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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 13 E D I T I O N
PLANNING THE NEXT CROP — AND BEYOND
IS INTEGRATED WEED MANAGEMENT DEAD? PG 8 YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE WEED RESISTANCE PG 12
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE DEREGULATING DURUM MARKETS HASN’T HAD MUCH IMPACT SPRAYER INNOVATION CONTINUES TO HAPPEN QUICKLY
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FOCUS ON: WEED CONTROL
IS IWM DOA?
IGNORANCE ISN’T BLISS
DOES ANYONE EVEN CONSIDER NON-CHEMICAL APPROACHES ANYMORE?
DON’T IGNORE THE LOOMING ISSUE OF WEED RESISTANCE.
Can farmers ever afford to do the right thing? A few facts from around the industry.
More than 1,000 words
There’s nothing simple about the newest herbicides.
Half and half
A new era for WGRF
Budget for sclerotinia
Sprayers are evolving fast. A look at how your wheat becomes bread.
Soybean double top significant for market.
COVER PHOTO: DAVE REEDE
A system that wasn’t organic but didn’t use pesticides on growing crops was working until it fell afoul of the Feds. The flax industry is gearing up for a push to clear the system of Triffid once and for all. It’s early yet, but so far it’s looking good for spring. Life science giant Syngenta is jumping into the North American canola seed market feet first.
Farmers are expecting an open market to grow barley acres.
The deregulation of the durum market doesn’t seem to have altered durum prices one way or the other. New funding is putting an even clearer focus on farmers in research efforts. All canola growers should be prepared to pull the trigger this season. There’s a new dual-action option on the market. Research at Cigi is opening up new markets for pulse crops.
PL A N NIN G T HE NE X T CRO P — A ND BE YO ND
Not now, not ever?
ne of the benefits of having a few more miles on my personal odometer — along with the bum knee and the ankle that can tell me what the weather is about to do — is having more experience and knowledge. Thinking back to the early days of my career as a farm writer, at the weekly newspaper the MANITOBA CO-OPERATOR, I can’t help but shake my head ruefully. There was so much I needed to learn. I certainly wouldn’t claim to know it all now — far from it in fact. But I will say that after more than 15 years in the industry, I have proven I’m not too dumb to learn — despite the impression I’m sure I left more than a few of my high school teachers with. Most of this growing base of information came the hard way, spending a lot of time at meetings and talking to people. And while it’s often a good thing, sometimes it can also be frustrating, especially when evidence suggests that this is a business that’s content to talk out of both sides of its mouth at times. Harsh words? Perhaps, and I’m prepared for a few choice comments flowing into my email box over this one — all I ask is that you hear me out first. In this case my reflection flows from a single observation in Ron Friesen’s integrated weed management (IWM) article (page 8). One of his sources said farmers can’t afford to do the right thing, because they’ve got to make up ground lost during the bust that preceded this boom. That stuck in my craw, because I remember all too well writing similar articles during that bust about similar topics, where I was assured that there’s no way a farmer could actually DO any of these things because they were under too much economic pressure. So it does beg the question —
if you can’t do it when times are bad or good, exactly when can you do it? Is there ever a Goldilocks moment when conditions are just right? I begin to suspect not. This is a real shame too, because there’s plenty of evidence accruing that when farmers do start to make some of these changes, unexpected economic benefits can suddenly pop up. In the case of IWM programs, the benefit is a healthier bottom line through lower production costs. Think of a profit margin as two lines, one representing your cost of production, the other your level of production. Yes, increasing production can increase the gap between the two, but so can lowering your costs. Management 101, I realize, but I never hear many people talking about cost containment, not compared to the flood of information on increasing production. We’ve seen evidence of this happening and working — think zero tillage or rotational grazing. In both cases these systems delivered both environmental and economic benefits and have increasingly become the dominant way of doing business. I would suggest that the time is always ripe to continue down this path. In good times you have the luxury of being able to take a few risks and not lose the farm. In bad times, necessity becomes the mother of invention, and farmers do begin to investigate cost containment. Remember, zero till really hit its stride in the ugly ’90s. So don’t write off things like IWM or other biologically based approaches to agriculture, nor laugh at your neighbours who are pursuing them. When the next bust comes — as it inevitably will in a cyclical commodity industry — you may be forced to pursue them yourselves. ■
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Gleanings g r a i n
i n d u s t r y
n e w s
Extremely tight canola ending stocks expected By Dwayne Klassen, COMMODITY NEWS SERVICE CANADA
Canola supplies in Canada are expected to be extremely tight at the end of the 2012-13 season ending July 31, based on strong usage of the commodity by both the export and domestic sectors. The question remains, for many market participants: How tight will the supply situation get? Private trade estimates are currently pegging 2012-13 canola ending stocks in the 350,000- to 600,000-tonne range, which will put canola supplies in the extremely tight category. “Any time you have canola supplies that drop below one million tonnes, those are extremely tight,” said Jerry Klassen, manager of GAP Grains and Produits in Winnipeg. He acknowledged that the strong export pace combined with increased crush capacity has resulted in very strong usage of the crop. Mike Jubinville, an analyst with ProFarmer Canada in Winnipeg, said a lot of the export demand that came forward for canola was front loaded, and once those commitments have been covered, export demand for canola will drop off. There were already signs that the export sector has begun to back off on trying to obtain canola from the farming community, he said. However, he did note that the need of domestic processors to cover canola commitments continues at an aggressive pace. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in its December supply/ demand table, pegged canola ending stocks for 2012-13 at an extremely small 350,000 tonnes. At the end of the 2011-12 season, canola supplies in Canada totalled 728,000 tonnes based on AAFC projections. “To tell you the truth, if there is indeed only 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes of canola in Canada at the end of the current 2012-13 season, that would be barely enough to load onto any kind of vessel,” said Darren Frank, an analyst with FarmLink Marketing Solutions in Winnipeg. The canola, he said, would be so sparsely located across a large portion of Canada, that it would be very difficult to secure those supplies. Exports of Canadian canola in 2012-13 have been forecast by AAFC at 7.2 million tonnes, which would be down from the record 8.699 million exported in 2011-12. Domestic usage in 2012-13 was pegged by AAFC at 6.555 million tonnes, which would be down from the record 6.999 million in 2011-12. Frank said that with domestic crush capacity in Canada still expected to increase further over the next couple of years, production will need to increase in order to meet commitment goals. Some individuals have suggested that canola ending stocks could run into negative numbers, if the pace of usage does not let up soon. However, Jubinville said usage will slow as the scarcity of supply rations demand. “There is no such thing as negative ending stocks,” he said.
North American potash supplies rise in December The news service R e u t e r s reports North American potash inventories at the producer level, a main indicator of market sentiment, edged up at the end of last year, to their highest level since March. Potash stockpiles rose 2.8 per cent to 3.145 million tonnes, according to data posted on PotashCorp’s website. Inventories at the producer level now stand 37 per cent above the previous five-year average. Spot potash prices have eased to roughly US$460 per tonne. Potash supplies have swollen as top global consumers China and India delayed signing new supply contracts with Canpotex, the offshore marketing company owned by PotashCorp, Agrium and Mosaic Co. Canpotex announced a six-month contract with China on Dec. 31. Potash exports by the North American producers bumped up sharply in December over the previous month to 586,000 tonnes, but were still 20 per cent below the pace set a year earlier. Domestic sales, mainly to the United States, were flat from a year earlier at 467,000 tonnes. Three mines operated by PotashCorp, the world’s biggest producer by capacity, are currently shut down temporarily as the company whittles down supplies. The vast majority of the potash produced in North America is mined in Saskatchewan, where PotashCorp has its headquarters.
Appointments Jon Treloar joins Novozymes BioAg A familiar face to western Canadian agriculture has joined the Novozymes BioAg team in Saskatoon. Jon Treloar was recently appointed that organization’s western Canadian technical agronomist. Most recently Treloar was the marketing and community liaison co-ordinator with the University of Saskatchewan: College of Agriculture and Bioresources. In a prepared media release the company noted Treloar brings a diverse background in sustainable agriculture and is tremendously excited to be part of our Novozymes BioAg team. Cathy Soanes, manager customer solutions, North America in the release said, “I am so pleased that Jon has joined our Canadian team to help further our commitment to education and training.” “Jon will be responsible for managing our Canadian Customer Solutions testing program to supply our customers with important regional data. He will also be responsible for the development and implementation of internal training tools and sales support. Jon will work with channel and industry contacts in addition to ag media.
Give us your input If you have a milestone you feel should be noted in our regular Gleanings column, please send the information, along with an electronic photo of any individual noted in the item, to Crops Guide editor Gord Gilmour at:
6 CROPS GUIDE
More seed solutions than Prairie towns.
Date Produced: January 2013
Trim -10” x 13” Bleed - 10.5” x 13.5”
Genes that fit your farm. No matter where you farm. Call your SeCan seed retailer today. 800-665-7333 www.secan.com 1 Developed by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Swift Current 2 Developed by Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan 3 Developed by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Winnipeg 4 Developed by Wiersum Plant Breeding, The Netherlands 5 Developed by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon
6 Developed by DL Seeds Inc. ‘AC’ is an official mark used under license from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada. Genes that fit your farm® is a registered trademark of SeCan.
focus on weed management
Is IWM DOA?
Everyone agrees integrated weed management is sound science and a very timely response to growing resistance issues — so how come almost nobody does it?
ype the phrase “integrated weed management” into your web browser and nearly two million results come up. Scan them briefly and you’ll find many are publications proclaiming the essentialness of this weed control practice. Information on IWM? Lots of it. Actual application on the farm? Not so much. Extolled for years as a way of controlling weeds while reducing input costs, IWM seems to be one of those agronomic practices that never quite made a successful leap from the pages of scholarly journals to the fields of Western Canada. “I think it’s perceived as kind of an intellectual university-type of concept as opposed to something a real farmer would do,” says Steve Shirtliffe, a plant science professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. That’s not to say IWM isn’t done at all. Neil Harker, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada plant scientist at Lacombe, Alberta, points out IWM simply means managing weeds with more than one method of control. There are four such methods: chemical, biological, cultural and physical. Virtually all farmers except organic producers use herbicides. So they’re already partway toward practising IWM without even knowing it. Unfortunately, that’s where they stop, says Harker. “One of the issues is that growers are used to quick action with herbicides. With other methods, you have to be much more patient,” he says. “Technically, IWM is adopted by quite a few people.
You don’t always need to spray Farmers consider themselves lucky if they don’t have to spray for weeds. But according to Gary Martens, not spraying is a matter of creating your own luck. Most farmers expect to use herbicides when they plant crops in spring. But Martens, a University of Manitoba plant science instructor, says the idea is to plant a crop in the hope of not having to spray. How do you do that? By using cultural practices. One such practice is crop rotation, says Martens, who practises integrated weed management on a micro-farm near Kleefeld in southeastern Manitoba. Winter cereals break dormancy early in spring and get ahead of weeds, limiting their effect. Thus, inserting winter wheat or fall rye into the rotation every few years can help suppress weeds. Breaking up a wheat-canola rotation with a three-year alfalfa stand can achieve the same effect. Another recommended practice is to plant annual crops early. This gives them a jump on later-emerging weeds such as green foxtail and red root pigweed. Higher seeding rates and narrow row spacing result in a dense plant canopy which provides greater competition against weeds. Yes, upping seeding rates and planting rows closer together increases seed costs. But increased yields can compensate for the higher expense. Martens also recommends growers use competitive crop varieties. For example, organic farmers like McKenzie hard red spring wheat, a lesser-known variety which seems to compete better against weeds. Some varieties of barley also appear to do the same. Besides general IWM, Martens also encourages farmers to use precision agriculture tools such as GPS, GIS mapping software and variable-rate controllers to make weed maps. Then, using these “agronomic eyes,” spray only the areas that have weeds. Martens says all the technology needed for this exists, although he’s not sure how many producers are actually doing it.
8 CROPS GUIDE
By Ron Friesen But from a practical point of view, in my mind, there’s way too much reliance on herbicides and not enough reliance on the other methods.” Gary Martens thinks he knows why. A plant science instructor at the University of Manitoba, Martens was once criticized at a farm meeting for speaking about integrated weed management. Producers told him IWM may be all very well but it’s not economical at a time when some growers are taking advantage of high commodity prices to pay off debts still outstanding from the farm financial crisis of the 1990s. “Many farmers can’t afford to think long term. They think one year at a time,” Martens says. Put simply, IWM combines different agronomic practices in order to reduce reliance on any single weed control method. As one MAFRI publication puts it: “Controlling weeds with one or two techniques gives the weeds a chance to adapt to those practices. For example, the use of herbicides with the same mode of action (belonging to the same herbicide group) year after year has resulted in weeds that are resistant to those herbicides. The continuous production of certain types of crops also gives weeds a chance to adapt… Integrated weed management uses a variety of control practices to keep weeds ‘off balance.’ Weeds are less able to adapt to a constantly changing system that uses many different control practices, unlike a program that relies on one or two weed control tools.” There you have it in a nutshell. Overreliance on herbicides eventually reduces their effectiveness. Using a range of tools reduces dependence on chemicals to control weeds. That’s the essence of IWM. According to Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, there are four basic tools in the IWM weed control tool box. • Practices that favour crop competition (e.g., seeding early, spacing rows closer together, seeding at a higher rate). • Diversified production systems that make it difficult for weeds to adapt (including perennial forages and winter cereals in the rotation). • Practices that limit the spread of weed species (cleaning combines and other equipment before moving to another field, tarping grain loads to prevent weeds from blowing out during transport). • Optimal herbicide use (reducing application rates or even skipping an application altogether). Harker, who has been talking about IWM since the early 1980s, compares it to using a series of little hammers as opposed to one big hammer. “When you combine all these things together, they can have dramatic effects even as large as herbicides,” he says. “But herbicides are so enticing.” However, that may be about to change because of a sobering discovery in Alberta last year. On January 11, 2012, Monsanto Canada issued a statement saying AAFC scientists had confirmed the presence of glyphosate-resistant kochia in Alberta. Kochia isn’t exactly the No. 1 weed problem on the Prairies. But scientists believe it may be a canary in the coal mine. Already established in parts of the United States and Australia, glyphosate resistance, if it became widespread, would be a serious problem to agriculture in Western Can-
ada. It’s the inevitable result of repeated use over extended periods of time, says Martin Entz, a University of Manitoba plant science professor. “We have a system which is very reliant on one or two herbicide groups — glyphosate and grassy weed control in wheat crops,” says Entz. “If you work away at a biological population with one tactic for long enough, the population will find a way to overcome the tactic.” Entz says growers in Western Canada started to see warning signs in the mid-1990s when herbicide resistance began showing up among Group 1 products. Then along came Roundup Ready crops and the danger receded. Now glyphosate resistance is threatening to rear
its head and concern about herbicides losing their effectiveness has returned once more. Worse still, according to Entz, many farmers have significantly narrowed their crop rotations over the last 15 years, leaving themselves open to herbicide-resistant weeds because of a lack of crop diversity. Some may argue herbicide-resistant weeds aren’t necessarily serious as long as alternative herbicides are available. All that’s needed is to mix in another product from a different group. Unfortunately, as herbicide resistance spreads, the range B:10.5” of alternative products T:10” narrows. But if farmers expect new chemistry to come riding in on S:8” a white horse and save the day, they may be in for a long wait.
“There is this assumption that industry is holding these magic bullets and waiting to fly in like Superman and deliver them,” says Shirtliffe. “I’ve talked to people from the industry and they say, in the short to medium term, don’t expect anything.” As a result, farmers may eventually have to turn to IWM as a game saver. The notion that IWM is impractical for a large-scale commercial farm may be a barrier to its adoption. But Entz insists size doesn’t matter and IWM can be just as effective on a 10,000-acre operation as on a small test plot. Entz says IWM does not require a wholesale shift in agronomic practices. All that’s
Continued on page 12
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focus on weed management
Continued from page 9 needed are a few changes to what producers are already doing. For example, Entz recommends breaking up a regular rotation (e.g. wheat-canola) every six years by putting the land into perennial forages for four years. Alfalfa in particular will compete successfully against most weeds and significantly reduce their seed bank. Next, Entz suggests grain farmers alter their rotations to include winter cereals every third or fourth year. Studies show winter wheat off to an early start in spring helps control laterdeveloping weeds almost as effectively as herbicides. Entz says farmers often report they don’t need to spray for wild oats in winter wheat because the crop competes so successfully against the weed. Finally, don’t spray for weeds if you don’t have to. Martens says a 2010 survey by the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (the provincial crop insurance agency) found there were 3.2 million acres of canola in the province that year and 4.5 million acres were sprayed. That means every acre of canola received an average of 1.4 herbicide treatments. Wheat was even more heavily sprayed — 2.7 million acres received 1.7 treatments. “Research suggests you need a herbicide 60 per cent of the time and 40 per cent of the time you don’t,” says Martens. “The figures indicate farmers are spending more time and money than they need to, and probably increasing the risk of resistance.” It’s only natural to seek a quick, reliable fix for a pest as damaging as weeds. As described in Clinton Evans’ 2002 book The War on Weeds, western Canadian farmers at the end of the Second World War were almost ready to give up because weeds were so bad. Then 2,4-D was commercially released in 1946 and producers suddenly had the weed control tool they desperately needed. Still one of the most widely used herbicides in North America today, 2,4-D also opened the door to a new era of weed control through chemical means. But that control came with a price. Today, scientists worry producers are forsaking cultural and other practices in favour of chemicals. That, say scientists, is a recipe for herbicide resistance. This makes a move toward IPM increasingly necessary, Entz says. “Don’t believe herbicide developers when they say resistance can’t happen. Because that’s what farmers were told 15 years ago when herbicide-tolerant crops came along — glyphosate is not one of those herbicides that will cause resistance. And look what happened.” n 12 CROPS GUIDE
Ignorance isn’t bliss Prairie farmers must understand the scope of the looming weed control challenge they’ll almost certainly soon be facing
lyphosate-resistant kochia isn’t theoretical anymore. It popped up in a fallow field in Warner, Alta., a transplant from Kansas that followed the prevailing northwest winds and drifted along as a tumbling tumbleweed. Canada fleabane and two species of ragweed, immune to the mechanisms of the once-unstoppable glyphosate are also poised to move north into Manitoba and waterhemp is waiting for the next flood so it can float from Minnesota and North Dakota into the northern reaches of the Red River Valley. So Canadian farmers had better start watching for live weeds following glyphosate applications. “So why should you care?” asks Jeff Stachler of North Dakota State University. “Point No. 1 is that there are no new novel modes or sites of action coming for the next five to 10 years. You have what you have and that’s it. Point No. 2 is that you have reduced profits if you allow resistant weeds to increase.” Glyphosate was a once-in-a-century discovery, a broad-spectrum herbicide that killed both broadleaf and grassy weeds. While weeds, particularly the monocot grasses, developed resistance to other herbicide groups, glyphosate burn-downs kept them in check and fields stayed clean. Its ability to kill grasses was absolutely essential for zero-till farmers who spent much of their time and money dealing with wild oats and green foxtail. The chemistry was such that weed populations were slow to develop genetic resistance but it couldn’t last forever. “We put on hundreds of millions of kilograms of glyphosate every year and put a tremendous selection pressure over a wide area,” says weed scientist Neil Harker with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. “It’s taken longer but given the fact that we put such incredible pressure on it, even if we have a low mutation frequency, we’re still selecting for resistance.” This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen to farm chemistry. We found out how resilient pests can be with insecticides when cotton boll weevils started walking away from DDT applications encrusted in the stuff, shaking it off and then going back to work. In those days we didn’t know about genetic shuffling and how resistant combinations come forth in a new selective paradigm. We learned this with insects and we watched it happen again as different weeds learned to cope with different herbicide groups. In spite of this, the entire western Canadian zero-
By Gord Leathers till wheat/canola rotation is almost wholly dependent on glyphosate. So the bad news is that effective weed control is about to get a lot more complicated. The good news is that we haven’t been knocked out yet. We can learn before it’s too late. To begin, we have to understand what weeds really are and why they thrive in a farm field. Most of our field crops are annuals and they like disturbed ground and that’s because their wild ancestors were colonizers. They were good at exploiting a piece of open ground but they weren’t good at keeping it. They did, however, cover the soil and hold it down until a more stable perennial could move in and take over. Shirtliffe explained this process, which you can still see in your ditches when some of the plants are accidently scraped away and the soil is exposed. “If you look in a ditch it’s normally not weeds,” he explained. “If you look at some place where a grader blade scrapes next to the road, there are weeds there or in the bottom where water sits. You’ve just created a hole and that’s where you’re going to find your invasive weed species.” The first farmers found annual colonizers produced large numbers of nutritious seeds but they had to sow them into broken ground. As soon as you did that, a whole lot of their less productive relatives would move in and set up shop, so they started pulling out the undesirables. As farms got larger, the problem of weed control increased and some of the older farmers out there will remember the days of summerfallow. Weeds aren’t like insects that have sudden population booms followed by crashes. They tend to build over time and that’s because of the ones that set seed. The seeds drop into the soil and form a “seed bank.” Old-school farmers would take the land out of production for a season and let the weeds start growing. Once they started, in would go the farmer with tillage and dig them up before they could set seed. After two or three rounds of this the seed bank would be spent. Herbicides changed all that and not only made effective weed control possible, it made continuous production and conservation tillage possible as well. Land would no longer sit idle or blow away. It’s no wonder that herbicides, especially glyphosate, were adopted so quickly and so thoroughly. But, as with many of last generation’s insecticides, we used herbicides too much. Given time weed populations began to
develop genetic resistance to the chemistry in the same way insects had done before. To make matters worse, glyphosate-resistant kochia may only be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Glyphosate-resistant wild oats, and there’s a good chance of that happening, would be devastating, especially if it’s stacked with Group 1 and Group 2 resistance. If we can’t rely on glyphosate the way we used to, how can we manage weeds in the future? “Well, I don’t think we’re going to go back to picking weeds by hand,” laughs University of Manitoba agrologist Gary Martens. “It’s got to be knowledge-based management. It’s got to be planning your crop rotations, adding a lot of diversity to your crops, to your planting dates and adding diversity
to the life cycles in your crops by growing winter annuals and perennials in addition to the spring annuals.” The first step is to understand how weeds work within an ecological system. Each one has its weakness so the first step is know thine enemy and exploit his weakness. Kochia is a great example. It’s an obligate outcrosser, meaning it must cross-pollinate and this gives it a huge advantage in the genetic card game of recombination. It’s also a prodigious seed producer and when it ripens it breaks off at the stem and blows away so it’s got legs — B:10.5” but it also has an Achilles heel. T:10” it doesn’t shed too “In kochia, we suspect S:8” many seeds before harvest because it has that tumbling dispersal,” Shirtliffe says. “That
wouldn’t work well if all the seeds fell off before it started moving.” So if you’re combining and you see a big green, bushy stand of kochia that should have been killed by a dose of last spring’s glyphosate, go pull it out and bag it before those seeds hit the ground. Keeping them out of the seed bank is well worth it even if you have to stop the combine. Additionally, kochia likes salt. If you know of a corner of the field with a salinity problem, go and look for it there. In short — scout your fields. Keep on top of the latest information such as what you can find in the weedscience.org website. Talk to your neighbours. Keep everyone in the loop. Do everything you can to keep this stuff from getting away. n
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Nothing simple about new herbicides
Warren libby President of Savvy Farmer
emember when cars w e re s i m p l e ? J u s t about anyone handy could fiddle with the carb, plugs, and points to keep it running reasonably well. Today, a typical car has over 50 computers embedded in it and there is nothing simple about car maintenance anymore. Yet despite all the reminiscing about how great cars were in the “good old days,” today’s automobiles are dramatically better, more dependable, more environmentally friendly, and more fuel efficient that those of the Detroit glory years. The same story has been written about weed control. Gone are the days when you simply applied a pint of 2,4-D to get rid of the weeds in your wheat or a couple pounds of atrazine to your corn. Over the decades, crops have evolved, so too has the weed spectrum, as well as our expectations on what constitutes a clean crop. Tight rotations and minimum till has resulted in new weed problems that rarely posed a problem in the past. Cheap glyphosate has resulted in its overuse to the point, as happened with cheap atrazine; certain weed biotypes have become resistant, even to high rates. To deal with this evolution in weed control, the major pesticide manufacturers are trending towards offering growers far more sophisticated products than in previous times. The philosophy seems to be threefold. First, let’s put multiple active ingredients in the formulation to get the widest possible spectrum of weed species. Secondly, let’s incorporate different modes of activity to help deal with existing or emerging weed resistance issues. And finally, let’s add a tank mix to the label to pick up anything else. A couple such products were registered earlier this winter. DuPont just registered PP-Q50882 for broadleaf weed control in wheat and barley. It contains a cocktail of four active ingredients, namely Quinclorac, Thifensulfuronmethyl, Tribenuron-methyl, and Metsulfuron-methyl. By the way, those numbers in the name roughly correspond to the percentage of each active ingredient in the product.
It’s recommended to be tank-mixed with MCPA ester and of course also requires the addition of an adjuvant to the spray tank. While this sounds like a lot to dump into the spray tank, it’s actually not. The four actives in PP-Q50-882 are preblended and the application rate is a mere 40 grams per acre — less than two ounces. When mixed with MCPA, this Group 2 plus Group 4 treatment should take care of most common broadleaf weed issues, including imazethapyr-tolerant volunteer canola. However, the low rate of MCPA may not be quite enough to deal with other Group 2-resistant weed species such as kochia, and it will provide only suppression of perennials such as thistles and dandelions. Overall though, PP-Q50-882 plus MCPA looks like a pretty attractive choice. Not to be outdone when it comes to assembling sophisticated chemistry, Syngenta just registered Lumax herbicide for corn, containing S-Metolachlor, Atrazine, and Mesotrione. When tank mixed with glyphosate, a pre-plant burn-down application of Lumax can provide virtually complete burn-down of existing weeds plus good residual control of most common annual grasses and annual broadleaf weed species. Unfortunately Lumax is only available in Eastern Canada but it represents another good example of how pest control is evolving. While many growers may still be able to achieve good weed control with a couple applications of glyphosate alone, the trend is certainly towards the use of multiple active ingredients with multiple modes of action, and often with both contact and residual characteristics. A Lumax plus glyphosate treatment provides a relatively easy way to lay down four modes of action (Groups 5, 9, 15 and 27) and should offer growers a good chance of a clean field at harvest, including many weed species that have developed resistance. As was the case with cars, the sophisticated new herbicides of today do perform better and have less environmental impact than their predecessors, however, they may be
becoming too complicated for anyone except a pest control junkie to figure out. The proliferation of brand names and the often difficult-to-pronounce active ingredient names in these new products may encourage some growers to simply stick with what they have used in the past. That could be unfortunate though, since these new products can often provide growers a better strategy for sustainable weed control. As pest control becomes increasingly complicated, growers may find it useful to get a bit of outside help in determining the best options for each crop, and perhaps each field. The use of a certified agronomist, whether through your retailer or an independent consultant, might be a good investment. They are paid to stay abreast of the latest developments in pest control and are better positioned to select the optimal treatment taking into account your local area’s weed spectrum, soil types, and weather patterns. Also, there are a number of free and paid web-based software products on the market that can also help farmers find and choose the best weed control options based on the exact weed spectrum in a particular field. Either way, getting some professional assistance with your weed control strategy can offer some peace of mind that you have the right strategy for your farm. Mother Nature hates a void and continues to find new ways to put weeds where we’d prefer to see bare ground. The agricultural industry is continually responding through a variety of methods. These new herbicides from DuPont and Syngenta are good examples of how the pesticide manufacturers are dealing with the challenge. They may be complicated and require more planning, but growers are fortunate to have new, sophisticated herbicides like these to add to their weed control tool box. n Warren Libby is president of Savvy Farmer, a web-based service for farmers and crop protection dealers. He previously held leadership positions in several crop protection companies and is the former chairman of CropLife Canada.
Editor’s Note: Warren displayed remarkable discipline and modesty in not plugging his own website. His www.savvyfarmer.com is among the best web-based resources available and you could do worse than checking it out. 14 CROPS GUIDE
focus on weed management
half and half A pesticide-reduced production system that was a brainchild of a group of University of Manitoba academics was working until the government put a stop to it By Gord Leathers
offee may be one of the great unsung fertilizers, not for what it does in an agricultural field but for what it does in the field of agriculture. It encourages talk, promotes discussion of ideas and inspires crosspollination. Coffee may have been at the root of one pesticidereduced system which was hatched by people from the plant science branch of the University of Manitoba’s department of agriculture, something that first came up when a bunch of colleagues sat down over a cup of joe. Right now, consumers have the choice of organic or conventional products and both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. The University of Manitoba’s Martin Entz, Rene Van Acker and Gary Martens came up with an alternative that sat halfway between the two that would allow farmers to use conventional fertilizers with a glyphosate burn-down. Then they would forgo pesticides one year out of every four. They decided to call it Pesticide Free Production or PFP. “It just sort of arose from going for coffee two or three times a week and the name jumped out at one of the sessions between Gary, Rene and me,” Entz remembers. “So we put these ideas together and decided to pursue this work and the PFP name.” At its very heart, PFP was a way to bring back Integrated Pest Management or IPM, a broadly based system of pest control that goes beyond spraying. IPM was first proposed back in the 1950s by a group of entomologists from the University of California when DDT started to fail. DDT was a devastatingly effective insecticide that revolutionized agriculture by eliminating insect pests and greatly promoted public health in the Third World by wiping out malaria-carrying mosquitoes. But, both the cotton boll weevil and the anopheles mosquito, once effectively controlled by DDT, became immune and continued on as before. At the time we didn’t know about genetic resistance — we were just starting to understand genetics. It became clear that pests couldn’t be eliminated so the new thinking was to contain them. Population counts were done on insects and if the numbers were high enough to do significant damage spraying could be done to save the crop. The next step was estimating the economic threshold, the difference between the cost of application and the economic benefit. If it made you more money than it cost, then spraying would be appropriate. Otherwise it was just a waste of time and money so things were best left alone. But the system never really took off, and one of the Manitobans has a hunch why. “Integrated Pest Management is such an academic term and we thought farmers can’t relate to it,” explains Gary Martens, staff agrologist at the University of Manitoba. “So that’s how we came up with this and the goals were to cut back on pesticide use, to get farmers to look at economic thresholds and to use pesticides only when necessary.”
Pests couldn’t be eliminated so the new thinking was to contain them “I’d been working on organic agriculture and I’d had discussions with the no-till farming community,” Entz said. “They were saying they’d like to participate in the environmental food market so we thought about how we could reduce pesticides for a year or something.” That was the basic idea. Get farmers to gear up their production and work toward the one year in four that they could grow a crop without using any kind of in-crop herbicide. It wasn’t the same thing as organic farming per se since most conventional practices were still there and artificial fertilizers were still used. Still, it served a number of purposes. It got farmers to take a good, long look at their practices so that they would be ready for the herbicide-free year. It got farmers thinking about how to reduce their pesticide use and perhaps even save some money in the process. In case of emergency they still had a rescue option and could spray if necessary. “The beautiful thing about a PFP system is that if you have weeds overrunning your crop, you can just spray it and opt back into the conventional system,” Entz said. “The farmers were extremely satisfied with the PFP program because if they ran into a horrible disease problem or if they’d selected a variety that wasn’t disease resistant they could spray it with the fungicide. The yields were very comparable to conventional yields because fertilizer is allowed in a PFP system.”
Continued on page 16 CROPS GUIDE
FEBRUARY 2013 15
FOCUS ON WEED MANAGEMENT
Continued from page 15 The first test plots were seeded at the experimental farm near Carman, Manitoba in the spring of 2000 and several farmers started growing herbicide-free crops the following year. More test plots were seeded in Brandon and at Glenlea south of Winnipeg. Farmers really started to get on board by 2004 and there were around 10,000 acres seeded in Manitoba with some additional fields to the west in Saskatchewan. The next step was to establish a market for something different since it wasn’t really conventional but it wasn’t organic either. “It was meant to be an opportunity for farmers to brand something different,
unique, and maybe develop special markets as well as help them explore a reduction in pesticide use,” Van Acker said. “So it was both of those things. We even trademarked the process and the name.” They were hoping that the trademark could do two things for the PFP farmer. A trademarked brand could give them better market access with a differentiated product. It could also lead to a premium similar to the one enjoyed by organic farmers, always a good incentive. Van Acker also mentioned another advantage to the system. “It was partly for farmers who wanted to make the transition to organic so they could exploit that ‘in-between’ stage and get some resources while they were exploring organic,”
he said. “That changeover is costly and, at that time, the Europeans had programs to support farmers in transition to organic.” A transitioning farmer has to grow crops according to the organic protocols for three years before the certification is granted. Organic farming is tricky and depends heavily on establishing the right rotation to fertilize the soil and keep the pests off balance. Since a PFP system still had the conventional option in case of failure, it was a good way for prospective organic farmers to learn the ropes before committing themselves. A premium could offer a financial cushion while they moved up the learning curve. There was a market for PFP. Grocery stores were carrying PFP sunflower seeds
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from Eco-Farms Limited of Waskada, Man. and there was a big barley contract with Anheuser Busch. It was a bureaucratic technicality that derailed it. “It failed because the federal government didn’t allow farmers to market PFP crops,” Entz said. “One day a lawyer from Ottawa called the farmer marketing group and said you can’t market crops as Pesticide Free Production.” “The Canadian Food Inspection Agency claimed that the process was misleading,” Van Acker added. “They claimed that consumers would be confused because they thought consumers would read it as pesticide-free product. It’s really not. Not even organic claims to be pesticide free.”
The marketing hook claimed that no incrop pesticides were used during the current growing season. One glyphosate burn-down was allowed before seeding but, after that, no pesticides were applied. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency felt that the market distinction just wasn’t possible and that was it. Some PFP products lingered on for a while with some of the farmers engaging in guerilla marketing. Then it fizzled but it hasn’t died. “This movement that we started here at the University of Manitoba and at Ag Canada in Brandon caught the imagination of people right across the Great Plains,” Entz said. “We still get calls from the U.S. They’re making it work and it’s making a comeback.”
The Milanaise Milling Company in Quebec still has a PFP program so the concept of skipping pesticide applications on a onceevery-four-year basis is still breathing. If the consuming public catches on and starts asking for PFP products, it’s quite possible that it could become the national institution the University of Manitoba was hoping for. “It was important to give farmers an opportunity to explore better agronomy,” Van Acker said. “We were looking for ways to give farmers economic reasons to draw them back to a more robust and resilient system of farming. We knew that if they had the opportunity to explore such a system they would see the benefits of it in many ways. But if they never did, they never would.” ■
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New Triffid-free flaxes in pipeline for 2014 B y L e e a nn M i n o g u e , E d i t o r , G r a i n e w s
hane Stokke, a director on the board of the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, is very optimistic about the future of flax. Speaking to farmers at Flax Day 2013, the Watrous, Sask. grower put it this way:
“Flax is the highest net profit crop that I can grow.” Canada’s flax was shut out of European markets in 2009 on the discovery of traces of Triffid, a genetically modified flax variety developed in the mid-1990s but never commercialized.
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As the European Union, a major market for Canada’s flax crop, closed its ports to GM foods in the 1990s, Triffid supplies were ordered in 1999 to be crushed and taken out of the system; the variety was deregistered in 2001. After the Triffid discovery in 2009, however, trace amounts of the contaminant were revealed to be present throughout the Canadian system, eliminating the possibility of exporting to the EU. Industry representatives now believe it’s time to refresh the flax supply. Through painstaking DNA testing, plant breeders at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre have reconstituted
four varieties of Triffid-free seed. These new varieties will be available to farmers in 2014. “In 2014,” said Dave Sefton, a Broadview, Sask. farmer and director with both SaskFlax and the Flax Council of Canada, “we are going to ask every producer to buy certified seed.” The new GM-free flaxes will be offered through SeCan. Todd Hyra, SeCan’s Winnipeg-based business manager for Western Canada, told farmers, “The time is right to flush the system once and for all.” SeCan has taken care to multiply the new varieties on farms where flax has never been grown. The introduction of the new
seed, Hyra said, is “likely our best and only chance to get this right.” Despite the Triffid incident, thanks to increased sales in China and the U.S., “average monthly exports haven’t changed that dramatically,” market analyst Larry Weber told growers at Flax Day. For 2013, Weber told farmers, flax offers a “better return on investment than canola.” In terms of flax prices, Weber said, “it’s going to be a weather market for the next six to 12 months. “Any weather scare in North America and flax is at $15 (per bushel) before seeding. If we have an all-out drought like we did last year in the U.S., $20 is possible.” n
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Prairie winter moisture conditions looking good B y T e r r y n S h i e l l s , C NS C a n a d a
good portion of the Prairies is seeing above-average precipitation and snowpack levels in the early part of the winter season, which should bode well for the 2013 crop, according to a government climate analyst. Trevor Hadwen, a specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgroClimate service in Regina, said a large portion of the Prairie region was at about 200 per cent above-normal precipitation for the winter period, as of mid-January. “For example (in the) central Saskatchewan region, we’ve got about 34 millimetres of snow water equivalent there, so if you melted all the snow that was in a vertical profile, you’d have about 34 mm of water,” he said. But, in the extreme south of Saskatchewan,
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Manitoba and Alberta, snowpack levels are lower than that. One region that has had very low snowpack levels is southern Alberta. The region south of Medicine Hat had fewer than 10 mm of snow water equivalent as of midJanuary, Hadwen said. “They have had some warm weather, so the snowpack has been reduced because of that and the water has soaked in a little bit, but there’s still a dry region there,” he said. There are also some concerns about dry soil in the southeastern part of Manitoba because the ground was very parched ahead of the winter freeze-up. “There were a lot of wildfires there in the summer and fall period in southeastern Mani-
toba,” said Hadwen. “And, that area is still very dry, although they started to receive a little more moisture in some of the areas.” There haven’t been any worries about too much moisture yet this year, but that could change before the snow melts, he said. “If we all of a sudden start getting lessthan-normal precipitation, it’s not going to be a problem. But, if we continue to get abovenormal precipitation there certainly will be some areas of concern,” he said. Moisture conditions for the spring are looking good now, but a lot of factors could still change things. Producers will be watching how much snowfall the various regions receive between now and the end of winter.
“We do get a lot of snow in February in Western Canada, and it really does determine how the spring is going to start off,” Hadwen said. How early or late spring arrives in Western Canada will also have a big impact on soil moisture come seeding time. “If we get a really early spring, the snow will likely melt slower and freeze at night and more of the snow will soak into the soil profile,” Hadwen said. “But, if we get a late spring, there’ll be a more rapid melt because nighttime temperatures are warmer and there will be a lot more run-off so the rivers will expand and potentially flood and the soil will not get as much recharge as possible.” n
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new player Syngenta is a major life science and crop protection company with an impressive resumé in oilseed rape genetics in Europe — but until now it’s never been part of the western Canadian canola market By Gord Leathers
his summer, western Canadian farmers will have a chance to see something they’ve never seen before, canola demonstration plots with the name Syngenta on the banner. This heralds the arrival of their first ever offering into the western Canadian canola seed market with a new glyphosate resistant product for the 2014 growing season. “We have a lot of expertise in seeds in general and in oilseed rape in Europe,” says Duane Johnson of Syngenta. “That’s why we decided to get into the canola seed market in Western Canada. We believe that the knowledge and technology we have around seed in combination with our crop protection products really puts us in a good position to launch this technology.”
We believe that the knowledge and technology we have around seed in combination with our crop protection products really puts us in a good position to launch this technology. — Duane Johnson, This technology will list in the catalogue as SY4135 and it’s a Genuity Roundup Ready variety licensed through Monsanto. Johnson says it’s a good, strong, high-yielding variety with good standability. It has mid-range maturity and an R rating for blackleg resistance. Although a herbicide-tolerant canola may not seem unusual, the other part of the package is uniquely Syngenta. “Part of canola production is the genetics in the seed but it’s also making sure you maximize those genetics,” Johnson said. “We’re looking at it from the perspective of all the other technology that we can provide to a grower to grow the best crop possible for the best return possible.” Canola growers are already familiar with Syngenta because of crop protection products like Achieve, Tilt and Matador. Another branch of Syngenta’s farm chemistry are seed treatments such as Helix. This new canola is 22 CROPS GUIDE
custom bred to work along with an updated version of Helix, a package that combats flea beetles along with several species of soil-borne fungi. “Seed treatments are an important part of it because we want to make sure that the plant gets off to a great start,” Johnson explained. “One of the things that we’ve done is launched new technology called Helix Vibrance, a categoryleading seed treatment that protects the seedling from insects and disease. We’ve added some new technology, like a new fungicide, that will help it establish a much stronger plant above the ground as well as the roots below the ground.” Vibrance contains a new fungicide in the SDHI family (Succinate Dehydrogenase Inhibitor) called Sedaxane and it’s aimed specifically at root fungi. It’s estimated that 80 per cent of all plant problems begin with the developing roots and this is because of certain species of fungus lurking in the soil. Canola is susceptible to a number of them and pathogens such as rhizoctonia, pythium and seed-borne black leg take their toll. Plant roots are hidden from view so we really take them for granted. We can certainly tell if a plant is healthy by what we see above ground but a below-ground attack of rhyzoctonia isn’t something we can easily see. By coating the seed with Vibrance, the seed has a protective envelope of Sedaxane around it to fend off the pathogens. Fungus, like any other organism, takes the food that it digests from its host, breaks some of it down into a carbohydrate and burns it for fuel. The “engine” is an organelle within the cell called the mitochondria and Sedaxane works by blocking some of the binding sites. This effectively jams a chemical monkey wrench into the biological gears so the mitochondria shut down and the fungus starves. “This new fungicide will help establish a much stronger above ground part,” Johnson says. “So a big part of it is making sure that this hybrid gets off to a really good strong start and then the other products will help maintain and maximize the yield.” There’s also some redundancy built in because the Sedaxane is supplemented by three other fungicides. Once the roots are established the seedling is also protected with an insecticide to keep flea beetles at bay. The thinking is to give the plants a good, strong start, paving the way to a good strong finish. Other products may follow. “This is really our introductory year,” Johnson says. “In 2013 we’ll be evaluating and demonstrating this product in the market place. The fall of 2013 is our commercial launch and sales. In 2014 we’ll be selling it.” n
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13-01-03 4:46 PM
Barley boosters say new opportunities in wake of open market are set to fuel a resurgence in interest in the crop By Rebeca Kuropatwa
arley growers across the Prairies are looking to new opportunities for the crop, fuelled by emerging new demand and more options to market their crops. Matt Sawyer, chair of the Alberta Barley Commission, says demand for barley is on the rise worldwide, and not just for animal feed and beer production. “Demand is only going to continue to grow, including big growth potential in the food barley market,” Sawyer told Crops Guide. The fourth-generation farmer from near Acme, Alta. said one of the key ingredients in this new recipe for success is clearly going to be the new opportunities that are emerging following the dissolution of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk for export barley. It means he’s free to pursue new ways to market the crop, but also that more onus is on him to better understand the marketplace. “Now I’m looking to see what our customers want,” Sawyer said. “For example, I’m not going to seed 2,000 acres of barley and just hope I have a market for it, (as) talking to the end-user customer before even growing the product is essential in today’s market.”
“It’s up to me to stay up to date with market demand and where it’s going.” — Matt Sawyer, Alberta Barley Commission “It’s up to me to stay up to date with market demand and where it’s going. That’s easily done in today’s age of technology, whether that is through information from a terminal or a three-times-daily market report. You must be comfortable with the risks you’re taking. Sawyer also notes that on Aug. 1, the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) created a new classification for food barley that will open up new uses in the consumer market. Also, the ABC recently had a Health Canada claim approved, which states that barley beta-glucan lowers cholesterol which is a heart disease risk factor. As part of the industry reformation following the death of the single desk, the ABC is committed to creating the Barley Council of Canada, a producer-led organization representing the entire barley value chain and working to grow the demand for and profitability of barley.” One leader who will take an active role in this council is the Western Barley Growers Association past president Brian Otto. He operates a 4,300-acre operation near Warner, Alta. “Western Canadian barley will now be priced according to world barley prices,” said Otto. “This never happened under the CWB. Producers will now have access to more reliable world barley pricing, which will give them more transparent price signals and allow them to make better business decisions when it comes to cropping intentions, timing of sales, and pricing. It will also be good for the barley value chain, as supplies and pricing will function more efficiently according to the needs of both the producer and enduser.” 24 CROPS GUIDE
Otto also expects to see a change in how malt barley is contracted. Malt companies will be establishing relationships with reliable malt barley producers. “We’ll see more malt contracting with U.S. malt companies, as the U.S. is in a barley-deficient stage and malt companies will view Western Canada, and especially Alberta, as a reliable source of malt barley. Western Canada produces most of the barley in North America, with Alberta producing 75 per cent of the available supply.” Generally, Otto says he expects the industry to have a host of new and differentiated opportunities that simply weren’t possible when the crop was marketed by a monopoly organization. Many players can more nimbly pursue niche markets that might not have been of great interest to a larger organization. “The barley industry will grow into markets that we haven’t participated in with the CWB,” Otto said. “Fair Average Quality (FAQ) barley is a malt market we haven’t pursued under the CWB monopoly. Australia discovered this market years ago and has been the major player for the lesser-quality malt market. “I also see opportunity in the craft beer market, which is the fasted-growing industry when it comes to malt. Western Canadian producers and malt companies will be better positioned to meet the unique needs of this industry as we adapt to the new commercial marketplace.” With new opportunities will also come new challenges however, including managing costs and pricing and production risk. “Farmers will need a better handle on their production costs to make better barley-marketing decisions,” Otto said. “It’s much easier to sign a sales agreement if you know what price you need to get to make a profit for your crop.” Otto says he personally tries to sell about one-third of the crop before seeding in the spring, viewing forward contracts as a way to offset some pricing risk. Malt companies generally begin signing malt contracts in the January-March window, he said. Otto also says there may be new services needed in the barley market chain, which he expects to emerge in the coming seasons. “I see a growing barley broker industry developing in Western Canada since the Aug. 1 changes we’ve seen,” Otto said. “Producers will be using their services to help them market and move barley. I’ve used a barley broker for my malt the last five years. The benefit is the broker has a relationship with the malt companies and he is able to shop my barley around to the malt companies he deals with. Also, I’ve found that if my barley isn’t malt quality, I find out quickly through my broker and can then find alternative barley markets for it.” Western Barley Growers’ Association president Doug Robertson expects one of the biggest benefits barley growers will see is more control over their cash flow, which might prompt many to take a second look at the crop. “Farmers couldn’t cash flow their crops, or get enough income in time to pay their bills,” Robertson said. “So we evolved into other crops, like canola.”
Continued on page 26
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Continued from page 24 Robertson, who farms about halfway between Red Deer and Calgary, said the evolution of the wheat and barley market will represent a significant improvement in the grain-marketing system from a grower perspective, something he suspects will translate into growing acres. “Under the monopoly, we saw a decline in acres of both barley and wheat,” Robertson said. “It took away the best agronomic crops in Western Canada, wheat and barley. With the change, we’re now going to see barley and wheat rebound, because of new opportunities for farmers who can market them as they wish.” One of the biggest limiting factors for barley acres was the narrowly restrictive categories of malt or feed, whereas other barley growing countries had moved to a less restrictive model with multiple categories that used a combination of quality, variety and consistency to define market opportunities, Robertson said. “Now, there will be much more opportunity for mid-/multiple-range quality, for those wanting specific attributes,” Robertson said. “Some barley is better to use in food applications for their higher percentage of starch or gluten, or in cholesterol reduction. “Europe and Asia use a lot more barley, especially for different foods and consumer products. So, we’re going to see a move now in Canada of a lot more use of barley in food.” Generally, Robertson said the trend will be barley — and likely other grains as well — being bought and sold according to specifications rather than grades. He also confirmed that grain brokers are going to be a much more important part of the marketing system as the industry evolves. “We’re seeing a lot more brokers who had disappeared over the years starting back up again, looking to help farmers negotiate their grain prices,” Robertson said. “We’re beginning to see courses offered on how to follow the markets. Farmers have always been good at doing this for their other crops, so it will now raise wheat and barley up for the same kind of opportunities.” Robertson also noted the significance
of the move to world price trade, and suggested it would let the cereals industry take more control of its own destiny. One high-level industry observer agrees the changes to the industry will be profound, and will require new commercial relationships to emerge. Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC) managing director, Rob McCaig said malting and brewing companies will be contracting directly with farmers in Canada and spec-based contracts will become the new norm. “Acres are declining in the U.S., so there are opportunities for us there,” McCaig said. Formed in 2000 the CMBTC is a professional, non-profit, non-governmental organization, supporting the Canadian malt barley industry from grower to brewer, domestically and internationally. One of the CMBTC’s highest-profile activities for farmers is the recommended malt barley list, which McCaig noted is the organizations first and most important interface with growers. Because barley is a dryland crop that depends on appropriate moisture levels to reach its best quality, McCaig said growers always rely on Mother Nature to determine end quality, and while they’ve got a great reputation, it can be a challenge getting it year in and year out. “Canada sells on quality,” McCaig said. “It’s on an upward trend right now and overall, but we’ve had our up and down years.” One of the basic questions for growers is malt or feed, McCaig said. He noted that malt varieties can become feed, but the road doesn’t run both ways since feed varieties typically don’t have all the needed intrinsic qualities for malt such as germination, protein and enzyme content, toughness and so on. Recent challenges like the U.S. Corn Belt drought has also meant an anomaly in the price structure has emerged. “Because of what’s happened in the States with the corn crop — corn has disappeared — a lot of North American feedlots are moving to barley,” McCaig said. “So the feed price for barley has gone up such that it’s almost the same or more than the world malt barely price. “As we sell into the world market, the local market doesn’t play a large part in the
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malt barley price. Over two-thirds of malting barley goes offshore. With the demand for and price of feed being so high, things are kind of screwy this year.” According to Dustin Gabor, of market advisers Ag-Chieve, “We see current prices of feed barley and malt barley well supported into 2013, with the odd seasonal setback due to demand lulls and overbought market conditions. “But a significant increase in global grain production could pressure western Canadian grain prices lower and pressure profit margins for producers. And since a crop is produced every six months somewhere in the world, farmers need to be careful about becoming too relaxed in this current highpriced environment.” Gabor confirms both malt and feed barley have been well supported by a very strong corn market. “This is due to competing feed markets,” he said. “With the price of cattle and hogs struggling in the past few years, livestock producers are looking for less expensive feed requirements and are cutting herd sizes to minimize expensive feed usage. As a result, the price of feed barley has been pushed higher on the heels of corn. “For malt barley farmers, they’ll now have the ability to market freely, as they do with canola and feed barley. And they’ll see more opportunities for a better price in an open market, as long as they use the proper marketing tools and strategies. Gabor confirmed in this new environment, farmers need to focus on their marketing strategy well before they purchase the seed to put into the ground, focusing on cost of production and break-even levels. “Use fundamental information to help substantiate why there’s still room for a market to move higher, or why the barley market is topping,” Gabor said. “Treat your barley crop like any other business would treat its goods or services and aim for a specific profit margin. “Most importantly, don’t get greedy, at least until after all your needs (i.e. cash flow, bin space, risk, and general comfortability on the farm) have been covered. n
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non-factor The open market hasn’t driven stronger durum prices By Richard Kamchen
rairie durum prices have received most of their support from high prices for all grains, and any strength shouldn’t be pinned on the elimination of the single desk. “The price that farmers receive for grain is largely determined by international fundamentals,” says Fred Oleson, deputy director of Agriculture Canada’s market analysis group, explaining Canada is generally a price-taker in the world grain market. “If you look at world values on all commodities, whether it’s canola or edible pulse crops, oilseeds and grains are significantly higher,” adds Lawrence Yakielashek, president of Toepfer Canada. “At the end of the day, it’s the world price that really dictates.” Durum fundamentals themselves haven’t been particularly strong. Statistics Canada added another 229,000 tonnes to its durum estimate, the U.S. crop rebounded to 82 million bushels and North Africa has its second straight good harvest. It’s in an adequate supply year like this where a single-desk seller might have benefited farmers, according to CWB market analyst Neil Townsend. While admitting a certain amount of bias, he points out that in years of good supplies, the former wheat board would control the amount of Canadian supply that would be made available. “When you think over a half of the world durum trade comes from Canada, with the advent of multiple sellers, it just means that durum’s maybe not where it would be if the single-desk selling was in place. We may have been able to track along with (spring) wheat a little bit better,” Townsend says. Another wheat board advantage for farmers came in the form lower freight rates. Farmers now have to pay the full freight rate for durum shipments east. “Under the old wheat board system, regardless of where you were, you paid the least amount of freight that you would have had to. So if you were living in Swift Current and your durum went to Thunder Bay — the cost of Thunder
28 CROPS GUIDE
Bay’s higher than going to Vancouver — but you only paid to Vancouver. Now they’ve got to pay to Thunder Bay.” Yakielashek, however, casts doubt on just how much the CWB could have done to bolster prices. “You’ve got U.S. durum, Mexican durum, European durum, North Africa. It depends on weather events in North Africa what Morocco’s going to buy. And whether it’s Cargill, Toepfer, Viterra trading it versus the wheat board, I hate to say it, but there’s no boogey man out there. It’s the world price.” While Canada is by far the largest exporter of durum, offering it at a big premium to the world market risks buyers passing on tenders and going after durum from competing countries, he says. And whereas the wheat board previously either sold or waited for higher prices, it’s now the farmer himself who limits available supplies. If he doesn’t like the price, he doesn’t sell, Yakielashek says. “Regardless of if the wheat board is at the helm or not, we’re still going to be representing 50 per cent of global market share, and supply/demand was such that durum wasn’t surplus, wasn’t tight, and it doesn’t deserve a role to lead price discovery — more a follower,” adds analyst Greg Kostal of Kostal Ag Consulting. And that price hasn’t moved around a great deal: “Essentially, from August through till (early) December, a 1 CWAD (Canada Western Amber durum) 13.0 farm gate price was flat. You had prices in Thunder Bay essentially trading from 360-365 U.S. (f.o.b.) for No. 2, and you got prices in the country elevator system, a No. 1 13 per cent, in that $8.25-8.75/bu. range.” There’s even a lack of premiums for high-protein durum. Good crops in Canada and elsewhere in the world have seen to that, on top of the fact only a small percentage of demand is for the highest quality. “Morocco typically likes to buy 1 CWAD, 2 CWAD. And they’ll pay (a premium) to a certain point on that, but places like Tunisia, you want to sell them a 3 or a 4 or a 5 CWAD,” notes Yakielashek. “It’s only really been the board that sold grades in the past. When we’re buying something today, I’m typically buying a spec wheat. You can take ones and threes and blend it to make that spec. Typically, that’s exactly where it trades.” There’s no reason to believe durum is set to take any kind of dramatic move higher. Durum’s supply/demand balance just isn’t tight enough to justify a hike, Townsend says. Durum would need significant help like a big rally in wheat, corn or another commodity or a sudden surprise purchase of a significant amount of durum to shift durum out of its current channel. The latter, however, isn’t very likely given buyers’ limited access to capital and lines of credit. Buyers are more patient, to the extent they aren’t chasing prices to higher levels. “What’s happening is you’re seeing a lot of customers buy hand to mouth instead of buying a bunch of deferred positions to protect themselves. They only have access to that capital,” says Yakielashek. While export and domestic disappearance had been tracking higher than a year ago, that mostly represented the early harvest, good crops, and pent-up demand that started early in the crop year.
“We had a low carry-in, and that’s typically what happens, you’ll have that big surge,” says Yakielashek. Transactions, however, slowed following the large initial amount of durum that sold in the first three or four months of the 2012-13 crop year. Sales could pick up again, though. “European crop comes off in June, so we’ll typically get that surge for the opening of navigation (St. Lawrence Seaway) possibly to cover any open demand that we might have for April-May,” Yakielashek says. From July forward, Europe will look after itself. 2013 acres Besides crop rotation considerations, moisture conditions, input prices, carry-in stocks, and expected marketing opportunities, relative commodity prices will play a role in determining seeding decisions, Oleson says. And for much of the year in North America, compa-
rable spring wheat prices have traded higher values than durum, Townsend notes. “If a farmer is making a decision in one of those fringe areas between the last 40 acres going to durum or spring wheat, he’s probably going to pick spring wheat,” Townsend says. “Spring wheat is performing better and it’s going to take acres a little bit from durum and a little bit from canola.” The other consideration for farmers is they can lock in good prices for spring wheat on U.S. futures market, a luxury they don’t have for durum. Kostal says Prairie durum area has historically ranged from four million acres to as high as six million, but to reach that upper end, those discretionary acres need to go to durum. While prices are sufficient to retain core durum growers, they haven’t been good enough to get those added acres, and Kostal thinks flat durum area next spring is a reasonable likelihood. n
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FEBRUARY 2013 29
WGRF RESEARCH UPDATE Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) is a farmer-funded and -directed non-profit organization investing primarily in wheat and barley variety development to the benefit of western Canadian producers. Through investments of over $57 million, WGRF has assisted in the development and release of more than 100 new wheat and barley varieties over the past decade and a half, many of which are today seeded to large portions of the cropland in Western Canada. WGRF also invests in research on other western Canadian crops through the Endowment Fund. In fact, since 1981 the WGRF Endowment Fund has supported a wealth of innovation across Western Canada, providing over $26 million in funding for over 230 diverse research projects.
New funding marks a new era for WGRF Efforts reinforced to put farmers front and centre in research BY CLARE STANFIELD
emple Grandin once said, “What I’ve tried to do is combine both my personal experiences with scientific research. I like to cross the divide between the personal world and the scientific world.” While she is referring to her unique abilities in the livestock industry, this statement could just as easily apply to research projects undertaken by the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) on behalf of growers in Western Canada. “Our board has 14 producers on it, from Manitoba to B.C.,” says Garth Patterson, WGRF executive director. “They have a good perspective of what kind of research is
needed, and we always have the end results for growers in mind when we invest in projects.” That board is about to get a lot busier assessing applications, too. In January, the WGRF announced $3.5 million in new project funding. It is the first instalment of a targeted $15 million in new funding over the next four years. “It’s very important because it represents a significant shift that allows us to use more of the Endowment Fund for research,” says Patterson. He explains that, up until now, the WGRF invested about $1 million per year of Endowment Fund dollars in research projects designed to improve agricultural systems, technology, practices and crops. With $15 million over four years, the WGRF is very nearly quadrupling its research investment. Chapter 1: ADF This first $3.5 million comes through a co-funding partnership with the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) in Saskatchewan, as well as other commodity groups, and is already earmarked to support 25 croprelated research projects. Details and agreements are still being finalized, so Patterson can’t talk about all 25, but he does say that projects looking at fusarium resistance in cereals, blackleg mapping in canola, pulse disease management, the assessment of sprouting damage in wheat, the challenges associated with growing canary seed, weed management in Saskatchewan and improving the nutritional value of oats are among the projects definitely going ahead this year.
“We always have the end result for growers in mind when we invest in projects.” — Garth Patterson “We appreciate partnering with public funding institutions like the ADF,” says Patterson. “Co-funding helps us to leverage our dollars and hopefully turn $15 million into $30 million.” The ADF is Saskatchewan based, and the WGRF has relationships with similar organizations in other provinces, like the Agriculture Funding Consortium (AFC) in Alberta and the Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative (ARDI) in Manitoba, and is also looking at cofunding arrangements with private industry. 30 CROPS GUIDE
Wheat and barley varietal research gives return on investment
“We are also working with universities and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,” says Patterson, adding that producers can expect more funding announcements involving some of these organizations very soon. Ears open There’s a term bandied about in business circles: active listening. The hallmark of the WGRF is that it knows how to listen to growers, hear what they actually want, and be directed by that. The end goal is always to provide all western producers with better tools for their trade, be it improved crop varieties, better cropping and fertility systems, pest management tools, storage systems – anything that will help farmers grow food more efficiently, safely and profitably. It really is about crossing that divide between life and science and putting the question, “What do you need?” ahead of anything else. “We’ve listened to producers,” says Patterson. “We’ve spoken to them and they want to see us do more research that will help them farm better and be more profitable, and with this new funding announcement, we can definitely do that.” n
A recent return on investment study commissioned by the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) has estimated that investment in wheat and barley varietal research is providing producers with a very high return on their investment. This study calculates that on average every producer checkoff dollar invested into wheat varietal research has returned $20.40 in value to the producer. Barley varietal research saw a return of over $7.56 for each producer dollar invested. The value is realized when new wheat and barley varieties are released and adopted by producers in Western Canada. For example, new WGRF-supported varieties like Carberry, Muchmore, CDC Verona and all of the midge-tolerant wheats are higher yielding with improved disease and pest resistance. Through WGRF farmers have assisted in the development and release of more than 110 new wheat and barley varieties over the past decade and a half, many of which are today seeded to large portions of the cropland in Western Canada. “The WGRF investment in variety development has earned a very high return for producers,” says Dave Sefton, WGRF board chair. “The return on investment of 36 per cent on wheat variety development and 28 per cent on barley variety development demonstrates that investing in research continues to be an excellent way for producers to improve their returns. WGRF invests over $6 million of producers’ dollars annually into breeding and crop research. As a regional organization WGRF brings the research spending power of all farmers in Western Canada together, maximizing the returns they see in crop research,” says Sefton. “The popularity of WGRF-supported varieties and these high rates of returns show that producers have benefited substantially from their checkoffs and would benefit from increased investment in varietal research,” said Garth Patterson, WGRF executive director.
Farmer Funded Farmer Directed Research The Western Grains Research Foundation annually invests over $6 million into breeding and crop research and proudly brings together the spending power of Western Canadian farmers, maximizing the returns you see in crop research for the past 30 years. To find out more, visit us online.
Crop spraying 2.0 Inside the big questions By Brad Brinkworth, Meristem Media
he face of crop spraying in Western Canada is changing dramatically. Faster travel speeds. Higher boom heights. New types of nozzles. New types of issues. Precision machinery and new precision opportunities. But does the new power in spraying translate to better results and more sustainable crop production systems? For Dr. Tom Wolf, this is a question farmers and their industry need to take a hard look at. On the one hand, farmers certainly have greater capability and options to take their crop-spraying approaches to a higher, more sophisticated level. On the other hand, advances in machinery and technology do not work wonders on their own. “I believe we are entering a new era of unprecedented opportunity for innovation in agriculture, and that includes crop spraying,” says Wolf, longtime crop-spraying researcher at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon, Sask. “But how well we are able to capture this promise still comes down to how well we marry the technological innovations with sound agronomics.” Here, Wolf shares some of his observations on six of the top questions for farmers and their industry. 1. Who is driving? From Wolf’s point of view, the success of everyone in agriculture is best served when there is a balance of interests driving the agenda. As a researcher, that means contributing to the conversation by conducting studies that yield valuable information and also by speaking out on the issues and direction of the day. “I’ve always felt that as a scientist, you want to be able to provide some amount of leadership. As a researcher in crop spraying, that means conducting research that helps answer questions and also offering your opinion, based on that knowledge base, on what we should be doing.” Wolf and other key researchers have long played that role. But today, he says, the pace of innovations has increased so rapidly that he and colleagues find themselves asking more questions than they are able to provide answers for. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, he says. It’s just a reality. But it underscores why it’s more important today than ever to think critically about new farming approaches. 2. Is faster really better? While there is unquestioned new capacity to crop spray faster, there are implications to factors such as higher speeds and higher boom heights that farmers would do well to think through, says Wolf. “There are forces working in the industry that naturally push for getting things done faster and there’s certainly a demand for that. “But, is it the best way to spray? I’d like to evaluate that.” It may be an inconvenient truth, says Wolf, but slow and steady may actually be what wins the race if farmers focus on what produces the most optimal spraying results. “Farmers ask me, what’s the best practice? The bottom line is we need more research. But with my best assessment based on what we know, I would say probably a 32 CROPS GUIDE
slow travel speed and probably a low boom height. Obviously, that’s not what’s happening today.” That’s not to say faster and higher is always the wrong way to go, he says. “But we should be making sure we understand the implications. If that’s what we want to do, we need to find ways to do it while keeping the right balance.” One example that stands out for Wolf as an illustration of today’s mindset is the rising interest in night spraying. “As I talk at producer conferences, I’ve noticed there’s a real push to spray at night. This is because we have innovations such as GPS and AutoSteer. At night it’s calm, and you can get a lot done. It’s not so hot; it’s just less stress, etc. Yet from a drift perspective, inversions are common at night and these can actually create more drift problems. There are exceptions, but generally speaking, spraying at night should not occur.” 3. How can we use technology better? While technology may be the main driver of some of the major issues and challenges Wolf sees for the future, it can also be a big driver of solutions. “Again, it’s not technology per se that’s the problem,” he says. “In fact, there may often be technology-driven technical solutions to some of the issues that I’m raising.” For example, Wolf points to tremendous innovation now in the sprayer world with auto-levelling boom technology. “I strongly recommend that farmers get those because they do address some of the issues we’ve had. For example, the shift to faster travel speed has necessitated higher boom height. With auto-level, we can now put those booms low again, at least lower than we could otherwise.” Going wider with boom widths is another innovation Wolf sees as a mitigating option. “I’ve been trying to promote the use of wider boom widths as opposed to faster travel speeds, for increased productivity,” he says. “It’s a way to get things done faster, without travelling faster.” ow can we benefit from out-of-the-box thinking? 4. H How else can we do this? is a thought process Wolf encourages when it comes to the push for speed. Thinking differently, thinking out-of-the-box, he believes will help agriculture find new and better approaches. How wide can sprayer boom length go? Keep an open mind, he advises. “We’ve seen the limits pushed to 120 feet, even 130 feet, which is pretty darned wide already. People tell me, ‘I don’t know if we should go wider.’ I think, let’s not be restricted, there may be some more opportunity there.” Theoretically a 50 per cent speed increase can result in close to a 50 per cent greater productivity, not counting turns or fills. But it raises a host of issues. “If we can push boom length, we can demonstrate the same kind of productivity increase by going wider than we can by going faster, without many of the disadvantages of going faster.” Another example of a unique approach that stands out for Wolf is the opportunity for faster fill-up. “The typical stop time for a sprayer in a fill-up is about 15 minutes or so. But it might only take you 15 to 30 minutes to empty that tank again. So the fill up time becomes a significant portion of the total time in your field.”
“I truly believe there are tremendous opportunities to increase capacity that don’t jeopardize your ability to do the job well,” says Wolf. “That’s where I’d like to see more of our thinking focused.” 5. What’s the future of nozzles? Nozzles are another area that Wolf gets excited about. One example among many he is particularly enthused to explore is the opportunity for asymmetric, dual-nozzle designs. There have been a couple options in the marketplace and Wolf has worked with manufacturers on studies to further understand the benefits and identify options for continuing to advance this concept. “I think it’s a great concept with lots of
upside. This type of nozzle, I believe, could become the new general-purpose nozzle.” The idea is based on having a lead nozzle and trailing nozzle at different angles, which can be optimized. “A typical double nozzle has equal angles forward and backward,” Wolf explains. “But we can go a step further in optimizing the design. To hit a vertical target, the forwardfacing nozzle doesn’t need to be as aggressive in terms of its angle because it’s when it’s moving at a certain speed, the droplets are already naturally moving in that direction B:10.5” also. The trailing nozzle needs a more aggresT:10”nozzles are facing the sive angle because the S:8” to be more proactive other way and you need in pointing them out the back.”
6. How can we advance rate control? Rate control is another area where Wolf sees great promise. “The whole issue of rate control is a big one,” he says. “It’s an area that is very ripe for another breakthrough.” In fact, when Wolf looks at where technology is taking the industry, he feels agriculture is desperately in need of more choices for how to affect control rates. “It relates back to the travel speed question, which is driving the need for innovation,” he says. n Meristem is a Calgary-based communications firm that specializes in writing about western agriculture, food and land use. More articles at www.meristem.com.
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Budget for sclerotinia spray All canola growers should be prepared to spray fungicide to manage sclerotinia stem rot in 2013 B y J ay W h e t t e r
erious sclerotinia stem rot can strike canola in any region of the Prairies. This was proven in 2012 when areas without a long history of canola production — southwest Saskatchewan in particular — were hit hard by the disease. Darrel Tangen farms near Stewart Valley, Sask., just north of Swift Current. He grew canola many years ago but only got back into it three years ago after buying a precision hoe drill. The past two years he has seeded canola on about 25 per cent of his acres — not a heavy canola rotation by Prairie standards. However, southwest Saskatchewan has had good moisture the past few years, and canola yields were excellent in 2011. They looked every bit as good through most of 2012 — but results didn’t end well. “I was totally shocked to see sclerotinia that bad,” Tangen says. As a certified crop adviser for Pioneer Co-op for three decades (now retired to farm full time), he had seen sclerotinia before and had an inkling that fungicide could pay in 2012. He was ready to spray about half his acres, then hail came through and caused 60 per cent damage. With the drop in economic outlook,
Black sclerotia resting bodies form inside infected stems. These sclerotia can persist in the soil for five years.
Keys to sclerotinia stem rot management 1. All areas of the Prairies are at risk. Geography does not provide immunity to this disease. 2. Prevalence of sclerotinia stem rot has a direct correlation to above-average moisture. If a field has regular rains or high humidity or both from two weeks before flowering and through flowering, then infection will occur. If these conditions continue after flower, severity of the disease will be high and yield loss will be significant. 3. If these conditions are present and canola has yield potential of 30 bu./ac. or greater, then a fungicide application at 20-30 per cent flower is warranted. Fungicide may also pay for yield potential below that level.
34 CROPS GUIDE
CCC agronomy specialist Clint Jurke says all Prairie locations are at risk of sclerotinia stem rot infection if canopy conditions are moist and humid before, during and after flowering.
he decided not to spray. “But a neighbour who did not get the hail had a nice heavy crop that was horrifically infected,” Tangen says. The field had a “rank stand” and was seeded into tall stubble, so the canopy was dense — perfect for sclerotinia. Tangen isn’t sure what the final yield was, but he heard reports of 10-15 bu./ac. “Southwest Saskatchewan is not a huge canola-growing region traditionally, which proves that geography does not provide immunity to sclerotinia stem rot,” says Clint Jurke, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada. “Any area can have high levels of the disease when moisture conditions are right.” Jurke’s message to all canola growers for 2013: “Plan for the disease to be on your farm.” This article will address three important questions: How can a region that hasn’t grown much canola in the past get hit so hard with sclerotinia stem rot? What conditions promote high disease severity? And what can growers do to manage the disease? Here are the answers: Question 1. How can a region that hasn’t grown much canola get hit so hard with sclerotinia? A few factors are at play. First, the same sclerotinia species that infects canola can also infect any dicot plant, especially lentils, beans, sunflowers and various weeds. Fields in southwest Saskatchewan that produced lentils in the past will likely have sclerotinia spores even if those fields have never produced a canola crop. Second, sclerotia resting bodies can persist in the soil for five years, so with the high levels of canola and other host crops in Prairie rotations, soil sclerotia loads are building. It doesn’t matter if lentils were grown on a crop last year or five years ago, ascospores produced from the sclerotia could be there. (Interestingly, Tangen says his best canola yields were from fields seeded into lentil stubble, but that would have been because of other rotational benefits of lentils, not the sclerotinia factor.) Third, just one apothecia — the tiny mushrooms that emerge from sclerotinia sclerotia in the soil — can produce an “insane number of ascospores,” Jurke says. These airborne spores, which cause sclerotinia stem rot infection, can travel kilometres.
Question 2: What conditions promote high disease severity? Moisture is the key factor. “Prevalence of sclerotinia has a direct correlation to above-average moisture,” Jurke says, which is why three moist years in southwest Saskatchewan led to a jump in severity. Good soil moisture and a few rains in the period starting two weeks before flowering and carrying through to infection after flowering will greatly increase sclerotinia stem rot severity. Sclerotia, the resting bodies in the soil, need moisture to germinate into apothecia, the tiny mushrooms that produce ascospores that shoot up into the canopy. Apothecia then need about two weeks to grow and release spores, which is why moist soils in the two weeks before flowering will lead to more serious infection. After that, rain or even just heavy dew and high humidity are needed for infection and lesion growth. A field with a canopy to produce a 30 bu./ac. or better crop tends to have a more humid microclimate and increased risk for disease. Plus, a field with this yield potential will increase the return on investment for a fungicide spray. Question 3: What can growers do to manage the disease? Growing sclerotinia-tolerant varieties may reduce infection levels, but with favourable moisture, fungicide will often provide a return on investment even when these varieties are grown.
Continued on page 36
Sclerotinia stem rot produces a bleached or tan lesion on the stem.
Sclerotinia stem rot or blackleg? Pre-harvest is a good time to assess disease severity because diseases are easiest to identify at this stage. With careful scouting, growers can identify which diseases are present, estimate yield loss and consider whether — in hindsight — a fungicide spray would have been a good idea. Sclerotinia stem rot and blackleg are two important canola diseases to look for at harvest. Here’s how to tell them apart: Sclerotinia stem rot — Look for areas in the field with lodged or prematurely ripened plants. — Examine the basal (bottom) to middle of the stem. Sclerotinia stem rot produces a bleached or tan lesion on the stem. With very high moisture and humidity, white downy growth appears on green stems, and as the stem dries, it will be bleached or brown (like a bone) and shreds easily when twisted by hand. — Hard, black sclerotia bodies (typically similar in appearance of mouse droppings but larger) can be found inside the stem or on the ground near the stem. Blackleg — Look for areas in the field with lodged or prematurely ripened plants. — Examine the basal (bottom) to middle of the stem. When blackleg is severe enough to cause yield loss, the plant will often have irregular, knotty, woody cankers at the base of the stem. Clipping stems is the surest way to make a positive identification. — Black pepper specks (picnidia) may appear within the lesions. — This infection will eventually grow through the stem, cutting off nutrient flow. If you see plants drying up, cut a few open to check. Use clippers to slice through the stem at the base or through the canker to determine if black discolouration is present within the stem. If more than half the area of the stem is blackened by the fungus, plant yield was likely reduced.
Working together to improve weed management Managing tough-to-control and other key, potentially resistant weeds can be a challenge. The best way to meet that challenge is to optimize weed control by tank mixing Roundup® agricultural herbicides with HEAT® herbicide in your pre-seed burnoff or chemfallow treatment. See your retailer for details.
on Eligible Roundup® agricultural herbicides when purchased with matching acres of HEAT® herbicide.
For full offer details and to determine eligible products, go to www.rrwms.ca or www.roundup.ca. In addition to this discount, growers are also eligible for AgSolutions® AgSolutions Rewards on HEAT. For full reward details go to www.agsolutions.ca
* The Roundup agricultural herbicide and HEAT Offer off-invoice discount acres will be calculated using the following label rates: One case of HEAT= 640 acres (Jug of HEAT= 80 acres), Roundup Transorb HC and Roundup Ultra2 0.67L= 1 acre (10L= 15 acres, 115L= 172 acres, 450L= 675 acres, 800L= 1,200 acres). * Offer expires June 30, 2013. See your retailer for further details.ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Monsanto and vine design®, Roundup®, Roundup Transorb® and Roundup Ultra2® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. AgSolutions is a registered trade-mark of BASF Corporation; the unique KIXOR X symbol is a trade-mark, and HEAT and KIXOR are registered trade-marks of BASF SE; all used with permission by BASF Canada Inc. © 2013 Monsanto Canada, Inc. and BASF Canada Inc. 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. CROPS GUIDE
FEBRUARY 2013 35
Trait Stewardship Responsibilities
Notice to Farmers
Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. This product has been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Genuity and Design®, Genuity Icons, Genuity®, Roundup Ready®, and Roundup® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Used under license.
Ascospores land on petals and then petals fall onto leaves and against stems. As petals decay, they provide the energy needed for spores to infect living tissue. The moist environment in this photo will likely bring on sclerotinia infection unless fungicide had been applied to these petals. Fungicides registered for in-crop sclerotinia stem rot control Product
Pre-harvest application (PHI)
9 and 12
Yes � 7-14 days apart
Prior to 30% flowering No
Serenade 20-30% bloom
Yes � 7-10 days apart, if necessary
Yes � 7-14 days apart (DuPont recommends one app) 21 days
Continued from page 35
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36 CROPS GUIDE
“Until fully resistant varieties are available, fungicide is the most effective way to manage the disease when conditions are right for heavy sclerotinia stem rot infection,” Jurke says. The application window is 20 per cent to 50 per cent flower for some fungicides and 20 per cent to 30 per cent flower for others. (See the table for products and application windows.) Fungicides need to hit the flower petals because those ascospores that land on petals are the ones most likely to cause infection. Decaying petals that land on leaves and stems give ascospores the energy needed to invade healthy plant tissue. Spraying petals at the top of the canopy is easier than hitting them after they’ve fallen, so living flowers are the target. Fungicides will reduce the incidence and severity of infection but will not eliminate sclerotinia completely, especially if conditions are favourable all through flowering. Spraying twice will help prolong the protection when the flowering period is extended, but even that will not completely eliminate the disease when pressure is high. Many growers discovered at harvest 2012 that sclerotinia was more serious than expected. “We don’t want growers to be caught unawares,” Jurke says. “Harvest is a good time to assess disease levels because disease damage is easy to spot at that stage, but we’d rather growers know the risk factors for sclerotinia stem rot and take action at flowering to prevent costly yield loss in the first place.” Tangen has already adjusted his 2013 budget to include fungicide. “With the price of canola where it is, this is a no-brainer,” he says. “Some decisions in farming are hard to make. Not this one. If we get the moisture we’ve had the past few years, I’ll be spraying.” n Jay Whetter is communications manager with the Canola Council of Canada. He’s also editor of the CCC’s free Canola Watch agronomy newsletter. Go to www.canolawatch.org and find the sign-up box down the right column. For more details on this topic, go to www.canolawatch.org and read the sclerotinia management article in the January 9 issue in Archives.
Dual herbicide approved for use in Prairie beans, peas Agcanada.com
Prairie farmers growing field peas and dry beans will be able to use a retooled combo herbicide in 2013 against resistant annual grasses and broadleaf weeds. BASF Canada recently announced it has picked up approval from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency for Viper ADV, a solution combining its Group 2 active ingredient imazamox with bentazon, a Group 6 product. The company had picked up registration in 2009 for a similar product — simply branded Viper — which had combined the two actives with ammonium sulphate (28 per cent UAN) for use only in field pea crops. Viper ADV’s new label notes its use in dry
common bean crops was developed by “persons other than BASF Canada” and accepted for registration under the User Requested Minor Use label expansion program. Dry common bean varieties — especially white (navy) beans, which are more susceptible to herbicide injury — “may vary in their tolerance to herbicides” including Viper ADV, the company noted on the product label. Not all dry common bean varieties have been tested for tolerance to Viper ADV, the company added. Viper ADV’s new label also calls for application of the product at a litre per acre with two litres per hectare of a 28 per cent UAN
and warns “a reduction in grass control can be observed without the addition of a nitrogen source.” The new Viper ADV’s “multiple modes of action” offer “strong activity” against Group 1-resistant wild oats, Group 2-resistant wild mustard and Group 2-resistant broadleaf weeds, the company said. As examples of the latter, BASF cited kochia and cleavers, both of which it said are becoming “increasingly problematic in field peas and dry beans in Western Canada.” Viper ADV “initiates weed control activity on contact and also provides systemic action after it is absorbed through the roots and leaves to move through the plant for maximum control,” the company said. Imazamox is one of the cornerstones of BASF’s Clearfield cropping system, used alone or in combinations in Clearfield herbicide products such as Odyssey, Solo, Adrenalin and Absolute. BASF also markets bentazon under the names Basagran and Basagran Forte as a liquid broadleaf weed killer, relying mainly on contact action. Viper ADV’s label also notes the product can be “topped up” with Basagran Forte for control of additional weeds. Viper ADV’s label covers it for use only in the three Prairie provinces and northeastern British Columbia’s Peace region. n
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FEBRUARY 2013 37
MORE THAN 1,000 WORDS 7
Bread basics Crops Guide sent Winnipeg-based photographer Chris Procaylo to document the bread-making process at Cigi’s pilot bakery.
The very first step of the process: scaling the ingredients. Fresh compressed yeast (1), a living organism that can ferment sugar into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol, which produces gas that is trapped in bread dough, causing the bread to rise. Water and yeast are then mixed with the other ingredients (2).
Once the ingredients are scaled, all ingredients are added together (3) to form a dough. The formula for many breads is pretty basic requiring flour, water, salt and yeast as the fundamental ingredients. It’s the simplicity of most bread that makes the quality of ingredients — like the flour milled from CWRS wheat (a high-gluten bread flour) — of the utmost importance. One of the most critical stages of bread production is mixing (4). This is where something magical happens. When water and flour are mixed, gluten (Gliadin and Glutenin to be precise) — is formed which will give the dough very unique properties.
(5) It’s these strands of gluten that give leavened wheat doughs for breads and pizza crusts their unique elastic properties which allow them to trap those gas molecules through fermentation.
(6) The dough has been formed through the appropriate amount of mixing — too little and the gluten won’t be properly developed, whilst mixing too much will break down the gluten. It’s a question of the appropriate time and temperature to allow the yeast to work its magic.
38 CROPS GUIDE
(7) After the dough has risen it’s measured by weight to create uniform loaf sizes. A typical loaf of bread is usually a pound (16 oz.) or a pound and a half (24 oz.)
(8) A Cigi baking technician forms a dough ball from the portioned dough pieces. After the dough balls have risen a second time (9), they’re formed into loaves (10).
(11) The loaves are then placed in a final fermentation cabinet (proofing) that is kept at a low but warm constant temperature to ensure the bread dough will rise in a set time frame. (12) After they’ve risen, they are then placed in a hot oven to bake. (13) The final result is a golden brown bread which is very soft, high in volume and has a good, crispy outer crust.
In a large commercial bakery, once bread is cooled it would be sliced, bagged and distributed to retail outlets. Consumers will always love their bread and value when bakeries pay attention to highquality ingredients which includes using Canada’s well-renowned CWRS — a high-quality western Canadian wheat.
FEBRUARY 2013 39
NEW USES Cigi’s pulse work with food industry may open up market opportunities BY ELLEN GOODMAN
f ongoing research at the Canadian International Grains Institute is any indication, the use of pulses as a value-added ingredient has the potential to open up future opportunities for food manufacturers and producers. Cigi has been working on a number of projects funded by pulse grower organizations and the federal government with a focus on commercial use, to determine the best way for pulses to be added as an ingredient to increase the nutritional value of popular food products. One project currently in the works is evaluating the effect on digestibility of seed pretreatments prior to milling the pulse flour as a food ingredient. The Cigi project is one of a number of research activities for which Pulse Canada was recently awarded funding under the Government of Canada’s Agricultural Innovation Program that aims to support nutritional claims of pulses as ingredients in food products.
Peter Frohlich, technical specialist, who is co-ordinating the project, says pre-treatments can include processes such as micronization (infrared heating), roasting and dehulling, as well as using whole pulses.
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“We would like to see if the pre-treatments affect nutrition in the seed following milling. The seeds will be milled into flour and then incorporated into products like pasta at Cigi and into other foods such as muffins, beverages, and yogurt at AAFC’s Food Research and Development Centre in Saint-Hyacinth, Que.,” he says. He says that the food products will then be tested for digestibility which will provide information on whether pre-treatments may increase or decrease the nutritional value of the pulses. “We’re hoping that some of these technologies can be adopted by industry to process the flours so they are better prepared nutritionally for use in food products.” A four-year pulse milling and utilization project that is focused on increasing knowledge of pulse flour composition and functionality and how to optimize it for commercial use is now in its third year. The project, in partnership with Pulse Canada, is currently targeted on developing and evaluating food products made at Cigi and at FOODTECH Canada centres using yellow pea and red lentil flour. “We processed yellow pea flour in cookies, tortillas, pita bread, and instant noodles and just completed some trials with pasta here at Cigi,“ says Heather Maskus, project manager, Pulse Flour Milling and Food Applications. “Other prototype development work has been conducted on extruded snacks at the Food Centre in Saskatoon and chicken nugget coatings at the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie. “We’re very impressed with the results we’re getting,” she says. “In some applications such as noodles and pasta it appears that finer flours are better, while in baked
tortillas, pitas, extruded products and coatings, coarser flours seem to perform better. We’ve shown food companies this information and talked about the potential of pulses. We’ve identified the functional properties of yellow pea flour and have moved on to product application to best understand the results and how they relate to product quality.” Maskus says there is strong interest in using pulse flour ingredients but to keep food companies interested they need to know that the production acreage will be there and the flour quality they require will be available. This can also mean high-value market opportunities for farmers. “Producers growing pulses may be able to market
their product to food markets instead of selling it for feed which would potentially offer higher returns.” Cigi’s pulse-area staff have also participated in a number of research and food technology conferences in Canada and the U.S., promoting the use of Canadian pulses and their research. Most recently they attended the 9th Canadian Pulse Research Workshop in Niagara Falls, Ont. where pulse researchers from across Canada came together to discuss their work, covering areas such as the environment, agronomy, plant breeding, and marketing. B:10.5” “This biannual meeting is a way for pulse T:10” staff at Cigi to connect with all members of S:8” the pulse research value chain, to share our
research and ensure that our work is relevant to the whole industry,” says Maskus. “There seems to be new opportunities for pulse crops in general and for the food products prepared at Cigi using pulses,” Frohlich says. “At the CPRW meeting pulse breeders were asking us about seed attributes that food companies are looking for. We saw a lot of interest in our research. The consumer is looking for healthier food options and the food industry is finding new ways to deliver this in the form of foods made with pulse ingredients.” n Find more information about Cigi’s work with pulses and other Canadian field crops at www. cigi.ca or follow Cigi on Twitter @CigiWinnipeg.
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Soy prices rebound after achieving double top objective
By David Drozd Senior analyst and president, Ag-Chieve Corporation
he soybean market has been under pressure, since prices peaked at a new historical high of $17.943/4 on Sept. 4, 2012. This market has been under the influence of long liquidation for the past three months. Given the fundamental situation, some traders may be bewildered by the market’s weakness, while those who study charting and technical analysis were patiently waiting for the market to achieve the double top objective of $14.18 per bushel. This objective was achieved on Nov. 12 and is derived from measuring the distance between the reaction low (A) ($16.02) and the two highs (B) ($17.86). This value is then extrapolated under the reaction low to arrive at a new objective ($14.18). Double tops are basic formations which appear with regularity in the futures markets. Once completed, they provide a reliable indication of a trend reversal. A double top begins to take shape with prices advancing into new high ground for the current move. A reaction then sets in during which
a portion of the advance is retraced, which I’ve identified as point “A” in the accompanying chart. A second advance brings prices back up to approximately the highs of the first advance, followed by a price decline, which eventually drops below the reaction low (A). Time-wise, it is important that the two tops are not very close together. If they are, what’s more likely to be happening is a normal consolidation of the existing trend. Often at a top, the second advance will slightly exceed the first top and appear very pronounced or spiked. However, it could also fall shy of the first top. This formation is completed when, after a double top, prices fall beneath the reaction low that occurred between the two tops. Market psychology: The first top develops after a sustained price rise. It will coincide with a growing willingness on the part of longs with large unrealized profits to cash in their earnings. The market stalls or at the very least starts losing upside momentum. The supply of contracts for sale
Soybean Weekly Nearby Chart as of November 28, 2012 1968 Double Top B
1868 1778 1688 1598
1418 1328 1238 1148
42 CROPS GUIDE
J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M 10 11 12 13
exceeds the demand and the market turns down. Short sellers jump in convinced that the upward move has gone far enough. A reactionary phase ensues during which ownership of contracts continues to change hands. Old longs exiting with their profits are replaced by new longs. The market continues to decline until the price drop causes sellers to withdraw. From a longer-term perspective, the bull market is still intact, so when the price decline halts, buyers once again step in and prices begin to move higher. At approximately the level of the first top, the longs looking for a short-term profit become particularly sensitive to the price action because they remember what occurred the last time prices were up at these levels. Longer-term traders who failed to take profits when prices formed the first top and sat through the entire correction are likely to be watching more closely now that the market has come back up to its prior high. They won’t let the opportunity to cash in slip so easily through their fingers this second time around. There are also the ever-present potential short sellers, who are trying to pick the top, by selling the proverbial high of the move. When prices penetrate the reaction low (A) that was between the two tops, all recent buyers will have paper losses and sooner or later will be potential sellers. Once prices fail to mount any sustainable rally, hope begins to wane and liquidation of long contracts becomes an inevitable reality. As prices fall with increasing acceleration, new shorts also enter the market. This type of topping action is typical in a bull market and is where the proverbial phrase “a bull market dies under its own weight” is coined. n
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