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Volume 42, Number 18  |  December 6, 2016




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Two major brands will soon be ready to introduce autonomous tractors

Operating on their own, autonomous tractors are getting set to take the ag equipment market by storm. By Scott Garvey


he sight of Case IH’s 400-horsepower robotic Magnum tractor built without an operator’s station at the U.S. Farm Progress Show in August had show goers talking — and talking, and talking. There was a virtual non-stop crowd of onlookers around it from the time the show gates in Boone, Iowa, opened in the morning until they closed at the end of the day. On the other side of the show grounds, New Holland, Case IH’s sister brand under CNH ownership, unveiled its version of a robotic tractor, a conventional T8 tractor that operated with the same technology under its skin that the

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Magnum uses. The two tractors are part of the same CNH R&D program. But unlike the Magnum that was built to be just a robot, the T8 can function as both a robot and conventional tractor. Although robot tractors have appeared at farm shows before, usually as smaller-scale machines, this is the first time a major brand has indicated it definitely intends to produce an over-the-counter, high-horsepower autonomous machine to farmers. Senior executives at both brands said they think robotic tractors are part of the future of ag equipment, and they want to be part of it. Standing in front of the autonomous T8 tractor during its reveal to members of the farm media, New Holland’s vice

president, Bret Lieberman, had this to say: “This (farm equipment) industry has evolved considerably over the last 100 years. I don’t think that any of us can expect we’re going to be here 100 years from now if we don’t continue to evolve.” Case IH’s vice-president Jim Walker echoed that sentiment as he stood in front of his Magnum, “We think an autonomous vehicle with today’s farm conditions is a perfect match.” The autonomous technology inside these machines was created through a joint effort between CNH and Utah-based Autonomous Solutions Inc., which has already developed similar robotic machines for the mining sector. The tractors can be controlled via tablet or regular computer, and a farmer can get

real-time information feedback from each tractor at all times as it goes about its business. A path-plotting screen shows the tractor’s progress, another shows its live camera feed, providing the user with up to four real time views (two front and two rear). A further screen enables monitoring and modification of key machine and implement parameters such as engine speed, fuel levels and implement settings, including seeding rate or coulter downforce. The route to the field can also be planned, providing  it  only  requires movement over private roads. Meaning if everything goes to plan, a farmer can work fields without once leaving the yard. Work assignments can be programmed into the tractors, which can include working

In This Issue

a field with GPS guidance or following pre-planned routes alone or in a convoy to perform other tasks. Using  a  combination  of radar,  LiDAR  (range-finding lasers) and RGB cameras, the tractors can detect a wide range of obstacles. If one is detected, the tractor sends a message to the person responsible for its operation, who will decide if and how the tractor can avoid or bypass it. But although the CNH brands chose to make the robotic tractors the main feature of their displays  last  August,  it  will likely be three years or more before they are actually available to dealers. So why show them now?

» continued on the next page

Wheat & Chaff .................. 2 Features . ........................... 5 Crop Advisor’s Casebook..... 11 Columns ............................ 25 Machinery & Shop............. 33 Cattleman’s Corner .......... 42

new wheat varieties

tractor news roundup

Leeann minogue page 5

scott garvey page 35

FarmLife ............................ 49

I will wake the rooster and be the one who decides when it’s time to quit. I will succeed by working with whatever Mother Nature provides and place my respect where it is earned. I will actively pursue perfection.

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Scott Garvey

» CONTINUED FROM Previous PAGE “At the show today we’re trying to get an idea from Midwest producers — what would they do with it?” Walker said. “How would they like for us to fine tune it? How would they like us to move forward? We’re ready to learn and eager to get it into the marketplace as soon as we can.” Staff at both the Case IH and New Holland exhibits were busy conducting surveys of farmers to try and get exactly that information. “Our CEO gave a range of somewhere around three years and

we’ll be ready for the market,” said Lieberman. If that time frame holds and robot tractors hit the market in force, the question becomes what else in the farm fleet likely to change? Autonomous tractors might influence what implement sizes growers will want to purchase to mate with them. For example, farmers who now use a pair of 600 horsepower conventional tractors with 80-foot seed drills may chose to replace them with three autonomous 400-horsepower robots and the smaller implements they require. Then again, because robots can work virtually continuously, grow-

ers may not even need to match horsepower on a one-to-one basis. “You could have two, three or four of these autonomously working in the field while one operator supervisors those autonomous vehicles,” said Leo Bose, AFS marketing manager at Case IH. That may go a long way to fixing the farm labour shortage. “Labour continues to be a concern for our customers,” said Lieberman. “We believe that trend is going to continue, so we want to have that technology.” When farms transition to robotic tractors, NH’s T8 capable of working either as a regular trac-

tor or on its own may be the way many farmers make that change, at least that’s Lieberman’s opinion. And the technology can actually be retrofitted to other conventional tractors to give them dual functionality too. Motioning to the cabbed T8 Behind him, he said, “This is the way I see it. This is the evolution. The PLM (NH’s digital technology) tools today can do a large portion of the tasks we’re talking about. With autonomy in the unit, this gets us to the next stage.” † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

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Autonomous tractors that work on their own could help eliminate the farm labour shortage.

The Case IH Magnum is designed to be fully autonomous and has no operator’s station.

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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.

New Holland’s robot tractor is a standard T8 that can operate in the normal way with a driver or on its own.

The autonomous tractors are designed to be monitored and controlled via tablets or office computers.

New varieties

NorthStar brings out new varieties By Leeann Minogue


orthStar  Genetics is  a  seed  growerowned seed company. “We’ve been on the forefront of soybean development in Manitoba for 11 years now,” says general manager Ray Wytinck. “Now we see Saskatchewan starting to show an interest in soybeans.” To  accommodate  growers in “new” areas, new varieties have earlier maturities. If you’re planting soybeans for the first time, Wytinck says don’t plant too soon. “Wait until your soil temperatures are 10 C before you plant your beans.” NorthStar Genetic’s new soybean varieties were accidentally left off the list of new soybean varieties for 2017 that ran in the last issue of Grainews. We regret the error. NorthStar is actually bringing four new varieties to

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Some of NorthStar’s new soybean varieties were on display at Brandon this summer. the Western Canadian market for next spring. These and other NorthStar varieties are available “almost everywhere,” Wytinck says. NorthStar also distributes Ontario-based Maisex corn. New NorthStar varieties: NSC Leroy RR2Y is a Genuity Roundup Ready 2 line that is super ultra early maturing (2225 CHU or 000.6 Relative Maturity) that will be the earli-

est maturing soybean variety in  Western  Canada.  This  is definitely the variety of choice for new soybean growers in Saskatchewan in the black soil zone. This variety has a plant growth structure that’s fairly tall and upright. NSC StarCity RR2X is the first early-maturing soybean variety with the new Xtend trait, allowing grower to use glyphosate and dicamba for extended in-

season weed control. It is rated at  2250/2275  CHUs  or  000.8 relative maturity. Tall growth habit with good yield potential. A must for growers who need to manage their use of glyphosate to prevent resistance. Does well in reduced tillage. NSC Austin RR2Y boasts very strong yields with superior white mould resistance and strong disease package. It is rated at 2375 CHUs or 00.3 relative maturity. This  variety  is  well-suited  to highly productive soils. NSC  Starbuck  RR2X  is  one of their first Roundup Ready 2 Xtend varieties offering high yields and fits all soils. It is rated at 2425 CHUs or 00.5 relative maturity. It has good IDC resistance, an excellent disease package, and tolerance to white mould. This variety also stands well at a medium height with great appearance. † Leeann Minogue

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BY JERRY PALEN Leeann Minogue

The flames


“Last year you gave me an air compressor. this year I want PERFUME and a NEW COAT!”

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arvest is finally finished on our farm. We burned the last of our flax straw last week. I took this photo while I was sitting in the truck, making sure no flames were getting near any power poles. After I took the picture I posted it on Twitter with this caption: “The end is near. (The end of #harvest16. This is not a post about the U.S. election.)” Everyone reading this page knows that if you’re growing flax, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to have to burn the straw. Obviously, no farmer likes to do this. It’s a dirty, smelly, time-consuming job, and even on a calm day there’s a risk that the flames may get away. And while you’re monitoring the fire, you’re watching the nutrients tied up in that straw burn off into the atmosphere. The only potential upside is the possibility of taking a marshmallow and stick out into the field. But I liked the colours in the photo, and, if I have to say it myself, I thought the reference to the reaction to the U.S. election was kind of funny, so I shared it on Twitter. Ten minutes later I had second thoughts. Sure, a few farmer followers “liked” it. Someone “shared” it. But, once photos like that are on Twitter, everyone can see them. We’re burning flax straw. Our neighbours are burning flax straw. Farmers with land near cities are burning flax straw. But burning

flax releases a lot of black smoke. Urban residents don’t have time to research the proper management of flax crops. They do have time to wonder what we’re up to, with all that smoke. Perhaps it doesn’t look good. These days, a lot of what we do in our fields and yards is judged by people who don’t understand what we’re doing. Because consumers don’t have time for the details, their judgments are going to be pretty superficial. We’re going to be judged on how things look. Burning flax, disposing of empty herbicide containers, managing sick animals: this is not a list of things we love to do. But it’s just the start of the list of things that consumers are going to be questioning. And it’s probably a list of things I should avoid posting photos of on Twitter. My apologies.

Happy 2017 This is our Christmas issue. That’s not obvious, since this paper comes to you early in December and most of the features inside are about new seed varieties and the Canola 100 challenge. Unless your giftbuying taste runs to fungicide or corn seed, you’re probably not going to get your shopping ideas from us. However, we know that Christmas is a special time of year for many farmers, and all of us wish you a happy holiday. With the horrendous harvest weather, I’m sure a lot of readers will be happy to see the back of 2016. And there was bad news off-farm too. Famous musicians died (Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen). While crickets chirped in the oil patch, Saskatchewan announced a billion dollar deficit, and laid-off

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Wheat & Chaff

It’s not our first choice, but we often burn flax straw to clear the field for next year. workers in Saskatchewan and Alberta turned to food banks and employment insurance. If you were happy about Justin Trudeau’s rise to power, then Donald Trump’s victory must have knocked that good mood right out of you (or vice versa, depending on your views). If you’re looking for a reason to be depressed about 2016, there’s something for everyone. But 2017 will bring us all a fresh clean start. And here’s one reason to look forward to it: Starting with our January 10 issue, in 2017 Grainews will come to you in a brand new size (slightly smaller, so it’s easier to read at the breakfast table), and a bit of a redesign. Don’t worry, all of your favourite columnists, freelancers and freelancers will still be here. We just think it will be little nicer with a cleaner look. We’re excited, and we’re looking forward to bringing it to you. † Leeann


Ask for hearts When you renew your subscription to Grainews, be sure to ask for six Please Be Careful, We Love You hearts. Then stick them onto equipment that you, your loved ones and your employees operate. That important message could save an arm, a leg or a life.

Like us on Facebook! Grainews has a Facebook page.

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

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Merry Christmas from my family to yours. We promise you — we’ll get through the short, cold days of winter and lake season will come again. In this photo the tall one on the left is mine, the rest are his younger cousins. We don’t spend the afternoon at the beach at Clearwater Lake without a trip to the store for ice cream!

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Wheat & Chaff Farm safety

Back to Ag Program: a farm success story


he Back to Ag Program is a funding project focused on supporting the cost of adaptive technology for farmers that have experienced a traumatic injury. The Back to Ag Program is the result of a partnership between the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, Farm Credit Canada and the Rick Hansen Foundation. Barry Cloutier, a farmer from near Ponteix, Saskatchewan, is one farmer that Back to Ag has helped. In October of 2014, Cloutier was running a round baler when trouble struck. “The twine yanked out,” he explains. “To see where the problem was, I had to leave the baler running.” That’s when he saw the buildup of chaff and straw. “I’ve had two baler fires, so I’m pretty wary of extra chaff and straw. I reached out to remove the blockage — I wasn’t thinking at that point, and that’s when my fingers found the roller chain,” Cloutier says. “I knew better, but it was close to supper time, and I wanted to be done my work in 15 minutes.” Cloutier had lost portions of his index and middle finger on his right hand.

Cloutier immediately called 911 and was rushed to the hospital in Swift Current. After a night in Swift Current and day surgery in Regina, Cloutier was back on the farm. “I had to have my hand bandaged and cleaned daily at the local hospital. I also had to drive to Regina for a time for a hand therapy program,” he says. Even with his injury, Cloutier hasn’t slowed down on the farm. “I don’t want to do anything else,” he explains. “This is where my heart is. This is me; this is who I am, and this is what I do.” However, Cloutier’s injury has affected his ability to do his job on the farm. “It’s a good thing I’m stubborn,” he says. “Things are more difficult. I have to think and plan very carefully what I’m going to do. My hand is always very sensitive, always cold. If I’m climbing a ladder or working around machinery, I have to be very thoughtful about how to use my hand; the strength isn’t there anymore.” Cloutier has looked into other programs and personal insurance, but no program or insurance existed that would be able to help him deal with his injury on the farm.

That’s when he saw an article about Back to Ag. “I was waiting for my wife and happened across a newspaper article about Back to Ag,” he explains. “I thought, wow, that’s interesting!” Cloutier explains that he started thinking about applying and what type of technical solution would best accommodate his injury. Cloutier faces many challenges in having only two fingers on his dominant hand and hauling five-gallon pails is one of them. With over 200 head of livestock, Cloutier was dependent on a shovel and pail to feed his animals. “I put out pails six months of the year,” he explains. “I needed something that would help ease the pressure and pain on my hand.” Through the Back to Ag Program, Cloutier was able to purchase a cattlefeed cart. This grain handling system means that Cloutier is able to feed his livestock more efficiently and safely, without the risk of injuring his hand further. When talking about the grain handling system, he is enthusiastic. “I like the way it looks; it’s a great idea. I like

Agronomy tips… from the field

Consider trials and disease when choosing canola


his past season brought an increase in canola disease infection levels across the Prairies. That means there’s a lot of disease inoculum sitting in your fields that will be there when you plant your next crop. Plus, we know that blackleg and clubroot are also shifting to overcome older genetics. How does this impact your canola hybrid decision making for 2017? Start by looking at yield performance, but look carefully at a hybrid’s agronomic package and disease resistance. You also need to consider how a hybrid’s genetics will work with seed treatments, fungicides and other

the idea of not having to haul those doggone pails.” He does have one problem with the new grain handling system, “It might make me want to farm that much longer,” he laughs. Cloutier encourages other traumatically-injured farmers to find out more about the Back to Ag Program. “Definitely apply,” he says. “Find out more and use it for something that’s going to help you and be useful on your farm.” CASA is currently accepting applications for the Back to Ag program for the 2016–17 funding period. Applications are being received on a first come, first served basis. Applicants must be farmers who have experienced a life-altering incident resulting in a disability. They must demonstrate that the purchase of specialized equipment or adaptation of existing equipment will help them get back to work on the farm safely. For more information about program criteria or to submit an application, please visit or call 1 (877) 4522272. † Canadian Agricultural Safety Association,

You might be from the Prairies if... By Carson Demmans and Jason Sylvestre

tools – like crop rotation – to help you manage diseases. Using all of the management tools you have available will help reduce both the disease inoculum returned to your field as well as the selection pressure from those tools to help maintain their useful life. When looking for canola hybrid performance data, remember that local performance data is great, but data that’s been replicated in a high number of sites or over multiple years will be a better predictor of a variety’s performance and yield stability. † This agronomy tip was brought to you by Michael Hutton, product evaluation scientist, oilseeds, with Syngenta Canada.

Photo contest

GIVE US YOUR BEST SHOT Reg McCracken sent us this photo from near his yard at Lacadena, Sask. Reg wrote, “Good morning from God’s country.” The dog in front is Ben. It was a rough harvest in Lacadena. When Reg sent this in on November 9, he was waiting for the fields to dry up so he could help his cousins harvest canola and some durum that was still out. We’re sending Reg a cheque for $25. Maybe he’ll use it to buy something nice for Ben. Send your best shot to Please send only one or two photos at a time and include your name and address, the names of anyone in the photo, where the photo was taken and a bit about what was going on that day. A little write-up about your farm is welcome, too. Please ensure that images are of high resolution (1 MB is preferred), and if the image includes a person, we need to be able to see their face clearly. † Leeann

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /



Seed varieties

New cereal varieties for 2017 New spring wheat, barley, durum and special wheat varieties to add to next year’s plans By Leeann Minogue


hile lists of new corn, canola and soybean  varieties have  been  very long, there are only a handful of new cereal varieties on the market for 2017.

Canterra Spring wheat: AAC Cameron VB is a very high yielding CWRS wheat with resistance to the orange blossom wheat midge. It has medium maturity and very good lodging resistance. AAC Cameron VB is rated MR to stem and leaf rust and has improved FHB resistance. AAC Concord is a solid stem milling wheat in the CNHR class that boasts significant yield and disease improvements over other solid stem varieties. It is 20 per cent higher yielding than Lillian and has stronger FHB resistance. AAC Concord is rated R to stripe, stem and leaf rust, and MR to FHB. Barley: Canmore barley is a two-row general  purpose  barley  with

very good yields at 102 per cent of Xena and greatly improved lodging resistance. Canmore has applications for the feed market, as well as the developing shochu market (shochu is a Japanese wheat-based alcohol). The variety also has higher percentage plumps and test weight, and an MR rating to scald.

CPS/Proven Seed Durum: CDC Carbide is the first midge tolerant durum wheat variety from Proven Seed. It is midmaturity with improved yield and agronomics over the existing midge tolerant durum, and is notable for holding its colour and quality. CDC Carbide has an excellent disease package, including resistance to stem, leaf and stripe rust. Available only at CPS retails.

SeCan Spring wheat: AAC Jatharia VB, the first release from Dr. Santosh Kumar — the new CWRS breeder with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Brandon. AAC Jatharia VB is a

midge tolerant CWRS that is seen as a replacement for AC Unity VB. AAC Jatharia VB has stronger straw and incorporates AC Carberry as a refuge for additional straw strength. On average AAC Jatharia VB outyields AC Carberry by seven per cent, has good sprouting resistance and an intermediate “Fair” rating to FHB. CDC Bradwell, developed by the Crop Development Centre is a new CWRS with strong straw and intermediate “Fair” rating to FHB. The variety shows reduced damage from wheat midge due to “egg laying deterrence.” AAC Spitfire is seen as a replacement for AC Strongfield. AAC Spitfire offers yield of 110 per cent of AC Strongfield with shorter, stronger straw than AC Strongfield.

SeedNet Cereals Rye: Guttino is a recently released hybrid fall rye developed by KWS. Guttino has short strong straw that makes it very suitable for irrigation or high moisture conditions. This variety has excellent grain quality with good falling numbers that hold up

even under difficult conditions. Guttino has very strong winter survivability and will out-yield traditional rye varieties by 20 to 30 per cent. Available from SeedNet members fall 2016. AAC Chiffon Soft Wheat is a new high yielding cultivar developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lethbridge. Evaluated for four years in the Western Soft White Spring Wheat Registration Trials (2008 to 2011), AAC Chiffon yielded more grain than the other check varieties including Sadash and AC Andrew. AAC Chiffon has a high kernel weight and is slightly taller than AC Andrew or Sadash. AAC Chiffon has very good milling properties and is also a good fit for ethanol or silage markets. Available from SeedNet members and dealers fall 2016.

Syngenta Spring wheat: SY  Rowyn  is  a  high-yielding, medium-maturity Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) wheat with good milling quality, short strong straw with good lodging resistance, and an excellent disease package. It is available through Alliance Seed.

For more information, contact the Syngenta Customer Resource Centre at 1-87-SYNGENTA (1-877964-3682). SY479 VB is the first midgetolerant Canadian Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat variety that also delivers strong yield potential from Syngenta Canada. SY479 VB has intermediate resistance to FHB and also contains midge tolerance making it an excellent choice for growers managing these pests. It is available for purchase through Alliance Seed. For more information, contact the Syngenta Customer Resource Centre at 1-87-SYNGENTA (1-877964-3682). Special wheat: SY087 is a high-yielding, mediummaturity Special Purpose (SP) wheat with a best-in-class disease package and the top yield potential in its maturity class, particularly in darker soils. It is available for purchase through United Suppliers Canada. For more information, please contact the Syngenta Customer Resource Center at 1-87-SYNGENTA (1-877-964-3682). † Leeann Minogue

New flax for 2017 There is a new flax variety on the market for 2017. CPS/Proven Seed’s WestLin 72 is a traditional brownseeded flax variety available at Crop Production Services retails. WestLin 72 has a yield of 102 per cent of CDC Bethune. It offers good disease resistance, a strong oil profile and reduced plant height for straw management.













For more information on these varieties and the entire Alliance Seed portfolio of cereal seed products, or to locate a dealer near you, please visit


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016


New varieties

New corn varieties for 2017 With more than 20 new corn varieties, farmers have some research to do By Leeann Minogue


f you’re farming in a corngrowing area in Western Canada, you’ll have more than 20 new varieties to consider for your 2017 rotations. New genetics bring higher yields and better disease packages, while shorter-season varieties may expand the corn-growing regions to new areas.

BrettYoung BrettYoung E50P52 R: E50P52 R is a new VT Double PRO RIB Complete corn blend technology from Elite that delivers corn borer protection without the hassle of planting a separate refuge. E50P52

R has excellent spring vigour and high-yielding genetics. E50P52 R has a solid agronomic profile that adapts to varying growth conditions. It is rated at 2300 CHU and has a dent-type kernel with excellent dry down and bushel weight characteristics. E50P52 R has good resistance to Goss’s wilt.

CPS/Proven Seed PV 60075 RIB is an early-maturing VT Double Pro RIB Complete grain and silage corn hybrid with exceptional yield potential of 104.6 per cent of check. At 2150 CHU, it offers good tolerance to Goss’ wilt, strong roots and stalks plus fast dry down. Added convenience of European corn borer

protection with Refuge in the Bag while also available with straight Roundup Ready 2 technology trait package as PV 60075 RR. PV 60075 is the first corn hybrid family from Proven Seed and is available exclusively at Crop Production Services retails.

Cropplan 1756VT2P/RIB is new with a 77-day maturity rating and 2350 CHU. It is a fixed-ear hybrid requiring medium to high populations and is a medium-stature plant with a medium flowering date for its maturity rating. Strong roots and test weight combine with good standability and staygreen. 2587VT2P/RIB is new with an

85-day maturity rating and 2625 CHU. This variety is a great product for multiple soil types, boasts excellent staygreen and stalk integrity. Its open husk makes for quick dry down and the plant has good Goss’s wilt tolerance. 3314VT2P/RIB is new with a 93-day maturity rating and 2750 CHU. Its excellent stalks and roots make it a top choice for early vigor and seed growth. This workhorse hybrid is ideal for low-yielding environments and has great ear flex for variable populations. 3705SS/RIB (VT2P/RIB) is new with a 97-day maturity rating and 2875 CHU. The variety has high yield potential on more variable soils with adequate fertility. It also has excellent stalks and test

weight, good Goss’s wilt tolerance for continuous corn and an early flowering for its maturity rating. 4350SS/RIB is new with a 103day maturity rating and 3100 CHU. It is ideal for variable geographies and populations. It is a versatile hybrid with a girthy, semi-flex ear; excellent roots on medium plant height; and good Goss’s wilt and stress tolerance. 4791AS3111 (ASGT) is new with a 107-day maturity rating and 3200 CHU. The variety produces a medium-tall plant with outstanding late-season intactness. It boasts strong ear flex under density management and has excellent disease tolerance, including for Goss’s wilt.



DKC34-57RIB is a new Genuity VT Double Pro hybrid with 2550 CHU. It has high yield potential and offers a strong performance in all yield environments. This hybrid performs best on loamy soils. DKC35-88RIB is a new Genuity VT Double Pro hybrid with 2600 CHU. It offers excellent yield potential in all soil types and yield environments, and it flowers and dries down true to relative maturity. This hybrid also has excellent stalks and roots. DKC38-55RIB is a new Genuity VT Double Pro hybrid with 2675 CHU. This is a medium statured hybrid that flowers early for its relative maturity. It performs best on loamy soils, and growers should plant at medium to high populations for best results.

Dow Seeds

But we did develop the only canola with yields to challenge InVigor ®. 6074 RR Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola—now with our all-new DefendR™ Sclerotinia-tolerance trait. BrettYoung™ and DefendR™ are trademarks of Brett-Young Seeds Limited. 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. Genuity®, Roundup Ready® and Roundup® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada Inc. licensee. All other trademarks are property of their respective companies. 09.16 2215

BMR90B94  is  a  2600  CHU Herculex Xtra and Roundup Ready, brown mid rib (BMR) silage corn. This BMR hybrid provides producers with above average NDFd for improved feed performance. BMR90B94 has excellent standability and good stress tolerance this hybrid moves north well. In addition, BMR90B94 also features solid plant agronomics that will support high plant densities and narrow row widths. It is available through your local Dow Seeds representative. TMF8106RA is a 2425 CHU corn silage hybrid which features the SmartStax Refuge Advanced (RA) trait. TMF8106RA is a tall healthy hybrid with a very dense canopy and large ear. This provides very impressive tonnage, which allows growers to make the most of every acre planted. Above and below ground insect protection, combined with the single bag refuge solution makes SmartStax RA a solid choice to optimize harvestability and protect the abundant yield provided by TMF8106RA. It is available through your local Dow Seeds representative.

DuPont Pioneer P7005AM  features  ultra-early maturity, excellent yield potential, with good test weight scores, good plant height, and good husk cover. P7202AM is a new ultra-early maturity variety that produces large kernels with good test weight.

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


photo: leeann minogue

New products at Quarry Seed

Several new crop varieties, including this Dow corn, were on display at the Ag In Motion farm show near Saskatoon in July.

Quarry seed is no longer distributing for Thunder seed and is now bringing Prograin soybeans to Western Canada. Last year, Quarry’s 60 plus dealers across the Prairies sold Thunder Seed soybeans and corn. General manager Shawn Rempel says the company is working toward having access to grain and silage corn in the near future. Prograin  is  a  private Canadian company, located in Quebec, focused solely on soybeans. “Now that we are working directly with a soybean breeding company, we feel we will be able to test

P7958AM is a high yielding Optimum AcreMax product, delivering integrated refuge for aboveground insect control. It has very good drought tolerance and root strength with moderate Goss’s wilt resistance. P7632AM features Optimum AcreMax, which delivers integrated refuge for above-ground insect control. It also features good drought tolerance, excellent root strength, husk cover and high yields.

A4199G2 RIB and A4099RR: 2150 CHU/2125 CHU. Featuring early pollination and finish. Very nice grain quality and consistency. Rapid emergence and aggressive seedling vigour for a fast, early season start. Good Goss’s wilt rating. Available at your nearest PRIDE Seed Dealer 1-800-265-5280. A5432G2 RIB: 2425 to 2575 CHU. Impressive benchmark product family for silage and high moisture corn use. Now available as PRIDE G2 VT Double PRO RIB Complete delivering above ground insect control. Very high starch content with very good tonnage potential. Great drought and stress tolerance. Early flowering with excellent health, digestibility and milk and beef/acre scores. Very good Goss’s wilt rating. Available at your nearest PRIDE Seed Dealer 1-800-2655280. † Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews.

soybean with first in class standability; great sclerotinia tolerance. DUGALDO R2X 2475 CHU RM 00.5; great yield with a fantastic fit for all midseason geographies; excellent standability and harvestability; a true farmer’s soybean. Quarry will also be distributing products for Xite Bio Technologies,  a  Winnipegbased  biological  company and Verdesian Life Sciences, an inoculant and biological company based in Indiana. Quarry  will  also  retail Syngenta’s soybean seed treatment products. †

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season areas; good ability to branch for an early soybean variety; taller than average with good standabililty. DARIO R2X 2250 CHU, RM 000.8, very good yield potential for its maturity group; tall plant with aggressive development; stands out in minimum tillage. DOMINGO R2X 2525 CHU, RM 00.8; very good vigour at the start of the season and excellent standability; excellent yield potential; very good sclerotinia tolerance. DYLANO R2X 2450 CHU RM  00.4;  extremely  high yield  yielding  mid-season


Maisex Corn MZ  1340DBR,  grain  hybrid, (2150CHU/73RM)  VT  Double Pro. Ultra early flowering hybrid with exceptional grain quality and test weight. Industry leading early season vigour adapted for short seasons. Open husks at maturity aid rapid grain drydown. Responds to increased population. Adapted in and north of its maturity zone. MZ  1482R,  silage  hybrid, (2050CHU/71RM) Roundup Ready corn 2. Solid agronomics. Rapid spring vigour transforms into early flowering plants with exceptional stalk strength. Ears are 16-20 rows around with deep kernels. Position in zone at moderate to higher populations. As a silage option, MZ 1482R provides large robust plants with exceptional starch content and availability.

and bring new soybeans to the market faster, and more efficiently than anyone else,” says Rempel. For  2017,  Quarry  dealers will be retailing several Prograin soybean varieties, including six that are brand new: TORRO  R2  GENRR2Y, 2375  CHU,  RM  000.8, medium-sized  plant  with green foliage; excellent yield potential for its maturity; above-average standability. KOSMO R2 GENRR2Y 2450 CHU, RM 00.6, very good vigour at the beginning of the season, perfect for short



/ DECEMBER 6, 2016


Crop management

The future of managing flax fibre By Jason Heit


ealing with flax straw residue has long been a source of headaches for many Prairie flax producers. “While many producers continue to burn it — costing them valuable organic matter, money, and time — producers would prefer to see their flax straw left on the field,” says Wayne Thompson, executive director of the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission (SaskFlax). To respond to this concern, SaskFlax is funding a new research project that may offer an unexpected solution. The project has researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia working together to develop a non-GMO flax variety with reduced stem fibre content. This is important because high stem fibre is a key factor in making flax residue difficult to manage. Back in 2007, Dr. Michael Deyholos, a UBC researcher, published research that identified an enzyme, beta-galactosidase (B-Gal), that is critical to the development of flax fibre — a material that is stronger than steel by weight. “The reason flax fibres get their strength is that the cellulose is arranged in really straight parallel molecules allowing them to crystalize,” says Deyholos. The B-Gal enzyme is important because it removes spacers that prevent the crystals from forming. Deyholos’ later research found that when the activation of the enzyme is controlled, those spacers are left in place and the cellulose doesn’t crystallize. However, the researchers face challenges as they take this knowledge from the lab to the field. In a previous research project, Deyholos developed a flax plant that completely lacked bast (stem) fibres; while the line performed

well in the laboratory, in field tests, the plants lacked the strength to hold themselves up and were soon flat and tangled. “The big complication to developing a flax variety with reduced stem strength is that flax evolved bast fibres, which are not present in crop plants like wheat,” says Dr. Helen Booker, flax breeder for the University of Saskatchewan Crop Development Centre. Booker points to research that indicates that many North American flax varieties have stem fibre contents that are only marginally lower (2.1 per cent) than European varieties used in the fibre industry. This is a good trait for folks interested in developing a dual-purpose flax and growing a flax fibre industry in Western Canada, but does nothing to help producers deal with their annual flax straw headache. But Deyholos is optimistic that his current research can lead to a new variety that will allow producers to leave their straw in the field. “We already know we can weaken the fibres slightly, and we have also shown that we can completely eliminate the fibres, so we just need to find the sweet spot between those extremes.” His team is now back in the lab conducting mutation breeding experiments that will identify non-GMO plants that don’t display the high stem fibre trait. Once they have identified a few lines in the lab, they will send them to Dr. Booker and her team for further data and analysis. In the meantime, producers’ flax straw issues aren’t going away anytime soon. Even if the team is successful it could be as long 10 to 15 years before farmers are able to harvest a low stem fibre flax. Until then, flax producers should keep that Aspirin close at hand. †

photos: michael deyholos, ubc

A non-GMO flax variety with reduced stem fibre content is coming down the pipeline

By weight, flax fibres are stronger than steel.

Jason Heit is a Saskatchewan-based freelance writer.

In this cross section of a flax stem, the bast fibres are highlighted in magenta. 52330-1 DAS_Simplicity_FullRate_13-1667x9_a5.indd 1

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /



Cover crops

Cover crops for better soil health Cover crops can help build the “livestock” that lives in the soil and improves productivity By Kevin Elmy

is covered, and the mycorrhizae population is healthy, crops will handle drought better. The key is to maintain ground cover, keep roots alive throughout the growing season, build organic matter, build soil fertility and maintain nutrient balance.


t appears that the idea of farmers improving the soil is starting to take hold. The Western Canadian Soil Health Conference was held in Edmonton, Alberta, the first part of December 2015. Nora Paulovich and Tom Fromme, co-chairs on the organizing committee, did a wonderful job pulling speakers together and organizing it. It started at a registration limit of 250. It sold out in no time, so they bumped it to 450, which took less than a week to sell out. Crop diversity, rotational diversity and, if possible, getting animals on the land, are the ways to start building soil health. Old time agronomy! It makes sense when some are talking about maintaining our soils, but why maintain a degraded resource? Our goal should be to improve our soil. When we build quality organic matter in the soil, microbes and earthworms will return to the soil.

Cover cropping goals

Most of the soil’s natural fertility can be traced back to mycorrhizae, a naturally occurring fungus. With the return of soil microbiology, natural soil fertility returns.

orrhizae work with the plants. In exchange for carbohydrates, the mycorrhizae provide the plant with water and nutrients the plant normally has lower access to. To survive, the mycorrhizae require a food source, high quality organic matter, living plants and a place to live. High disturbance “recreational” tillage breaks down the organic matter and kills plants.

Soil fertility Most of the natural fertility from the soil can be traced back to mycorrhizae, a naturally occurring fungus in the soil that works with grasses, legumes, forbs and some broadleaf plants. The myc-


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Another source of nutrient cyclers are the earthworms. At the Edmonton conference, I had an enlightening discussion with Dr. Jill Clapperton, scientist and cofounder of Rhizoterra, a U.S.-based company that helps farmers create healthy soils. She educated me on earthworms. Earthworms burrow in the soil, creating tunnels that they travel in. They eat organic matter, bacteria, protozoa and fungi. They then defecate in their tunnels. Microbes grow in their feces; earthworms return and eat their own feces. Fungi in the soil are the preferred food source for most of the soil life. Fungi contain a more balanced nutrient concentration in their cells, creating a better food source. Earthworms are an indicator of soil health. Fungi just do not digest organic matter, fungi are attracted to high quality organic matter. This is one of the areas where cover cropping gives producers the ability to ensure that our “soil livestock” have the correct nutrition. Producing high quality organic matter to return to the soil to feed our microbes. Building organic matter drives soil health and natural soil fertility.

Rotations and soil health

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One of the cornerstones of a “good” crop rotation is including grasses and cereals, broadleaf and legume crops, both warm and cool season. To get a “great” crop rotation, one would include spring- and fall-seeded crops, perennials, and annuals. The ultimate goal in utilizing cover crops is to have plants growing in the soil throughout the growing season. A good crop rotation will increase “soil livestock.” But how does increasing fungi, in particular mycorrhizae, make me money? There is research in southern Manitoba showing that adding phosphate fertilizer to soybeans leads to significant yield increases. Yet on our farm, we are yet to show any yield increase from phosphate. Scientific papers published around the world show that fields with high levels of mycorrhizal infection show low yield response to phosphate fertilizers, where fields with low mycorrhizal infection show a higher yield response. Other crops like flax, corn, cereals, and pulses, respond similarly. High levels of mycorrhizae in the soil may lower your phosphate bill. Mycorrhizae also help move water around in the soil under drought stress. If the soil surface

Cover cropping can be full season, part season or short season growth, depending on goals. A cover crop can be simple or a complex blend of different species. With more diversity comes more stability. For producers looking at cover crops for the first time, simplicity usually takes some of the stress and intimidation out of getting started. As a producer gains experience cover cropping, new goals can be added. Livestock producers usually see quicker direct benefits, such as animal feed. Either as grazing or hayed forage, there is usually a feed target for a cover crop to fill. This has been done for many years, back before it was “cool.” The difference now is that we are also able to target other goals: recycling nutrients, alleviating compaction, or reducing salinity buildup by choosing species with appropriate growth periods, root growth, top growth and feed characteristics. How does cover cropping benefit grain producers? Healthy soil biology will assist in plant growth and reduce plant stress. When plants are growing in the soil throughout the growing season, soil microbes have something to grow with. A cover crop will address production issues. Seeding fast-growing species after crop harvest, or something that will overwinter, will continue to improve soil conditions. Overwintering cover crops is the next step in management, which is not a big deal. An abundance of nutrients can be recycled or nitrogen fixed by the right species. The main complaints are lack of time and the fear of drying out the soil. Increased soil biology and increased organic matter will ease both fears. The biggest thing is to start changing management. The whole idea of soil husbandry disappeared from Western Canada in the 1930s. My grandfather was a member of the Saskatchewan Field Husbandry Association. With the advance of science, a lot of that work was left behind. Now, old time agronomy is making its way back. Taking care of the soil, feeding microbes, is easier and less risky than the continued reliance of over applying chemical inputs. No, this is not a plug for organic or nonGMO production. We conventional producers can learn some easy-toincorporate management choices from top end organic producers. I like the idea of having a toolbox full of tools I can use, not being stuck using half of the potential tools. It will take some trials to see what you’re your management system. You just need to think of the “livestock” living in your soil. † Kevin Elmy operates Friendly Acres Seed Farm, along with his wife, Christina, and parents, Robert and Verene, near Saltcoats, Sask. Contact him at 306-744-2779 or visit


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016


Weed management

Training cattle to eat leafy spurge With leafy spurge acres spreading, it’s time to bring on some new tactics


A “cattleman’s problem”

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here’s a reason why Leafy spurge is a “cattleman’s “spurge” rhymes with problem,” says Abe Unger, who “scourge.” runs a livestock operation in The last economic Haywood, Manitoba. “It’s a noximpact analysis of the noxious weed ious weed but it doesn’t survive in Manitoba, which came out in in grain. To control it you can 2010, concluded that leafy spurge mow it a couple of times a sumcosts the province $40.2 million mer so it doesn’t set seed, but every year due to lost grazing capac- once it’s established it always ity, costs of chemical controls on comes up from the root,” he says. roadsides and indirect costs. Roughly 200 acres of Unger’s In 2010, there were roughly 1.2 1,400 acres of pastureland are million acres of leafy spurge in severely infested with leafy Manitoba. But left untreated, affect- spurge. ed areas will double in size every 10 The noxious weed can be toxic years, says Jane Thornton, a pasture to cattle, a fact Unger learned and rangeland extension specialist the hard way one year when with Manitoba Food, Agriculture his herd grazed a leafy spurgeand Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) — infested area in the spring. which means spurge acres are likely “They developed sores in their already much higher. mouths and abscesses in their “Leafy spurge is continu- stomachs,” he said. “They could ing to move into areas that it hardly eat.” wasn’t before. It’s going north on Twenty years ago, Unger invited Highway 10 and up into Dauphin. MAFRI staff to release beetles on There just about isn’t a rural his operation in hopes they’d municipality in the province that develop into colonies and control doesn’t have it,” says Thornton. the weed naturally. But the But there are new possibilities beetles haven’t made a noticeable for control. difference. Nor are there herbicide Thornton is the lead on a options available that can be used new Manitoba Beef and Forage without impact in areas with high Initiatives (MBFI) project attempt- water tables, like Unger’s. ing to train cattle to eat leafy “Leafy spurge is always a conspurge. The project is based on a cern because once it starts someU.S. study led by livestock research- where it keeps getting bigger. er Kathy Voth, who uses cattle as It’s a bad thing to have on your “weed managers” to control weeds property,” he says. like Canada thistle, spotted knapClayton Robins, executive weed and leafy spurge. director of Manitoba 4-H Council “Based on Voth’s methods, we and a director at the Canadian trained 50 heifers at an MBFI Society of Animal Science, says farm to eat leafy spurge on one leafy spurge is a very competiof the pastures. Whether or not tive plant with a deep rooting it will be enough to impact the system that can grow “in all spurge is the question I’ll be fol- kinds of conditions.” lowing for the next few years,” Management, says Robins, necsays Thornton. essarily must be1integrated — there SEC-SPIT16-T_GN_SEC-SPIT16-T.qxd 2016-10-18 12:24 AM Page

is no one-size-fits-all strategy for leafy spurge. “Once it’s established it’s a long-term process to manage the health of the plants around it and get it under control,” he says. “It’s a tough customer but one of the reasons it gets out of hand in the first place is overgrazing,” says Robins. “If a farmer can manage grazing the chances of it getting out of hand are lower. If the system has been compromised it can gain a foothold and it’s tough to get rid of.”

Grazing Cattle have historically had a much lower tolerance to leafy spurge than other livestock. Leafy spurge can comprise up to 80 per cent of a goat’s diet and up to 50 per cent of a sheep’s diet, but for cattle that figure is only 10 to 15 per cent. Sheep and goats have been successfully used as controls. According to Thornton, goats can reduce spurge by 80 per cent over a three-year period. But for many livestock producers, the use of goats or sheep is not an economically viable option. Thornton says her MBFI project is more of a “demonstration project” than a formal research study. By closely tracking her herd, she hopes to learn more about why some cows seem more sensitive to leafy spurge. “We may find some animals are better at handling that toxin than others. Will they teach their young to eat spurge?” she asks. If her team can convince cattle that leafy spurge is a reasonable addition to their usual pasture diets, Thornton’s project will yield multiple benefits — control of the weed, for one, as

photo: saskatchewan agriculture

By Julienne Isaacs

Areas affected by leafy spurge will double in size every 10 years. well as increased pasture carrying capacity and diversity. And it’s already bearing some fruit: Thornton says the herd has already begun eating some leafy spurge, albeit in small amounts, and moving into areas of pasture they would have avoided prior to training. So far, the team’s veterinarian has not noticed health problems in cattle consuming the weed. As for producers currently strug-

gling with leafy spurge infestation, Thornton can only caution them to stay on top of the problem. “The problem with noxious weeds is that there really is no good way of treating them. If you have a small patch really keep on top of the fringes. Make sure it doesn’t get any bigger,” she says. † Julienne Isaacs is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and editor. Contact her at


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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /



Crop Advisor’s casebook


A troubling spot of bother By Spencer McArthur


t the beginning of September, I received a call from Mark, who wanted to discuss some lesions developing on the stems of his ripening canola plants. “It looks like a really bad sclerotinia infection to me,” he said. “I can’t believe it. I sprayed every acre of my canola with fungicide — I don’t think it worked.” Mark, who farms near Watson, Sask., had seeded flax, wheat and barley that spring, in addition to canola. The area had received sufficient rainfall throughout the season, and disease and insect pressure had been minimal. Overall, heading into harvest, Mark’s crops had looked quite strong. I also knew he had paid close attention to staging his canola crop for fungicide application, and he’d applied it when the canola was close to 30 per cent bloom. In the past, when spraying his crops, Mark had always followed recommended water volume guidelines. Because Mark was concerned about the fungicide’s performance, I thought it best to head out to his farm and take a look for myself. I arrived at the problem field just as Mark was swathing the crop. The majority of the crop was close to 70 per cent seed colour change, which is near ideal for swathing canola. Mark usually planted canola every three years, but at times had planted canola every second year.

As I examined the field, I found small amounts of the white, watery lesions characteristic of a sclerotinia infection. However, only a few plants had ripened prematurely due to the infection. This evidence convinced me the fungicide had worked properly, and the issue was as yet undiscovered. Mark directed me to an area of the field where the plant lesions were more common. Instead of the bleached, watery appearance caused by sclerotinia infection, these lesions were greyish to purple in colour, with a speckled appearance. Taking into consideration the lesions’ colour and Mark’s cropping history, it was possible blackleg had also infected the field. I began to clip plants at the stem bases so I could assess the infection level. Some plants had blackening of the stem tissue, which is characteristic of blackleg infection. However, the majority of the plants were healthy, and exhibited white stem tissue when clipped open. “There seems to be more blackleg in my canola than ever before,” said Mark. But I wasn’t so sure blackleg was causing these particular lesions. When I examined the greyish- to purple-speckled stem lesions more closely, I noticed other clues that ruled out blackleg as the source. For example, blackleg cankers

are usually found at the base of the stem, yet these lesions were located higher up the canola stems than expected. In addition, the speckled areas did not contain pycnidia, which are the pepper-like spores found within a blackleg lesion. As I walked the field, I also noticed the greyish-purple speckles were more common on ripened plants, especially where sclerotinia or blackleg had killed the plants prematurely. Mark mentioned the speckling had worsened as the plants matured and ripened. Furthermore, these lesions did not appear to have an effect on the canola’s pod fill and maturity processes, and would likely not influence the crop’s final yield. These clues led me to believe another canola disease was at work here, which I was able to confirm after lab analysis of the diseased stems. If you think you know what’s causing the greyish to purple stem lesions in Mark’s canola field, send your diagnosis to Grainews, Box 9800, Winnipeg, Man., R3C 3K7; email leeann. or fax 204-944-95416 c/o Crop Advisor’s Casebook. The 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. The answer, along with reasoning that solved the mystery, will appear in the next Crop Advisor’s Solution File. † Spencer McArthur is a sales agronomist for Richardson Pioneer Ltd. at Humboldt, Sask.

Spencer McArthur is a sales agronomist for Richardson Pioneer Ltd. at Humboldt, Sask.

The leaves had a modest amount of leaf disease and were bruised. The tips were tattered; some were missing. All symptoms were worse on hilltops than low-lying areas.

This issue’s Casebook winner is Joel Hofer. Joel wrote, “I help farm a mixed crop of pulse, oilseed and cereals near Abee, Alberta. Still combining canola as of November 17. Brrr. What a long harvest so far. Almost done.” I hope you managed to finish, Joel. We’re sending you a free one-year subscription and a Grainews hat. Leeann Minogue

Some plants had blackening of the stem tissue, which is characteristic of blackleg infection. However, the majority of the plants were healthy, and exhibited white stem tissue when clipped open.

Crop advisor’s solution

Spray fungicide to protect your crop after wind damage By Raeanne Denomie


ohn, a producer who farms north of Wadena, Sask., called me at the beginning of June in 2015 about what he thought was early-stage leaf disease in his wheat field. He asked me for advice on herbicide and fungicide timing. From the road his crop looked healthy. However, up close, I could see the leaf tips were tattered and some were missing altogether. Also, the leaves

looked bruised and disease was present, but the infection was moderate at most. One by one we eliminated many factors that could possibly account for the leaf damage, such as a nutrient imbalance, fertilizer burn, herbicide injury or drift, and insect or mechanical damage. Even the leaf disease itself had not caused the initial plant damage, but appeared to have moved in after the leaf tissue was damaged. However, this was not a difficult

diagnosis, as I had seen symptoms like these before. In a previous case, the environmental conditions in the area were similar to this one — high winds during the week previous to being called out. I had to solve that first case through the process of elimination, and I felt it was important in this case to repeat that process, and to rule out all other possible factors before offering John my diagnosis of wind damage. I advised John to proceed with his in-crop herbicide applica-

tion. In an ideal situation, he could have waited for the crop to recover before spraying, but the forecast was for continued windy conditions, and it didn’t look like that was going to improve in the short term. As a preventative measure, I also recommended John apply a fungicide on his wheat crop because wind-damaged tissue presents even more of an opportunity for disease to infect plants, however insignificant the infection at the time of scouting.


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John was relieved the damage wasn’t insect or disease related, however unfortunate the windy conditions and resulting crop damage. There was nothing John could have done to prevent the damage to his wheat field, but he did learn how to diagnose this environmental-related damage for himself, and how to be proactive in situations that leave the crop vulnerable to stress and infection. † Raeanne Denomie is a sales agronomist for Richardson Pioneer Ltd., at Wadena, Sask.



/ DECEMBER 6, 2016


Seed varieties

Breeding aims high with hybrid rye Two recently-released rye varieties are bringing higher yields to the Prairies By Geoff Geddes


ybrid cars may be all the rage these days for their lower gas consumption, but it’s hybrid rye that’s fueling excitement for producers and seed growers. Two varieties that were recently released by German seed company KWS, the world’s leading rye breeder, are Bono and Guttino.

Bullish on Bono As CEO of Regina-based FP Genetics, which licenses Bono from KWS, Rod Merryweather has seen impressive results from hybrid varieties. “Bono is averaging 30 per cent higher yields than open pollinated rye,” said Merryweather. Growers are also encouraged by the falling numbers for Bono which come in at 75 to100 points greater than open pollinated. “That really excites millers because it means they can use more rye and less wheat and save money in the process.” Another appeal of Bono is uniformity. “In a hybrid variety like Bono all the plants are the same, giving you more uniform growth and thus more uniform grain when you harvest it,” said Merryweather. Uniformity makes it more likely that farmers can straight cut it and means the plants are shorter. As a result, there is better standability and less chance of lodging, leading to lower costs and higher quality. Although uniformity and falling numbers are important, in the volatile world of farming one constant remains: It’s all about the yield. “Bono will dominate the market in another year or two because of the yield it offers. It might cost you six dollars more per acre or the equivalent of one bushel, but if it gives you 10 more bushels per acre in yield, that’s a 10 to one return on investment. It’s really a no-brainer.”

Gushing over Guttino Also earning accolades is Guttino, for a lot of the same reasons. “It represents a huge step forward in yield, showing an improvement of 20 to 40 per cent over open pollinated rye,” said Will Van Roessel. In addition to running his own seed business near Bow Island, Van Roessel is president of SeedNet, a group of 13 independent seed growers in southern Alberta. Like Bono, the Guttino variety boasts much improved falling numbers. “Not only are those numbers high to start with, they seem to hold a bit better when you get rain at harvest time, so it’s more likely that you can sell it into the milling market,” said Van Roessel. And though also praising Guttino for its lodging resistance, Van Roessel agrees with conventional wisdom that yield is the bottom line. “It’s just such an improve-

ment over what was out there before. With other crops you might get a two to three per cent yield increase and marginal boost in protein; to have this massive yield hike along with a huge improvement in falling number and enhanced lodging is almost unheard of in new crop technology.” While his own experience with Guttino is limited, he grew a small area recently with winter wheat under irrigated conditions and liked what he saw. “It was interesting to watch as the rye really took off in the spring. By the time the winter wheat started growing the rye was six inches tall. I found Guttino was really competitive

and we think it could wind up being a replacement for winter wheat rather than for conventional rye.” They may each have their favorite, yet both men see a bright future for hybrids. “Bono and other hybrid ryes will help us grow the demand for rye and create a substantial niche market for growers with great returns,” said Merryweather. Sure, the hybrid car might get more press, but with results like this, the hybrid rye appeal won’t run out of gas anytime soon. † Geoff Geoff Geddes is a freelance agriculture and business writer based in Edmonton. Find him online at or email

Two new rye varieties, Bono and Guttino, were recently released by German seed company KWS — the world’s leading rye breeder.

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Weed management

Goss’s wilt: a weed on the rise It might be time to consider seeding corn varieties with resistance to Goss’s wilt By Angela Lovell


ith plenty of summer storms bringing high winds and hail to the Prairies this summer, there has been more Goss’s wilt showing up in Manitoba fields. A visual survey of 142 corn fields across Manitoba in August and September identified Goss’s wilt in 56 of them. The inoculum for Goss’s wilt is present most years in Manitoba fields that have been growing corn for many years, but conditions have to be right to produce an outbreak. “For Goss’s wilt to develop there must be an abrasion of the leaf. It needs to be ripped, or sandblasted, or hailed on to

rip the infection site and then it needs moisture,” says DuPont Pioneer agronomist, Michael Weir. “This year we had a lot of storms, and moisture throughout August and September, so that’s why we’ve seen an outbreak of it this year in a lot of areas.” The first line of defence against Goss’s wilt is rotation. “We definitely find Goss’s wilt is more severe in fields that have been continuously growing corn,” says Holly Derksen, field crop pathologist with Manitoba Agriculture. Equally important is managing corn residue, which provides a safe harbour for the inoculum to wait for favourable conditions. “The take home message is to get residue incorporated into

the ground so it can start breaking down in the soil,” says Weir. “Ensuring a good rotation and managing residue can lower the amount of inoculum present but doesn’t eliminate it entirely. As well, if someone close by has some infected residue on top of the ground and you get a wind event, that residue will transfer to neighbouring fields, so the disease can move from field to field.” A number of corn hybrids that offer good resistance to Goss’s wilt. “I definitely recommend growing a resistant hybrid in areas where Goss’s wilt is established, but growers should be aware that information is not always included in the brochure they get from their seed company,

so they may need to go back to their seed company and ask more questions about the hybrids,” says Derksen. “They also should keep in mind that we still don’t have third party data for Goss’s wilt resistance so they can’t compare a resistance rating from one company to a rating from another company. They can only compare within the company.”

A spreading problem Goss’s wilt is also showing up in non-traditional corn growing areas in Northwestern and the Interlake regions of Manitoba, and as far west as Moosomin, Sask. Growers may not necessarily identify it in their fields, so it’s important to

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know the symptoms. Most likely the infection will start at the field edges, says Derksen. “They may often notice a spot where the plants are starting to wilt or prematurely ripen,” she says. “We don’t have the systemic version of Goss’s wilt in Manitoba so we don’t see it early in the season where it’s wilting the young plants, we only usually see it showing up mid-season or later and you notice it on the leaves first.” There is often some discolouration present, which initially looks like a water-soaked spot, but which will then turn a tan colour. The infected area will often be shiny, especially in sunlight, because Goss’s wilt is caused by bacteria, which ooze an exudate that has a shiny appearance. On the margins of the lesions there will be a freckling pattern flush with the leaf surface, not raised or bumpy. To be sure, growers can send samples off to a diagnostic lab. In most cases Goss’s Wilt isn’t causing significant yield losses. “I don’t think in Manitoba, we’ve had very many situations where it has taken a lot of yield away but at the same time, it’s difficult to measure because generally it is in conjunction with adverse environmental events, so it’s hard to know whether yield loss is from Goss’s wilt or as a result of weather conditions,” says Derksen. “I would say this year there might have been a couple of growers who saw yield loss because we did see some more severely infected fields but I would say those growers are still few and far between. We do not see the same yield loss as in the U.S. because they commonly have the systemic version of the disease, in addition to the foliar version that we have.”

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There are no options to control Goss’s wilt once it develops and infects plants. “There is nothing you can spray on an infected plant with Goss’s wilt to fix it,” says Weir. “It’s not a fungal disease so fungicides are ineffective.” In some cases Goss’s wilt inoculum can reside in grassy weeds like foxtail and barnyard grass, so controlling these weeds can eliminate alternative disease hosts. Understanding the life cycle of Goss’s wilt can also help growers manage it better, says Weir. “It was a big year for Goss’s wilt this year so growers might be worried about next year, but all we’ve really done is increase the inoculum in the soil,” he says. “If we don’t have a wet August or September next year, we might not see that much Goss’s wilt pressure. It’s just important to understand the disease and the available management practices.” † Angela Lovell is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist living and working in Manitoba. Find her online at


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016


Farm management

Antimicrobial myths and facts Drug-resistant bacteria a “wicked problem.” Get to know the facts on this file


ntimicrobial resistance is a “wicked problem,” says Dr. John Campbell, requiring cooperation from many stakeholders. The livestock industry’s contribution to antimicrobial resistance is hard to pin down, but hospitals and care centres for seniors are a much more common source of resistance, Campbell said during the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation conference in Saskatoon in October. Campbell heads Large Animal Clinic Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. His research focuses on disease surveillance and infectious diseases in beef cattle. Campbell spent the better part of an hour going through antimicrobial resistance myths and facts. Antimicrobials are drugs used to treat infections caused by everything from bacteria to fungi. It’s a broader term than the more commonly used antibiotic, which refers to drugs that kill bacteria. About 75 to 80 per cent of antibiotics in Canada are used for livestock, Campbell said. But there are about 650 million livestock slaughtered annually in Canada. Measured by dose per patient (human or animal), people use more antibiotics than livestock. Health Canada classifies antimicrobials by their importance to human health; low (Category 4), medium (Category 3), high (Category 2), and very high (Category 1). Most antimicrobials used in feedlots fall into Category 4, which aren’t used in human medicine. Less than one per cent of antimicrobials used in feedlots fall into Category 1 or 2, Campbell said. “I think it’s pretty unlikely that resistant bacteria we might create in the animal agriculture are going to end up in the surgery unit. We’re probably dealing more with resistant bacteria in the gut caused by campylobacter and things like that,” Campbell said. Any antimicrobial-resistant bacteria that evolve in the feedlot must escape food safety checks, and survive cooking, to make someone sick, he added. The odds of getting

sick from drug-resistant campylobacter are about one in 236 million in the U.S., Campbell said. But the agriculture industry does need to pitch in to prevent antimicrobial resistance, Campbell said. Canada has a “robust” antimicrobial resistance surveillance system, and much of the funding and drive for that system has come from the livestock industry, he said, but more needs to be done. Research is ongoing. Campbell said a new beef cattle research facility is slated for construction outside of Saskatoon. Researchers will be doing a long-term environmental study on effluent and microbial waste at the new facility. Campbell hopes to also see antimicrobial resistance research as well.

Antibiotic residue or resistance? Campbell is concerned that the general public doesn’t know the difference between antibiotic resistance and residue. “All of our meat is almost guaranteed antibiotic-free. We have about a 99.7 per cent pass rate on residue issues. And many of those residue issues are caught in the plant.” Maximum residue limits are a “caution sign,” Campbell said. “They’re not really a danger sign. There’s huge safety margins built in.” For example, the acceptable daily intake of tetracycline in humans is 30 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. The maximum residue limit for beef is about 200 micrograms per kilogram. If someone served Campbell beef that was at that maximum residue limit, he could eat three 74 gram servings per day, and he’d still only consume two per cent of his acceptable daily intake. Campbell adds beef usually has negligible or no antimicrobial residue.

photo: lisa guenther

By Lisa Guenther

A heifer calf leaves the squeeze with flair after being tagged and vaccinated. 1.  to treat sick animals; 2. to control the spread of illness in the herd; 3. to prevent illness in healthy animals that are likely to be exposed to a pathogen; and, 4. to promote growth by altering the gut flora. However, regulatory changes from the federal government, expected in 2017, will likely put an end to growth promotion claims on antimicrobials. That change is designed to reduce antimicrobial resistance. The new regulations won’t wipe out a huge number of antimicrobials. Many growth promoters also have other label claims, Campbell said, so they’ll still be available for other uses, such as preventing disease. While cutting growth-promoting antimicrobials seems like it should reduce resistance, that might not be the case. Denmark studied the effects of eliminating growth promoting antimicrobials between 2001 and 2010. The

Will cutting growthpromoting antimicrobials cut resistance? Livestock producers and feedlot operators currently have four ways to use antimicrobials on their cattle:

livestock industry did use fewer Category 3 antimicrobials. But Danes had to treat more sick animals, using more of the highimportance antimicrobials. Denmark has an amazing system for collecting and organizing data from farmers, Campbell said, and no one can match that data. But others have looked at similar issues, along with links between animal drugs and antimicrobial resistance in humans, Campbell said. Researchers have found links between antimicrobial use in poultry, and resistant microbes in people, in both the U.S. and Canada, he added. For example, a 2010 study found a strong correlation between ceftiofur-resistant Salmonella infections in humans and ceftiofur-resistant Salmonella in retail chicken. In Quebec, the same researchers found a link between ceftiofur use in hatcheries and fluctuating levels of resistant E. coli and Salmonella in retail chicken. Ceftiofur is a Category 1 antibiotic.


Canadian chicken farmers voluntarily stopped using Category 1 drugs in 2014. Since then, buyers are pushing North American chicken producers to further limit antimicrobial use or stop altogether. Flocks are being hit with a 20 per cent higher mortality rate, Campbell said. It’s taking 10 more days to get chickens to market. And producers are treating more flocks with antimicrobials because birds are getting sick, Campbell added. Society can’t afford to ignore antimicrobial resistance. But controlling it will be a long-term effort, he said. “And we may have some hiccups along the way. Some unintended consequences as we go, too.” The 2010 study on antimicrobialresistant microbes in chicken is available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874360/. † Lisa Guenther is field editor for Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa. or on Twitter @LtoG.

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /



Weed management

Timing is key to whipping weeds It’s easiest to kill weeds when they’re actively growing. Make sure you know when that is


hether you’re telling a joke or treating a weed, timing is critical. And as anyone who has failed at weed control will confirm, it’s no laughing matter. Once you let weeds gain a foothold they can soon get out of hand, so it’s crucial to identify the life cycle of the weeds in your field and treat them accordingly. “For winter annuals, you need to get control of them in the fall,” said Breanne Tidemann, research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.“If they overwinter and continue to grow in the spring, they will have a competitive advantage over your crop as they’re already established.” It’s also important to get them when they’re actively growing and photosynthesizing; a warmer, sunnier day is best. Timing it right with winter annuals can be tricky according to Jeanette Gaultier, provincial weed specialist with the Manitoba Department of Agriculture. “We generally recommend fall as the smaller the weed, the better your control,” said Gaultier. But as she pointed out, the longer you wait, the more weed flush that comes through. “While waiting is a good rule of thumb to maximize your herbicide application, you really need to focus on the weed stage,” said Gaultier. “A lot of winter annuals start to germinate throughout the growing season. If weeds are getting bigger you’re probably better off to get out there and start spraying.” As for which winter annuals you’ll have to contend with, it depends on the area. Some that Tidemann sees regularly are shepherd’s purse, stinkweed and the one she calls her “pet nemesis”: cleavers. “Cleavers can be tricky because they are both a spring and winter annual, so you need to be especially vigilant with them since control options in some crops are limited,” said Tidemann.

A frosty reception Although for many Canadians, winter is the enemy, it can be your best friend when you’re fighting annual weeds. “For most annuals, you want to target them with a pre-seed burn off, pre or post-emergent herbicide application or tillage pass,” said Gaultier. “Other annual weeds like volunteer canola, kochia and green foxtail are flushing weeds that germinate in the spring or early summer. If they haven’t set seed by the end of the season, just let them be and the frost will take care of them. Winter isn’t good for much, but it can do wonders on mosquitoes and annual weeds.” Making that spring versus winter annual distinction isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the effort.

“If you’re dealing with a spring annual, you might not spend the time and money to control it in the fall as winter will do that for you,” said Tidemann. “Knowing what weeds you have and which ones will overwinter is the secret to knowing when to control them.” To make that distinction, Tidemann recommends using weed identification books that often pinpoint overwintering weeds or going online to gather biology and life cycle information. Also, details on herbicide application can be gleaned from the Guide to Crop Protection in Manitoba and Saskatchewan or the Blue Book in Alberta. “These guides will help ensure

that you’re putting on the right products at the right rate, as you don’t want fall weed control decisions to negatively impact subsequent crop rotations,” said Gaultier. She stresses the need to base herbicide choices not only on the weeds you’re dealing with today, but also on what you’re planning to put in next year. As with the perfect one liner, making the right choices for weed control is largely about timing. Get that right, and you’re bound to have the last laugh at harvest time. † Geoff Geddes is a freelance agriculture and business writer based in Edmonton. Find him online at or email

photo: manitoba agriculture

By Geoff Geddes

Cleavers can be tricky because they are both a spring and winter annual.

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016


Farm management

photo: lisa guenther

Leo Millard horses around with his granddaughter, Julianna, while Wanda Millard unpacks harvest supper and hired man Myron Lipteck looks on. T:6 in

Feeding the harvest crew By Lisa Guenther


he harvest meal in the field is a tradition that’s still alive on western Canadian farms. But fuelling the harvest crew isn’t an easy task, especially when a person is also wrangling kids and running for parts. Wanda Millard is a veteran when it comes to harvest meals. 2016 marked her 11th harvest with her husband Jay Millard’s family. The Millards grow crops and raise cattle east of Livelong, Sask. Wanda also runs a custom cake business out of her home. Wanda started helping her own mother with harvest at about the age of 10. “I don’t know anything else but this at harvest time.” I join the Millards for supper on a brisk September evening. We load the hamper and casserole into the truck, then drive out to the field. Wanda and her daughter, Julianna, lay out supper on the tail gate; a new casserole comprising pork chops and scalloped potatoes, a tray of veggies, tea, juice and pudding for dessert. Jay, his father Leo, hired man Myron Lipteck and Jay and Wanda’s son Conner climb down from the machinery for supper. The evening light is that beautiful gold you see in late August and September. It’s a picture-perfect meal. So how does a person pull off those field meals? Turns out it takes organization and planning, plus the flexibility to roll with whatever changes the day brings.

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Wanda has some practical tools of the trade for harvest meals. She uses Pyrex bowls with lids to keep food contained. She packs most of the meal, including condiments and dishes, into a Pampered Chef hamper. This fall she also made cheesecake in jars for the harvest crew, and deemed them a success. The best jars are the half-pint wide mouth masons, she says, as they’re roomy enough for all the ingredients and are easier to dig into with spoons. The Hebert farm in south-eastern Saskatchewan runs a crew ranging from eight to 12 people, depending on what they’re doing. “Sometimes we’re combining and seeding fall crops at the same time,” says Theresa Hebert. Theresa and her mother-in-law, Karen, take turns running a combine and hauling meals to the field. Theresa stepped into that role about seven years ago, when her husband Kristjan left his accounting job to farm full-time. Theresa was still working as a lab and x-ray technician, which meant hauling meals after work. But the farm grew, and so did their family. After having a second child, she decided to leave her off-farm job. Theresa found it difficult to run meals in her vehicle with two young kids, and the evenings were chilly. Her brother was selling an old RV, so the Heberts bought it. It holds lawn chairs, a fridge stocked with condiments and Gatorade, paper plates, and a first aid kit. The RV “definitely made it a lot

easier. And it kept the mess out of our vehicles,” says Theresa. Although harvest meals usually don’t stress out Wanda, it is a hectic time of year for her. She’s canning and running kids to activities. She also has to run for parts sometimes. Having a routine helps. Wanda and her mother-in-law, Penny, take turns with harvest meals. When Penny is making meals, Wanda tries to grab groceries. She also likes to know what she’s going to be making the next day. Casseroles are a favourite during harvest, Wanda says. She has a list of field-tested meals from previous years, but she likes to try new recipes, too. Recipe books and websites such as nurselovesfarmer. com are good sources, she says. The key, Wanda says, is to keep meals simple because “fancy doesn’t work out in the field.” For harvest 2016, Wanda and Penny decided Penny would handle lunches in the field, and Wanda would manage supper. But for most of the harvest, the field work started late enough in the day that the harvest crew ate lunch before going to the field. “The season’s almost over and our well-thought-out plan didn’t (pan out) very well,” says Wanda. The day I visited the Millards, the harvest supper ran like clockwork. The next night, things didn’t go as smoothly. There was miscommunication about who was supposed to be dropped off or picked up where, and plans kept changing. It took Wanda a couple of hours to get everyone fed and in the right place, and she says it was exhausting (although she had a good sense of humour about it). Of course, she’s not the first to be scrambling during harvest, and she won’t be the last, either. “Plans do change at the last minute, that’s for sure,” Theresa says. On the odd days when things aren’t going well “you just have to deal with it one moment at a time and everything works out,” she says. In 2016, Theresa and Karen each picked out six harvest meals that they like to make. Some were freezer meals they made ahead, and the others were quick and easy meals to make. They wrote down the meals to make sure there was variety, and rotated through the list. Some days both Theresa and Karen are combining and Theresa’s mom will pitch in. Theresa leaves a list of items to pull from the freezer so her mom can load the RV and head to the field. Theresa gets most of her recipes from Pinterest and other spots on the Internet. She also has a Pinterest board for harvest suppers at Harvest meals are about more than food. They’re a chance for the whole family to sit down and eat supper together even when they’re very busy. “I think the meals in the field really help with the communication and the team-building,” she says. † Lisa Guenther is a field editor with Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa. or on Twitter @LtoG.

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Canola 100 The Challenge

Canola challenge comes down to the wire Will there be a farm with a verified 100-bushel canola yield this season? By Lee Hart


s there a winner? Stay tuned later this week to learn if any of the 21 Western Canadian farm “finalists” in the first Canola 100 challenge actually hit the target of producing a 100 bushel per acre canola yield in 2016. The results and winner, if any, will be announced in the next couple of days at the annual Agri-Trend Agrology Farm Forum conference being held in Calgary, Alta., in early December. With the delayed harvest this fall, it wasn’t until mid-November that the last of the farms participating in the contest actually got the crop combined and weighed by third-party auditors. The results have been closely guarded. The Canola 100 challenge was announced in July 2015 by then Agri-Trend Agrology president Rob Saik, presenting a challenge to Canadian canola growers to throw everything they had into producing a 50-acre block of canola that, after being cleaned and independently weighed, yielded at least 100 bushels per acre. It wasn’t just

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for bragging rights either. In the contest, also co-sponsored by John Deere Canada and Glacier Farm Media, the first farmer to produce a 100 bushel yield would also win 100 hours free use of a whole fleet of John Deere equipment, covering all field activities from seeding to harvest.


There have been research plots as well as anecdotal farm reports over the years of canola producing 100-bushel yields, but this Challenge took it to an “official” farm-scale level. Participating farmers could use any techniques (other than irrigation) they wanted to produce a defined 50 acre plot, but the harvest had to be monitored by third party auditors, then the seed cleaned to remove dockage, and then independently weighed to determine if it was a pure 100 bushels or more. “The idea behind this contest is to open the possibilities as to canola’s potential,” says Saik. “Apply the best production practices, but also think outside the box, try new ideas, push the

limits, have fun, just see what we can do with the crop. Let’s see where we can go with it.” He says the time, management and economics of producing a 100-bushel yield may not necessarily be reasonable for large scale canola production but “pushing the limits” at least shows producers what is possible. The 100-bushel challenge is in line with, although perhaps a bit more ambitious than the Canola Council of Canada’s stated goal to see producers continue to increase canola yields over the next decade. Canadian farmers produce about 20 million acres of canola annually and as is often said, since they aren’t making any more land, the production area isn’t likely to change dramatically. But with an increasing demand for vegetable oil and vegetable protein in the world, how does canola fit in to supply that growing market? Increasing yield is a big part of it. With improved production practices and improved varieties, farmers have already raised the bar on yields. Average Canadian canola yields in 1986 were about

25 bushels per acre. Today the average is about 40 bushels per acre. And it is not uncommon to hear about producers harvesting 50 and 60 even 70-bushel canola yields under more ideal conditions. The Canola Council itself has set a target of seeing Canadian farmers hit an average 52-bushel yield by 2025.


The Canola 100 challenge isn’t looking to make a 100-bushel yield an “average”, not in the next couple years at least, but it hopes to just open farmers’ minds to the possibilities of what this crop can do. “Take it seriously, but let’s make it a fun challenge at the same time,” says Saik, of the three-year contest. The first farm to hit a verified 100-bushel yield wins the contest, but if there is no winner in 2016 it will continue through 2017 and 2018 growing seasons. Saik says he was of two minds about the contest. He is anxious to see a winner, but at the same time he doesn’t want the contest to end too soon. “It would be

great to keep it going,” he says. He also sees potential for those involved in the challenge to form their own grower network of sharing ideas and experiences. The contest was announced in mid-2015, with initially some 80 growers from both Western and Eastern Canada registering for the competition. But for a variety of reasons, as it came down to the wire over the summer of 2016 only 21 farmers in Alberta and Saskatchewan posted the $1,000 fee to have their yields monitored and verified. AgCall Human Resources in Calgary was enlisted to co-ordinate the verification process. Two independent auditors were present as each of the 50-acre contest plots were harvested. Those samples were then cleaned and weighed by an independent grain handling facility. Contest results for 2016 will be posted on the Canola 100 website at as well as the Grainews website at: www. † Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-5921964 or by email at

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Canola 100 The Challenge

The Saskatchewan experience The contest might be a personal challenge to see what it takes to produce top yield Lee Hart


photo: kris mayerle

ris  Mayerle  says  a 100-bushel canola yield just  doesn’t  fall  into your grain cart. While cranking the nutrients onto a 100-acre field on his northeast Saskatchewan farm did increase yields in 2016, he’d still like to find the practices that are needed to hit or at least close in more on that elusive high-yield target. Mayerle, who along with family members operates KRM Farms at Tisdale, Sask., says a roughly 60 per cent increase in fertility helped increase yields on a field-scale plot he selected for the high-yielding canola contest. But it wasn’t enough to hit the 100-bushel goal. He’s interested in trying again next year. Mayerle was one of about 80 some farmers from across Canada who registered for the Canola 100 challenge — a national contest sponsored by Agri-Trend Agrology, John Deere Canada and Glacier Farm Media. The contest threw down the challenge to Canadian farmers to produce a plot of canola with a verified yield of at least 100 bushels of clean canola seed per acre. Grand prize to the first farmer to hit that yield over the three-year term of the contest is 100-hours of free use of a fleet of John Deere equipment — everything from seeding to harvest. That’s roughly a $300,000 to $400,000 value. Of the 80 who registered, 21 farmers actually saw the contest through to the final harvest veri-

Kris Mayerle took a shot at the 100-bushel canola challenge on his farm, KRM Farms at Tisdale, Sask. fication stage. Farmers needed to produce a 50-acre block of canola to be harvested, and yields verified by third-party auditors. The yields from those 21 farms will be in the running for the prize in 2016. If there is no 100-bushel yield recorded, the contest continues through the 2017 and 2018 growing seasons. Results will be announced December 7. “I am not sure if a 100-bushel yield is possible, but if it is it may not come easy,” says Mayerle. With a decent growing season, even though July and August were wet, he says it isn’t unheard of for producers in his area to be hitting 50 to 60 bushel yields with fairly routine practices. He stepped up “the groceries” on a 100-acre field he had selected for the Canola 100

challenge, and marked out a 50-acre block to be harvested for the actual contest — yet it fell short.

The process Mayerle  direct  seeded  Invigor L252 variety into oat stubble in the spring of 2016. In the previous three years that field had been seeded to faba beans, canola and hemp. The fall of 2015 he applied 100 pounds of nitrogen in the form of anhydrous ammonia, which is a fairly standard practice on his farm. It wasn’t until this past February he decided to enter a field in the Canola 100 challenge. Spring operations included a preseeding burnoff with a 1/2 litre rate of glyphosate to control weeds. At seeding, based on a 1,000 kernel

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ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® technology contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ soybeans contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate and dicamba. Agricultural herbicides containing glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate, and those containing dicamba will kill crops that are not tolerant to dicamba. Contact your Monsanto dealer or call the Monsanto technical support line at 1-800-667-4944 for recommended Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System weed control programs. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for canola contains the active ingredients difenoconazole, metalaxyl (M and S isomers), fludioxonil and thiamethoxam. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for canola plus Vibrance® is a combination of two separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients difenoconazole, metalaxyl (M and S isomers), fludioxonil, thiamethoxam, and sedaxane. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for corn (fungicides and insecticide) is a combination of four separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, trifloxystrobin, ipconazole, and clothianidin. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for corn (fungicides only) is a combination of three separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, trifloxystrobin and ipconazole. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for corn with Poncho®/VoTivo™ (fungicides, insecticide and nematicide) is a combination of five separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, trifloxystrobin, ipconazole, clothianidin and Bacillus firmus strain I-1582. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for soybeans (fungicides and insecticide) is a combination of four separate individually registered products, which together contain the active ingredients fluxapyroxad, pyraclostrobin, metalaxyl and imidacloprid. Acceleron® seed applied solutions for soybeans (fungicides only) is a combination of three separate individually registered products, which together contain the active ingredients fluxapyroxad, pyraclostrobin and metalaxyl. Acceleron®, Cell-Tech™, DEKALB and Design®, DEKALB®, Genuity and Design®, Genuity®, JumpStart®, Optimize®, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready 2 Technology and Design®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup Transorb®, Roundup WeatherMAX®, Roundup Xtend™, Roundup®, SmartStax®, TagTeam®, Transorb®, VaporGrip®, VT Double PRO®, VT Triple PRO® and XtendiMax® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Used under license. Fortenza® and Vibrance® are registered trademarks of a Syngenta group company. 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. Poncho® and Votivo™ are trademarks of Bayer. Used under license. ©2016 Monsanto Canada Inc.







Whether you’re just getting started or have been farming for years, a cash advance offers solutions for your farm, including: • financial flexibility, so you can market your crop or livestock when the timing and price is best for you, • a low blended interest rate, so you can lower your cost of production, and • cash flow solutions for the everyday challenges of managing a farm. Applying is easier than ever too, with all your advance needs in one place at CCGA. Fall advances for livestock and stored grains are available now.

Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at

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count, he used a Seedhawk seeding system to put down seven pounds of canola seed per acre. He also side-banded another 39 pounds of nitrogen, 21 pounds of phosphate, 73 pounds of potash and 128 pounds of sulphur per acre. In-crop he made two herbicide applications with Liberty, tank mixed with a product to improve wildoat control. Later he applied a fungicide for sclerotina control. In one of the herbicide applications as well as in the fungicide treatment he also added a foliar liquid nutrient product at the one litre rate to further enhance fertility. In total, the Canola 100 field received 212 pounds of nitrogen, 63 pounds of phosphate, 73 pounds of potash and 128 pounds of sulphur. Specifically targeting the higher

yield, “that’s considerably more fertilizer than I would normally apply to canola,” says Mayerle. In a more typical program key nutrients would include about 130 pounds of nitrogen, 35 pounds of phosphate and 25 pounds of sulphur. After all in-crop treatments, he followed with a desiccant in September and then straight combined the canola before the first shot of “winter” hit in October and stopped all further harvest operations. Although conditions were tough, with the return of nicer weather in November, he was back out combining again, hoping to wrap up the last 20 per cent of his crop mid-way in the month. “It was a wet July and August here again, but overall that 100 acres looked pretty good,” says Mayerle. “Considering all the nutrients applied it didn’t look dramatically different than the rest of the crop. And when it came time to harvest it was really a long ways from that 100-bushel mark. “Growing a 50 to 60 bushel canola crop in this area may not be the average, but it is doable,” he says. “But looking at this canola challenge field I have to wonder how much extra a person has to spend to achieve that 100 bushel yield. What attracted me to this contest is to see for myself what I can do with canola — see what potential it does have. I’m interested to continue with the contest another year to see if I can get there.” †

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Canola 100 The Challenge

The Central Alberta experience An Alberta farmer tests practices toward optimizing his canola yield By Lee Hart

photos: courtesy of mike nelson


entral Alberta farmer, Mike Nelson knows his canola fell short of the magic 100-bushel yield mark for the 2016 Canola 100 Challenge, but the experience made it worthwhile for him to consider the contest again. Nelson, who is part of the family farming operation, Nelson Farms, that includes his father Lorne, brother Matt and brotherin-law Tyson Kinsey, says the prize that included the use of a fleet of new John Deere equipment is a big draw, but he also wanted to test the potential of the canola crop on his Westaskiwinarea farm. “It is a great prize,” says Nelson. “But, I also thought it would be fun just to see what I could do with canola. We didn’t make that 100-bushel yield this year, but we did increase yield by at least 10 to 12 bushels. I would definitely be interested in doing the contest again.” Nelson was one of about 80 some farmers from across Canada who registered for the Canola 100 challenge — a national contest sponsored by Agri-Trend Agrology, John Deere Canada and Glacier Farm Media. The contest threw down the challenge to Canadian farmers to produce a plot of canola with a verified yield of at least 100 bushels per acre. Grand prize to the first farmer to hit that yield over the three-year term of the contest is 100-hours of free use of a fleet of John Deere equipment — everything from seeding to harvest. Of the 80 who registered, 21 farmers actually saw the contest through to the final harvest verification stage. Farmers needed to produce a 50-acre block of canola to be harvested, and yields verified by third-party auditors. The yields from those 21 farms

Central Alberta farmer Mike Nelson says he’s ready to try the Canola 100 challenge again in 2017. will be in the running for the prize in 2016. If there is no 100 bushel-yield recorded, the contest continues through the 2017 and 2018 growing seasons. Nelson, who has been growing canola all of his farming career — about 20 some years — says he didn’t go overboard for the Canola 100 challenge, but he did apply some extra TLC to a 160 acre field well suited for the oilseed crop. He drew on advice and suggestions from agronomists at Parkland Fertilizer as well.

The process Farming in the Black Soil zone, he treated all 160 acres the same, and then measured out a 50-acre parcel in that field to be harvested for the Challenge. The Nelson field hadn’t grown canola for at least four years. He direct seeded canola into wheat stubble in 2016. In 2014 the field had been in peas. Treatments to the field started in the fall of 2015 with a broadcast application of 160 pounds

of ammonium sulphate (sulphur fines) per acre that was later harrowed. In the spring of 2016, Nelson applied a pre-seeding weed control burn off with gylphosate, followed with seeding May 14. For the contest, Nelson selected InVigor L241C the newest clubroot-resistant hybrid from Bayer Crop Science. Along with high yield potential and strong standability, it has a mid maturity suited for all clubroot-affected regions of Western Canada. It was seeded at rate of five pounds per acre, with a Bourgault 3320 XTC seeding system equipped with mid-row banders. He placed 50 pounds of another predominantly sulphur product, S-15, with the seed and banded 100 pounds of actual nitrogen and another 10 pounds of sulphur in the mid-row band. For in-crop treatments, Nelson applied herbicide, fungicides and a new top-dress nutrient product. With the herbicide-tolerant Invigor canola he applied early and later treatments of Liberty

herbicide. To control blackleg, Priaxor fungicide was included with the first herbicide application. He used field sprayer equipment to make two more fungicide treatments with another product, also during the growing season to control sclerotina. “I had actually planned on a third fungicide application for sclerotina with an aerial applicator but we couldn’t schedule the timing,” he says. The newest element in producing canola for this challenge included three applications of a foliar nutrient product during the growing season. Nelson hadn’t used it before and the jury is still out on whether it made a difference. “There was no obvious difference in crop treated with the foliar products, but overall yields were 10 to 12 bushels higher, but that might have been due to a good growing season and overall higher fertility,” says Nelson. “We had nearly ideal growing conditions this past summer, so I don’t know if the foliar treatments made much difference.”

Mike Nelson’s sprayer not only applied herbicide and fungicide treatments, but also foliar nutrient products on a 160-acre field ear marked for a canola yield challenge. After  all  treatments  were made, the crop was later swathed at about 80 per cent seed colour change, left in the swath for about 10 days before being combined Sept. 21 and hauled to the Richardson Pioneer elevator in nearby Lacombe for weighing. Nelson says although input costs were higher for the Canola 100 plot, he still made money due to increased yield. “As you increase your input costs, the risk increases too,” he says. “I don’t know if I would do this over all of our canola acres. It’s great if you get the yield, but depending on the year and conditions there is no guarantee of that. “But it is worth it to me to see what it takes to increase canola yield and perhaps one day hit that 100 bushel mark. If the contest continues I would be interested in doing it again.” † Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-5921964 or by email at

Predictable patterns may result in resistance Grow different crops and tank mix effectively. It’s that easy to reduce selection. Learn more at ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Tank mixtures: The applicable labeling for each product must be in the possession of the user at the time of application. Follow applicable use instructions, including application rates, precautions and restrictions of each product used in the tank mixture. Monsanto has not tested all tank mix product formulations for compatibility or performance other than specifically listed by brand name. Always predetermine the compatibility of tank mixtures by mixing small proportional quantities in advance. Monsanto and Vine Design® is a trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. ©2016 Monsanto Canada Inc.


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Canola 100 Ag In Motion Plots By Leeann Minogue


photo: leeann minogue

High intensity, high yield. Canola plots at Ag In Motion

Visitors to Ag In Motion walked past the Canola 100 plots on their way from the parking lot to the show.

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he best thing about an outdoor farm show is the opportunity to actually see crops growing and take a look at real-life equipment working in the field. With the Canola 100 AgriPrize challenge underway, Glacier FarmMedia saw the Ag In Motion outdoor farm show near Saskatoon in July as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate high-intensity canola management methods that get us closer to growing 100 bushels of canola per acre. (Glacier FarmMedia owns both Grainews and Ag In Motion). With a good-sized area of land available, Ag In Motion set up farm-scale 600-foot canola plot trials between the parking lot and the main show. During the show, the canola plants were flowering nicely, providing a great welcome for show visitors. These plots gave farmers a look at some canola plots that were managed very intensely. Participating companies used the space to showcase some of their new products and methods. While not all of the methods used in these plots would be economically feasible for farm-scale implementation, they are a great way for show visitors to take a look at what could be possible when it comes to canola yields. The plan was to have farmers get a look at the plots during Ag In Motion, then to harvest the plots and release the yield results at the end of the season. Corporate reps and AIM staff hoped that at least one of the plots would yield 100 bushels per acre or more. But, as you know, farming does not always go as planned. The plots were seeded on June 7 — later than originally planned, and not exactly ideal for high canola yields in Saskatchewan. Snow on October 4 wasn’t part of the original plan either. Day after day of rain after that snowfall pushed harvest into November. With all of these complications, we don’t have yield results to report. As they say, farming country is “next year country.” Like all western Canadian farmers, we’ve decided to make the best of this unfortunate weather situation. We’re going to tell you how five different companies planned to get the best yield from their crops. Each of these companies (Agrium, ATP, BASF, Dow, and Agrium) was free to use its own products and programs on their plots, AIM managed the plots, and many of the parameters were the same across all of the plots. For example, each company used the same variety of Proven Seed. The rotation on the fields used for the plots wasn’t the four-year rotation recommended by many agronomists. It had been seeded to Roundup Ready canola in 2012, wheat in 2013, Roundup Ready canola again in 2014 and wheat again in 2015. On June 7, staff seeded the plots with five pounds per acre of Proven 540 G treated with Lumiderm. They sprayed all the plots with glyphosate on June 28. Some companies planned to swath their canola and others planned to straight cut, but with the delayed harvest, we can’t use these plots to compare the two approaches. Now, you can read about each company’s approach over the next few pages. †

Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews.

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Canola 100 Ag In Motion Plots

BASF showcases fungicides BASF brought new fungicides to its Canola 100 plots at Ag In Motion

AIM visitors saw BASF plots on their way from the parking shot to the main show. By Colleen Redlick


he BASF test plots at the Ag In Motion Canola 100 site were managed to showcase our canola innovations, proven disease control and AgCelence plant health benefits. We know blackleg is of growing concern for many canola growers in Western Canada. BASF promotes an integrated management program that includes R rated genetics and a fungicide application. Priaxor fungicide was applied to canola at the two-

to four-leaf stage tank mixed with glyphosate. Utilizing Praixor fungicide at this stage combined with the resistance genetics of an R rated variety such as PV540 will provide growers with the highest level of blackleg control. Priaxor provides the added plant health benefits by increasing below and above ground biomass, increasing photosynthetic efficiency, and building a stronger plant better able to take up nutrients and moisture. The plant health benefits of Priaxor were appar-

ent during the very hot days at the Ag in Motion show where we observed that plots treated with Priaxor were showing greater water-holding capacity and appeared more turgid than the untreated plants. BASF always recommends an early, preventative sclerotinia fungicide application, unfortunately the application of Lance AG in our plots was delayed beyond the targeted timing of 20 to 50 per cent flower of the test plots, and, as a safety precaution, we did not want to spray with



people touring the plots. Even though application was delayed beyond the optimum timing, with this year’s high sclerotinia pressure Lance AG showed a reduction in disease. Lance AG combines a trusted sclerotinia fungicide with plant health benefits, helping to reduce the incidence of flower blast. This would have been a key benefit for the Canola 100 plots as it was extremely hot during the Ag in Motion show while the canola was flowering. Heat LQ was tank mixed with

glyphosate and applied as a harvest aid at the recommended 75 per cent seed colour change on one of the test plots. The plots received snow before we were able to straight combine them. It wasn’t possible for us to assess the impact of the preharvest application and straight combining versus swathing. Canola 100 was a great opportunity to interact with canola growers while showcasing some of the BASF canola innovations. † Colleen Redlick, technical service specialist — Northern Saskatchewan, BASF 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. Genuity and Design®, Roundup Ready® and Roundup® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada Inc. licensee. 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. 11/16-51655-1


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Canola 100 Ag In Motion Plots

Agrium uses ESN to get to 100 bushels Agrium used its Canola 100 plot at AIM to showcase controlled release fertilizer By Leeann Minogue


grium used its Ag In Motion canola plots to show visitors how ESN controlled release fertilizer can help farmers get to 100 bushels per acre. The plan included a lot of fertilizer. “My intention was to look at growing 100 bushel canola based on crop removal rates, having high rates of phosphate, high rates of sulphur applied,” says Agrium’s agronomy specialist, Ray Dowbenko. In terms of actual nutrients, he says, “we put on 360 pounds of nitrogen, 75 pounds of phosphate, 30 pounds of potassium and 50 pounds of sulphur. We also put on a pound and a half of boron.” For Prairie grower to meet the Canola Council of Canada’s goal of average canola yields of 52 bushels per acre, Dowbenko says, they’re going to need more fertilizer, and to consider nutrient stewardship. But to ensure good fertilizer stewardship at these higher levels, “we’re going to have to look

at split applications, or we’re going to have to look at a controlled release product such as ESN where all of the product can be put in the ground at one time, and we don’t have to be concerned about seasonal nitrogen loss.” Dowbenko  says  ESN  can “lower the cost per acre for growers, control the release of nitrogen, protect nitrogen loss through the season and also reduce early season vegetative growth or biomass.” With more nitrogen, there is potential for canola crops producing more vegetative growth. “If you give a plant lots of nitrogen and lots of moisture early in the season it will grow a lot of vegetative material, and then it doesn’t have as much nitrogen left over for grain yield.” More biomass can also cause lodging and complicate harvest. If nitrogen is released slowly, the plant can use some of it later, when it’s growing seed rather than biomass. Wa t e r   u s e   c a n   a l s o   b e improved. “We do have studies that show by controlling the

release of nitrogen early we can improve water use efficiency because we’re metering out the nitrogen so the plant is not growing great guns early in the spring and using lots of water. It’s just a bit more judicious in its water use and its vegetative growth.” ESN is temperature and moisture driven. With soil moisture and warm soil, the urea will start to diffuse out of the plastic coating as a liquid. For the Prairies, Dowbenko’s rule of thumb is that from application day, the first week about eight to 13 per cent of the nitrogen will be released; by the end of the second week 20 to 25 per cent will be released; by the first month between 45 and 60 per cent will be released. With this schedule, ESN is ready when the canola needs it to produce seed. “Because it’s indeterminate it keeps setting flowers throughout the season. It’ll still take up nitrogen later. That’s why ESN has a good fit on canola — because canola will still produce yield later in the season.”

Applying ESN Agrium had two plots at AIM: one with straight urea, and another showcasing ESN blends. On its ESN trial plot, Agrium planned to broadcast and incorporate a 50:50 blend of ESN urea in the spring (200 pounds of actual nitrogen). Then they planned to side-band 100 pounds of nitrogen with a 70/30 ESN/urea blend. Additional nitrogen fertilizer went on with the phosphate and the sulphur to get to 360 pounds per acre. From a nutrient stewardship perspective,  “the  broadcast may not be my first choice,” Dowbenko says. But to fertilize at this level, compromise is necessary, and coated or controlled release products reduce risks of loss. “In this demonstration, we were not set up to pre-plant band our initial nitrogen application.”

The results Running large-scale plots for an outdoor farm show isn’t that

different from running a farm. Things rarely go as planned. As with all of the AIM plots, Agrium’s plots were not harvested before snow fell, but A g r i u m ’s   p r o b l e m s   b e g a n before that. Dowbenko expected the Ag In Motion staff would make that first pre-seed nitrogen application with a floater. But when no floater was available, AIM staff wound up applying nitrogen with seeding equipment as a last resort. Unfortunately, applying that much fertilizer required a lot of passes. “They really compacted the soil,” Dowbenko says. But still, the ESN granules did what they were supposed to do. AIM visitors could dig up ESN granules in the plots during the mid-July show. Different granules were at different stages of release. Some were empty, some were squishy, and some were still hard. “Some nitrogen was still releasing; some was still available for the future,” says Dowbenko. † Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews.



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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Canola 100 Ag In Motion Plots

ATP packs on the nutrients at AIM plots By Leeann Minogue


TP  gave  nutrients  a chance to show what they could do at its Canola 100 plot at the Ag In Motion farm show near Saskatoon last July. First, there were the nutrients ATP put down with the drill. In the seed row: 20 pounds of phosphorus per acre, two pounds of zinc, a half pound of copper, a pound of manganese and a pound of boron. At the same time, in the mid-row band, they put down 105 pounds of nitrogen, 55 pounds of phosphorus, 50 pounds of potassium and 40 pounds of sulfur. “That was as much as the equipment could handle,” said Jarrett Chambers, president of ATP. And that was only the beginning.

Piling on the nitrogen “If all the data’s accurate,” said Chambers, “to grow 100 bushels of canola you need 330 pounds of nitrogen.” ATP got as close as they could to that figure. After the initial 105 pounds that went in with the drill, Chambers said, “we top-dressed with granular urea at rosette stage, just prior to bolting.” At this step, they added another 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre. “The rest of our nitrogen came through the sprayer,” said Dan Owen, ATP’s production innovation lead. Altogether, they made six passes during the growing season, adding five pounds of nitrogen per acre each time. Then, there was one last pass at early flowering — this time adding 20 pounds per acre. “We stopped at 215 pounds,” Owen said. “Ideally we were going to put it all down at the time of planting, but between technology limitations and equipment limitations, we did the split.”

While split nitrogen applications are becoming more common here, they aren’t yet standard practice on the Canadian Prairies. However, “top dressing nitrogen is very common on broad acre crops in other parts of the world,” Chambers says. “It may be newer to Western Canada but it’s really not new at all.”

Tissue tests Nitrogen is a big part of ATP’s approach to pulling in high canola yields, but it’s not the whole story. To determine which nutrients and micro-nutrients the plants needed, they turned to tissue tests. ATP took tissue samples at three different times during the summer. Each time, they took two samples: one from the plant’s new growth, and one from the old growth. “That gives us the opportunity to see what’s going to happen with some of the more mobile nutrients in the plant before we get to a point of deficiency,” Owen says. “It was important for us to know what was going on in the plant. The downside with tissue sampling new growth all of the time is you’re not actually seeing what’s happening within the plant. Is that plant moving nutrients from its older leaves to support the new growth, or is it still actually accessing it through its roots?” If a plant is nutrient-deficient, it will move mobile nutrients from the old growth to support the new growth. In late summer, Chambers says, it’s not uncommon to see a crop dying from the bottom leaves, upwards. “That’s a sign that there is potentially something happening within the nutritional status of the plant. It shows that plant is remobilizing from those bottom leaves, and cannibalizing itself. So if we want to hit maximum genetic potential, we need to keep that crop green all through the season.”

Not all nutrients behave the same way within the plant. Tissue tests need to be analyzed according to nutrient mobility. For example, boron is relatively immobile within the plant. If your boron concentration is marginal in the lower leaves early in the season, Chambers says, “you’ll be deficient in your upper leaves later in the season.” Nitrogen is mobile within the plant. “If you ever see your lower leaves, early on, have a lower concentration than your upper leaves,” Chambers says, “you’re going to going to be in trouble when it comes to filling.” “If we can keep these nutrients uniform in the lower leaves and the upper leaves,” then we’re doing the right thing. “We’ll actually manage the crop that way.” As well, Chambers says, keep in mind that tissue sample is only a measurement of concentration in the leaf. He’s seen many examples where a shorter plant — a plant that’s off-colour and stunted — shows a higher nutrient content than the tall, healthier plant next to it. “This happens because the same amount of nutrient is concentrated over a smaller amount of biomass. The actual uptake on the plant that’s stunted is significantly lower.”

The outcome Like farmers across the Prairies, Chambers and Owen were disappointed when snow fell before the AIM Canola 100 plots could be harvested. While there are no yield results from any of these plots, ATP did have a chance to get a good look at their crop while it was still in the field. Owen flew a drone over the plot sites, and he says ATP’s plot compared favourably to the other plots. “You could actually see the thickness of the crop from the air, which was quite cool.”

photo: dan owen

ATP played a high-end game, with 215 pounds of N and a buffet of micros

Dan Owen used a drone to take this photo. ATP’s untreated plot is on the right; the treated plot is on the left.

Managing manganese Tissue testing is a great way to find out what nutrients your plants are lacking. But it takes time to gather the sample, send it away, and wait for results. Now ATP has an instant, simple way to test plants’ manganese content. “It’s the only real-time in-field tester of a nutrient that exists,” says ATP’s president Jarrett Chambers. With this tester, farmers can pick a leaf, test it while they’re in the field, and find out on the spot if the plant is short of manganese. ATP has been working with this nutrient tester, NutriScan, for a couple of years. They’ve imported it from Denmark, and are developing it for the Canadian market. For now, NutriScan only tests manganese, but Chambers says, “the developer is expanding to more nutrients.” For now, the approximate retail price is about $4,000. Leeann Minogue

Later in the season, he says, “you could actually see what looked to be a heavier pod canopy on the crop. Where some of the crops you could still see a little bit of dirt through the canopy. The plot we had was a lot thicker, a darker green. It set itself off to be a high-yielding crop.” ATP had planned to straight cut their plot. Owen expected straight cutting to give them a yield increase of six to eight bushels per acre. Given the high cost per acre

of this nutrient-heavy approach, Chambers and Owen don’t really recommend trying this at home. Economic calculations aren’t part of the Canola 100 Challenge — the goal of the challenge is to find ways to increase yields, and look at what’s possible. And, Chambers points out, “We’re never going to save our way to prosperity.” † Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews.

Weeds outsmart habits, not systems Choosing a diverse crop rotation gives you the opportunity to use different herbicide groups. Learn more at ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Tank mixtures: The applicable labeling for each product must be in the possession of the user at the time of application. Follow applicable use instructions, including application rates, precautions and restrictions of each product used in the tank mixture. Monsanto has not tested all tank mix product formulations for compatibility or performance other than specifically listed by brand name. Always predetermine the compatibility of tank mixtures by mixing small proportional quantities in advance. Monsanto and Vine Design® is a trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. ©2016 Monsanto Canada Inc.


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Canola 100 Ag In Motion Plots

Choosing the seed PV 540 G was selected for AIM’s Canola100 trials due to its high yield, yield stability, early season vigour, worldclass blackleg disease protection and excellent standability. These attributes allow the crop to meet its full genetic potential while providing a solid base for the comparison of various crop management input decisions. It is a new Genuity Roundup Ready hybrid and it received a standard rate of Helix Vibrance seed treatment plus Lumiderm insecticide for broad-spectrum protection of disease and insects. PV 540 G is the newest top-yielding canola hybrid from Proven Seed and was introduced in 2016 after three years of extensive field-testing across Western Canada. Based on the strategic selection of parental lines early in the breeding process, PV 540 G has been proven to be an exceptionally yield stable product. Yield stability means more than bushels per acre. It means consistent performance across a diverse range of growing conditions including soil type, climate and disease and insect pressures. Cumulatively, and under certain conditions, these same factors can significantly contribute to whether or not the canola plant reaches its full yield potential. 2016 was an excellent example of challenging growing and harvesting conditions and yet PV 540 G maintained its yield leadership position in the extensive Proven Performance Trials program across Western Canada. As we start to prepare for plant 2017, PV 540 G remains our leading recommendation across Western Canada for those growers who have yield potential as their top criteria. † Ryan McCann, director — seed, CPS.

Stoller adds products Boosting yields with micro-nutrients By Leeann Minogue


toller  Enterprises  Limited applied several of its products to its Canola 100 plot at the Ag In Motion farm show near Saskatoon last July. There are 140 products in Stoller’s portfolio, and they added as many of these as they could to increase their plot yields. Kip Workman, Stoller Enterprises’ commercial product manager for Canada, explains Stoller’s approach by saying that they aren’t asking farmers to take things out of their traditional program, or cut rates of products they already use. Instead, he says, “these are ‘in-addition-to” products. Along with the Lumiderm seed treatment used in all of the AIM Canola 100 plots, Workman says, “we started off with a Bioforge seed treatment.” Workman says seed treatment is key to getting the plant off to a good start. “When that seed is stressed, it starts producing stress hormones, and it’s not producing growth hormones.”

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Stoller applied its next two products along with two herbicide sprays. Along with the first herbicide application, Stoller added BioForge Gold, a combination of two of Stoller’s classic products: Golden Harvest and Bio-Forge. “The Golden Harvest component is providing all the essential nutrients that the plant needs at that stage of growth,” Workman says. Workman sees the roots as the plant’s “storage facility.” “We want to make that storage facility as big as possible below the ground.” Bio-Forge Gold includes several micro-nutrients: sulphur, magnesium, boron, copper, iron and molybdenum. “So that’s kind of like a multi-vitamin,” Workman says. Stoller designed Bio-Forge Gold for use on wheat, canola, soybeans and corn. For each of these crops, Workman says, the product contains more micro-nutrients than are probably necessary, but adding them all has allowed Stoller to

market one single product for all of these crops. While Stoller recommends tissue testing, at the time of the first herbicide application, farmers are not likely to have any tissue test results that early. “This is a way to be proactive about your plant nutrition,” Workman says. Stoller added its Nitrate Balancer with the second herbicide pass. “This is a boron-molybdenum product,” Workman says. Stoller uses this product to curb vegetative growth. “When that plant’s growing excessive vegetation, that’s energy that could be used more efficiently somewhere else. We’re tying to cap that vegetative growth and send that energy down to the roots, so we can create more root storage. “What you’re seeing above the ground should be a reflection of what’s below the ground. So the shorter and more boxy we can get that plant, we’re hoping that the root system is doing the same thing underneath the ground. Therefore we can use the energy in that plant more efficiently.” Workman notes that Nitrate Balancer is not a plant growth regulator and doesn’t contain hormones. Stoller only began working with Nitrate Balancer in Western Canada this past year. Some customers used it on wheat to limit vegetative growth. Workman says it has also been used in South and Central America to shorten plant vine lengths.

Nutrition and fungicide Stoller added more nutrition products with each of two fungicide applications. “These products have to go in when the guys are going across the field anyway,” Workman says. “All of our stuff is compatible with any herbicides or fungicides that are out there.” With the first fungicide application, Stoller added its plant nutrition product Action 5X. With the second fungicide application, Stoller applied SugarMover — a Stoller product that includes boron, mylybduen and a growth-

enhancing co-factor. Once the plant has shifted from building roots to building pods and seeds, Workman says, “the Sugar Mover is going to push all of the stored sugars in the roots, the leaves, the stem — all towards the fruiting part of the plant.” “The boron and the co-factors within that Sugar Mover are telling the plant, ‘it’s time to finish, let’s move all the sugars towards the fruiting part of the plant.’ We want to add that in the midto late-flowering stage. Early on the plant has enough energy to keep flowering on its own. This is kind of a little boost at the end to say ‘keep flowering, keep moving sugars and push all of the stored energy toward the fruiting part of the plant’.”

The outcome Because the plots couldn’t be harvested before snow fell, there are no yield results. If the Stoller plot didn’t yield 100 bushels per acre, Workman hoped the yield would have been in the high 80s. Eye tests, he says are not the best way to judge a crop. “I wouldn’t say bigger is better.” Altogether, Stoller added a seed treatment, then applied Stoller proucts with two herbicide sprays and two fungicide sprays. “For traditional practice, that would be somebody going above and beyond,” Workman says. Workman says there have been a lot of misconceptions about adding foliar nutrition products to increase yield. “In the past, guys have maybe used the product and it hasn’t worked. Or there hasn’t been sufficient data to back up claims for that product. The stuff that we’re marketing is not new. We’ve been using these products in the States and South America for over 20 years.” Stoller has been distributing products in Canada for 20 years, with a full-time focus starting three years ago. While this intense program may not be for everyone. Workman says, “We’re trying to see what’s possible.” † Leeann Minogue

Dow showcases eNtrench for Canola 100 By Jason Smith


ow  AgroSciences chose to participate in the Canola 100 plot to showcase the performance of our nitrogen management product, eNtrench. Our participation in Canola 100 mirrors the nitrogen management side-by-side trials initiated across Western Canada this year. These trials aim to showcase eNtrench and N-Serve in typical Western Canadian field situations. The ultimate goal is to study yield advantages provided by protecting nitrogen from loss when environmental conditions exist that result in denitrification or leaching losses.

Soil sampling to look at nitrogen levels (both NH4+ and NO3-) at four and six weeks after crop emergence was also part of the protocol for all side-by-side trials. These soil samples were taken to demonstrate the effectiveness of eNtrench and N-Serve at inhibiting nitrification. Soil tests at Canola 100 mirrored what we have seen in our trials over the last two years — eNtrench inhibits nitrification, keeping more N in the plant-available and safe NH4+ form. Overall, I was pleased with how the plots looked, especially given the challenges the AIM staff faced with a later seeding date and drier conditions early on. Good moisture early on in

the crop development allowed it to jump quickly and I was very pleased with the crop they looked during the AIM show in mid-July. Fertility for the untreated was a 89-30-0-19 blend of dry fertilizer and the treated area was just a little below this at 86-240-13. The initial goal was to have the same rate on both, but due to a blending error less ended up being applied. It is disappointing that our plot couldn’t be harvested before snow fell, however, I’m sure I’m not any more disappointed than many of the farmers out there facing the same problem. † Jason Smith, is a market development specialist for Dow AgroSciences.

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Columns Soils and crops

Diary of a Les Henry’s barley crop This 82 bu/ac malt barley crop near Dundurn, Sask., made malt. Hurrah!

September 20, 2015 Applied 1 litre/acre Glyphosate plus 2,4-D ester to get volunteer canola. September 24, 2015  Soil samples taken: Depths zero to six inches; six to 16 inches. Sixteen inches is just practical — that is the actual sample depth of an 18” Backsaver probe tube. I’ll talk about soil tests in a future column. November 7, 2015  Applied anhydrous ammonia at 50 pounds nitrogen/acre at three to four inch depth into perfect conditions. No “poofing” and no NH3 smell in the air. The 50 lb N rate was specifically because malt barley was to be the crop and too much N can raise protein — bad news for malt quality. The anhydrous was not applied to newly broken land. That is my version of precision ag. For wheat I would have used 80 to 100 lbs N/acre. I was sick of fusarium head blight in wheat and decided that my long-time rotation of wheat, peas, wheat, canola was not sustainable as it was too much wheat. All cereals can suffer from FHB but barley less because of its flowering habits and shorter time to mature. November 8, 2015  This was a warm sunny day so harrowed the field with ordinary time harrows at about six m.p.h. The dry conditions and speed left a smooth surface with most of the canola stubble broken over. The soil was already full of water so the object was to not retain snow. Exactly the opposite of what we would do in earlier drier times. November to March 2015/16  Thirty-one inches of snow as I measured it in Saskatoon. Snow is tough to measure, but at least that gives a general idea. May 6, 2016 Warm weather had flushed volunteer canola plus a few weeds so did a burnoff spray of 0.6 l/ac glyphosate plus 2,4-D ester. May 8, 2016 My good neighbour Curtis Block seeded two bu/ac of Metcalfe barley using his newly acquired Seedhawk air drill with foot spacing. Emergence and establishment was good. Applied 30 lbs P2O5 / acre plus a dash of N and sulphur with the seed. May 26 Set up a small strip test with broadcast potash: Rates 0, 100 and 200 lbs 0-0-60/ac. Have never used potassium but barley is most likely to respond to K. Saw no visible difference but did

There was not much doubt about the performance of fall-applied anhydrous. The photo on the left was taken on June 22. The effect was still visible when I took the photo on the right, on July 27..

June 4, 2016  Earthworms everywhere. Even on hilltops that used to be bare but now grow well with movement of excess topsoil from lows to highs and a broadcast application of high phosphorus rate several years ago. June 22, 2016  By circumstance we had a check strip for N. The snow fence to protect the yard was up before anhydrous so this check strip was left. Not much doubt about performance of fall-applied anhydrous!

photos: les henry

August 30-31, 2015:  Combined a 40 bushel/acre canola crop.

SEC_MALT16_T_REV_GN_SEC_MALT16_T__REV_GN.qxd 2016-11-21 12:31 PM Page 1

By June 27 the crop was heading out and looked great On August 12 the barley was waiting in the swath.

July 27, 2016 By July 27 the N response still very visible. Some lodging occurred in “rich” soil areas. June 30, 2016  Crop headed and label rate of Prosaro fungicide applied. There was very little disease evident but the heavy stand and forecast for humid weather tipped the decision. Have no idea if it paid ($27/acre with application). I can live with doing it and not knowing if it paid, but would have a tough time if I did not do it and disease, particularly FHB, prevented a malt grade.

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his is the story of a barley crop on my farm near Dundurn this summer.

June 2, 2016  Herbicide applied. Axial Xtreme plus MCPA 600 ester at label rates. Main concern was sow thistle etc. and volunteer canola. Only one small patch of serious wild oats. But when we think wild oat herbicide is not required we always find there are more there than we see when they are small.

August 12, 2016  Crop swathed — waiting to straight cut looked too slow. Late July and early August rains (two inches total) were a concern as crop was approaching maturity. But the 0.5” rain on August 17, with barley in swath, was most unwelcome!

Barley on tap. Serving up more than 80% of the two-row malting barley acres grown in western Canada.

August 21, 2016  We combined the barley crop. By bin measure estimated 80 bu/ac. With a few good August days barley dries fast in the swath. No pictures of combining. I was running one of the combines — a big thrill for an old man. Moisture was in the 14s. Dry for malt is 13.5, but not much got combined at 13.5 this year.

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les henry

not do yield tests. There was some lodging and K made no difference in that aspect either.

September 26, 2016  The barley went malt. A nice surprise. The final net sold bushels were 82.6 bus/acre. Usually bin measure is a bit generous but not this time. A very good year, but a lot of luck as well. The sample was stained from rain but no chitting, protein in low 12s, 95 per cent plump, germination good and vomi just OK. Maybe the fungicide paid after all. † J.L.(Les) Henry is a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan. He farms at Dundurn, Sask. His book, “Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water,” mixes the basics and practical aspects of soil, fertilizer and farming. To order a signed copy, send a cheque for $50 (includes shipping and GST) to Henry Perspectives, 143 Tucker Cres, Saskatoon, SK, S7H 3H7.

Genes that fit your farm. 800-665-7333 ®

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Columns Reporter’s notebook

Communications confusion People with different backgrounds, knowledge and attitudes see the world differently By Lisa Guenther


couple of years ago I took a few days to work on some fiction at Spring Valley Guest Ranch, a bed and breakfast a short ways from Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan. The B&B, run by Jim Saville, sits in a valley. It’s quite idyllic, as long as you like the Prairies (which I do). Jim even has an old church on site, where he holds concerts and other artsy events. Jim also had (and as far as I know still has) dairy cows on site. They’re particularly charming, as they’re mostly heritage-bred bovines such as Irish Kerry. One cow in particular saw humans as walking salt licks. Having cows means having a gate at the end of the driveway. Jim’s gate was a typical ranchstyle gate — the kind where you have to push the gate post with your shoulder while lifting a loop of barbed wire over the other post to close it. Some of those gates can be real shoulder-bruisers, but Jim’s was relatively easy to close. So when another guest mentioned that he found the gate very tough to close, I was confused at first. I mean, I’m not that much stronger than most men (that’s a little joke). Of course, his difficulty with the gate had nothing to do with strength, but technique. I tried to explain to him that he had to put his shoulder to it (literally), but I think he was still confused. I think Jim either demonstrated proper gate-closing or he figured it out on his own.

It’s dangerous to make assumptions

talk to her about how people talk about agriculture. Through her, I’ve learned that animal rights campaigns can have a big influence on consumers, partly because there’s still an information vacuum. Non-farming folk often don’t know who they can trust for straight-up information on these issues.

Strong opinions I do have friends and acquaintances with stronger opinions on agriculture. They don’t trust GMOs and they don’t like Monsanto (and that extends to a lot of other corporations). Many of them would pass the gate-closing test, though, so it’s not that they’re ignorant. I think it stems

from a general distrust of authority, and in a way, I can’t really fault them for that. After all, the tobacco industry twisted science for years to serve its own interests. In October, my husband, Corey, and I spent a few days in Toronto hanging out with musicians and music industry people he knows, mainly as research for my next novel. We mostly talked about music, but I did have a few conversations about agriculture. Folks had heard about the terrible harvest conditions and were concerned about farmers, and malt barley quality. One of my husband’s music buddies works for an animal welfare organization, and so we started talking about Metacalf and backgrounding calves and barn systems in

the dairy industry over a couple of beers, while my husband and his other friend looked on in total confusion. So what is the point of all this rambling? I suppose I just want to challenge the notion that people disagree with farming practices simply because they’re ill-informed. Or that everyone from the city is ill-informed. Or that people who struggle to find reliable information about farming are against all modern farming practices. Any of those statements might be true, or not, about any particular person. But the picture is much more complex. Disagreement is not the end of the world. I grew up in a community where debating politics, reli-

gion, and everything under the sun was a good way to while away the winter. The point wasn’t necessarily to persuade someone, but to challenge each other’s arguments (civilly) and walk away better informed. It works pretty well as long as no one’s hell-bent on winning at any cost. This isn’t to knock anyone’s attempts to channel reliable information to the public. But we need to avoid an us-vs.-them mentality. Sure, that city slicker might not know how to close a pasture gate, but if you listen to him, you might learn a thing or two. † Lisa Guenther is field editor for Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Contact her at Lisa. or on Twitter @LtoG.

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Before that day, it had never occurred to me that someone wouldn’t know how to close those gates. In some ways it encompasses the rural-urban divide. Something that seems obvious to producers and others in the ag sector is a mystery to others. But it’s also dangerous to make too many assumptions about someone based on what they know. I have an urban friend who has a few serious food allergies (the anaphylactic kind). She is a pro at reading food labels, and is curious and open-minded. She has a friend who’s a commercial turkey producer, so I think she’s much better informed than most urban people, but we’ve had plenty of “this is how you close a gate” conversations. She’s also a communications professional (we went to grad school together), so it’s fun to

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Columns Agronomy management

Start planning spring crop rotations Strong crop rotations can bring along a wealth of long-term agronomic benefits Ross McKenzie


rop rotations can be used to take advantage of differences in how each crop in a rotation contributes to increased soil organic matter, aids in pest management, manages soil nutrients and controls soil erosion. Rotating different crops in the same field can effectively promote sustainable crop production. If you haven’t already started planning your crops and crop rotations for next year, now is a great time to start the plan-

ning process to make changes to improve your rotations. To get started, make a list of the goals you would like to achieve on your farm. Some of these might include: 1. Improve profits by growing higher value or higher yielding crops. 2. Increase soil organic matter and improve soil quality. 3.  Break disease cycles. 4. Plant more diverse crops to rotate herbicide groups and improve weed control. 5. Increase residual soil nitrogen release for subsequent crops by growing legumes or cover crops. 6. Plant more diverse crops to spread out seeding and harvest for efficient use of labour and equipment.

Your goals will help you sort out the types of crops and rotations you might want to develop. Make sure newly selected crops can be successfully grown on your farm. Keep in mind important environmental considerations such as growing season length, heat requirements and water requirements. Decide approximately how many acres of each crop you want to grow. Make a list of all your fields or draw a map of all the land you will crop next year. For each field, record the previous crops grown to avoid growing the same crops back to back. If herbicides with potential residue carry-over were used on any land in the past two years, record this to ensure a residue sensitive crop is

not grown. If serious or difficult to control weeds are present in any fields indicate this. Note any other significant potential problems, such as saline soil areas, acid soils or depressional or wet areas in each field. Avoid pulse crops on strongly acid soils. Field areas that are slightly saline can be cropped to barley but large saline field areas might be better seeded to salt-tolerant forages. A two-year rotation such as a “wheat, canola” rotation is really not a true crop rotation. Ideally, I prefer to see at least a four-year crop rotation. An example of a fouryear rotation is: “pea, spring wheat, canola, malt barley” to maximize positive crop interactions. Growing wheat after pea will take advantage of residual nitro-

gen release from pea residue and remaining sub-soil moisture, because pea is a shallow rooted crop. These factors will contribute to higher wheat yields and higher grain protein. Wheat grown between pea and canola will help to break common diseases such as sclerotinia. Canola is a very good scavenger of nutrients such as nitrogen. Growing barley after a good yielding canola crop means lower spring soil nitrogen levels, which will help to ensure medium protein levels in the following malt barley crop. Pea does well when seeded early and is a shorter season crop. This would help spread out harvest. Substituting winter wheat for spring wheat would further spread out labour and equipment use. This rotation means cereal crops would not be grown back to back, helping reduce disease issues. Also, pea and canola will not be grown back-to-back. I like to see forages in a rotation. Forages build soil structure and improve soil organic matter. But, farmers that do not have cattle often only want to grow annual crops that are more profitable.

I like to see forages in a rotation Benefits of sound rotations Sound rotations are important for reducing pest problems. Rotating crops will help control less mobile insects and reduce the presence of residue-borne fungal and bacterial diseases. Having a break of several years between crops susceptible to the same disease will reduce disease potential. Long-term rotations that include annual crops and perennial forages are ideal. Forages are excellent for lowering disease risk of annual crops in a long-term rotation, and also reduce the presence of weeds. Forage crops also help improve soil quality. Shorter-term rotations using annual crops should include at least three crop types such as cereal, oilseed and pulse crops. Ideally, don’t grow the same crop more than once every four years. Don’t grow different crops susceptible to the same disease back to back. Sequence crops to your advantage. After growing a nitrogen-fixing crop such as pea, then grow spring or durum wheat to take advantage of nitrogen release to increase grain protein. Alternating winter wheat and spring wheat helps disrupt the life cycle of weeds to help control weed problems. Rotating crops makes it easier to rotate different herbicide groups to reduce the potential of developing herbicide resistant weeds. † ® TM

Ross H. McKenzie, PhD, P. Ag., is a former agronomy research scientist and an adjunct proessor at the University of Lethbridge. He conducted soil, crop and irrigation research with Alberta Agriculture for 38 years.

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Columns Off-farm income

Puts hold up portfolio values When stock prices fall, holding puts can help keep your portfolio in the black ANDY SIRSKI


he market didn’t know what to do when Trump won the U.S. election. We saw a big drop overnight and then a new high for most of the week after the election. The interesting thing is that as the price of gold and gold stocks dropped, my puts went up and the value of my account stayed up. Now why didn’t I figure this out years ago? As the headline reveals, the puts I bought for Silver Wheaton

Corp. (SLW) did their job. A put is an option to sell at a pre-set price. As stock prices fell, my puts did their job — their value went from $2.65 to $6.05, up almost $4 share. When I include the value of covered calls my account is up a little while shares dropped about $4 and change. I don’t have much experience with this strategy so this is research. I will tell you how it all works out. A few months ago I wrote that I intended to buy puts on Silver Wheaton. I bought puts on 1,900 shares of SLW and 1,000 shares of Goldcorp Inc. (G), another popular gold stock. The value of puts goes up as the share prices come down; they sure did their job this month.

I had never bought puts, really just insurance against a falling stock, and I wanted to gain experience. Someday the market will drop again like it did in 2007 and 2008. During those two years I beat the bear by selling covered calls over and over as stock prices dropped. At the end of 2008 my main account was down one per cent while the market was down 50 per cent. I beat the bear. Now I want to use puts to insure or protect the value of a stock when it dropped in price.

Post-election recap Here is a summary of what my stocks did after the U.S. election: Goldcorp dropped, but I bought shares as the price was at

standard deviations of three on the Bollinger Band so my cost is down around $US19. If I sell one more call at the money and I’ll be at breakeven. When a stock is that low in a decent market the odds the stock will reverse are 99 per cent. New Flyer (NFI.TO) was back over $40 per share. I had sold a call at a strike price $40 and as of Friday I could buy that call back and sell another one at a strike price of $42 and raise the cash value by $2 and more than break even on the cash. New Flyer Industries (NFI) moved up a lot the last few days so it might be ready for a pullback. But the company had very good earnings that included

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Motor Coach so this stock might be ready to climb. Maybe I will buy the calls back and not sell again for a while. The company pays a dividend of $0.93 per share, which is 2.5 per cent compared to earning $1.50 or so per year. That’s about a 60 per cent payout. I think I can pick up $300 to $500 a month by selling calls — about $3.60 a year for a total of $4.50 per year (including the dividend) or 11 per cent. Plus, I’d expect some capital gain. So you can see I like this stock. I now own New Flyer shares which should have growth, a dividend and option income; Silver Wheaton, Goldcorp and Franco Nevada which have good premiums from covered calls, a small dividend and maybe some growth; and I bought puts on Silver Wheaton and Goldcorp to protect their value. Precision Drilling (PD) should bring me good income from selling calls and Birchcliff Resources (BIR), a low cost natural gas producer, should bring me good money selling calls. Together I think this group of stocks can bring me at least $1,000 a week. This is subject to change of course. My main challenge is to stay on the right side of the ups and downs because this market and these stocks can be volatile.

I beat the bear by selling covered calls Oil Prices Oil is the big question. OPEC members are pushing up drilling. Iran had drilling production limits removed after sanctions were lifted in January so they keep pumping more and more oil. The number of active drill rigs in North America keeps dropping but rigs in shale areas can pump at low prices. Then Exxon took a bunch of oil off inventory and wrote off the value. Oil reserves are being replaced at less than 100 per cent and that cannot last. That can change in a hurry if oil prices rise. Higher oil prices don’t seem likely, however, so the price of oil stocks does not seem bullish. I’m going to keep selling calls at or in the money but that might be a fool’s game. It might be easier to sell the shares and just buy puts that go up as oil stocks drop. The strategy of owning good stocks, selling covered calls on them and buying puts for insurance is very interesting. On a personal note, I’ve been home from the hospital for two weeks and with some good help from my fine wife I’m doing fine. Always ready to chat. † Andy is mostly retired. He recently had four strokes but is recovering well. Andy plays with his grandchildren and runs a small tax business. He still publishes his electronic newsletter StocksTalk. To read it free for a month email

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /

Columns Guarding wealth

Canadian interest rates to rise But don’t hold your breath — any big rate moves are at least 18 months ahead By Andrew Allentuck


o  quote  the  most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a-changin’.” In capital markets, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board is likely to raise the interest rate it charges banks to borrow money overnight to maintain reserves — a key indicator for all other interest rates in the economy. This increase would be announced when the Fed’s Open  Market  Committee meets in mid-December. Here is what is going to happen and what is already happening in advance of the expected announcement: •  Short-term interest rates in the U.S. will rise by about a quarter of a per cent. •  Long-term rates for bonds and mortgages with terms of five or more years will tend to rise by a comparable amount. •  The line connecting all yields for all periods from one day to 30 years, called the yield curve, will tend to flatten, an omen for economic growth restrained by the central bank.

•  Existing long bonds, those that have terms of 10 or more years, will start to lose value as new bonds with higher interest rates hit the market. Existing bond prices will fall   a little. •  C ompanies with a great deal of debt coming due in a year or two will find their stock prices falling as investors anticipate that higher interest rates will reduce their profits. Utilities, railroads, insurance companies and banks are among the most vulnerable stocks. •  B ank share prices will eventually rise as investors perceive that term spreads (the difference between borrowing costs and lending rates) will grow. •  I nsurance company stocks will recover as higher rates on government bonds (what insurance companies use for life insurance investments) raise profits and allow better deals for customers seeking new   or renewed insurance   policies. Canadian  interest  rate increases are going to lag U.S. rate rises. In an Oct.

19 announcement, Bank of Canada  Governor  Stephen Poloz said Canadian rates would not rise in synch with U.S. rates. Slow economic growth, low energy prices, low non-energy export growth and a fear of triggering a made-in-Canada recession induced the BoC to hold the line. There was a discussion of lowering rates to stimulate the economy, but, reportedly, the BoC did not want to add fire to hot real estate markets in Vancouver and Toronto. On the other hand, tighter house mortgage rules are expected to reduce economic growth by as much as 0.3 per cent per year. The defensive stand of the Bank of Canada implies that Canadian interest rates will not begin rising until mid-2018 and that is if economic growth picks up rather smartly. Until Canadian interest rate catch up to those in the U.S., the loonie will tend to soften. Canadian interest rates will  eventually  rise.  They have always moved in synch with U.S. rates over long periods; over a period of five to 10 years, Canadian rate trends are going to match U.S. trends.

Investors’ moves For investors in what is going to be a rising interest rate environment, the rate boosts that are coming imply a need for major portfolio review and adjustment. As interest rates rise, solid, high yielding stocks will tend to be sold off to buy bonds. At first, there won’t be much competition between a telecommunications stocks like BCE Inc. with a 4.5 per cent yield taxed at a relatively low rate courtesy of the dividend tax credit and a five-year Government of Canada bond with a five per cent yield fully taxed. But government bond yields and corporate bond yields will rise along with the rising overnight rate. The move to higher rates will not be race to the top. It will be like watching a ballet in slow motion with many players moving carefully to avoid stepping on other dancers’ toes. Still, in a couple of years, there will be a new hierarchy of desirable assets: for offfarm investors, Government of Canada bonds could have rates of three or four per cent for five years. Add one or two per cent to that for senior issues of the biggest and more

trusted of Canadian corporations. Junk bonds tend to move in their own cycles, but it is a sure thing that they will have to add one or two per cent to the lower levels of investment grade bonds. Figure six to eight per cent for “good” junk, often just non-rated debt from solid but smaller issuers. But remember that corporate bonds are not as liquid as stocks. It is easier and safer to buy into diversified bond mutual funds with annual management expense ratios of less than one per cent or exchange traded bond fund with MERs of onethird of one-per cent or less. But by all means consider (though not necessarily buy) bonds, but consult an investment advisor about selling and about costs. Higher interest rates are coming to Canada, but not for at least 18 months. What happens in the United States will happen here. Watch U.S. investment markets for a preview and keep some cash on hand to buy into the bargains that will appear as rising interest rates known down some stocks and bonds. † Andrew Allentuck is author of “When Can I Retire? Planning Your Financial Future After Work” (Penguin, 2011).


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Canadian International Grains Institute



/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Columns Understanding market bulls and bears

A post-long-harvest wrap up Some marketing advice in the wake of this year’s drawn out nightmare of a harvest Brian wittal


truly hope that by the time you are reading this your harvest has been completed. If not, a spring harvest could bring financial challenges that you’ll need to address to ensure your farm doesn’t end up in undue financial stress because of lost income or a deferred, if any, crop insurance payment in spring. With some of your crop under snow, you could be facing unpaid input bills or be unable

to make land or equipment payments. Crop insurance will defer payments until spring, waiting to see what you will get for bushels before finalizing your claim. If you exceed your bushel coverage threshold after adjustment for grade has been calculated you may not receive any payment from insurance. Will your cash flow get you through the spring seeding season? Do you have any available line of credit? At times like this it is vital to have accurate financial records so you can evaluate your current situation and determine what steps you need to take to ensure your operation is able to weather a bad harvest year.

Do you have saleable inventory you can market to help meet your cash flow needs for the next 12 months? Should you take a cash advance against your grain to help get you through until the spring? What condition is the grain in that you have in the bin? Do you have the option to hold onto it to price at a later date, or do you need to sell it sooner because of the quality concerns? Do you need to condition it to store it properly? Do you need to consider refinancing land or machinery? Can you make all your debt payments over the next 12 months? Some financial institutions

such as FCC are already offering special circumstance financing options for producers facing financial hardships because of the delayed harvest. Let your lenders them know your situation and see what they can do to help. Discussions with accountants, bankers and financial planners would be advisable at times like this. They can help you work through various scenarios to see what would work the best for all parties involved. If your farm operation is run by a farm family team, you need to get everyone involved is these discussions. Wages, benefits, holidays, equity, debt and profits could all be impacted.

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Grain marketing From a grain marketing perspective there are some things to think about in order to maximize value from your inventory. First, get each and every bin of grain graded so you know the quality of what you have for sale. Get a grading sheet from each company and ask them what they are willing to offer you for a package deal. Get it in writing so you can compare it against the others. Knowing the grade and grade factors, moisture, bushel weight, green count for canola and falling number for milling quality wheat will help you make better decisions about how and where you will market your grain. Ask each company about their grade discounts. Each company likely has a different discount between grade levels. They may all offer you a No. 2 for your wheat but if one company has a $0.20/ bu. discount from a No. 1 down to a No. 2 and the other has a $0.35/ bu. discount you need to know that, as it will mean a big difference in net return. Spreads can change daily, so before you sign a contract re-confirm the spreads.

Get a grading sheet from each company Next, find out what current tough and/or damp discounts are for each grain at each company you may deal with, as they could also be different. If any companies offer grain drying ask what those costs would be for the different grains and what levels of moisture they will accept for drying — most have maximum moisture levels they will accept to maximize drying efficiency and reduce their risk of grain going out of condition in their facilities, which can cause major headaches for everyone involved. Now you can sit down and look at the grade specs for your grain. If you have tough or dame grain you need to decide if you can aerate or dry the grain yourself. Are you set up to move and dry grain easily between bins? How long will it take and what will it cost, compared to taking it to the elevator to have it dried and sold? What will net you the best value for your grain with the least amount of work involved? Most of you don’t fully account for your time or wear and tear on farm equipment —you could end up spending way more time and money drying grain yourself than if you had it done at the elevator. Review all these numbers then do the math and see what makes the most sense. It’s been a long harvest and you don’t need to work any harder. Work smarter, crunch the numbers, then see what will give you the best return and do it. † 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. (

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Columns Can’t take the farm from the boy

Good stewardship vs. soil health Will the temptations of higher profits push Toban Dyck into unhealthy rotations? Toban Dyck


’m going be insufferable. If you can handle that, read on. I’m going to theorize about things that make me sound like I’m trying to be old and wise. I’m neither. I just hear things. And I’m a green enough farmer that many things are new to me and they stick. The last of my soybeans left the yard this morning. My bins are empty. Our harrow is parked directly north of the nape of our driveway to act as a snow shield for when that time comes. The yard is ready for winter. It’s a good feeling. This is no place to share such intimacies as bushel counts, but I got the final tally today. This is also not a place to share the ins and outs of my other job at Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers, but it should surprise no one reading this that soybean acres will be up in my province. Perhaps they will be up in Saskatchewan and Alberta, too. Ours did well. The farms inside, say, a 100-mile radius of my yard also did very well. In areas drowned out by the unseasonably high amount of rainfall this summer and fall, soybeans managed to pull through and yield competitively. I may have talked about the importance of smart rotation practices in previous columns, but it’s worth repeating, over and over again.

Why don’t I just grow more corn and soybeans? Why would I even consider growing wheat when commodity prices and input costs make it nearly a break-even crop? It’s a legitimate question. And instead of finding convincing answers having to do with biodiversity, soil health, disease mitigation, or stewardship, people are rewording the question: why don’t I just grow more corn and soybeans? I’ve asked this question of my own farm. It has to be about more than making money. But when farmers are boasting high yields and no disease on fields that have seen soybeans for the last three or four years, it’s really hard to choose to make less money the next year just for a soil advantage you may not experience for another five to 10 years. When it comes time for me to make the decision in favour of stewardship over the bottom line, I’m not sure which way I’ll bend. Let’s not give up on wheat. Let’s not give up on healthy rotations. And let’s not push those boundaries. The other day, I surrounded myself with a couple of farmers smarter than me. Isn’t that how

we learn? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do – situate ourselves around smarter people. Anyway, there I was. They were brothers. They farmed together and were responsible for more than 6,000 acres. Stewardship came up often. I wasn’t fishing for it. Not at all. They didn’t talk about their land as though they owned it. Their rotation includes corn, soybeans, canola, and wheat. This is very important to them. Their father and grandfather made smart decisions such that the soil they now farm is as healthy as it could be. Over the past decade in agriculture, the voice of industry has become quite strong and outspo-

ken. It’s a force, always pushing, always right there. This is not entirely bad. But, sometimes, a causality of this is independent research. There is information available to farmers in favour of monocropping. Endorsing it. I don’t know where this is coming from. Nor can I say for sure it’s industry pushing farmers in this direction. I’ve heard the gossip. That is all. But that’s enough. If it enters the coffee shop, all of us are smart enough to know it will spread too fast and to too many people. I don’t know what will happen next growing season with soybean and corn acres, but I do know that at some critical number a story will begin to

unfold. There are only so many fields in Manitoba, in Canada, in the world, and when one crop starts taking over more than its rotational share, we should be concerned. It’s more difficult to grow canola now than it was, farmers say. I wouldn’t know. The crop has become more disease prone in areas of Canada. Some farmers would also say this is a direct result of poor rotation. If our farms have a crop or two that pay the bills with a bit left in the pot, great. The idea is to have that cropping option available to you for a long, long time. I’m a writer. I can talk a big game. Will I make the right choice when the time comes? I

don’t know, but it’s something I think about often. It comes up often. Surprisingly so. It turns out farmers are just humans, and that some lessons — no matter how seemingly simple — need to be learned and relearned. I thought something as basic as rotation and good stewardship were things reserved for new farmers like myself to wax poetic about. I was wrong. Four years into farming or 30, the basics of what we do and how best to do it are either new or perhaps slowly eroding away into empty shells of things we once stood by. † Toban Dyck is a freelance writer and a new farmer on an old farm. Follow him on Twitter @tobandyck or email


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Columns Hart Attacks

Remembering farm “pool” perils You no sooner move away from a place and they start making changes. By Lee Hart


t was just 45 short years ago I left the farm in Ontario. I drove by the old house on a recent visit to the East to discover the new owners — a young farm family — had installed an aboveground pool. Man, a pool would have been great during those hot humid, eastern Ontario summers of the 1950s and ’60s. But we children were deprived. Actually that’s not completely true. We did have a couple of “pools” over the years. The closest and almost “natural” swimming hole option was a limestone quarry. One area of the century-old farm where I was raised held a limestone

deposit. Long before my dad bought the place in the early 1940’s, someone had mined limestone from an area about two acres in size. There was even the remnants of an old limestone kiln on the site. The removal of the rock had left a hole about 30 feet square that graduated to a depth of about 10 feet. Most years “The Quarry” held some measure of water, and quite often was full to the top of the flat limestone shelf on two sides. That quarry is where our dad taught us kids to swim. I recalled he tied some twine around my waist before I jumped in the water. He held onto the twine making it easy to retrieve me until I mastered the fine art of flailing and buoyancy — I at least learned how to stay afloat.

A close escape We didn’t often go swimming at The Quarry but my sister and I regularly played around the water’s edge... until that one fateful day. We had gone with our mother to Grandpa’s house. While she was working in the garden we decided to play by the quarry. There was a one-way route along the limestone shelf to get to the far side of the quarry and we had gone as far as we could. We heard Mom calling us, it was time to leave, and as we began to make our way back along the limestone, what did we encounter? It was the world’s largest garter snake that had crawled out on the sun-warmed limestone shelf. I’m sure the thing was like

three inches in diameter and about 15 feet long — obviously quite capable of swallowing two six and seven year old children — at least that’s how we remember it. My sister and I grabbed each other and began screaming. The snake was about to attack. Our mom came running, assuming we were in mortal peril. She was no fan of snakes either. She found us screaming and crying on the limestone ledge. I am not sure if the snake was still in the area. It probably had slithered off to find a Holstein calf to devour. Mom made her way to us, grabbed somebody’s hand and led us to safety. The life and death crisis had passed. I don’t know if my sister and

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I ever played around the quarry together again. I eventually did go back quite often over the years, although I usually wore rubber boots and later was armed with my trusty BB gun just in case I encountered some threat. I even built a raft one year and plied the narrow waters of this quarry. But with snakes lurking around I never swam there again. The next swimming pool option was much more civilized. It was probably the late 50s and the country was hard at work building the St. Lawrence Seaway. My mom took in several boarders working on the Seaway. Through them, my dad acquired a large round steel tank, about nine feet in diameter with walls about two feet high. It ended up in the farm yard with the idea it would make a great swimming pool. My dad filled the tank with a garden hose connected to an outside tap at the house and filled it with cold well water. It probably took a couple days for the water to warm enough in the sun that we could stand to get in it. But for a short time it was a fine swimming option. There were a couple sharp edges so a person had to be careful getting in and out but it was a great place to splash around... until that fateful day. The water stayed at a comfortable temperature in the hot, humid Eastern Ontario climate, but then another guest showed up... algae. The sparkling clear well water soon began to cloud up with a slimy algae bloom. Changing the water meant, emptying the tank, which had no drain plug, by hand. That was no easy job. And water conservation was also an issue. Both the house and dairy barn each relied on hand dug wells, which produced enough water for regular demands but filling this large tank with precious well water for recreational purposes soon became a concern. It wasn’t long before the pool idea was shut down and the tank was relocated to be used as an actual stock watering trough while milk cows were on pasture. My swimming career sustained a major setback. My dad always loved to swim when the opportunity presented, and many more opportunities were to come through the 1960s. Those boarders and their co-workers had done a great job in building in the St. Lawrence Seaway. So when the project was completed and opened in 1959 it created a great many recreational opportunities in several water front parks incorporated in the $400 million development. Our family soon became quite regular Sunday afternoon picnic goers along the St. Lawrence. And each visit involved a trip to the beaches of the new Lake St. Lawrence. No algae and no snakes. I often thought they could have worked a little harder to warm up the water, but it didn’t take many dips for a kid to get past the initial cold-water shock. And how many kids today can say they could watch shipping freighters plying by on the Seaway as they played in their pool. † Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at

2016-11-09 12:53 PM

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /

Machinery & Shop


Grainews in the field

On the fast track

photo: scott garvey

JCB re-engineers the Fastrac 8000 Series

With up to 335 rated engine horsepower under the hood, JCB thinks their Fastrac is now an ideal choice as a primary field tractor for many western Canadian farmers.


CB’s chief innovation and growth officer Tim Burnhope was beaming as he stood on stage in a theatre at the company’s Rocester England World Headquarters. He was there to introduce JCB’s newest ag machines to members of the farm media invited there from most of the countries the brand sells into. The biggest news Burnhope had up his sleeve was the company has given its 8000 Series Fastracs a complete redesign. Previously, these models had a more conventional FWA tractor design, but they’ve now reverted to a nearly equal-wheeled configuration. The equal-wheeled concept with midmounted cab and rear deck used on the current, smaller 4000 Series have been signature features that defined the unique Fastrac since its introduction 25 years ago. That’s when JCB genetically modified the conventional tractor by adding some truck DNA to it. JCB has also made the new 8000 its flagship Series. Its two new models push up the maximum engine horsepower ratings with 280 in the 8290 and 335 in the 8330. And the tractors keep that 70 km/h roading ability along with the small rear deck that allows them to carry a sprayer tank and do double duty as an SP sprayer. Hitting that new horsepower mark while maintaining multi-function ability make the 8000 Series “a brand new chapter” in Fastrac development, according to JCB executives. “The Fastrac is as capable in the field as it is on the road,” said Burnhope, referring to the 8000’s overall features package. And that return to an (almost) equal-wheel design with a boost in available horsepower make the new tractors a viable option for many western Canadian farmers looking for a primary field tractor. Marketing staff not only revealed the new 8000s in spectacular fashion at their head office, they gave us a chance to take them into

the field and see what the tractors could do. According to Bruce Mustard, JCB’s North American Fastrac sales manager, the company has had a couple of early production models in use on U.S. dairy farms for several months doing manure hauling and a variety of other tasks, and they continue to prove their worth at those duties. But getting farmers to consider them as primary field tractors is now a focus for the brand. So what’s under the skin on these tractors, and why are they worthy of becoming a primary field tractor?

The details The engine and transmissions are from AGCO, so some parts availability stretches well beyond dedicated JCB dealers. An 8.4 litre SISU (AGCOPower) diesel mates to a programmable Fendt CVT transmission. That allows the engine management system to run the tractor at the lowest possible r.p.m. during field operations (or it can be set for other priorities like field speed) and keep torque where it needs to be while minimizing fuel consumption, even in changing field conditions. The Activ Traction feature monitors wheel slip and throttles down the engine until traction returns, then the tractor picks up ground speed again. Full chassis suspension not only keeps the tractor stable at 70 km/h. on the road, but improves traction in the field, reducing the need for fuel-eating ballast. But if you really want to ramp up the tractor’s ability to pull, a single, rear deck-mounted weight can be lifted on and off with a front-end loader, which makes it one of the few ballast options on the market today that is relatively easy to add and remove on the farm. The new 8000s keep the airover-hydraulic Fastrac braking system that allows them to pull truck trailers, mating to trailer brakes with rear air line con-



Rated horsepower



Maximum horsepower










8.4 litres

8.4 litres


2-range CVT with 6 operating modes

Speeds, low range

0 – 40 km/h

Speeds, high range

0 – 70 km/h STEERING


Dual-system hydrostatic, fixed ratio


Dual-system hydrostatic, GPS ready with Rapid Steer BRAKES


Dual calliper, four-wheel ABS


Air over hydraulic HYDRAULICS


137 l/min


178 l/min.

nections. Combine that with the tractors’ four-wheel disc brakes and ABS and you get a machine that can pull a lot of weight down the road very fast and very safely, something you don’t get by hitching a regular high-horsepower tractor to a semi trailer and just caging the trailer brakes to allow it to move. The tractors also abandon the previous mechanical steering linkage for a new, hydrostatic dual-steer system. Two independent fluid circuits provide a fail safe system in the event of a failure in one or the other, and optional Rapid Steer changes the affect of steering wheel input based on ground speed, heightening sensitivity for low field speeds and reducing it for high road speeds. For a virtual test drive of the 8330, go online to and click on the e-QuipTV button under the “videos” link. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

photo: jbc

By Scott Garvey

The 8000 Series uses the same updated cab introduced on the smaller 4000 Series in 2015.


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Machinery & Shop

Fastrac evolution

photos: jbc

First unveiled to the public at the Royal Smithfield farm show in Great Britain in 1990, the Fastrac began production the following year. Offering 125 and 140 horsepower respectively, the first two models to see production were the 120 and 145. Final design of those two initial production models was somewhat different than the original engineering concepts proposed in the early stages of development. Model sizes have steadily grown and drivetrain systems have changed over the years, but keeping the equal-wheeled, mid-cab design coupled with a rear deck is where brand executives say they see the future of this tractor line. With a similar configuration, the new 8000s now join the Fastrac lineup alongside the brand’s smaller 160 to 235 horsepower 4000 Series. For a video look at a parade of models detailing the evolution of the Fastrac, go online to and click on the e-QuipTV button under the “videos” link. † Scott Garvey

Early model Fastracs roll down the assembly line in 1995. This mock up shows one of the original designs proposed for the Fastrac before it entered production in 1991.

In 1994 JCB built six-wheel versions of the Fastrac for the Australian market, which were designed primarily for fertilizer spreading.


Pasta in Italy is made with durum – or else! The best pasta is made with durum wheat, just ask Italy. A decree from the President of Italy in 2001 declared that Italian pasta manufacturers are forbidden by law to use any wheat other than durum in dried pasta for domestic consumption. That’s a good thing for Canada, the world’s leading exporter of high quality durum wheat.

Canadian International Grains Institute

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /

Machinery & Shop


Tractor news

The news from the tractor world A look at some tractor model updates, additions and refinements for 2017 By Scott Garvey


pdates,  redesigns  and new  track  options. There’s plenty of news in the world of tractors.

» continued on page 37

Deere has added a model to the top end of the 8R Series, boosting available horsepower in that model group to 400.

photo: scott garvey

John Deere announced a change to its 9R tractors this year. The steel fuel tank previously used on these models has been redesigned for better rear visibility and changed to a composite material construction. “Our new design incorporates a slope that not only improves the aesthetics of the tractor, but also allows us to have better visuals to the rear and the sides,” said Jarred Karnai, Deere’s Prepare marketing manager, as he introduced the new tractors to the farm media at the company’s Des Moines, Iowa, facility. “This design also allows us to have dual-fill capability. The operator can fill the fuel tank from either the right or left-hand side.” The new tank capacity for the two smaller 9Rs will be 320 U.S. gallons (1,211 litres). The larger 9250R and 9620R will get 400 gallons (1,514 litres) of fuel storage. And the brand has added more muscle to its 8R line this year, with the introduction of a 400 horsepower model. The new 8400R becomes the flagship model for the 8R range. It brings the total number of wheeled models in this series to seven, all of which now span the 245 to 400 engine horsepower range. The 8400R uses Deere’s PSS 9 litre Tier 4 Final-compliant PowerTech diesel mated to the brand’s e23 powershift transmission. In the hydraulics department, this tractor is no slouch. A standard 227 l/min flow rate can be upgraded to 321 with the dual pump option. The tractor can push 153 l/min out of a single SCV with the dual pump package. A premium LED lighting package is available that can provide 40 per cent more coverage than the standard HID package and do it with a 45 per cent lower amperage load. Independently linked front axle suspension is available across the full 8R Series, and front wheel brakes are an option. Active  Command  Steering provides a variable rate steering option that can automatically alter the steering input from 3.5 to five full steering wheel turns from lock to lock, depending on the speed of the tractor. When travelling at road speeds, the system will automatically make small steering adjustments to keep the tractor moving in a straight line when necessary. It also helps prevent oversteering if an operator needs to make a sudden correction to avoid a hazard. Another  feature  of  Active Command that helps make things easier on the operator is the steering wheel resistance automatically changes with ground speed. It will respond to light steering effort at slower speeds for less effort during headland turns, but at trans-

photo: john deere

John Deere adds new 8R tractor, refines its 9R Series

9R John Deere tractors get a new, redesigned composite fuel tank for 2017 that improves rear sight lines and allows filling from either side of the tractor.

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

photo: scott garvey

photo: scott garvey

Machinery & Shop

AGCO has added to its “Global Series”, tractor group, which already includes the 4700 Series, with the introduction of the 5700 and 6700 Series.

The MTZ (Kirovets) K744 can now be ordered direct from the factory with tracks. The track modules are built by Quebec-based Soucy Track.


MacDon: FD75 Source: Grainews, 1/2 page, 10.25" x 7.75", CMYK, October 18

photo: scott garvey

photo: scott garvey

The 1000 Series tractors from AGCO that were previously introduced into the Fendt line will now be available as Challengers.

A SmartTrax option for New Holland’s T9 tractors is now available. Similar to the design used on sister brand Case IH’s Steigers, it’s a smaller, lower-cost module that gives the tractors a better turning radius.

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /

Machinery & Shop » CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35

Our round up of news in the tractor world port speeds higher steering wheel torque is required.

AGCO tops up its Challenger line In August AGCO executives literally pulled the wraps off a 1000 Series Challenger-branded tractor at the U.S. Farm Progress Show. In reality, it was the second major introduction for these tractors, which were first introduced into AGCO’s Fendt line, but seeing them wrapped in Challenger colours was what was new. The Challenger line is AGCO’s most popular North American marquee. The four models in the rigidframe 1000 Series offer 396 to 517 horsepower. Under the skin, the 1000 Series Challengers remain essentially the same tractors as the Fendt versions, although their components get Challenger nomenclature. Under the hood, they are one of the few machines in the AGCO stable to use something other than AGCOPower diesels. They get, instead, a MAN 12.4 litre, six-cylinder that puts out 1,770 pound-feet of torque at a leisurely 1,100 r.p.m. In September AGCO announced the introduction of the MT400E series mid-range tractors. Basically, a sister line to AGCO’s Massey Ferguson 6700S Series, the MT400Es offer 120 to 160 horsepower, but in this colour there are five models to chose from in that expanded power range, growing in size by 10 horsepower increments. These models use the 4.9 litre four-cylinder diesel with the same three transmissions choices as in the MF along with the same basic specifications.

an AGCOPower 4.9 litre diesel the three tractors in this series, which offer 140 to 160 horsepower, are available with three transmission options, including a CVT. The engines use an SCR-only emissions solution, meaning no DPF or exhaust gas recirculation. They also offer an electronic engine management system to help minimize fuel consumption. The 6700S models are upgraded versions of the previous 6600 Series, according Eric Zimmerman, MF tactical marketing manager for MF and Challenger high-horsepower tractors. “What we focused on was power, comfort, technology and ease of use,” he said. For the comfort end of things, the 6700S offers an active mechanical cab suspension. “It gives us about a 30 per cent better ride quality,” said Zimmerman. “When it comes to technology, you can get these fully telemetry ready right from the factory. We’ve also got a 190 l/min flow option for our closed-centre hydraulics.”

An economy open-centre system is also available along with four PTO options.

MTZ offers four-track K744 This year MTZ Equipment added to its product line at the high-horsepower end with the reintroduction of the Kirovets K744 four-wheel drive tractor. Powering it is a Tier 3 OM460LA turbocharged Mercedes Benz diesel, so it won’t require DEF or a particulate exhaust filter. Behind the K744’s German engine is a 16F/8R partial power shift allowing on-the-go gear changes within each of four forward ranges and two reverse. The tractor rides on a suspended front axle and has a respectable 300 l/ min. hydraulic flow rate. It comes equipped with a category III and IV three-point rear hitch, which has a lift capacity of 9,000 kilograms. “Self-locking” differentials help improve traction. Price is this brand’s strong sell-

Blue Means Strategic

New Holland T9s: costefficient track option New Holland is now offering a new track module option on its T9 tractors. “This (heavy-duty ATI track module) is what we announced four years ago,” said Dan Valen, cash crop segment marketing manager at NH, while standing in front of a tracked T9 at the U.S. Farm Progress Show in August. “The high idler design

has much better climbing ability, actually much better tractive ability. However, it came at a price premium.” Those heavy duty modules, built by ATI, were originally designed for mining equipment. They’re so heavily built that NH believes they will actually last for the life of three tractors. “However, we had a certain customer that said, I don’t need all that capability,” Valen added. “I need something that is a little more price conscious, a little more simple and will give us better turning capability.” The new T9 SmartTrax standard module he went on to introduce at the show is designed to meet exactly that market demand. “They’ll also do that at about a $30,000 less-per-vehicle price point,” he said. The new modules are similar to those used on Case IH’s Steiger Quadtracs. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at

My 800 acre farm is irrigated because I am pushing for the highest possible yields, so I always have a lot of residue to deal with. I was using a disc ripper but it never left a flat surface for the next crop. That’s why I bought a KARAT, because it does the four things I need to do in one pass – ripping the field, perfectly mixing the topsoil with heavy residue, levelling it and then packing it to a firm, even seedbed. Because the topsoil is loosened, mixed, then packed over the whole width of the machine, I don’t get furrows like I used to with the disc ripper, and my crops are more even. Frans Pot … farms 800 acres of wheat, hybrid seed canola and dry edible beans at Bow Island, Alta.

New Massey Ferguson 5700, 6700 and 6700S wSeries tractors “The (Massey Ferguson) Global Series is the largest product investment in AGCO’s history,” said Warren Morris, AGCO’s tractor marketing manager for under 150 horsepower, as the new 5700 and 6700 Series machines were introduced at the U.S. Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, in August. “This is a clean-sheet design,” he added. “We started with thousands and thousands of hours of customer feedback.” These two series join the smaller 4700 “Global” models the brand first introduced at Agritechnica 2015. The 5700s offer 100 and 110 horsepower, while the 6700s are rated at 120 and 130. “(They are) a series of heavyduty utility tractors that can be used in a wide variety of applications,” Morris added. They rely on 4.4 litre AGCOPower diesels and are available with 12F/12R electro-hydraulic or syncro shuttle transmissions with or without cabs. “The goal of the global platform is to create a (tractor) platform with a lot of commonality that allows us to mix and match components across the series,” said Morris. AGCO also unveiled its 6700S Series MF tractors at the same show, describing them as “big mid-range tractors”. Powered by

ing point. When loaded with the most popular options (duals, PTO, in-cab hitch control), the K744 is priced at U.S. $227,730. This fall, MTZ announced the K744 could be ordered from the factory with four rubber tracks instead of tires. The modules, built by Quebec-based Soucy Track, will slightly reduce the tractor’s ground speed, but not significantly according to MTZ. Exact pricing for a tracked model was not yet available at the time of writing.

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Machinery & Shop


Bigger FWA models from Versatile The Winnipeg brand bumps its rigid-frame models up to 360 horsepower By Scott Garvey


ith  Final  Tier  4, we’re finding our fuel efficiency is rising  dramatically,”  said  Andrew  Winkels, Versatile’s  front-wheel  assist tractor project manager, as we walked around a new 360 tractor in the company’s Winnipeg assembly plant. A new, Tier 4 Final, 9 litre QSL Cummins diesel is at the heart of the brand’s two new models, the 335 and 360. On this day Versatile was getting ready to debut them to the public the following week at the U.S. Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. And Grainews was among the first to get a close look at them. Their model numbers reflect engine horsepower ratings. So these two new tractors bump

photos: scott garvey

Exhaust: The 9 litre Tier 4 Final engine uses Cummins’ advanced SCR-only emissions system mounted at the A pillar.

First unveiled to the public in Iowa in August, Versatile has introduced two new FWA tractors that boost horsepower up to 360.

A quick release allows these steps to be folded out of the way to allow access to oil filters.

335 and 360 models get a 165 U.S. Gallon (625 litre) fuel tank and 9 U.S. gallon DEF tank.

Six rear hydraulic remotes are standard with the Hi-Flow pump option.

Front-axle suspension

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In what might seem like a step out of character for Versatile, a brand with a reputation for offering no-nonsense, simple, brute horsepower machines, the 335 and 360 come with standard front-axle suspension. It’s a feature that is becoming universal on high-horsepower rigid frame tractors, and it isn’t just there to make the operator more comfortable. The increased traction offered by front-axle suspension improves the ability of these tractors to deliver higher engine power to the ground along with making faster road speeds possible. The 335 and 360 get 40 k/hr. roading ability. But buyers that really want to, can opt to down spec the tractors to an old-fashioned rigid axle mount. Scott Garvey

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /

Machinery & Shop


Versatile returns to “heritage” colours Beginning soon, all 2017 model Versatile tractors will roll out of the factory doors with a new paint scheme. According to the brand’s social media statement, the new red, yellow and black livery is “not only in honour of Versatile’s past, but in honour of our amazing customers from 1966 and beyond”. The look is meant to more closely resemble the colour scheme of Versatile tractors built in the 1980s and 1990s. The brand’s front-wheel assist models will also get the same treatment. Scott Garvey

up the available horsepower in Versatile’s FWA line from the previous high of 310, allowing them to compete with the likes of the most powerful Magnums, T8s and 8R tractors that are now pushing at the 400 horsepower mark. The fuel tanks on these new models had to be downsized slightly to 165 U.S. gallons (625 litres) from the 170 gallon versions used on smaller FWA tractors in the line, but Winkels says that jump in fuel efficiency with the new engines should keep these tractors working just as long between refuelling stops. Behind the new Cummins engines, the 335 and 360 use a 16 X 9 powershift. “It’s our own design,” said Winkels. “ It’s similar to the transmission in our other tractors. It’s just capable of handling more horsepower.” In fact that beefed up engineering compared to the smaller FWA tractors, such as the larger 120 millimetre diameter rear axles, is reflected all around the chassis of these two models. It’s needed to handle what the larger Cummins engines can dish out. “The axle trumpets are larger as well to handle the horsepower,” added Winkels. What is the optional heavy duty drawbar on the smaller 310 model becomes standard equipment on the two new tractors, and the category IV three-point hitch gets a lift capacity of 17,260 pounds (4,829 kg.) “When someone is going to this style of tractor instead of a four-wheel drive, they’re looking for that three-point hitch functionality,” explained Winkels Standard hydraulic flow is 208 l/min. But that can be bumped up to 273 with the Hi-Flow option. The cab keeps to the industry trend of providing a lot of unobstructed glass area with 74 square feet of it. “That’s something we work to maintain,” said Winkels. “It’s a derivative of our four-wheel drive cab. It’s also the same cab we use on the sprayer.” Inside it, a new 12-inch monitor with improved functionality can be fitted to the control console. And the tilt steering column includes a mix of analogue and digital readouts. Winkels noted that customer surveys show buyers still prefer the old-fashioned analogue style for some gauges, like tachometers. †

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Machinery & Shop

Classic machinery

The International Harvester 4300 By Brian Kirkpatrick


n the late 1950s the farm tractor horsepower race was really starting to heat up. International Harvester had just introduced its New World of Power machines — a line up of new, modern, high speed tractors moving away from the old fashioned, the-heavier-the-better concept into more efficient engines, hydraulics and transmissions. At the same time, John Deere was about to leave its traditional two-cylinder design and launch the New Generation tractors which included the breakthrough models 3010 and 4010. Against this backdrop both Harvester and Deere decided to develop a really big tractor with all four wheels the same size. The result was the John Deere 8010 and the International Harvester 4300. The 8010 was big by the standards of the time, with a 7.0 Litre Detroit Diesel engine developing 215 engine horsepower and delivering 150 at the drawbar. It weighed in at 19,700 pounds. The IH offering was bigger with a 13.4 Litre (817 cubic inch) turbocharged engine turning out 300 engine horsepower, Nebraska tested at 204 drawbar horses. It weighed 29,815 pounds and offered three

steering options: front wheel steer, four wheel steer (with the front turning in the direction of travel and the rear turning the opposite way to provide full power turns) and, lastly, crab steering, where both sets of wheels turned the same way to hold on side hills. This was also meant to facilitate implement hookup and to escape getting mired in sloughs and wet spots. The original plan was to produce 38 tractors, but ultimately 44 were built at the International Hough Plant in Libertyville, Illinois.

4300s in Manitoba In the early 1960s I was the IH zone manager living in Killarney, Manitoba, with responsibility for the company’s farm equipment sales and dealers in that part of the province. The 4300 tractors were first sold in 1961 and by 1963 there had been three sold in Canada — two on my territory. The first unit was sold by the Deloraine dealership Hainsworth Sales and Service to the owner of a large farm in the Medora area. Remi Mosset was the farmer who bought it. He operated a 5,000 acre mixed farm and seed cleaning plant. Since the 4300 was new and very

different, Remi wanted to see one in operation before buying. So we took him to visit the Kirschman Farm at Lemon, South Dakota. Kirschman happened to be a successful inventor and manufacturer of aftermarket fertilizer attachments for grain drills, as well as one of the first purchasers of a 4300 in the U.S. Remi was much impressed with what he saw; after a lot of negotiation, a deal was struck for the tractor and a IH 40-foot HD model 75 chisel plow. Two things I particularly remember were the arrival and the settlement process. The tractor was shipped by rail flatcar — it was a full load and stuck out on both sides of the car. Many of the townspeople came out to watch the unloading. The 75 chisel plow was the only one ever sold in Canada, and it came unassembled by boxcar. When Remi was ready to take delivery he paid the dealer with a combination of cash, milk cheques, grain cheques and miscellaneous cheques. We had a pile of money on the dealer’s desk which we had to count several times to get the same total twice. The tractor was a huge success and was nicknamed “Crunch”, because it was supposedly able to pull anything not tied down. One story was the moving of a water

photo: patrick mosset

A company insider’s memories of introducing this unique machine to the Prairies

Remi (left) and Murray Mosset pose beside their 4300 tower —a D6 couldn’t move it, but “Crunch” did. As was often the case with new products, there were a couple of hiccups. In the case of the 4300, it originally came with a standard gear transmission which had two problems. First, it got very hot under heavy, constant load and so did the operators feet. Second, the gears were large and very well balanced. So when the clutch was depressed

they kept turning, making shifting harder and slower than normal. This was resolved in the winter of 1962 when the tractor was shipped to Brandon to the International heavy duty truck shop where an Allison power shift was installed. This system used a torque converter to start the load but locked up when it got up to speed. It was great. The only other issue was a change of wheel rims to overcome

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /

At the rear, the tractor had just a heavyduty drawbar and basic hydraulics

This image of Mosset working his 4300 originally appeared in IH’s Canadian Farming magazine.

possible failures due to weight and load. Both were done as companypaid field changes. In late 1962 the International Harvester publication Canadian Farming ran an article about Remi and the 4300 for the spring 1963 edition. I vividly recall when we were in the field with the 4300 they were working land which had been recently purchased. Much of Remi’s farm had been small holdings, which like everywhere in the Southern Prairies during the “dirty thirties” had topsoil piled up feet deep along the fence lines. He wanted large fields, which meant working up the old fence lines. He would be working at an eight to 10 inch depth with the chisel plow, but when it came to the fence lines the chisel plow went “to the frame.” The 4300 gave a puff of smoke when the governor opened up but didn’t change speed and made a sound that any tractor guy would love. Remi Mosset has left this earth, but I recently came in contact with his grandson Patrick Mosset who farms in the Melita area. I found that the 4300 was traded in the late 1970s and was subsequently sold to a highway construction company to pull a large packer. Patrick eventually found the tractor in Kansas, owned by a collector who really didn’t want to sell it — but would for U.S.$185,000! It is still there, but Patrick did buy another one, which he sold last year for $84,000 — more modest but still many times the new Canadian price. The other two Canadian 4300s were sold in 1962 and 1963.The first one was to Reid Farms from the Wawanesa, Manitoba, area and the last one to a farmer near Three Hills, Alberta. Although there were only 44 of these tractors sold, they set the stage for IH and others to develop four-wheel drive tractors. At the time of this writing there are three 4300s still in Canada. One is with the original owner at Three Hills and another with a collector in the Calgary area. The third one is part of the outstanding IH collection owned by the Richards family of Barrie, Ontario. † Brian Kirkpatrick spent the early part of his career with International Harvester and Case IH as a zone manager in Southern Manitoba. He is co-author of “A History and Memories of International Harvester Canada 1903-1985,” currently available for $34.95. Phone 1.888.571.2665 or visit Contact Brian at

Under the hood, the 4300 used a 13.4 litre diesel that delivered 204 horsepower to the drawbar.

Glenn and Bob Richards Jr. of Southern Ontario stand beside their tractor.

photo: ih

The cab was utilitarian and not very comfortable by today’s standards.

photo: brian kirkpatrick

Machinery & Shop

A photo from IH product literature in the early 1960s.





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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Cattleman’s Corner backgrounding

Ease weaned calves into backgrounding It is difficult if not impossible to recover losses due to sick animals BY HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

photo: heather smith thomas


ome ranchers hold calves over as yearlings, and some buy light calves in the spring to put on grass and gain weight. Some calves go into a confinement program and are fed a growing ration until they are ready to enter a finishing facility. Backgrounding covers a spectrum of situations that includes preconditioning before and after weaning. The transition at weaning or when calves go from a grazing program into a feedyard should be be as stress free as possible. Grant Lastiwka, a livestock and forage business specialist for Alberta Agriculture, says the noted U.S. livestock handling specialist Bud Williams showed how sickness in weaned calves could be practically eliminated with low-stress handling and by acclimating calves gently into their new situation. “The ability to transition calves and allow for some comfort, quieting them down, makes a huge difference,” says Lasktiwka. “I have always been surprised there’s been no research done to show the differences that having a mother cow or two in with those newly weaned calves can make.” Ranchers are accustomed to the

Easy weaning and putting yearlings onto pasture or grass hay can help transition them into backgrounding. stress on calves when taken from their mothers, using traditional weaning (abrupt separation, and having the calf thrust into a new environment with new feed). “We realize there is room for improvement,” says Lastiwka. “Ag Canada researcher Al Schafer at Lacombe showed how stress levels in cattle can rise dramatically. Some of the blood stress indicators (like cortisol) still are not back down to normal as much as two weeks after a stress event.

“We know that stress tends to increase risk for sickness. We also know any animal that gets sick has a challenge to be profitable. Even beyond that, there is likelihood the stressed animal won’t be a high-quality meat product.” The meat may be tough and not an ideal eating experience.

WEANING SETS THE STAGE Every time producers handle animals, but especially at this wean-

ing transition time, they are setting the stage for future performance and profitability — or lack of it. “With my own calves, I wean them myself because I want the end product to be as high quality as possible,” says Lastiwka. “If I can transition my calves from the mother to the feed, in a manner that allows for gain to continue (and no drop or slowdown in gain), this shows stress is well managed. The ability to wean calves and sell them two weeks later in a

gaining condition is much better than the old days when we waited at least a month after weaning to get them recovered and gain back the pounds we lost.” Low-stress weaning resolves this problem. “I start before weaning with the nose flaps (calves still with their mothers but unable to suckle), and then across the fence from their mothers. Producers who are backgrounding their own calves can do this, and find that these animals don’t get sick,” Lastiwka says. Many feedlots now put incoming calves onto a grass hay forage ration (that they are more familiar with) rather than an abrupt change to silage and concentrates. The idea is to keep some familiarity and allow for an easy transition within their comfort zone. “When Bud Williams worked with new cattle coming into a feedlot, getting them calm and quiet, did they look at him as a mother cow giving them guidance?” says Lastiwka. “Was their acceptance of him the fact that they knew he wasn’t a predator? Williams quietly put them in positions where they seemed to find some security and comfort,

» continued on page 48

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Cattleman’s Corner the Markets

Market recovery still a year away Production is still high, start of beef herd contraction possible in late 2017 Jerry Klassen Market Update


n top of the CBOT building in Chicago stands a statue of “Ceres” — the Greek goddess of grain crops and fertility. An old myth amongst traders is that after a major bull run in a market when traders usually did very well, the Greek goddess wanted her money back. Fed cattle prices have been percolating higher over the last month. Alberta packers were buying fed cattle in the range of $138 to $140 in mid-November, which was up about $10 from a month earlier. The weaker Canadian dollar along with a marginal decrease in market-ready supplies resulted in the firmer price structure. Fed cattle values are nearing break-even pen closeout values, which has rejuvenated buying interest in the feeder complex. Feeder cattle markets have risen approximately $5 to $8 on average in comparison to a month earlier. Yearlings have moved through the system and the focus is now on calves. A small group of larger-frame Charolais-cross medium-flesh weaned steers weighing just under 700 pounds were quoted at $172 in southern Alberta. Favourable weather in early November caused the premium for weaned calves to erode over lighter unweaned bawlers. However, the market will have to ratchet higher in the deferred positions so that these cattle can be profitable.

HIGHER U.S. PRODUCTION The USDA once again increased production expectations. It now appears that fourth-quarter production will reach 6.465 billion pounds, a year-over-year increase of 356 million pounds. The cow slaughter has picked up over the past eight weeks resulting in the larger-than-expected beef production. However, I want to once again draw attention to the first quarter of 2017 when production tapers off to 6.140 million pounds. At the time of writing this article, the February live cattle futures were trading at similar value to the December contract. I’m expecting a rally of $10 to $15 from now until early March in fed cattle prices. Notice the surge in production in the second and third quarters of 2017. Backgrounding and feedlot operators should be quite aggressive with their hedging strategies in March of 2017. During the spring and summer of 2017, the fed cattle market could drop to values similar to 2012 when Alberta fed cattle traded from $110 to $115. Cattle on feed as of Nov. 1 in Alberta and Saskatchewan totalled 741,853 head, down 15 per cent from Nov. 1 of 2015. Placements during October came in at 299,972 head, down only one per cent from October of 2015. Cow-calf producers have delayed feeder cattle marketings this fall and I’m expecting a year-over-year increase in placement numbers during November and December. Alberta fed cattle basis levels have the potential to

remain historically strong until March. During the spring and summer of 2017, Alberta basis levels will weaken because of the surge in U.S. fed cattle production. This will severely depress feeder cattle prices.

LITTLE UPSIDE POTENTIAL Cow-calf producers have experienced sticker shock this fall, realizing that feeder cattle are trading nearly 35 per cent below year-ago levels. The sad news is that there is limited upside potential. I’m expecting feeder cattle prices to marginally strengthen over the winter but the market will come under severe pressure in spring and summer. Given the price of calves this fall, feedlot margins

will hover in red ink once again from April through October resulting in lower replacement values. I mentioned that the cow slaughter has increased and I’m expecting the U.S. herd to move into a contraction phase in the latter half of 2017. This is characterized by a year-over-year decrease in heifer retention and larger cow slaughter. Feed grain supplies will be burdensome during the 2016-17 crop year but strength in the feed grain complex could further enhance herd contraction in the fall of 2017. Feedlots have experienced negative margins for approximately 15 months. There is always the taxrelated buying late in the calendar year. During 2017, feedlots will be more disciplined in their feeder





Est. 2016

Est. 2017































Source: USDA

cattle purchases. Investment feeders looking for a non-correlated asset in their portfolios may also shy away, given the risk/reward analysis. The capital required for feeding cattle does not justify the risk. The absence of these players may also contribute to the lower price structure for feeder cattle.

It appears the Greek goddess “Ceres” isn’t quite satisfied and it may take another year to cure the curse in the cattle market. † Jerry Klassen is manager of the Canadian office for Swiss based grain trader GAP SA Grains and Products Ltd. and president of Resilient Capital. He can be reached at 204 504 8339.

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Cattleman’s Corner Animal Health

Watch for newer respiratory pathogens One is a virus, the other a bacteria — both can be hard to identify Roy Lewis animal health


e have all heard of coronavirus being one of the main causes of viral scours in newborn calves. It alone, with a couple strains of rotavirus, are the two main viruses we see in scours vaccines. It also causes a winter dysentery (bloody diarrhea) in mature cattle, especially housed dairy cattle in the winter. What you may not have known is this same virus can be involved in the bovine respiratory disease complex. The respiratory syndrome is often masked by the other much more prominent viruses such as IBR and BRSV or the main bacterial causes of pneumonia, that being Mannheimia hemolytica, Pasteurella multocida and finally Histophilus somnus. Often coronavirus may be involved with the respiratory disease complex with these other components, but is generally less serious. There is no respiratory vaccine on the market, which has the coronavirus

antigen in it, but in the future as the vaccines have broader spectrum, possibly a company may put in the coronavirus to bolster the immunity to more respiratory pathogens once again.

CAPACITY LOW, DEMAND HIGH We all know respiratory disease is the No. 1 economic disease in feedlots across Canada so anything we can do to reduce cases and curb antibiotic usage is beneficial. Cattle have a lot less lung capacity than other species and yet with the big rumen and digestive process require a lot more oxygen, so technically the lungs have very little reserve in them. Hence, we have more issues with respiratory disease in cattle generally. A few separate outbreaks of coronavirus respiratory disease have occurred. You generally see some slight depression, but overall animals will still look bright. There may be increased nasal secretions and feed intake may go down significantly. In fact decreased feed intake may be the first symptom observed. One still has to treat the sick calves for secondary bacterial infection. A suppression of the immune system for a number of reasons

such as vitamin or mineral deficiency, internal parasites or concurrent disease are other reasons coronavirus may occur. You may even have some cattle infected with the enteric form of coronavirus as well. You would then expect to have diarrhea accompany some of the other clinical signs in a small percentage of infected cattle. So if a group of cattle seem to be sicker than in the past in spite of vaccinating for pneumonia have them checked out, as the coronavirus may be the culprit.

NEW ONE TO WATCH FOR Another bacterial cause of pneumonia presents itself a different way and may be an emerging disease in the U.S. We should keep our eyes open in Canada with all the trading of cattle and other livestock that goes on. The bacterium is Bibersteinia trehalosi and is very closely related to M. hemolytica — the key bacteria involved in the whole bovine respiratory disease complex. It presents itself as sudden death. In the U.S. it has involved Holstein cows primarily and is significant at causing pneumonia and blood infection (septicemia) in sheep. The pneumonia veterinarians see on a post-

mortem is really indistinguishable from the M. hemolytica form. It is difficult to identify since it also has a specific test in the lab, as well. It may be another emerging component to the whole respiratory disease complex. U.S. veterinarians first noticed this form of pneumonia because it was a quick killer of cows and fairly unresponsive to antibiotics. That’s partly due to the acute nature of the disease, which simply doesn’t give the antibiotic enough time to work. Also we generally are not expecting full-grown cows to develop respiratory disease, so it catches us off guard. In some cases this organism can be quite resistant to many different antibiotics. Even though there are several good long-lasting macrolide antibiotics for treating groups of high-risk calves, this should not alter our vigilance of watching for unusual respiratory disease and trying to prevent it. If the incidence of treatment or death loss is higher than expected or there have been sudden deaths, get some of these autopsied by your veterinarian. Finding the root cause will definitely help them determine better treatment, biosecurity and preventative measures for your farm.

VACCines EFFECTIVE Cow-calf, feeder and feedlot operators have definitely decreased the incidence of pneumonia deaths in Canada over the last decade. They’ve done this by combining vaccines with broader coverage, using metaphylactic antibiotics with better treatment antimicrobials, along with antiinflammatory drugs that veterinarians prescribe. Feed conversion is improved with less-chronic presents. If you’re seeing poor response to vaccines, more calf pulls or death rates are unacceptable get the cattle checked and post-mortems performed on suspect animals. One of these emerging pathogens especially B. trehalosi could be present and you need to do a culture to find out. Be aware of new advances in the early detection prevention and treatment of respiratory disease. Different vaccination combinations are always presenting themselves and there is always going to be continued research in this area of cattle medicine. † Roy Lewis is an Alberta-based veterinarian specializing in large-animal practice. He is also a part-time technical services vet for Merck Animal Health.

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Cattleman’s Corner Better Bunks and Pastures

Important to maintain proper BCS Cows looking good going into winter still need to be fed PETER VITTI


arm temperatures and lots of rain right into fall regenerated pastures producing plenty of nutritious grasses for cattle. Many gestating cows are going into the winter, healthy and in decent shape. By feeding them wellbalanced overwintering diets, we can continue this momentum, so these beef cows can get through a typical cold winter and be prepared for a successful calving season. As a university student I saw firsthand what happens to beef cows left to their own devices, relying only on good body condition without being properly fed. Our class visited a 200-Charolais beef cow herd in the Interlake region of Manitoba. It was early November and I remember most of the cows had a good body cover of fat, but were fed a lot of barley straw in bale feeders. For reasons I don’t remember, I returned in late January with a

smaller group of students and our animal science professor. To our amazement, some of the same cows were literal skeletons. The owner complained to my professor that he had a number of sick cows and was afraid that he would have to “pull” a lot of newborn calves. Most likely my professor had given this person good overwinter feeding advice on our first visit that was not followed. My professor’s research had demonstrated over the years the importance of cows receiving the necessary supplemental feed during winter to maintain good body condition up to calving. He knew the downside. Proper feeding is also rewarded with good calving ease, high quality and plenty of colostrum. Later-on cows are quick to return to fertile estrus. These benefits dovetail into long-term advantages. Post-partum cows tend to have more milk for their calves and achieve better conception rates.

CHECK BCS Cow-calf producers should take a visual assessment of each cow after weaning and assign a body condition score (BCS), which

ranges from one = emaciated to five = obese. This score represents her level of body fat covering, which is a snapshot of the energy status she can draw upon during periods of dietary energy deficiencies to maintain vital and productive functions. Mature cows should maintain or achieve a BCS of 2.75-3 from the beginning of winter until the day of calving. Replacement heifers should calve out at a little better BCS of 3. Producers should never allow any cow to lose body condition, once winter temperatures fall and total energy requirements increase. University and extension environmental studies show a linear cold weather rule of thumb as follows: for every 1 C drop in temperature below 0 C, the beef cows’ TDN energy maintenance requirements are increased by about two per cent. This calculation is an estimate and is based upon effective air temperatures. Producers can also use windchill temperatures without adjustments, when cows have little shelter. This means if there is an early-morning windchill temperature of -25 C, then there is an increase of about 50 per cent in the cows’ basic dietary energy needs.

With such thermometer drops, metabolic triggers inside the cow will stimulate her feed intake. However, cows will only increase dry matter intake at the very most by 30 per cent, which is limited by rumen capacity and reduced feed digestibility. This means that pre-calving beef cows can eat only so much forage during very cold weather to meet their energy requirement. To solve this problem, we must increase the energy density of their whole diet by using higher-energy feeds.

PLAN THE DIET Before increasing nutrition due to weather, I work out the gestating beef diet by taking note of the existing body condition of the beef cows, their beginning calving date and the current feeding program. For example: an adequate quality grass hay or mixed grass-alfalfa mixtures with an energy TDN of 55-60 per cent and protein level of 11-12 per cent makes excellent mid- to pre-calving cow feed. If this forage TDN is shy of basic energy requirements of gestating cows, then 0.5-1.0 kg of barley or other grain can be supplemented. Cold weather in January and February will further increase energy demands for cows trying

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to keep warm. Therefore, an additional 0.5-1.0 kg of grain might be provided. It is also important to purchase a commercial beef mineral with complimentary levels of calcium and phosphorus, fortified with essential trace minerals and vitamins A, D, and E. I also might suggest that cowcalf operators implement one or two good winter technique, while feeding these higher-energy diets to mid- to late-gestation cows. Thin cows and first-calf heifers might be segregated from the rest of the main herd and fed as a separate group. As well, feed these high diets later in the day to increase heat production by forage fermentation and rumenation, which helps keep cattle warm during the most bitterly cold nights. By supplementing energyenriched overwintering diets to gestating cows that start off the winter in good shape should together achieve all dynamic energy demands until calving, both dietary and winter driven. The payoff is a freshened cow that looks as good as her healthy newborn calf. † Peter Vitti is an independent livestock nutritionist and consultant based in Winnipeg. To reach him call 204-254-7497 or by email at


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Cattleman’s Corner Rancher’s Diary

Late-fall pastures still holding up heather smith thomas



ast Sunday Michael put new hind shoes on Dottie and Sprout. I put new front shoes on them a few weeks ago but they needed their hinds trimmed and reshod; their feet were getting long and the shoes were worn out. That afternoon Em went hunting up the creek and shot her deer. She’s the only one of Andrea’s kids that was able to get a deer here this

fall before the season closed. The other kids were out at their dads on the weekends and didn’t have a chance to hunt. Monday morning I discovered that the heifers above the house had no water and had probably been thirsty for more than a day, ever since our watermaster let a neighbour have more water even though our second right was still short. Our ditches slowed down and the ditch to the field for the heifers stopped running. The watermaster had to resolve that problem. Andrea and I rode Sprout and Dottie to the 320 to check our cows and they were spread out nicely, but we need to get the top trough working again in Baker Creek.

Wednesday Lynn, Andrea and Carolyn took tanks of compressed air up there on four-wheelers, blew the dead toads out of the pipeline, and got the water running again. This weekend Andrea has the kids, so today the girls rode with us to check cows. Our neighbour Alan Bodenhamer was hunting elk up there and told us he saw about 80 elk going over the head of Baker Creek, followed by a cougar.

NOVEMBER 7 Last week Michael, Nick and Robbie brought us another load of firewood, so now we’ll have enough for the winter. After school Sam, Dani and Charlie stopped here to say goodbye to Veggie.

Wednesday evening was Dani’s birthday party (12 years old!) and she invited a lot of kids from her class at school. The nights have been cold, freezing hard, so on Friday Andrea and I rode to the 320 to check cows. They are still doing OK, but most of Baker Creek is frozen now, with no sunshine in that deep canyon. The trough we fixed is still working. We saw the herd of 80 elk, just outside the 320. Saturday morning was very cold so I fed the weaned heifers a little hay. I gave Veg a larger dose of bute, that evening Emily came out to the ranch to say goodbye to him and spent some time combing his mane and brushing him. Yesterday Andrea and I took some



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photo: heather smith thomas

Also time to say goodbye to an old horse with long history

Andrea spending a few minutes with Veggie. It came time to put him down. last photos of him, then we put him down. Michael brought the backhoe and we buried him beside his beloved Rubbie at the top end of their pen. When quality of life diminishes, it’s kinder to let them go. To quote a wise person, when considering timely euthanasia, it is better a week too soon than a day too late. We chose to put him down now, rather than in the agony of colic, or after a night on frozen ground unable to get up. Those two old horses will be missed; they are the last of the foals we raised. Veggie’s mother was Andrea’s first horse; his grandmother was my first foal (Khamette) born in 1959. Khamette’s mother was Scrappy, a little black mare my dad bought from Lynn 10 years before we were married. Lynn’s dad bought Scrappy and her mama (Misty) when Lynn was a little boy, 68 years ago. The full story of Veggie’s life, and the horses before him in that family, can be found in my book Horse Tales. This morning I lured the heifers in from the field above the house with a little hay, and moved them to the field below the lane. They’ve become very gentle and trusting. I can call them and they follow me anywhere. Carolyn went to 320 on her four-wheeler and opened gates into the lower/middle part of the 320. They grass is nearly gone in the top section and the Baker Creek side; it was time to let them into the lower part. This evening we talked to a local rancher who has some hay for sale. He may have enough for what we’ll need this winter.

NOVEMBER 14 Sprout was off feed, dull and uncomfortable last Tuesday morning so I gave her Banamine and put her in the calving pen by the house where I could watch her more closely. She was doing better by the next day. Lynn went to an arthritis specialist in Idaho Falls that day. The doctor gave him a different prescription for pain and wants another x-ray of his hips. Michael and Carolyn hauled the cows to the sale yard; they have to be there a couple of days ahead of the sale. The market is down, but we hope those cows will sell well enough to help pay for the rest of the hay we need to buy. † Heather Smith Thomas is a long time Grainews columnist who ranches with her husband Lynn near Salmon, Idaho. Contact her at 208-756-2841.

DECEMBER 6, 2016 /

Cattleman’s Corner Dairy Corner

Don’t overdo palm fat in ration Palm fat can help increase milk fat, but more isn’t necessarily better BY PETER VITTI


here has been an explosive use of palm fat in many dairy diets. This growth has been fuelled by the numerous incentive days issued by milk marketing boards to increase milk fat production in lactating dairy cows. On the plus side, I see a profitable milk fat increase on many farms because some bypass palm fat was fed. I have also witnessed the dark side of feeding bypass fat. Therefore, I recommend producers check their current lactating dairy diets and assure all essential nutrients are well balanced, so the right amount of palm fat can be supplemented. Dairy producers who buy commercial bypass palm fat should agree. They tend to follow the suggested feeding rate of adding “up to 500 g/head/ day” of rumen bypass palm fat to their lactating dairy TMRs. Many of these people have increased herd milk fat by 0.20.4 per cent. This advice also seemed to fit into their feed budget by adding about a $1 per head per day to feed costs. Their success of adding palm fat to lactating dairy diets makes a lot of sense. That’s because milk fat is made up of all different types of fatty acids, although some are more important than others. About 50 per cent of milk fat composition comes from four- to 16-carbon fatty acids chains manufactured in the udder that is supplied by volatile and other types of fatty acids produced by microbial fermentation of feed digested in the rumen. The other 50 per cent milk fat portion is drawn from fatty acids absorbed directly from the bloodstream. Blood-drawn fatty acids in milk fat are primarily made up of longer 16- to 18-carbon fatty acids. This fact is backed up research, which infused C16:0 free fatty acids into the udder and elicited a milk fat response, because the C16:0 free fatty acids are transferred into milk fat with greater efficiency compared to other fatty acids of different chain lengths. It is here where rumen bypass palm fat is a natural choice to raise milk fat production because of its naturally high C16:0 content. If only we could shake a palm tree and feed the fallen palm kernels as a source of C16:0 free fatty acids to high-producing dairy cows. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Rather, raw palm oil must be rendered, fractioned and filtered; the solid saturated fats are separated and turned into commercial beads, prilled or flaked free-fatty acids. Now as usable palm fat, it can be added directly into the lactating dairy diet. Due to its high melting point of 57 C, processed palm fat easily bypasses the rumen and is digested in the small intestine of the dairy cow. Their C16:0 fatty acid chains are absorbed into the bloodstream, transported to and then

drawn off by the udder and finally made into milk fat. A typical analysis from a bag of commercial rumen bypass palm fat is as follows: In order to feed palm fat to lactating dairy cows, the general rule is to take in account all the natural and added sources of vegetable oil and tallow already present. Then add in palm fat while making sure not to exceed five to six per cent total fat of the entire dairy diet. It is best to break the dairy diet down into three sections: • 23 kg of dry matter feed: forages mixed with defatted proteins (soybean or canola meal) and grains contains

three per cent natural fat — 690 g. • Supplement vegetable oil or tallow (100 per cent) — 300 g. • Supplement palm rumenprotected fat (99 per cent) — 400 g. Total = 1.39 kg or 5.9 per cent total fat (23.7 kg total diet). Regardless what brand of palm fat supplement is added to the diet, it is important to avoid overfeeding all dietary fat in one capacity or another. Dairy diets need to balanced with available non-structural carbohydrates such as sugar, starch and effective forage fibre (20-22 per cent eNDF) in the diet as well as protein, minerals and

vitamins in order to support health and normal activities of the resident microbes in the rumen. By following these simple guidelines, the right amount of palm fat can be added almost every time. I also believe adding any type of rumen bypass fat including palm fat should complement the rest of the dairy diet, rather than just focusing upon raising milk fat yield. Nutrition sense contributes to the overall profitability of the dairy barn. † Peter Vitti is an independent livestock nutritionist and consultant based in Winnipeg. To reach him call 204-254-7497 or by email at

photo: peter vitti

Raw palm kernels need to be crushed and oil rendered, fractioned, filtered and separated before being turned into commercial beads, prilled or flaked free-fatty acids.

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/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Cattleman’s Corner » CONTINUED FROM PAGE 42

Good ranch story, makes a great gift By Lee Hart


f you’re looking for a stocking stuffer or any-season gift for someone who enjoys stories about real ranch life, Grainews columnist Heather Smith Thomas is a long time published author with several books to her credit. Here are three titles that so aptly capture the experiences of raising cattle, horses and other critters. Horse Tales: True Stories from an Idaho Ranch (the original book in this series) is a collection of 22 stories about the horses that helped define the author’s life in Idaho ranch country. Horse Tales is a unique memoir infused with the brand

of wisdom that can be acquired only through an existence built around livestock and the land. Thomas centres each story around a specific animal, along the way sharing lessons on life, family and stockmanship.” (282 pages) Cow Tales: More True Stories from an Idaho Ranch (325 pages) is the second book. The press release from the publisher says “Following the success of her acclaimed nonfiction collection Horse Tales, Cow Tales is an entertaining and compelling lineup of autobiographical essays detailing her family’s adventures raising cattle in the challenging ranch country outside Salmon, Idaho. In the tradition of James

Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small), each story centres on a particular animal or aspect of animal husbandry, offering insight into the resourcefulness required to manage a cattle herd, and a heartwarming look at human-animal bonding.” Ranch Tales: Stories of Dogs, Cats and Other Crazy Critters, the third book in this series (273 pages) consists of stories about the memorable horses, pets, ranch animals and wildlife that populate a working ranch. These books can be ordered through any bookseller or from the publisher: The Frontier Project Inc. (phone: 719-237-0243)

Ease weaned calves into backgrounding and were more ready to go to feed and water instead of being worried and frantic. “When we had our Steer-a-Year project many years ago, we found once an animal got sick, he didn’t make you money. The profit was gone. Having to treat him derails that animal’s progress. We also know from Temple Grandin’s work that wild cattle do not perform as well; they are more readily under stress and they don’t get over it.” The welfare of cattle and the future of the cattle industry are tied together. The industry has not paid producers very well for preconditioning, and many producers have not been doing it, says Lastiwka.

VALUE OF PRECONDITIONING “Maybe we don’t fully understand what preconditioning is, and don’t do it properly,” he says. “Every time we handle cattle we are making them better or making them worse, by the way we go about it. “If we can work with them with better understanding, then when they go through the food chain they have more likelihood of remaining healthy and require less antibiotic treatments, and there’s less illness that spreads to other

animals. We can do preventative vaccinations and boosters before they leave the ranch. We want to prevent illness as much as we can, knowing that every producer is a part of a consumer’s eating experience. We all need to take credit for it, and we all can do something positive to help that animal on the way — so that the consumer likes the flavourful meat and doesn’t want to give up beef! This is what we hope for in the end: a tender product that never surprises us with toughness, generating outer and inner layers of fat properly, and makes the consumers’ eating experience one that they want to repeat more often,” he says. It is even important to cull the wild ones from herds as they can be a bad influence on the rest of the cattle. The calves of these cows and heifers tend to be wild, due to genetics and learned behaviour from mom. “Some people say that when you make mistakes with yearling cattle, it takes a long time to correct them,” says Lastiwka. “Adverse incidents can have a major impact on these animals.” Cattle have good memories and they don’t forget a bad experience. It pays to handle them quietly and without stress. With cattle prices dropping, more producers are looking at retained ownership and trying to make this a productive experience. † Heather Smith Thomas is a long time Grainews columnist who ranches with her husband Lynn near Salmon, Idaho. Contact her at 208-756-2841.

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /



Ready to share your wealth with employees? An Employee Share Ownership Plan may be a good option for your farm Elaine Froese


s Christmas approaches, you may be feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge if you’ve had a tough year with poor crops and low prices, but regardless of how the farm year turns out, you need labour support to get the job done. One of the biggest fears of founders that I coach is the fact that they may lose loyal, hard-working employees after the transfer of the farm to the next generation. It doesn’t have to be that way. Dan Ohler of ESOP Builders ( recently gave a webinar on how Employee Share Ownership Plans (ESOPs) work. We’ve been thinking about this on our farm as we have a fabulous young mechanic whom we would like to keep for the next 30 years. According to Ohler’s statistics, 51 per cent of business owners in Canada have no succession plan, and only nine per cent have a formal succession plan. Would your business be in a pickle if you lost a key employee? It may seem difficult to talk about your finances and personal goals for the future, but I suspect your biggest

barrier is that you are afraid of what life might look like after the business is transferred. Ohler suggested that 75 per cent of owners regret the sale of the business 12 months later because they were not emotionally ready to let go, they paid too much tax, and they didn’t take enough time to plan their retirement. That is why I suggest that farmers use the concept of “reinvention” and test out some of the things they would like to do, and still have a semi-active role in the farm business. Their transition is a role change, not a total “goodbye” to the farm. ESOPs would allow my key employee to have long-term value growth and purchase part of an ownership interest in the farm he works hard at. What are the benefits of an ESOP? • The founder can exit on his or her own time. It can be planned out in stages of letting go. • There may be instant liquidity with a potential for increased growth and profitability as your employees purchase shares and are now part owners and committed to the long-term success of the farm. • As co-owners, employees share the risks and rewards of the business, and they also become clearer about the financial transparency that impacts their work. • You’re not Scrooge; you are ena-

An easy knitted bag pattern by DEBBIE CHIKOUSKY


ver the past couple of months I have had the opportunity to knit projects for other people. This hasn’t happened in many years and it is always enjoyable. Usually it involved knitting a pattern that someone had chosen but want changed, but this time I just had to make one up. They wanted small bags of a certain size, shape and absolutely needed to have pompoms that matched and a drawstring. The pattern for these little bags turned out to be very simple and quick to knit. They are so versatile and a fun way to use up bits of yarns that all crafters seem to accumulate.

Gift Bag Pattern Bag supplies: 16 in. 5 mm circular needle 16 in. 6.5 mm circular needle 30 grams of yarn (I used a combination of “A” green and “B” variegated Christmas-coloured sparkle yarn) Scissors Tapestry needle 6 mm crochet hook Pompom supplies: 1 fork of desired width of finished pompom Scissors Co-ordinating yarn Bag instructions: Using “A” cast on 40 stitches with the 5 mm circular needle

bled by your ESOP to share success with your valued employees. The process is done through one, or a combination of the following alternatives: selling equity shares, selling equity value units (treated like a share), and share options (the employee is given a right to buy shares in the future at today’s price). ESOP Builders uses a transformational two-stage model — a three- to four-week feasibility study followed by a three- to six-month design, training and implementation. This ensures the ESOP is designed specifically for your unique operation and based on your goals and desires. Ohler says that “communication and culture are critical” to the process of share transfer, so the transition is successful. The leadership team must be keen about the process. There also needs to be an independent valuation of the company or farm by an outside person. This builds trust and establishes benchmarks for the future. “People support what they help to create,” says Ohler. On our farm, we have worked hard to create a culture of collaborative decisionmaking, where every employee and shareholder has a voice in the way things are done. It would be even more powerful if the non-family employees felt like the harder they worked, the better the financial gain

Row  1: K  nit making sure to join into a circle Row  2: Knit Row  3: Knit Row  4: Knit Row  5: Knit Row  6:  Change to the larger needle and colour “B.” Continue knitting five rows for each stripe for six full repeats. Then on the last stripe, same colour as what the bag started with, knit one row. Then change to the smaller needle and knit three rows, next row knit 2 together for the row. Next row feed a threaded tapestry needle through the stitches on the circular needle. Remove the circular needle, leaving the stitches on the yarn that was pulled through with the tapestry needle and pull the circle closed. Knot off and weave the ends in as desired.

for their family as they would have “skin in the game,” so to speak. Companies that have ESOP plans have: • An engaged workforce and increased recruiting power. What would that look like for your farm labour force to be really attractive to new labour? • More productivity, possibly 20 per cent higher, according to Ohler’s research. • Decreased turnover. High turnover is costly and stressful. I see this in farm families where the culture of conflict drives great employees away. • Increased innovation and creativity as all the owners are open to new and better ways of accomplishing the farm’s goals. When employees are part owners they take pride in their work, and have a voice for creating change. • Increased job satisfaction. We all want to get out of bed for a vocation that gives us meaning and purpose. When you do your job well and reap the benefits of growth, it is a win/win. But Ohler is also clear that you need to recognize the risks of using an employee ownership plan: • It could fail, but Ohler shared research indicating ESOPs have an 80 per cent success rate. • There is a limited market for selling shares. Ohler says an annual internal “mini-market”

Drawstring instructions:  Chain a 21-inch string with colour of choice leaving a 2-inch tail to assist in knotting the pompom on. Using the crochet hook weave the drawstring through the top of the bag. Pompom  instructions:  Wrap yarn 55 times around the tines of fork. Feed a piece of yarn about 6 inches long between the tines of the fork, centred, and tie tightly. Slip the pompom off the fork and using scissors cut the loops. Trim as needed. Thread the ends through the tapestry needle and then sew them through the bottom loop of the drawstring. Tie the ends of the pompom with the end of the drawstring, knot, cut. The size of the pompom can be smaller or bigger depending on the size of the fork.

Elaine Froese wishes all of her readers joy and peace in their homes. Visit www. or @elainefroese, Like “Farm Family Coach“ on Facebook.

This project took about two hours from start to finish and could be used in many ways. A shoulder strap could be added and it would make a very cute purse for a little girl. Lined with a freezer bag they could be used for colourful plant pot covers to cheer up a winter room. By simply adding more rows these bags would also make reusable hostess gift bags for wine to take along to a dinner party. This was an easy project to knit with these circular needles, perfect for a Sunday afternoon. I learned a new skill — knitting with circular needles — and it gave me the confidence to attempt socks. Now to patiently wait for the mill to call and tell me our own sheep’s wool is ready to come home and be made into socks! † Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Manitoba

! ay d. tod ite ter lim gis is Re ting a Se

This is a great opportunity to learn from great, powerful women in Ag and other industries. Sometimes it can be easy to forget all the possible connections we can make, so getting into a room with 570+ women really helps! – Jamie Y., Regina, Saskatchewan, AWC Delegate

provides some liquidity. And shares can also be sold back to the company. • You have to comply with tax laws, which do change occasionally. • Share dilution can occur. If more people join the plan, there could be a dilution of the percentage or value of the shares an employee owns. • The administrator may terminate the plan. • Unforeseen economic changes may put pressure on the plan. I know that when our successor son started to own assets, he became highly attuned to the risks he needed to manage. Ownership creates accountability and desire to protect assets and creates more growth opportunities. Please take the time to check out if Employee Share Ownership Plans are a good fit for your farm. December is usually a time of taking stock and seeing if there is room for “bonuses” to employees as a gift at year-end. Perhaps this year you can start the conversation about a lasting way to engage your key employees for life. That concept will scare the Scrooges away. (See more at and †

LISTEN, LEARN, NETWORK & GROW ~ HYATT REGENCY CALGARY, MARCH 6 & 7, 2017 Open your mind to the endless possibilities. Prepare to be inspired. Acquire the life skills you need to reach your goals and live your life to your full potential. Network with women passionate about agriculture. This conference could be life-changing. Register today! Visit or phone 403-686-8407.

Advancing Women Conference WEST 2017 / Grainews / 9.875” x 3”


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Home Quarter Farm Life PRAIRIE PALATE

Is the farm a healthier place to grow up on?


s we head into the winter cold season, I am feeling quite smug. I rarely get colds. I have no allergies and a stomach as impervious as a cast iron pan. I attribute the healthy state of my immune system to growing up on a farm. Mucking about in the garden, eating bugs and dirt, playing with the barn cats and feeding the pigs. We washed our hands before dinner (usually) but there was no such thing as antibacterial soap. As Grandma used to say, a little dirt won’t hurt you. It seemed a healthy way to grow up, and now there’s new proof. A recent study found that Amish children are much less likely to have asthma than the general population. Since asthma is triggered like an allergy, the state of the immune system is a deciding factor. It’s proof that growing up on a farm is healthy. But it’s not that simple. The study found that Hutterite children have the same incidence of asthma as the general population, about 20 per cent. This surprised the researchers since, on the surface, Amish and Hutterite children have many things in common: German heritage, isolated communities, big gardens and livestock barns. Why the difference? Are Amish kids down in the dirt? Are Hutterite kids better at washing their hands? Is it the Amish rejection of high tech and inorganic pesticides or the Hutterite penchant for communal living and big modern farms? And where does my upbringing fit in that picture? I grew up eating fresh garden carrots (rubbed sort of clean with the fronds) but I also knew the sweet smell of wafting pesticides. What does this study say about me?

It turns out the deciding factor isn’t old-world farming or carrots clinging with soil. The protective factor is farm animals. Those children who grew up in close contact with livestock and their environments were less likely to suffer from asthma and allergies. Amish kids went everywhere by horse and buggy, whereas the Hutterite kids were less likely to hang out in their modern, intensive livestock barns. Other studies in Europe found this protective factor begins in the womb. Children born of mothers exposed to livestock during pregnancy were the least likely to suffer from asthma. Another interesting note: the study was conducted by sweeping up the dust in Amish and Hutterite homes and testing it. Thank goodness for dust! Perhaps someday I can devote my home to science. One of my favourite play places as a kid was the barn. It was a big old white barn with stalls on ground level and a loft above with gaping holes in the floorboards for tossing down the hay. There were no animals in the barn — except the cats. My dad didn’t keep cattle, but his parents and grandparents did. Still, it was a dusty place. We had pigs, just a few for our own consumption. They lived in an older shed across the farm. When I was small — and they were small — I considered them playmates. We also had chickens. My earliest memories are of gathering the eggs in the warm, dusty, stinky henhouse. It’s pretty safe to say I inhaled plenty of animal dander in my earliest years. And thank goodness for that. Here’s a recipe for one of my favourite winter comfort foods. I make it when my husband gets a cold. † Amy Jo Ehman is the author of Prairie Feast: A Writer’s Journey Home for Dinner, and, Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens. She hails from Craik, Saskatchewan.

Get Well Soon Meat loaf

photo: amy jo ehman

Amy Jo Ehman

3 slices of hardy white bread 1 c. milk 1 egg 1/2 onion, chopped 1 tsp. fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1 lb. lean ground beef

1/2 lb. pork sausages, casings removed 1 tbsp. parsley, chopped 1 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper 1 tbsp. tomato paste 1 tbsp. honey 1 tsp. brown mustard A fat pinch of ground coriander

Break the bread into pieces in a large bowl. In a blender combine the milk, egg, onion, thyme and vinegar. Pour over the bread and mix well, giving the bread a few minutes to soak up the milk. Add the meat, parsley, salt and pepper, mixing thoroughly. Pat the mixture into a bread loaf pan. Stir together the tomato paste, honey, mustard and coriander. Spread on meat loaf. Bake at 350 F for one hour. For a browned crust, turn on the broiler for a few minutes at the end of cooking.

Canadian Young Farmers Forum @CYFF

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DECEMBER 6, 2016 /


Home Quarter Farm Life

My struggles as a farmwife I wouldn’t change my life for anything but I didn’t truly know what I was getting into

Sarah Schultz is a nurse who fell in love with and married a farmer. She’s embracing her role as farm wife and mom raising three boys on the family grain farm in Wheatland County, Alberta. She’s often seen with her camera in her hands and blogs about their life on her blog Nurse Loves Farmer.

photo: courtesy


n marriage we leave our parents and become one with our spouse. As women, we more often than not take their last names and join their families — especially so in the farming communities. In my case, I left behind a life in the city of Edmonton that I really loved, a job in the pediatric operating room that I still miss very much to this day, the friends I grew up with, the friends I made in university and at work, and most importantly my own family. Everything that was familiar to me I left behind to move three hours away to start our life on the farm where I really only knew his family and some of his friends. Our friends back in Edmonton all have kids who are our kids’ ages, and sometimes I long for what good friends they’d be if we still lived there. One of the things I struggle with most as a farmwife and farm mom are the three months of the year during the busy times on our farm where I single-parent. It all starts with seeding in late April and May which trickles into a less intense, but still busy, spraying season in June; and from mid-August to at least the end of September for harvest. Most mornings my farmer sees the kids for breakfast before he runs out the door. He only sees them during the day if I take the boys out to the field for a visit/ tractor ride and we see him probably 80 per cent of the time for supper and he’s never home to help at bedtime unless it rains. After a week or so it just becomes routine doing everything by myself, but I still miss having that support from my husband, especially as our kids get older and have school and sports to be taken to. Nine years of marriage later and I’m still getting used to the fact that the weather rules the roost in our family. Farming is very time sensitive, and I respect that, so when the weather is nice or a storm is coming — the guys have to work. They just have to, even if it means missing a dinner with friends, a birthday party, helping out at home, or delaying our summer vacation for three weeks like we had to one year. Farmers can truly never commit to things unless the forecast allows them to. Then there’s the flip side of it all in seeing how hard my husband works all to have it taken away by the weather. He worked extra hard this spring and early summer and we didn’t have time to do day trips to the lake or to go on a short camping trip like we usually do, and half of our crops were wiped out in a 10-minute hailstorm. I know there are many careers where husbands work out of town or overseas for weeks and months and years on end, and yes — I know to a certain extent what I signed up for marrying a grain farmer — but this is a reflection of my life and my story and how it affects me and only me. I am learning as I go and I’m trying to become more

gracious and understanding as the years and farming seasons go by, because truthfully I didn’t know exactly what I signed up for when I married my farmer. How could I? I didn’t grow up on a farm or in a farming community and this truly didn’t dawn on me until a few years ago. I am sincerely very thankful for the life that I have and I know that we are blessed beyond measure to live this life that we do. Life as a farmer’s wife isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. †

When Sarah Schultz married her farmer she left her familiar city life for life on a grain farm.

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Seed survival still stumps Seed killer still at large. Several suspects behind high mortality, but no arrests By Lee Hart


hat’s killing those canola seeds before a seedling can get out of the ground? That could very well be a 64 million or perhaps billion dollar answer for Prairie farmers looking at seed priced at about $10 per pound and anywhere from a 20 to 50 per cent seed mortality rate. But you can’t necessarily blame seed or equipment for the poor performance. Even with good-quality seed and properly adjusted equipment used to seed the crop into almost ideal seed bed conditions, the results of crop emergence are all over the board, says Blaine Metzger, a researcher with Alberta’s AgTech Centre in Lethbridge. The AgTech Centre has looked at the issue in the past couple of seasons, and hopes to continue the work to pinpoint what is affecting canola seed survival, says Metzger. “The fact is there appear to be so many variables,” says Metzger. “We have used one type of opener on replicated plots to seed canola and in one plot the emergence was 80 per cent, and then used the same piece of equipment on another plot and the emergence was 50 per cent.” In fact, in their research they

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have used eight different openers all on the same air seeding system — from minimum to high disturbance openers — and found the same degree of variability. “You can get losses due to seeding depth and seed placement, seed that didn’t germinate because it was mechanically damaged. Fertilizer damage and seeding speed is an important factor, too” says Metzger. “But we found that losses due to any one of these factors in itself wasn’t enough to account for situations where there was 50 per cent seed mortality. It is frustrating, because just when you think you might have something, the next plot proves you wrong. So we’re thinking if it is not the seed and equipment it has to be an environmental effect.” Metzer says he had focused on canola because it has such variable seed survival. But large-seed crops such as cereals and pulse crops can also experience 20 to 30 per cent seed mortality. Tracking seed placement and depth, and counting seedlings is a labour-intensive process. Metzger needs as many as eight technicians and summer students spending a lot of time on their knees to determine where the seeds are and whether they survived.

» Continued on page 4

photo: courtesy of alberta agtech centre


It’s a lot of tedious work to looking into seed survival by digging into a seed row after seeding to count seeds, measuring spacing between seeds and confirming seed depth.

In This Issue

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


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


Crop advisor’s Casebook


Columns ........................... 16 Machinery & Shop ............ 24


/ DECEMBER 6, 2016

Home Quarter Farm Life SINGING GARDENER

Get ready to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday is next year and National Garden Day is June 16, 2017


photo: ted meseyton

o what’s on the agenda in this my final Grainews column for 2016? Well I’ll touch a bit on our nation’s 150th birthday coming up. Does anyone among the older folks remember when happiness was a handful of polly seeds? As a youth I recall a family with a bird named Polly related to the budgie and parrot group. They finally taught their bird to say: “Polly wants a cracker.” Although I no longer have a canary, I always appreciated its bird-singing ability. Whenever I picked up the guitar to do a tune, my canary knew what was in store and insisted on joining me with its delightful trills. If you have a canary or other bird story to share, my email inbox will obediently receive it. Have just finished sipping a cup of green tea — one of my energizers. Believe it or not, I was out in the garden on November 8 picking fresh peppermint and sage leaves untouched by frost. Along came guitarist, spiritual singer and songwriter Suzanne Bird for a visit. She was quite taken by the peppermint and sage plants and posed for a picture. Among her original compositions are song titles such as “Northern Lights” and “Métis Memory.” Well that’s my preamble so I’ll tip my welcome hat, blow off the dust, put it back on and say thanks folks for thumbing your way to the Singing Gardener page.

Spiritual singer, songwriter and guitarist Suzanne Bird harvests fresh peppermint leaves during a warm, sunny Manitoba afternoon in early November.

An entire year of celebrations is about to begin in less than a month leading to Canada’s official 150th birthday on July 1, 2017 and WOW that’s something special. The first tulip beds in our nation’s capital were planted in 1945, when the Netherlands sent 100,000 tulip bulbs as a postwar gift of gratitude for the role Canadian soldiers had played in the liberation of the Netherlands. Canada turns 150 in 2017. To honour the occasion a special Canada 150 maple leaf-inspired tulip was unveiled in Ottawa. We live in such a great country under the umbrella of the Canadian flag. Three hundred thousand red and white tulips bearing a striking resemblance to our maple leaf flag have already been planted in Ottawa flower beds to showcase next spring’s celebration. Thousands more will bloom in community gardens across the land. “Tulips are a symbol of springtime; rebirth and promises which make them a powerful symbol in the lead-up to the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday,” said a representative of the heritage minister. In addition, there are numerous other activities and events already planned or in stages of completion in cities and small towns everywhere.

NATIONAL GARDEN DAY, JUNE 16, 2017 Did you know we observe a National Garden Day in our country? It’s Canada’s annual celebration of gardens and gardening. It always falls on the Friday before Father’s Day. Next year’s celebration of gardens has been extended to run 10 days from June 9 to June 18, 2017 and provides more flexibility and time for activity organizers to plan events. The objective of Garden Days “is to draw attention to our garden culture, history and innovations and to underscore the importance of public and private gardens, the values of home gardening and the promotion of environmental stewardship.” Think of “Canada Celebrates Garden Days” as an opportunity to brag about what grows in our own front and backyards. It’s a joyful, countrywide celebration, connecting with the beauty of nature and how gardens and gardening impact our communities and our lives. Hopefully this excites people and places to plan, plant and grow something special and to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday. Last year cities, both large and small proclaimed the Friday before Father’s Day as their “Official Garden Day.” Want your community to do the same thing? Join together with other towns and cities across the country from north and south, east to west between the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans and celebrate the values of gardens and gardening. Declare June 16, 2017 — the Friday before Father’s Day — as your community’s Official Garden Day. Remember, you can be part of this national joyful countrywide event. It can

photo: courtesy national capital commission, ottawa


ted meseyton

More than 300,000 Canada 150 tulips will be blooming across the National Capital Region this spring. It’s the official tulip of Canada’s 150th birthday. be one individual, or consolidated with a combination of families, schools and various groups hosting fundraisers selling mementos, having barbecues, garden pep talks, live music and tours of red and white floral beds. More information can be had at Activity submissions will be accepted starting in March 2017.

A HANDFUL OF POLLY SEEDS In future, some people may live to reach 150 healthful and rewarding years. Is that a pipe dream or reality? In the meantime, eating some polly seeds each day will certainly help some of us to still be around for a 90th and 100th birthday in human terms and perhaps beyond. There’s an old statement that goes something like this. Back in Depression days when we were counting pennies instead of calories, happiness was a pocketful of polly seeds. I dedicate this section to each reader who personally not only seeks the glow of health but also the same glow on faces of their family, loved ones and friends. Now I’m letting the cat out of the bag. Some of you may already know that polly seeds are actually sunflower seeds. Gardens play a vital role in lives of people. Good for you if you harvested a few big heads of matured sunflower seeds this fall. If not, it’s an old habit worth reviving. So many people tell me they can’t sleep. Eat a small handful of raw sunflower seeds a couple of hours before bedtime and see what happens. Could be you’ll get a good night’s rest. If you’re a smoker the hulled seeds will keep your hands and mouth so busy that there’s no time for a cigarette. They actu-

ally can contribute to a good feeling. It’s due to the storehouse of essential nutrients in sunflower seeds and backed by science. But don’t tell that to immigrant families who for generations earlier already knew of the value and sense of well-being with no side-effects from eating sunflower seeds. One really crucial nutrient is vitamin F along with essential fatty acids, so often lacking in the human diet. An eminent English nutritionist says we need vitamin K for the prevention of bronchial asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcers. Sunflower seeds are especially high in linoleic acid which helps prevent harmful deposits of bad cholesterol and provides protection against diseases such as arteriosclerosis, internal blood clots, kidney stones and gall bladder stones. We’re into the really low-light time of year and a handful of raw sunflower seeds daily can help maintain beautiful hair and healthy skin. This may sound a little silly, but if you ever get a slew of bills all at once, place a dish of raw sunflower seeds along with a few carrot sticks on top of them and see if this doesn’t help restore that “good feeling.” When visiting someone recuperating from an illness take sunflower seeds to him/her rather than candy. Roasted sunflower seeds are OK occasionally, but they lose some nutrients. Make sure they’re low salted or better yet, no salt added. For couples having difficulty conceiving a child, don’t overlook sunflower seeds, as they are absolutely essential to smooth functioning of all reproductive processes. Pumpkin seeds are also a healthy snack but that’s another story.

SO WHO WAS THOMAS EDISON? No one disputes that we use a lot of electric power at this time of year. After all, our shortest day of the year for daylight is just weeks away. Thomas Edison encountered several failures before inventing the first practical electric light bulb in 1879. Nobody saw the years of effort, and the number of failures he had to face for that single life-defining moment. He believed that to enjoy success one must be willing to taste bitter failure as well. Don’t let your unsuccessful pursuits dishearten you. Let sheer indulgence reinstate the belief that you will see light at the end of the tunnel. During his lifetime as an inventor and business person, he had a lot more to offer us with his famous quotes. Discover the light in these words of thoughts and inspiration from Thomas Edison that we attribute to him. “I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favour of the kings of the world. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” †

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I’ll be singing tunes during December and January such as Christmas in Canada, Christmas Card and Happy New Year All. I read my email at


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