on their health is the first step in developing a sound range management program. Rising soil temperatures, in combination with relatively high soil moisture levels, will simulate the growth of tillers in the spring. In perennial grasses, tiller growth originates from auxiliary buds and takes place by multiplication, differentiation and expansion of the apical meristem (undifferentiated tissue) found at the tip of the culm. In perennial grasses, there are three distinct phases: the vegetative, elongation and reproductive. During the vegetative phase, the grass expends much of its energy reserves producing leaves. The leaves form at the base of each node and have meristematic tissue of their own, which multiplies and expands to form the leaf blade and its associated structures. In response to environmental and hormonal cues, elongation of the stem takes place, elevating the apical growing point.

DIFFERENT RESPONSES In “culmless” grasses, elongation of the stem is limited and the apical growing point remains below the leaves and sheaths. In “culmed” grasses, the growing point is elevated above the leaves and sheathes. Environmental and hormonal cues will then force one or more of the culms to develop reproductive structures. Culmed grasses (Russian wild rye, brome grass, timothy, etc) respond to grazing differently than culmless grasses (needle-andthread, blue grama, rough fescue, etc.). The elevation of the growing point in culmed grasses makes the growing point vulnerable to grazing. Consequently, grazing removes the apical meristem and some of the leaves. This action will “force” the plant to divert its energy reserves to the production of new tillers. Grazing a culmed plant before it has produced a reproductive culm, force the plant to remain in the vegetative phase of its growth cycle. In culmless grasses, the growing point is not elevated sufficiently enough to make it vulnerable to grazing. As long as the plant has an adequate supply of moisture and water and there is sufficient leaf area, for the production of simple sugars and starches, the plant in theory can produce leaves indefinitely. In reality, the plant’s TNC reserves, soil moisture and the availability of nutrients limit the plant’s ability to replace the lost leaf material. During the initial phase of tiller development, the plant relies on its Total Available Carbohydrate

(TAC) reserves for the initial growth and development of leaves, culms and roots. The plant’s TAC reserves (also referred to as the Total Nonstructural Carbohydrate (TNC) reserves) are the starches and simple sugars that were stored in the plant’s crown during the previous growing season and used for growth during the following spring. As the leaves develop and expand, these new leaves begin providing the plant with the carbohydrates the plant needs for growth. However, as the plant matures the apical leaves, which are older, become less efficient in their ability to capture sunlight. The basal leaves, which are younger, are more efficient in their ability to capture sunlight. Consequently, as the plant matures it relies on younger basal leaves for much of its energy needs.

Once the plant has entered the reproductive phase, much of its energy production goes into producing seeds and replenishing its TNC reserves. The loss of leaves (through grazing) forces the plant to draw upon it TNC reserves in order to grow new leaves.

THE ROLE OF MANAGEMENT Although the environmental and genetic constraints that determine how a grass grows are out of the control of the range manager, the range manager can influence how grazing affects the health of a grass plant by manipulating the timing, intensity and frequency of the grazing event. The frequency of defoliation determines the time plants have to recover between each grazing event. As the number of defoliations during the growing period increase,

amount of time the plant has to restore its carbohydrate reserves will become more restricted. The intensity of defoliation, or the amount of herbage removed by the grazer, determines how much leaf material remains to supply the simple sugars and starches needed for plant growth, replacement of tillers and the recovery of TNC reserves. The timing of the grazing event also has an impact on the health of the grass. Grazing a plant during its rapid growth phase (early spring to midsummer) is more detrimental to the plant’s health than if grazing takes place during quiescence (after the plant has set seed). The interaction of these factors influence the plant’s TNC reserves throughout the plant’s growth cycle. Given the ability of a perennial grass, in the vegetative stage,

to continuously produce leaves, theoretically it should be possible to graze a perennial grass frequently without harming the plant. However, this is not the case. Without exception, regardless of the plant species (native or introduced), research has demonstrated as the intensity of grazing increases, the health of the plant declines. A plant needs sufficient time to restore its TNC reserves. Generally, this is one growing season, but if grazing takes place during a drought or other times of stress, the plant will require two or more growing seasons to restore its TNC reserves. † Hyland Armstrong is a consultant and retired rancher from the Cypress Hills, Alta. with a long educational and career background in animal science and range management. He can be reached at lightningbutte@hotmail. com or 403 528 4798.



OCTOBER 21, 2013

Cattleman’s Corner gRazing management

Farming with nature improves profitability Gabe Brown follows holistic management practices to maximize production and minimize cost BY ANGELA LOVELL


abe Brown looks at things a bit differently than many farmers. He sees crop residue as fertilizer, and grazing as a “defibrillator” for soils. Brown employs cover crops and mob grazing to help him build and maintain soil health and eliminate synthetic fertilizers on his North Dakota farm. The holistic management system he has developed over the past 20 years has three pillars — healthy land, healthy people and healthy profits — underpinning everything he does. He also has more money in his pocket as a result. Brown says he nets average returns of about $300 per acre on his 5,400-acre crop and livestock farm near Bismarck, North Dakota. “We producers seem to be very good at writing cheques,” Brown said in a talk to Manitoba beef producers. “Holistic management makes you think about where your money is going. Ten to 60 per cent of the fertility you put on the land is taken up by the plants. That means 40 per cent of every cheque you write for synthetic fertilizer is disappearing. So why write that cheque every year?” Brown admits it took a major change in his mindset to come to the realization that he was disconnected from his own land and had become all too willing to accept a degraded resource. Once he began to realize as a farmer he is a part of nature, rather than apart from it, he found the first clues about how to achieve his own holistic goals. One of those goals was to regenerate the landscape for a sustainable future. And the solution was all around him — growing in the native pastures and natural habitat areas that make up part of the farm. “You have to imitate the native rangeland and look at what species are there,” he said. “It’s all about diversity — the more diversity the more you will build the soil health and the more money stays in your pocket.” Brown frequently addresses producer groups across the U.S. and Canada and shares his holistic farming experiences. He has been in Manitoba many times at the invitation of the Manitoba Grazing Clubs, which has sponsored presentations for hundreds of producers with funding provided by the Manitoba Forage Council and Ducks Unlimited


Canada. The growing numbers of producers attending these meetings bear out his contention that interest in farming more sustainably is growing.

DIVERSE CROP MIX Brown uses a diverse mix of crops all combined in a covercrop blend, which he both grazes and uses for fertility in his cropping system. These cover crops are often underseeded into his grain crops using a no-till seeder. The residue is left after grazing or harvesting to break down naturally, to feed the soil life, build organic matter, hold moisture and prevent erosion. “The aim is to have something living and growing as long as possible throughout the year,” he said. “If you have live growing crops at all times they will feed the soil health.” Brown said it takes time to get soil health to the point where it is possible to cut back or eliminate inputs. When first converting to cover crops there will be a nutrient tie up in the soil the first few years. Farmers may still need to use some synthetic fertilizers during the transition. The species he uses in his cover crops varies and usually includes a mix of cool- and warm-season grasses. He emphasizes the mix will need to suit each individual area and climate. The type of plants is less important than maintaining a high degree of diversity. He sometimes has up to 30 different crops in a cover crop mix as different leaf types will maximize the collection of solar energy. Brown also wants lots of flowering species to attract native pollinators and other beneficial insects. Forage turnips and radishes are very good for storing nitrogen, which is released into soils through the action of the micro- and macro-organisms. It’s important to have the right mix of predator soil organisms and the organisms they prey upon, to facilitate the nitrogenfixing process. Nitrogen stored in the bodies of the prey insects is released into the soil.

ORGANIC MATTER HAS VALUE Improving soil organic matter is crucial to building and maintaining the diverse soil life that keeps nutrients in balance and cycling. “Remember you need half the plant for the life above the ground and half for the life under the ground,” said Brown. Since 1993 Brown has

photo: angela lovell

Gabe Brown points to a slide that demonstrates how the organic matter content has improved on his North Dakota farm. increased the organic matter content in his soils from about two per cent to up to 5.3 per cent. Based on local fertilizer prices in North Dakota, Brown estimates an organic matter content of five per cent is equivalent to $3,755 per acre value of fertilizer. Cover crops jump start soil life and provide better soil structure, which can help retain moisture and absorb the excess in wet conditions like the spring of 2011. It’s more than a theory as Brown learned when he worked with a piece of land he’d purchased which had been conventionally pastured for almost 100 years. The first season was spent trying to regenerate the soil. Brown first seeded peas in the spring. They were rolled down in July and the land was then seeded with an eight-species cover crop mix immediately after. The following spring he planted corn using a notill seeder into the residue and did a tissue test analysis of the corn in July. The test showed that except for calcium, the crop had enough balanced fertility without the use of any commercial fertilizer or manure. The corn yielded 122.9 bushels per acre. Brown’s farm is now also home to more than 11 different species of dung beetles. The beetles are not only very efficient at breaking down manure, but also prey on flies helping to control pest numbers and reduce stress on cattle.

THE MOB REJUVENATES SOIL When Brown needs to speed up rejuvenation of an area or

ramp up soil health in purchased or rented land he employs mob grazing, which involves putting large numbers of animals on smaller areas of pasture for a short period to maximize animal impact. Brown generally mob grazes around 365 animals on one-sixth of an acre and moves them five or six times a day. “It spreads out manure and urine and hoof action tramples the litter and plant material down to contact the soil surface and feed soil biology,” he said. “There’s no set weight or number of animals for mob grazing. You can mob graze with two animals if you lock them in a real tiny area.” Mob grazing rapidly reseeds an area and helps to bring longdormant native species to the surface to increase the natural plant diversity. The action of grazing also activates soil life. “When animals are grazing it sends signals to the plant roots to attract the microorganisms it needs to help them grow,” said Brown. “So you can improve soil life by grazing and will get better regrowth. We generally graze one-third of the plant material and leave two-thirds behind to feed the soil organisms.”

INCREASE PRODUCTION WITHOUT INPUTS The healthy and balanced natural system which Brown has developed over the last 20 years means he is close to his goal of completely eliminating all inputs on the farm. “Using cover crops you have dense residue that prevents

weeds from germinating,” he said. “You also have less disease and pests under this type of system because your soils are much healthier. The nutrients that are needed by the plants to ward off diseases are more readily available to them. Natural predators, which are more prevalent, feed on the plant pests to reduce insect damage.” Brown’s farm is living proof a more holistic production system is more enjoyable, sustainable and profitable. With reduced inputs, the cost of producing wheat in 2010 was $1.88 per bushel including land rental costs. Brown now hosts agricultural student interns on his farm each season to help encourage young people back to the land. He feels smaller farms, using holistically intensive systems, are the way of the future and is tired of the argument that large farms are essential if growing world populations are to be fed. “I average 150 bushels per acre on my corn and I have no inputs,” said Brown. “The county average is 100 bushels an acre. I think we have more ability to feed more people by farming holistically.” The real message, said Brown, is that farmers need to farm and ranch in step with a natural system. “We have to get back to the way this land evolved and was created and farm and ranch in that image,” he said. “It’s the most natural, the most profitable and the most healthy way.” † Article courtesy Manitoba Grazing Clubs, Manitob Forage Council and Ducks Unlimited Canada.

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. Phone Lee Hart at 403-592-1964 Fax to 403-288-3162 Email Write to cattleman’s corner, PO Box 71141 Silver Springs RPO, Calgary, Alta. T3B 5K2

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /


The Dairy Corner feed management

Tips to “optimize” feed intake BY PETER VITTI


any dairy producers might strive for “zero tolerance” for feed leftovers or feed refusal, but it should not mean making cows clean up absolutely everything in the bunk. This type of management promotes inconsistent feed behaviour amongst the cows, which leads to frequent digestive upsets and ultimately hurts good milk production. Instead, producers should measure average dry matter intake of the lactation herd and actually measure feed leftovers on a daily basis. From this information, adjustments can be made to the ration formulation, the mixer wagon or at the feedbunks, so good feed intake targets are achieved and the reduction of feed leftovers is optimized. The easiest methods to calculate dry matter consumption (A) and feed refusal rate (B) in a dairy herd are: (A) (Total daily kilos of feed mixed — total kilos of feed refusal) x feed dry matter (per cent) Number of lactation cows (B) Total kilos of feed refusal Total daily kilos of feed mixed x 100

Consider this example: A 100cow dairy is feeding 4,500 kg of TMR per day. The leftover feed removed is 175 kg. A microwave test on the TMR yields 48 per cent moisture (52 per cent dry matter). The calculated DMI and feed refusal rate is 22.5 kg and 3.9 per cent, respectively. Recording these values on a weekly basis on a computer spreadsheet is a good idea. Feeding trends over a period can then be reviewed, and changes made to achieve desired herd feed intake. The general conscience to the above calculations and subsequent corrective actions is when a dairy cow gives birth, her feed consumption steadily increases and peaks about eight to 10 weeks after calving. At this latter time, she should be consuming about 3.54.0 per cent of her body weight in dry matter feed, daily. This number can be adjusted downward by 15-20 per cent for the number of just-fresh cows, late lactation mature cows and firstcalf heifers. On this basis, one can then strive for a measurable and desirable three to five per cent feed refusal on a daily basis.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS There are five primary recommendations that might be

photo: file

It is important to stick to a feeding schedule and to keep feed pushed in front of cattle. implemented on most dairy barns to optimize (not necessarily maximize) dry matter intake by dairy cows and optimize (not necessarily zero tolerance) feed refusal: 1 .   G o od   d i et   pa lat abil ity. Palatability is not an exact science

and often difficult to predict what specific forages and other feed ingredients that dairy cattle actually accept or reject, it is the driving force behind optimizing dry matter intake on the milkline. Producers should always assure that a lactating diet consists only of high

quality feeds. For instance, if partially mouldy forages or grains are somehow in error placed in front of lactation cows, a producer may come back hours later to find that relatively little of it is consumed by

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OCTOBER 21, 2013

The Dairy Corner » CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE the herd. Furthermore, producers should avoid mixing unpalatable ingredients into the whole diet with the hope of masking it or cows will get used to it. 2. Forage choice. Use highquality forages as the foundation of the ration. High-quality forage supports higher and more consistent DMI due to their lower unusable fibre content (i.e. lignin) and greater in-depth digestion by the microbes that provide nutrients for milk production. Furthermore, make sure this forage does contain enough “effective fibre to promote healthy rumen digestive and fermentation functions. The ration should contain 28 to 32 per cent NDF with 75 per cent of this NDF coming from the forages. Avoid feeding too much rumen degradable feed starches that could lead to sub-clinical acidosis and volatile dry matter feed intakes by the cow herd.

3. Optimum ration density. Likewise, the moisture content of the above forage choice has a major impact upon total DMI of the whole dairy diet, particularly when ensiled forage in a TMR are particularly very wet or excessively dry. Dairy producers can take corrective action in either case by adding free water (re: up to five to six kilos per cows) in order to bring up the moisture content caused by dry silages or adding more dry hay in place of the wet ensiled feed. With relative ease, such adjustments to the whole diet can move the entire feed mix toward a more desirable 45-50 per cent dry matter content, which tends to promote good consistent DMI amongst the dairy cows. 4. Proper mixer procedures. Lactating dairy cows are experts at an activity called “sorting” of the TMR diet. This involves cows separating and consuming the highly palatable grain and

protein supplements and leaving the forages behind in the bunk; leads to erratic dry matter intakes (digestive upsets) and high feed leftover rates. Dairy diets of various particle sizes and low moisture content tend to promote sorting. Research shows that optimum mixing time is between four to six minutes in order to maintain ideal particle length in the TMR. As mentioned, many producers add water to adjust the moisture content of a dry lactating TMR to an optimum 45-50 per cent. 5. Fine-tune bunk management. Dairy cows are creatures of habit, therefore feed should be delivered at the same times of the day. Old feed from the previous feedings should be removed and when new feed is delivered in front of the cows, it should be uniform from one end of the bunk to the other. As cows eat the ration, it should be frequently pushed up, so cows

have access to feed as they want it. Research demonstrates that higher dry matter intakes and lower feed refusal rates have been achieved by simply feeding several more times during the day or provided with more ration, when they want it (re: afternoon of 2X milking regime). Having well-balanced, nutritious and palatable dairy diets available to high milking dairy cows for 20-22 hours per day is truly necessary to achieve their optimum dry matter intake, which is directly correlated to good milk production. While, we really should not be looking for a slick empty bunk, where cattle are bawling for feed, we want to keep natural feed leftovers to a minimum, that otherwise should be consumed by the cowherd and turned into profitable milk. † 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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KEEPERS & CULLS NOMINATION DEADLINE APPROACHES Deadline for nominations for The Canadian Forage & Grassland Association (CFGA) Leadership Award is fast approaching on Oct. 28. The award recognizes an individual, group or organization whose leadership has had a significant positive impact on the forage and grassland industry either nationally, internationally or both. With financial support from New Holland, the $6,000 cash award is to be used to prepare either a keynote presentation or a promotional project related to forage and grassland. The keynote address or a summary of the project will be presented at the associations AGM in December as well as at another industry event during the year following the award. When identifying a worthy candidate for the award, it is important to contact the nominee to identify his or her interest in participating in a speaker series or a promotional project. The award is based on but not limited to: management practices, research, teaching, or public relations and/or public education. Among those to be considered are farmers and ranchers, agency staff in land managing agencies, researchers, and technology transfer personnel, educational personnel, and others. The award will be presented at the CFGA Annual General Meeting and Conference being hosted in Olds, Alberta from Dec. 9-11. Visit the CFGA website at and click on the “events” button for the applicant criteria information and nomination form. Nominations are to be submitted to the CFGA executive director, Wayne Digby via fax (204) 726-9703 or email w_ †


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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 country-of-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. †

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OCTOBER 21, 2013 /



Tools for in-law relationships Learn about each other’s values and differences in order to be more accepting ELAINE FROESE


here seems to be a few fall weddings on our calendar this year, and I hope this column finds you wrapping up your harvest. I’ve been spending non-combine days writing my next book Farming’s In Law Factor, and would like you as readers to give me feedback on these tools we (Dr. Megan McKenzie and I) are developing. As parents, welcoming a new bride to the farm, or relating to a well-acquainted DIL, take a look at these questions and compare the answers with your spouse. Tool for the founding generation to better relate to daughterin-law (DIL): • What new insights or outlooks has our DIL brought to our family? And brought to our farm? • What do I most appreciate about our DIL? What conscious things do we do to embrace our DIL and make her feel loved and accepted? • What strengths does she offer to our farm team? • What has she taught me? • How has our DIL shone the light on some of our unwritten family rules or norms? • How has our DIL made our son’s life better? • What do we need to forgive or let go of to make our relationship with our DIL stronger? • What fears has our DIL helped us to overcome?

• Three ways that we can show more care for our DIL are to: 1. 2. 3. • If I held nothing back, I would tell my DIL... • What sacrifices have we made for the next generation? Tool for the next generation to better relate to mother-in-law (MIL): • What do I most appreciate about my MIL? What conscious things do I do to embrace my MIL and make her feel loved and accepted? • Three ways that I can show more care for my MIL are to: 1. 2. 3. • What has she taught me? • What sacrifices have your in-laws made for you and your spouse? • How has your MIL been a role model for you? You can repeat the questions for sons-in-law (SIL) and fathers-in-law (FIL). As we have been researching, there is very little written about inlaw relationship building on family farms. Therefore, we are striving to develop practical tools to help families learn about their values and differences, in order to be more accepting and gracious with each other’s strengths and intentions. Try this chart out and let us know what you think. It is adapted from work in Australia by Mick Faulkner’s Agrilink Agricultural Consultants, whom I had the pleasure of working with in August.









1. I feel accepted by my in-laws. 2. I’m able to try new things on the farm. 3. There are clear expectations of me. 4. We work well to make decisions as a family and I feel my voice is heard. 5. The level of criticism in the business is OK. 6. I feel that what I do on the farm is valued. 7. I feel my investment of labour is turning into equity and/or fair compensation. 8. Another important issue for me is:

How happy are you with your farm in-laws? And they with you? This is a tool for self-reflection and awareness, or you can share it with the farm team to better understand their happiness factors. If in any of these points of concern you are dissatisfied or unhappy, your farm is functioning below potential. 1. If one or more in-laws feels they are not accepted by their in-laws, this could show a lack of respect or closure of the gate to kinship and being fully included as part of the family. 2. If someone is not able to try new things on the farm, this could be resistance to change, and/or a power imbalance between family members and farm managers. 3. If expectations are unclear this may be a sign of role confusion, unrealistic expectations and

poor communication flooded with assumption. 4. Good decision-making allows for all voices to be heard. A lack of this may show a power struggle, or poor communication habits. It could be that the “women are to be kept out of business” in some families. Not having a voice can also be a sign of pure disrespect. 5. If a farm family is critical and judgmental it nurtures destructive behaviour and negative workplace culture. 6. Lack of appreciation is a huge stumbling block to business success. This is particularly so for the generation Y group (born after 1980) who expects more feedback than previous generations do. 7. Financial reward is important for survival and recognition. The goal for most adult children successors or business partners is to

become owners, and be fairly compensated for their sweat equity and labour. Please share your results with me and I’ll send you a free e-copy of my current book Do the Tough Things Right. If you would like a complimentary coaching call, go to and share your request. My fax is 204-534-3222. I am now a mother-in-law (MIL) with a wonderful DIL who is studying hard to become a nurse. Each season of our lives brings new challenges and opportunities. Let us all work together towards more harmonious relationships to strengthen our farm teams. † Elaine Froese, CAFA, CHCoach writes from her seed farm in Boissevain, Manitoba. Book her for your winter agricultural conference; she’s the thought leader your farmers need to hear. Visit or call 1-866-848-8311 for coaching.

Bird Lovers Bed and Breakfast Retired farming couple enjoys running B and B BY EDNA MANNING


fter their children left home about 15 years ago, Judith and her husband Glenn Annand adapted their farm home to accommodate a bed and breakfast. Located near Mossbank, Saskatchewan their operation, Bird Lovers Bed and Breakfast, was ideal for American hunters who came in the fall. “We had the facilities on the farm for them to house their dogs and clean and store their birds,” Judith Annand said. Two years ago when they retired from farming, they located property north of Outlook overlooking the South Saskatchewan River with a bed and breakfast business in mind. “We decided to design it so it could be used as a bed and breakfast, or if another family takes over, it would be suitable as a family home as well,” she said. The couple designed the new bed and breakfast as modern, high-end accommodation with guests’ comfort and preferences in mind. Private guest entrances mean visitors can come and go as they please. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms plus a Murphy bed can

accommodate a family or two separate groups. A self-serve breakfast bar includes dry cereal as well as coffee, yogurt, fruit, cheese and whole grain bread. “We have such a terrific view here, and there are lots of things to do for families or individuals. There’s the old CPR Railway Bridge, called the Skytrail, across the river that’s been converted into a wooden walkway. The Skytrail is Canada’s longest pedestrian bridge, sprawling 3,000 feet across and 150 feet above the South Saskatchewan River,” said Annand. Nearby parks include the Danielson Provincial Park and the Outlook and District Regional Park. “There is also a nine-hole golf course close by, which is one reason we chose this spot for our bed and breakfast. Also, we’re only an hour from Saskatoon and the Dakota Dunes Casino is on the route,” she said. Outlook has a heritage museum, an art gallery, a recreation complex, and numerous health-care services and facilities. The Annands continued with the name Bird Lovers Bed and Breakfast, although with a slightly different

fit. “We’re not set up for hunters now, but for birdwatchers it’s great. We have ospreys that nest close by; we have all the raptor birds as they migrate, as well as ducks, geese, owls and sandhill cranes. “We’ve met so many terrific people over the years,” Annand says. “One of my favourites was a publisher who came several times from New York. Sometimes he’d bring Richard Ford, a Pulitzer prizewinning author. Last year we had two couples from the U.S. who were with a group of about 25 jiggers, the little two-man railway cars. The group organized trips for the jiggers on abandoned railway lines,” she said. Annand hopes they can provide a getaway for people who just want to experience a bit of rest and relaxation at a quiet location away from the city. “Operating a bed and breakfast is something my husband and I have enjoyed doing together a long time. It fits with our retirement plans.” For more information, phone Judith Annand at (306) 867-9669, email or visit † Edna Manning writes from Saskatoon, Sask.


Top: The bed and breakfast was designed with guests’ comforts in mind. Bottom: Judith Annand in the kitchen of her bed and breakfast.



OCTOBER 21, 2013

Home Quarter Farm Life FROM THE FARM

Storing up our winter food supply With some work and organization we’ll be well fed DEBBIE CHIKOUSKY


ith fall fully upon us, most rural folks have been knee deep in squirrelling away their winter food supplies for a while now. Our family is slightly behind the times and trying desperately to reorganize ourselves for next season. We need to streamline the process so we don’t end up with 900 bags of zucchini next fall and absolutely no room left for corn. My goal would be to

thinking as large as I have been, I should start smaller. For example, how many jars of canned chicken (pressure canned of course) would I need for our family? I thought about it and we did about 70 jars last winter and we are starting to run low. We do have enough old layers to make 100 jars this year, so although we haven’t started yet, we could call that food done. Another reason for procrastination is the perception that your storage pile has to cost a pile. Even if you don’t grow your own garden, it is very possible to store fresh, naturally grown fruits and vegetables at a low cost. Check the overripe fruits and veggies section at the

have enough food in storage that we could go from growing season to growing season without having to depend very much on grocery stores. Spending some time on the Internet showed me that many, many people are thinking along the same lines. This site actually has a very good “food storage needs calculator” that a family could easily tweak to their own likes and dislikes http://lds. Apparently the No. 1 reason people don’t organize a food supply is that it seems to be an overwhelming task so they just don’t do it. One wise woman recommended that instead of

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local market for jam supplies. Many, many Hutterite colonies and market gardeners allow endof-season scavenging for little to no cost. It is also very important to be open to new tastes. Our family actually learned all about how delicious kohlrabi was just because a church lady was handing them out because she grew too many. We have also discovered the delights of dehydrated zucchini chips seasoned with sea salt for snacking instead of potato chips. They are also much healthier. Storage space can be quite an issue when storing your winter food supply. We are blessed with a very large cold room which our son is constantly remodelling.

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Don’t overlook ceiling hooks for hanging bags of potatoes/cabbage/onions for example. This will free up floor space for storing things like pails of honey. Many families have expressed the fact that hydro for running multiple freezers can be daunting. We have learned that hydro from running the pressure canner to process some ready-to-eat vegetables and meat can free up some very important freezer space. It also allows for instant meals in a power outage. We also cannot forget the charms of the dehydrator. It absolutely takes less space to store dehydrated foods. For example it takes four pounds of fresh apples to make one pound of dehydrated apple rings. We don’t peel them, but we do core them. Dehydrated foods do not need to be stored in a freezer, they need only to be kept cool and dry. One family opened the inside wall of their hallway and made shelves between the 2x4 studs to accommodate canning sealers full of dehydrated herbs, vegetables and fruits. This will work in a low-humidity area, and it was very visually appealing. To keep it simple just remember that the enemies of stored food are temperature, moisture, oxygen, light, pests and time. Waste has to be considered into cost. In order to keep waste to a minimum so food storage isn’t costly for your family, remember to rotate stock. We have capitalized on case sales, and had spaghetti sauce for a year at a very low cost before, but it isn’t productive if you forget to use up what you already have before you purchase more. If you do take advantage of case-lot sales, mark the expiry dates on the top of the items. If it is getting close at least donate them to a charity then make a record of the fact your family cannot consume enough of that product to warrant buying or home canning it in bulk. Many people whose children have all left home have a very big problem with this. We have helped more than a few clean out canned goods that are going on 20 years old. A handy tip is to have a clipboard in your kitchen cupboard and keep a running tally of what is in your food storage. Update it weekly, or at least before each shopping trip so money isn’t being spent on supplies already on hand. There are many reasons to embark upon storing food for your family. For us it has been a combination of supplying foods with the minimum of chemicals and preservatives to our children as well as a way to have a secure food supply in case of an emergency. Where we live hydro does go out, people do get sick and cannot work off farm, and storms come and make it impossible to get to a town for days on end. It was always a huge sense of security to know that we have at least some control over our family’s fate. Plus all the jars full of food on the cold room shelves are truly picturesque! † Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Manitoba.

OCTOBER 21, 2013 /



Life’s secrets, according to you…

answer. This lesson served me well in university, in my career, in life — spinning something, anything, into an answer is always better that staring in silence.

into a career that had a lot to do with communication and writing.

That individuals who are high performers get ridiculed even when they don’t look for any sort of recognition.



or any new readers out t h e r e , h e r e ’s a l i t t l e background for you. Around this time last year, I posed a series of questions to my lovely readers and received over 100 responses. To the best of my knowledge, the respondents ranged in age from five years old to 78 years old. Some chose to answer all questions, others only a few. Some responded simply to say they couldn’t even be that honest with themselves, never mind sharing with someone else. That right there is a very brave and honest response in my books — it all starts with selfawareness. Over the course of the coming months, I’ll continue to summarize each topic and then share all of your answers, anonymously as promised. Now, let’s tuck in shall we? What’s the most useful lesson that you ever learned in school? The responses were across the board, and I could relate to almost every one of them. It reminds me of how similar we all are in our struggles, insecurities and past experiences, and of all the good out there in the world — people just wanting to do well, feel accepted and be loved for who there are. One reader shared, “It doesn’t matter how smart you are, it’s how you treat the people around you.” Amen to that. I learned very early on never to use intelligence as a weapon to make yourself feel bigger or better than somebody else. (Where I came from, pretending not to be smart was the most effective way of avoiding a serious beating from the other kids at recess.) As I get older, I also note that how I treated people is the one thing I do remember, and look back on fondly... or in horror. Being kind is something you will never regret. Being a jackass and hurting someone’s feelings is something you will never forget. Your choice. In my opinion, being kind should be a non-negotiable in school systems and homes across the country. Here forthwith, are the most useful lessons that you ever learned in school. Part One. An education is never wasted. And don’t sit at the back of the bus. Envy and lack of understanding mean you might not get to know a really amazing person. I am accountable for my own work. It’s not the teacher’s fault. Hmmm, this is tough. School taught me to deal with peer pressure and how to rise above being picked on by using humour. Ignorance is the true enemy. School really doesn’t prepare you for the real world. I had a teacher who really expected a lot from us… she relished the opportunity to mould us. It’s because of her that I evolved

How to read!!! It’s the biggest and most important thing I’ve ever accomplished. I learned the difference between real friends and the people that you hang out with. “Tomato.” My high school math teacher once told us that it was NEVER acceptable to leave a test answer blank — that was just a guaranteed zero! He said that we should always write something, even if we wrote “tomato” on a math test, just write something!!! I did get stumped once on one of his tests — but got partial marks for writing “tomato” as my

Trust yourself to trust others, even if you get burned along the way. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me. One of my classmates in Grade 3 told me this one day as I was crying on the playground because two other girls would not play with me, and overall were not being very nice. The saying has always stuck with me. I didn’t pay attention to much of anything in school — I was there to socialize! Unfortunately I did not learn much. Approaching a professor after get-

ting your paper back and haggling them can very easily earn you up to seven per cent more, regardless of the quality of your paper. All of your schooling is useful, even if it doesn’t seem like you are using it today. Getting a low passing grade in physical education is OK if you don’t plan to earn a living playing baseball. Go outside. The most useful lesson is, regardless of time or geography, we all need the same basic essentials: food, clean water, safe shelter and a loving family and community. Do unto others as you would have done to you. That just because someone doesn’t understand something or isn’t paying attention, doesn’t mean they are stupid. They may

just need more of a challenge. This was the case for me in several of my classes; I just never realized I was bored until a teacher pulled me aside and asked why I couldn’t focus for longer than 15 minutes in class. I apply this every day to my children because they may just be bored and need a challenge, and as their educator, I need to recognize that and provide them with it. You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to get along with everyone. † 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 to help those less fortunate. For more information, or to order her book, visit her website at

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OCTOBER 21, 2013

Home Quarter Farm Life SINGING GARDENER

Is there really such a thing as snake oil? Plus, the benefits of hibiscus and rosehip tea TED MESEYTON


he garden is my destination spring, summer and fall. Even in winter, visits to the garden are worthwhile just to say hello to dormant perennials and rose bushes. It’s so easy to sometimes get sidetracked from the garden path. When that happens I compare it to more than one road leading into town. For starters, let me dabble a bit into history of so-called snake oil and then ask: Is it fake, or for real, or both? Then I’ll switch to hibiscus and rosehip tea. You may want to buy a package. Hope you don’t mind a bit of folksy spelling at the outset with a letter missing from a word here and there. e.g. Have you been harvestin’ homegrown rose hips? Got to wonderin’ whether any folks among my family of Grainews readers still use a root cellar for storin’ the likes of root crops and fermented foods such as sauerkraut — plus honey, home canned fruit and vegetables, pickles, juices and other liquids or what have you? If yes — and you’re willin’ to share a story or more — see my closing tag for an email address. Or, write a letter to Grainews and they’ll send it along to me.

COWBOY AND WESTERN MOVIES … were frequently shown at theatres during my time as a youth. Often a self-proclaimed medicinal man would arrive into town with a wagon full of elixirs and cure-alls for every ache and pain imaginable. To spike interest, undercover schemers paid by the pedlar teamed up, using a number of tricks and stunts to promote the sales of bogus salves, liniments and tonics. These medicine sellers of the 1800s claimed their tonics could cure just about everything under the sun from headaches and insomnia to gout and poor eyesight. Oftentimes, large travelling

shows employed advance men to herald their arrival, entering town in circus-like fanfare with a procession of wagons. Skits and other diversions were used to attract audiences who eventually were treated to a “sales lecture” to purchase so-called cure-alls to be sipped with a wink. Usually, such remedies were nothing more than sweetened, flavoured or watereddown cheap whiskey or a combo of something else or other. Audiences would quickly gather round the wagon to hear the proclaimer’s sales pitch of endless benefits to be derived from his potions. Such enthusiasm created frenzy among those gathered round the wagon, eager by then to buy bottles of cure-all elixirs. Assistants who moved among the crowds proclaimed to be satisfied customers. By the time it was discovered to be nothing more than quackery, the sellers had already left town and moved on to the next settlement eager to coax more business that did nothing other than fleece people of their money. Such travellers became known as “snake oil salesmen” with no credentials and their bogus liquid potions, salves and liniments were dubbed as “snake oil medicine.”

IS THERE REALLY SUCH A THING … as snake oil? In reality most of us probably think there isn’t, but actually it’s important to understand that another factual distinction does exist. Snake oil has been taken from snakes for hundreds of years and the authentic kind is prized for its therapeutic medicinal properties, especially in the Orient. The first known original snake oil was sourced from Chinese water snakes and used in China as an anti-pain remedy during centuries past for treating such complaints as arthritis and aching joints. There’s some suggestion snake oil was brought here to our part of North America during the Yukon gold rush. Later, fatty oil taken from snakes was studied in the 1980s and found

Autumn colours on large gourds and jack-o’-lantern-sized pumpkins are a reminder the familiar time of Halloween is near. The harvest is in and summer’s work mostly done. God’s been so good. May your cups overrun.


Shown is a packet of tea bags made in Germany containing a combination of rosehips and dried hibiscus flower petals. This brand is available from stores that sell international foods and at health food outlets. When brewed as a tea in hot water the end result is a health-promoting deep-crimson beverage with a tangy flavour. Rosehips are loaded with the complete natural vitamin C complex and are produced in abundance on many shrub rose bushes. to be well endowed with omega-3 fatty acids. Japanese studies from 2007 reported a species of sea snakes related to Chinese water snakes also contain prominent amounts of omega-3. When applied as a liniment, it improved mobility and reduction of inflammation was observed. Pure snake oil is said to smell fresh and clean and makes an excellent equipment lubricant by cutting through moisture and leaving a rust-resistant coating. It would appear that 100 per cent oldfashioned authentic snake oil has now largely disappeared.

ponents of hibiscus tea are also known to function as antioxidants, cleansing the body of dangerous free radicals that have been linked to heart disease, cancer and the symptoms of aging. “Hibiscus is now among the most promising of plants for treating blood pressure,” according to alternative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weill. If you are taking prescription medication for HBP, be sure to discuss this further with your health-care provider, family physician or naturopathic doctor before implementing any change.



Guess what! I, Ted, am of the opinion that symptoms of aging can be reduced by sipping on a cup or two of hibiscus tea with rosehips throughout the day. Dried hibiscus flowers are often sold in bulk and pre-packaged at many oriental and scoop-and-save health food stores. Plenty of gardeners grow their own rosehips and dry them to mix into a homemade blend. Why is it such a great beverage? International teams of researchers have compared hibiscus to hundreds of different teas. Research colleagues determined that drinking hibiscus tea can significantly reduce blood pressure among people with elevated risks of cardiovascular or kidney disease. High blood pressure is a dangerous health condition that triples the risk of heart attack and can be responsible for over 50 per cent of all strokes. The condition is very common in the developed world; with one in three persons considered to suffer with some form of HBP. Scientists do not know exactly what compounds in hibiscus contribute to its protective effect, but the flower petals have been shown to contain trace properties known as anthocyanins, which may improve the functioning of blood vessels and strengthen the protein collagen, helping to give structure to cells and tissues, including blood vessels. Anthocyanins and other com-

Well so do a lot of Canadian gardeners. Their colourful and showy blooms are prized for adding a tropical feel to landscapes. The genus boasts several hundred species, ranging from dwarf varieties that grow to between two to three feet (under a metre) to plants that can exceed eight feet (about 2-1/2 metres). Wow! Isn’t that height something? They prefer soil that’s well drained and aerated. Apply an organic 7-2-7 fertilizer every two weeks as hibiscus plants prefer a lower amount of phosphorus and only slightly acidic soil. Container-grown hibiscus requires even additional fertilization when actively growing due to the confined absorption area in a pot. Most hibiscuses trace their heritage to Africa, South Asia and Caribbean countries. There are two types of hibiscus common to gardeners: tropical and hardy. The tropical ones won’t overwinter outdoors in our country unless grown in a conservatory or heated greenhouse. Non-tropical hardy species of hibiscus can withstand outdoor Canadian winters in a flower bed or border. Cover these plants with a good amount of compost or leaf mulch for protection once soil freezes and remains frozen. Nontropical hibiscus are very slow to come up each spring. Don’t be in a hurry to trash any or dig them out just because they don’t show new growth when you think they ought to. It’s their nature to take time until good and ready.

When growing tropical hibiscus outdoors in containers during summer, the overwintering procedure is different. Before bringing potted hibiscus inside, cut back each plant to within 15 cm (six inches) of the main stems. This will help eliminate any insects that like to hang out in the newest growth. Be sure and hose plants down with a blast of water both on stems and under remaining leaves. Let plants dry thoroughly before they come inside. Tropical hibiscus plants will rest indoors during the shorter days from October until mid-March, assuring best chance of being healthy and vigorous with flowers next summer. Avoid trying to keep them blooming indoors all winter. Leaves will probably turn yellow and fall off anyway once plants are brought indoors, but that’s normal. They know when to regrow. In the interim, water very sparingly. Matter of fact ’tis best to let the soil become almost bone dry before wetting it again. Avoid any water collecting in saucers or catch trays under the plants. Tropical hibiscus will rest in dormancy and not likely show new spurts of growth much before late February or March. This is normal. Well that’s it good people for this issue. †

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. There are folks who have a degree in fine arts or maybe we know someone who has. The fine art of an ordinary everyday person is someone who grows sufficient food on a small piece of land. It’s called a garden that eventually becomes a most beautiful masterpiece. May we always have a few friends whose house is not too big, but a large-enough garden with extra to spare and a paid subscription to Grainews. My email address is

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Our experts are grown locally Roundup Ready ® is a registered trademark used under license from Monsanto Company. Pioneer ® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchase which are part of the labeling and purchase documents. The DuPont Oval Logo is a registered trademark of DuPont. ® , ™, SM Trademarks and service marks licensed to Pioneer Hi-Bred Limited. © 2013, PHL.