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Volume 37, Number 18 | December 5, 2011



A plan of attack for cleavers Cleavers infestations can lower yields and result in a quality downgrade, especially in canola. Best control is achieved through early control with the right product and ample water volume BY MEGAN OLEKSYN


h a t ’s n o x i o u s , competitive and sticks to your shirt? Cleavers. Cleavers are aggressive broadleaf climbing weeds that can have a big impact on the bottom line. These highly competitive annuals are especially bad news when it comes to canola. Agronomists estimate that a heavy infestation of cleavers (100 plants per square metre) can cut canola yields by 20 per cent. That’s a major financial loss in a year where we’re looking at canola prices around $12 a bushel, but that’s not the end of the story. “Because its seed is similar both in shape and size to a canola seed, cleavers is termed as an ‘inseparable’ weed seed,” says Dave Dubuc, grain marketing coach with Providence Grain Solutions at Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. “Contamination of canola by anything over one per cent by weight of cleavers can result in a downgrade from No. 1 to No. 2, and you can even see cleavers bring your grade right down to sample.” And since one individual cleavers plant can produce 3,500 seeds, and herbicide resistance in cleavers has recently been reported in Alberta, Western Canada is potentially looking at a lot of downgraded canola if this awful weed isn’t controlled early and often.

THE LIMITS OF GLYPHOSATE “When Roundup Ready canola came to market, we saw a decrease in cleavers in canola samples,” says Dubuc. “And really, we don’t see a lot of this significant downgrading happening anymore.” But glyphosate is not a silver bullet for cleavers, according to Clark Brenzil, provincial weed control specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. “With the popularity and effi-

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cacy of glyphosate, we are seeing that growers have become overconfident in their expectations from glyphosate, because they have always seen positive results. Now, more and more growers go in too late, reduce their water volumes and still expect miracles.” The Canada Seeds Act lists cleavers as a Class 2 primary noxious weed, which has a significant meaning to pedigreed seed growers — control is mandatory for them. Hugh J. Beckie with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Saskatoon Research Centre developed a model that projects the first weeds to develop resistance to glyphosate in Canada. The model ranks cleavers third in the Parkland region (black or grey soils). Glyphosate, however, is not farmers’ biggest worry when it comes to cleavers and herbicide resistance. Since 1996, there have been many recorded cases of Group 2 (ALS inhibitors) resistance across the Prairies. Brenzil notes that in recent Alberta surveys, 40 per cent of cleavers were found to be resistant to Group 2s, which poses a significant dilemma for farmers — particularly those growing peas. Currently, the University of Saskatchewan is looking at alternative chemistries to control cleavers in non-cereal products, but early management is still the key to cleavers control in all crops.

TIPS FOR CONTROL “Scout, and scout early,” says Leighton Blashko, market development specialist with Bayer CropScience. “Controlling or suppressing cleavers in the early stages is the only way to manage them. They are known for their ability to germinate throughout the growing season, so growers must get in early but then manage the ones that come up later as well.” Early control really does mean early — the best control is achieved when the weed is really nothing more than a tiny seedling.


Adult cleavers’ leaves whorl around a square stem. The white flowers produce pairs of seeds covered in hooked hairs. The leaves, stems and seeds will all attach to clothing or animals aiding in the weed’s spread. Adult cleavers are easily identified as their leaves are arranged in a whorl pattern around a square stem. Once in the adult stage, cleavers produce numerous tiny white flowers, which then produce pairs of seeds covered in hooked hairs. Not only

are the leaves sticky, but the seeds are too, attaching themselves to clothing, animals and anything else within reach. This ability helps to spread seeds far and wide. “It is very important to control cleavers before they go to seed,”

In This Issue

says Gregory Sekulic, Canola Council agronomist in the Peace Region. “Young cleavers under three whorls are far easier to control than the ones that look like Christmas trees.”


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


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


Crop Advisor’s Casebook ..


Columns ........................... 20 Machinery & Shop ............ 26 Cattleman’s Corner .......... 33

Soybeans a fit on lentil and canola acres

Three must-have gifts for farmers



FarmLife ............................ 40



DECEMBER 5, 2011


A LOOK TO 2012 Each December, Grainews asks analysts and industry types to weigh in with their thoughts as to how commodities may fare in the coming year. This year, of course, brings with it a new level of uncertainty as to what exactly the wheat, durum and barley market structure may look like after August 1, 2012. The monopoly powers of the Canadian Wheat Board will be removed, of that I am quite certain, but the specifics of what happens after that is less clear. In my mind, actual contracting,

buying and selling and delivering of once-called board grains will still happen. What happens to other structures built around the CWB’s monopoly structure is less clear. Some clear answers on producer cars, checkoff collection and the like would be welcome by most farmers, I’m sure. Whatever the market looks like, Jon Dreidger, analyst with FarmLink Marketing Solutions based in Winnipeg, Man., takes aim at what he sees the coming year bringing for cereal crops on page 15. Chuck Penner, lead at LeftField Commodity Research, runs down the supply-and-demand outlook for peas and lentils (hint: it’s a dramatic shift from this time last year), and somehow I even managed to swing a real-live American’s view of what they see happening with wheat and barley prices in the U.S.

after the board’s monopoly powers are removed. Read more from Mike Wilson on page 17. Field and Cattleman’s Corner editor Lee Hart has included an extensive look at challenges and opportunities for the feed grains market on page 18, and Mike Jubinville offers his thoughts on what could be a softening canola market on page 16.

As I sat down weeks ago to plan stories for this issue, I kept trying to assign pulse-production stories. The problem was nearly every writer I spoke with was already working on or interested in writing about soybeans (which is not, for the record, a pulse crop). Even my go-to pulseproduction writer, Bobbie Bratrud, wanted instead to write about why they are considering a substantial (for them) amount of soybean acres for 2012. Did I mention she farms at Weyburn? That’s lovely lentil country and not typically a soybean area. But once I read the story, I could see exactly where she was coming from and thought it might also be of interest to several Grainews readers. It’s on page 14, if you want to flip there now. I couldn’t ignore pulses entirely of course, so I’m happy to include Lee Hart’s rundown of new inoculant offerings for 2012, but even he couldn’t resist the draw of the sexy soybean and also did a listing of new soybean inoculants and tips for using them. Those stories start on page five.

This is the last issue of Grainews for the year; it’s also my second-last issue before I head off on maternity leave. I’ll be back in time for next October’s issues, but in the meantime I will leave the publication in



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“...And a ‘Mooie’ Christmas to all”

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The image showing the front cover of the Roto-Thresh brochure at the top of page 33 in the November 7 issue of Grainews should have been credited to the Saskatchewan Western Development Museum 98-S-389.

very safe hands. Perhaps the best way to introduce Leeann Minogue is to draw attention to the fabulous story she’s written in this issue on page 13. An ag economist by trade, Leeann tackles the sticky question of what effect, if any, non-farmer ownership has on land prices. The interesting part of the story for me, is that while there has been an increase in non-farmer ownership, most of the Prairies is still owned by farmers, be they retired or still actively farming. This is changing of course, and it’ll be an interesting phenomenon to watch in the coming decade. But back to Leeann. Leeann and her husband Brad Barlow run a pedigreed seed farm, just south of Griffin, Sask. Leeann has been freelancing writing for a few publications including Grainews, Country Guide, and Wheat Oats and Barley for the last couple of years. She’s also a playwright — the author of “Dry Streak,” “Homecoming,” and “Bloom, Saskatchewan” comedies that have been on stage at more than 25 dinner theatres in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Leeann graduated from the U of S with a masters of science in agricultural economics in 1994. Leeann and Brad have a five-year-old son, two rough collies (the kind that look like Lassie), and an outdoor cat. Her email address is leeann.minogue@, if you’d like to say hello. While not a significant change, there are a few other things evolving with this magazine. Andrew Allentuck, who typically writes about bonds, has committed to alternating his Guarding Wealth column with instalments of the Farm Financial Planner. If you’ve got a farm planning or farm finance

management question (no matter how large or complex), Andrew would love to hear from you. He’ll get in touch with industry experts and work through a workable solution. Contact him at andrew.

USEFUL DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN BORING Those who revel in the first snowfall because it means pulling the (motorized) sled out from the shop will love this issue’s mini-section on snowmobiles found on pages 31 and 32. Paul “Willy” Williamson takes a crack at some of the new machine offerings as well as the must-have gear for this year’s snowmobiling season. He even includes a handy list of all-important safety tips for riding this winter. Please read it but, more importantly, heed the advice. Ron Settler has also put together a handy list of potential Christmas gifts for the farmer in your life (or you, as the case may be). None of the gifts are extravagant, but all will likely be put to good use. I for one love useful, practical gifts, but if you don’t or the farmer in your life doesn’t, I recommend looking elsewhere for help with your Christmas shopping. For those who know the value of a decent pair of jumper cables, turn to page 29 and circle what you want, then display the page prominently for all to see. And speaking of the merry season, I do wish you and yours a safe, relaxing and fun-filled Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I hope for the same for our family as well, mostly because I do hope this baby decides to allow us one last holiday season as a family of three. Time will tell. Lyndsey


OYF winners from either end of Canada


ova Scotian dairy farmers and British Columbian organic produce farmers are Canada’s 2011 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF). Geoff and Jennifer Bishop of Round Hill, N.S., and Kevin and Annamarie Klippenstein of Cawston, B.C., were chosen at the OYF annual national event held recently at Brandon, Man. “This year’s OYF winners demonstrate the tremendous diversity that makes up the Canadian agriculture industry,” says Brian Newcombe, OYF president. “The Bishops and Klippensteins represent the refreshing, evolving landscape of farming – next-generation farmers steeped in rural family tradition to young farmers who bring experience from other industries home to their new

operation. It takes a country full of innovative entrepreneurs to help feed our growing population and contribute to the vital industry that OYF so proudly promotes and recognizes.” Geoff and Jennifer own Bishop Farms Ltd., a 160-cow dairy operation located on the farm his grandfather purchased in 1969 when he emigrated from England. After meeting at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, and Geoff’s work travels to dairy farms in New Zealand and England, the Bishops came home to farm with Geoff’s parents in 1997. Kevin and Annamarie Klippenstein fell instantly in love with the five-acre property in Cawston, B.C., that became the foundation of Klippers Organic Acres. In 2001, while both work-

ing in the hospitality industry, the Klippensteins knew they wanted to produce certified organic produce. Annamarie was raised on a farm, and Kevin had no farming background, but that didn’t slow them down. To find a market for their produce that paid well, they began selling direct to consumers at Vancouver-area farmers, markets. Based on customer feedback, they expanded their orchard operation to include vegetables and freerange chickens. Production of storage crops such as garlic, squash, onions, carrots and beets has increased off-season sales through Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) boxes. Social media has helped the Klippensteins promote the farm and their products. †

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Wheat & Chaff Farm safety

How to move round bales without getting a headache


big round bale carries a lot of weight, usually 750 to 1,500 kilograms. That’s as heavy as a small car, plus they’re big, round and awkward. They can easily roll down inclines or off raised loaders. Because of this, big round bales are dangerous. It’s time to haul out your best safety practices when you move big round bales across the yard or down the highway. First of all, take a few minutes to consider all the hazards involved. Make sure you’ve updated relevant safety procedures with everyone on your team. Be alert for situations that may cause injuries. You don’t want pain and suffering or high costs for unnecessary downtime or costly machine repairs. Ask yourself these questions: •  Does your tractor have Rollover protection (ROPS)? •  Did you fasten your seatbelt? Remember – this isn’t a hayride.

Never allow anyone to ride with you on the tractor or the trailer. Keep everyone away, clear of all danger areas. •  When did you last check that your tractor is working well, counterweighted properly and able to carry the load safely and securely? •  What’s your safest route? Whenever possible, drive on flat, firm paths or roads a safe distance from holes, ditches and ruts. •  Is your front-end loader up to the job of loading, stacking or moving the big bales? Be sure to use attachments designed to securely handle large bales such as grapples and front-end bale spears. Never raise or lower loaders while the tractor is moving. You don’t want the bale to roll back down the loader arms onto you. •  Have you checked your speed? Make sure it’s slow. •  Are your tractor headlights working? What about your rear

working lights and warning flashers? Make sure an approaching driver can see these lights. Better yet, move bales only in the daylight. Be sure to use a pilot vehicle if you must move bales at night. •  Have you turned off the engine? Once you’ve lowered the attachments, stop the engine and take out the key. •  Did you chock the wheels front and back to prevent rolling? Now you plan to load up a trailer and move a bunch of big round bales. That means there’s a whole new list of questions to make sure you can answer but hold on. Before you load up, check out the regulations that govern interprovincial movement of bales in the four western provinces. (These are available online: www.comt. ca/english/programs/trucking/ Westernbalemou.pdf.) Besides the interprovincial movement regulations, you’ll find infor-

mation useful for safely moving big round bales on roadways anywhere. For instance, did you know that for the most part, no vehicle may carry more bales on the upper tier than are being carried on the lower tier? That the maximum overall length of any vehicle can’t be more than 25 metres? •  How have you stacked the bales? Are you certain they won’t move around or fall off the trailer? Make sure there’s no space between them and that the bales are strong enough to support the bales above. •  Have you checked the tiedowns? Look at them at least once within the first 80 km of the trip and regularly after that. •  Did you know that during daylight hours, all vehicles moving bales must display square fluorescent red or orange flags on the extremities of any loads that extend beyond the trailer?

•  Have you installed a flashing or rotating beacon on the cab of the truck or at the rear of the vehicle of load? There must be a beacon capable of emitting an amber light in all directions for a distance of 150 m. •  Have you checked the regulations for moving bales in your province? In B.C., vehicles or loads exceeding 3.2 m and up to 3.8 m in width need one pilot car for night travel. In Saskatchewan, a vehicle or loads more than 3.7 m wide is restricted to moving in daylight and never on Sundays or public holidays. In Manitoba, even an empty vehicle more than 2.6 m wide requires a separate permit. Moving big round bales is just one of those jobs you sometimes need to do on the farm. Make sure you and everyone on your team knows how to do it safely. † CASA

New Varieties

Crop protection

New liquid herbicide Two UG99-resistant wheats developed in Kenya for Clearfield canola


learfield canola growers in Western Canada will have a liquid formulation option for weed control with the launch of ARES herbicide from BASF, now that final registration has been received. ARES, which is a combination of two Group 2 herbicides, will offer a wider window of application for both crops and weeds, says Harley House, BASF brand manager, Clearfield crops. “ARES will be another option for producers who prefer to use a liquid product rather than a dry flowable such as Odyssey,” says House. “And our research data shows ARES to be slightly more effective in control of common weeds such as wild oats, wild buckwheat, cleavers and lamb’s quarters. The new herbicide is also registered for control of broadleaf weeds such as cow cockle, green smartweed, hemp nettle, lamb’s quarters, redroot pigweed and shepherd’s purse; and grassy weeds such as barnyard grass, green foxtail, Persian darnel, yellow foxtail, and volunteer barley and canary seed.

ARES, which is a combination of active ingredients imazapyr and imazamox, can be used up to the seven-leaf crop stage and on the weed side is effective to the six-leaf stage, two tillers on grassy weeds, and the six-leaf stage on broadleaf weeds. Applied post emergence, ARES is a systemic herbicide, which moves quickly through the plant. Weeds will stop growing soon after treatment and will effectively die off two weeks after application. Cropping restrictions the year following ARES application include canola, flax, sunflower and durum wheat, although they can be grown in year two. Among crops that can be grown the year after treatment are canary seed, chickpeas, lentils, field peas, field corn, spring barley, spring wheat, and tame oats. ARES will be sold in a twojug formulation that includes the herbicide as well as Merge surfactant, for 40 acres. With registration received in November, BASF says the herbicide will be available for the 2012 growing season. † Lee Hart

photo contest


Ready for Santa

Lena Labonté of Plamondon, Alta., snapped this photo of her two-year-old niece Anika Lemay while they were working to get the Community Centre ready for Christmas last year. A cheque for $25 is on its way to you, Lena. Anika will likely be expecting you to spend it on her present. If you’d like to submit a photo, please email it to leeann. Please send only one or two photos at a time and include your name and address, the names of anyone in the photo, where the photo was taken and a bit about what was going on that day. A little write-up about your farm is welcome, too. Please ensure that images are of high resolution (1 MB is preferred), and if the image includes a person, we need to be able to see their face clearly. — Leeann


wo wheat varieties resistant to the deadly Ug99 strain of stem rust are set for release in Kenya, says a report from United Nations’ Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (IRIN). The two varieties, dubbed Eagle10 and Robin, were developed by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). Ug99 is named after its discovery in Uganda in 1999, and it is currently spreading across

Africa, Asia and most recently into Middle East. The rust strain is widely viewed as a major threat to world food security, as few, if any, of current wheat varieties are immune to the strain, which reportedly cuts yields by 50 to 70 per cent. Kenyan farmers have been abandoning wheat due to losses caused by Ug99. The IRIN report says production costs went up by 40 per cent between 2001 and 2011 with farmers this year having to spray

wheat three times a season at a cost of Sh9,000 (US$90) per acre. Since 2005, KARI has screened over 200,000 wheat germplasms, of which only 10 per cent were found to have some resistance to Ug99. Of the 10 per cent, only a handful could adapt to the Kenyan environment, said KARI plant breeder Peter Njau. He says both new varieties have very good baking and bread-making qualities. †

Plant Disease

Sask. clubroot cases were spotted in Cargill trials


askatchewan’s first cases of clubroot in canola fields may have continued to sit undetected for who knows how long, had it not been for the fields’ use as seed trial sites for Cargill. The two cases, reported this fall were in separate fields in the province’s north-central region, had shown no above-ground symptoms. Rather, they were discovered only because Cargill plant scientists had pulled the canola trial plants right out of the ground as part of a routine whole-plant observation. Plasmodiophora brassicae, the soil-borne pathogen that causes clubroot in canola crops, creates deformed roots in canola and other

brassica plants and can thus sit undetected until the clubroot galls interfere with the plants’ water uptake. During the usual evaluations, the company’s staff spotted nodules on the roots of certain plants, which were then sent for tissue and soil testing at an independent lab, Cargill said in a release last week. Plant tissue analysis and DNA testing confirmed the presence of the clubroot pathogen. The finding was a surprise as the plants otherwise appeared normal and the nodules almost weren’t spotted, Lorin DeBonte, assistant vice-president of research and development for Cargill Specialty Canola, says. Cargill then put restrictions on

access to the farmers’ fields where the affected plants were found, as per the province’s Pest Control Act, the company says. Cargill’s plants this fall were the first in Saskatchewan to show symptoms, although soil samples from a random field in the westcentral  region  of  the  province turned up positive for the pathogen back in 2009. Warm soils, high soil moisture and low soil pH favour the spores’ germination, infection and development. Once the microbe infects a host plant, it alters hormone balance and speeds up cell division and growth in the roots, creating deformed galls. †

New varieties

Bayer CropScience registers two more varieties


ayer CropScience has two new InVigor canola hybrids on the market for the 2012 growing season. InVigor L154 and InVigor L159 are both mid-maturing hybrids with exceptional yield potential, suitable for all growing zones. Both of these new hybrids have excellent lodging resistance and blackleg resistance. Launched this year, Bayer’s first L-Series lines — InVigor L120 and InVigor L135C — were released earlier this fall. The new InVigor L154 will be available exclusively from independent InterAg retailers. Viterra is the exclusive supplier of InVigor L159. Both hybrids are available in very limited quantities this fall. †



DECEMBER 5, 2011


A PLAN OF ATTACK FOR CLEAVERS Sekulic recommends incorporating a pre-seed burn-off into your chemical program to control winter annuals, and also notes that controlling cleavers in cereal crops with a non-Group 2 product will reduce the stress to fully control cleavers in canola years. Due to its size and climbing ability, uncontrolled cleavers can overtake the crop canopy, competing for light, causing crop lodging and reducing grain fill. Weather, soil type, and agronomic practices all determine the effect on crop yield. “Cleavers can be managed through rotation and in-season control, and since the seeds only last in the soil for three to four years, it is particularly important to control the weed before it sets seed,” says Blashko. “Remembering, of course, that too early an application will potentially miss the later-emerging cleavers, but an application too late will result in poor weed control and potential yield loss. “And water is not just important for control in your InVigor canola when spraying Liberty, but in order to penetrate the sticky, hairy surface of cleavers, water volumes are extremely important with all herbicides.”

HERBICIDE OPTIONS When selecting an in-crop herbicide to control cleavers, always ensure that the product offers a high level of consistent control. With early-season products, speed of control is not as important as the ability to work through a range of conditions and control slow-growing cleavers injured

Since they can behave as a winter annual, you may need control on larger plants in crop.” In all of Dow’s replicated registration trials from 1997 to 2007, they saw 95 to 96 per cent control, even on later-season ratings (23 to 40 days after treatment) with Stellar, Attain XC and Prestige XC on large cleavers up to eight whorls, Wintonyk says.

In recent Alberta surveys, 40 per cent of cleavers were found to be resistant to Group 2s, which poses a significant dilemma for farmers — particularly those growing peas by fall applications. Mid-season control products must be able to deliver the best of both worlds — consistent, high levels of control of both annual and winter annual plants. “Products with more than one active ingredient are optimal for this timing,” says Brian Wintonyk, western agronomy lead for Dow AgroSciences. “Products like Stellar, Attain XC or Prestige XC provide excellent options to cereal growers. Providing control up to the 10-whorl stage, these products control all types of cleavers.

Stellar (a combination of florasulam, a Group 2, and fluroxypyr, a Group 4) has fast action on cleavers, and controls them after only 10 days at the eight-whorl stage. Prestige XC (fluroxypyr and clopyralid) is also viewed as a premium product in the market for cleavers. “Tandem is new to our tool box for cleavers,” says Wintonyk. “It combines Group 2 and 4 for activity on cleavers, offering very rapid dry-down on cleavers, with no significant regrowth.” An entirely new group to the cleavers market is Group

27 (pyrasulfatole). This new mode of action in the products Infinity and Tundra, by Bayer CropScience, will control all Group 2-resistant cleavers in cereal crops. Yet another chemical option comes from DuPont, whose PrecisionPac blends also offer tank-mix options to control cleavers in-crop. “Some years are just worse for them than others,” says Ian Brassington, a Paradise Valley, Alta., farmer. “We didn’t have a problem with them until seven or eight years ago, and now we have to use the higher-value products to fully control and contain them. On the fields with the cleavers pressure, we use the water and the right product so we are controlling them and not spreading them to other fields.” Regardless of product choice, early scouting and ample water volume are the keys to success. Management of cleavers in-crop and pre-seed can prevent them from spreading to other fields that may not have significant pressure, but will also help you put more bushels in the bin. Still not sure if it’s cleavers? Remember to look for the whorls, square stem, and if worse comes to worst, pick it out and see if it sticks to the dog. † Megan Oleksyn was raised on a large mixed farm in northern Saskatchewan and writes from Pigeon Lake, Alta. Megan owns southpaw communications a communications consulting, public relations and freelance writing business geared to grassroots clients



ohn Deere may not have reintroduced its popular Buck ATV, as many diehard Deere enthusiasts have been hoping they would, but for those who like having a sporty green machine to get around the farm, they’ll at

performance. “The new John Deere Gator XUV 550 and 550 S4 are a great compliment to our popular lineup of XUVs and offer the most comfortable way to get you, your crew and all your supplies to those hard-to-reach destinations,” says David Gigandet, tactical marketing manager, Gator utility vehicles.

The S4 is the first Gator to offer a rear seat for additional passengers. It folds down when not needed.


John Morriss






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John Deere adds two new models to its Gator UTV line least be happy to see the Gator side-by-side UTV line expand. The company recently announced the introduction of two new, mid-duty Gator models, the XUV 550 and the 550 S4. These crossover utility vehicles offer more passenger space and a few improvements to comfort and


Printed in Canada by Transcontinental LGM-Coronet Winnipeg, Man.

Gator line expands BY SCOTT GARVEY

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Powered by a 16-horsepower, 570 cc, V-twin, gasoline engine, the 550s are capable of 45 km/h, and four-wheel drive is standard. They use a fully independent, double wishbone suspension that provides nine inches of wheel travel. The S4 is the first Gator to offer a rear seat for two additional passengers, however, that seat can be folded down when not in use for additional cargo space. “The development of these new Gators started in the operator’s station, so they offer ample leg room, storage and dash-mounted, automotive-type controls,” says Gigandet. By making them compact and keeping performance in mind, Deere ensured these two models are also able to create a little off-road fun for weekend warriors. They are narrow enough to fit into the bed of a standard full-size pickup truck, which makes them easy to haul to and from work or play areas. For hunters who want to blend in with their surroundings, either model can be ordered in the usual camouflage colours. But if you’re a purist and prefer your Gator in standard John Deere green and yellow, they can be ordered that way, too. D e e r e ’s G a t o r l i n e a l s o includes the 625i, 825i and 855D models. † Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Email him at

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

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Features PULSES

New inoculant options for 2012 New formulations, including those with new strains of inoculant, promise improved yields BY LEE HART


hree Canadian suppliers of pulse crop inoculants report a few changes in products and product names. These products will be available to pea, lentil, chickpea and soybean growers for 2012.

BECKER UNDERWOOD Becker Underwood, makers of the Nodulator inoculant for pulse crops, has just introduced a new product with a new strain of rhizobia. Research suggests the new product increases yield in peas and lentils by up to eight per cent. Nodulator XL, with a new “highly active” strain of rhizobia that works equally well on both peas and lentils, will be available in self-sticking peat, liquid, and the company’s unique solid core granular formulations. It is a new strain — Strain 1435 — of the Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viecae, which is the rhizobia found in Nodulator. The original Nodulator is still recommended as an effective product for inoculating chickpeas and dry beans. “Nodulator XL is a new strain that does a much better job of fixing nitrogen in both peas and lentils,” says Ralph deVries, Becker Underwood’s director of marketing. “We have done extensive research trials across Western Canada in support of product registration. Looking at the results on the conservative side, on average it has been shown to increase yields by three to eight percent over other leading inoculants. It has consistently shown a six per cent yield increase in peas, and a nine per cent yield improvement in lentils.” Based on five-year price and yield averages, deVries says the three to eight per cent yield improvement range represents $4.99 to $13.30 more per acre with peas and $8.39 to $22.37 more per acre return on lentils. As a follow up to the 172 station-years worth of research trials in support of registration, Becker Underwood this year has 13 field scale trails across Western Canada, says Danielle Fletcher, field agronomist. “We are working with commercial producers with trials ranging from 10 to 40 acres in size and comparing the performance of Nodulator XL with the original Nodulator and other leading inoculant brands,” she says. Fletcher points out the convenience for growers to have one inoculant, which is equally effective on both peas and lentils. The company is recommending producers use the same product application rate when using either the self-adhesive peat or liquid formulations of Nodulator XL, however if using the solid core granules, the application rate can be reduced. Nodulator XL is compatible with the same seed treatments as the original Nodulator. The

compatibility charts are available online at

UNITED AGRI PRODUCTS UAP is introducing a new pea and lentil inoculant for 2012 with a new strain of rhizobia that works faster and increases root development and produces higher yields, says Brodie Blair, UAP western products manager. Field testing with So-Fast XL, which was expecting registration by early December, is said to increase pea and lentil yields by three to eight per cent. So-Fast XL will be available in sterile peat, liquid and granular forms. The company’s current

So-Fast inoculants will also be available through the 2012 growing season, as the new product is introduced. Along with pea and lentil products, UAP also offers inoculants for soybeans including So-Fast N/T sterile peat and Patrol N/T liquid, which contain Bacillus subtilis. The organism enhances the entry of the nodule-forming organism into root hairs. For more details visit their website at

NOVOZYMES BIOAG Novozymes BioAg has reorganized its product line of inoculants and seed treatments after

a c q u i r i n g E M D / M e rc k C r o p BioScience (US, Canada and Argentina) in 2010. The biotech company, founded in Denmark in the early 1920s, entered the agriculture market in 2006 when it acquired Philom Bios, the Saskatoon-based manufacturer of biofertility products such as JumpStart and TagTeam. With the buy-out of EMD, the company has simplified its lineup of pulse crop inoculants, says Darren Smith, southern Alberta sales rep. Along with JumpStart, which improves phosphate uptake in canola, wheat and legume crops, the company also offers Tag Team, a dual purpose seed

treatment that not only includes a nitrogen fixing inoculant for peas, lentils, chickpeas and soybeans but also JumpStart to enhance phosphate uptake. And Novozyme has replaced a 16-product line carried by EMD with four product names that include single-action nitrogen fixing Cell-Tech in peat, liquid and granular formations for pea, lentil and soybean crops, as well as Nitragin Gold, for alfalfa and sweetclover. Aside from inoculants they also offer Optimize, a crop nutrient enhancement product in a granular formulation for peas and liquid formulation for soybeans, and Pulse Signal II, a liquid seed treatment that enhances and speeds up the nitrogen fixing process for peas and lentils. For more information go to their website: www.bioag. † Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews at Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at



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Inoculant critical for soybeans A double rate of inoculant is sometimes required for soybeans, especially on fields that have never been seeded to soybeans BY LEE HART


nless you are producing  only  dry  field beans, all other pulse crops  respond  and perform better when the correct form of nitrogen fixing inoculant is applied, says the Manitoba pulse crop specialist. Field  beans,  for  some  reason, have not shown a consistent response to seed and/or soil applied inoculants, says Dennis Lange, who is based at the Crops Knowledge Centre at Carman. “About 99.5 per cent of dry field beans are not inoculated because the data shows such a variable response,” says Lange. “It is just the nature of the crop, for some reason.” So a standard recommendation when seeding field beans is to apply about 30 pounds of nitrogen in the soil at time of seeding and another 70 pounds in a topup application later in the season. It is just the opposite situation when dealing with soybeans and other pulse crops, he says. A nitrogen fixing inoculant is critical to the success of soybeans, and in some situations even a double application may be warranted, just to ensure there is sufficient nitro-

gen fixing bacteria (rhizobia) in the soil to meet plant needs. “Soybeans  need  about  200 pounds of nitrogen to produce a 30 bushel crop,” says Lange. “So if you didn’t use an inoculant it may not be practical or possible to apply that much nitrogen to the crop.” There is an obvious difference in crop performance if an inoculant is not applied, he says. Plants from untreated seed will not grow as vigorously and the crop will be short and stunted. A critical time for nitrogen requirement is at the early pod-fill stage. The majority of soybean producers in Canada do use either a peatbased, liquid or granular inoculant on or with seed to enhance nitrogen fixing and nutrient uptake by the plant. He says in some situations producers may even apply two forms of inoculants to ensure the crop has sufficient nitrogen fixing ability. “Particularly if you are growing soybeans on land that has never had soybeans before, some producers will use a combination of inoculants,” says Lange. While all forms of inoculants are effective they each have a particular fit. Peat-based inoculants are usually mixed with water to form a

slurry which is applied to seed — application can be a bit messier and proper mixing is needed to ensure the seed is properly covered; liquid inoculants are convenient to use but bacteria survival has a shorter “shelf life” with liquids than in other forms; and granular inoculants are also effective although due to the bulk of material, require a third tank in the air seeding system to carry the product. “On new soybean land, particularly if it is a sandy soil texture (as opposed to high organic matter) producers might use two forms of inoculants just to establish and build the bacteria levels in the soil,” says Lange. “Or there may be a situation where a liquid inoculant is applied to seed and then if there is a delay before seeding, the producer might also include a peat or granular inoculant when seeding to ensure there are sufficient numbers of bacteria to fix nitrogen.” How does a farmer know if the inoculant is sufficient or working? “First, just look at the crop,” says Lange. “If it is nice and green and growing well that is the first indicator. Then dig up a few roots and count the nodules. If you are seeing 10 to 15 nodules per plant or more that is a good sign, and

photo: bobbie bratrud

To ensure nodulation, soybeans may need a double dose of inoculant. then cut open the nodules. If they are nice and pink or red that tells you they are producing and fixing nitrogen. If you can only find a couple nodules per plant and the crop looks a bit yellow, the crop isn’t fixing nitrogen.” If under some circumstance the inoculant is missed at time of seeding, a rescue measure is to apply about 50 pounds of nitrogen incrop. The top dressing of nitrogen

should be applied, not too early, but just prior to pod fill stage, to ensure the nitrogen goes into pod and seed development and not stem and leaf growth. It is important to time the broadcast application of granular nitrogen just before a rain to ensure the nitrogen is moved into the soil. † Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews at Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at

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MYTH To grow the highest yielding canola I have to put up with cleavers and perennial weeds.

FACT Some of the highest yielding hybrids today have the superior weed control of Genuity® Roundup Ready® systems. Don’t compromise. Get all the yield potential plus superior weed control of Genuity Roundup Ready systems. The latest Genuity Roundup Ready canola and InVigor® canola hybrids were compared in 2011 trials* and the results are in! Genuity Roundup Ready has a win rate of over 55%. Along with the superior weed control from Genuity Roundup Ready systems, you get the top performance you’re looking for with higher yield potential and cleaner fields. Leave the myths behind. See your local retailer for details, or go to

*Source: 2011 Monsanto FACT™ trials. Genuity Roundup Ready represented by 73-75 RR; InVigor® by L150.

Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. This result may not be an indicator of results you may obtain as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible. Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through StewardshipSM (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 StewardshipSM is a service mark 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®, Genuity and Design®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup WeatherMAX®, and Roundup® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2011 Monsanto Canada, Inc.

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DECEMBER 5, 2011




ne afternoon in June, John was driving past his silage barley field on his way to town when he noticed something was wrong with the crop. There were distinct strips in the field made up of barley plants that were almost a foot taller than the surrounding plants. John called me immediately. He thought it might have something to do with the herbicide his sprayer operator had applied three weeks ago. “The herbicide you recommended has severely damaged my silage barley!” he exclaimed. Last month, I had recommended that John apply a Group 1 herbicide for the control of annual grasses and wild oats, which was safe for use on all types of barley, and an appropriate tank-mix partner for broadleaf weed control. Puzzled about the strips in John’s field, I headed out to his farm that afternoon. John farms 5,000 acres of wheat,

barley, canola and forages in Cardston, Alta. When I arrived at the silage barley field, I noticed approximately six distinct strips. Four strips were one-metre wide and tapered at both ends, while the other two were located in the corners of the field. The plants in the strips were 24 to 26 inches tall and those in the rest of the field were 12 to 14 inches tall. The weeds in the strips were also taller than those in the surrounding areas, especially the grassy weeds. John told me that all of the barley plants had been the same height before the herbicide application. I also noticed that the colour of the plants’ leaves outside of the strips was a lighter green than those inside the strips, and some had a yellowish tinge. I checked the plants in both the affected and non-affected areas and, overall, root and plant growth was healthy, and there was no visual damage to plant



eaf disease pressure in cereal crops has not been a significant issue for farmers located in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan. However, this may be changing, as John, a farmer from Consul, discovered this past summer. John, who farms 7,000 acres of wheat and lentils, called me the first week of July after he noticed orange stripes and tancoloured spots had formed on the leaves of his spring wheat crop. He thought it might have something to do with disease pressure occurring south of the border in Montana. “There was a huge rust outbreak in winter wheat. I’m wondering if this is what’s in my spring wheat,” he asked.

It didn’t take long for me to find the orange-yellow pustules in John’s field. The pustules extended the entire length of the leaves, forming stripes. The lower leaves were most affected, although I could tell the infection was moving up the plants, affecting the younger leaves. The crop had not yet reached the flag leaf stage, which was good news for John’s crop. I also noticed small, tancoloured spots had formed on some of the leaves — more than one infection had taken hold in John’s field. The tan-coloured spots were caused by the fungus Pyrenophora tritici-repentis. The spots can appear as tiny brown flecks, which eventually grow into lens-shaped

WEEDING OUT ANSWERS tissue, so I concluded that we were not dealing with fertility or soil issues. Next, John and I reviewed the environmental conditions around the time of spraying. He told me the field had received half an inch of rain 36 hours after herbicide application, but other than that, conditions had been excellent. It did seem to me that the crop had experienced an herbicide injury; the strips were likely misses with the sprayer. To confirm this theory, we measured the distance between the recent tracks in the field, and using the sprayer width we determined the sprayer would have missed applying herbicide to the areas making up the strips. The herbicide tank-mix I had recommended should not have caused any damage to his barley plants. I examined the barley plants and weeds in John’s field more carefully. It was the unexpected control of weeds outside the

lesions up to 12 millimetres in length. A spot can be surrounded by a yellow halo, and develop a dark brown centre. Plants heavily infected with this leaf spotting disease, called tan spot, can wither and die. The other disease affecting John’s spring wheat was stripe rust, caused by the fungus Puccinia striiformis. This is not a new disease to western Canadian farmers, but its increasing prevalence and early presence in farmers’ fields are new developments, and could cause major problems for producers. Also known as yellow rust, the spores of this fungal disease originate from infected fields in the southern United States.

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strips and the lack of weed control inside the strips, as well as John’s meticulous sprayer records that clued us in to the real source of damage to his crop. Why do the barley plants in John’s field look like they’ve suffered an herbicide injury? What has gone wrong and why? Send your diagnosis to Grainews, Box 9800, Winnipeg, Man. R3C 3K7; email lyndsey@fbcpublishing.

com or fax 204-944-5416 c/o Crop Advisor’s Casebook. Best suggestions will be pooled and one winner will be drawn for a chance to win a Grainews cap and a one-year subscription to the magazine. The best answer, along with the reasoning which solved the mystery, will appear in the next Crop Advisor’s Solution File. †

Air currents carry spores from the United States to Canada, with symptoms appearing one week after infection, typically in late summer. Stripe rust hasn’t been a problem in the past in Saskatchewan because it requires high humidity and cool temperatures in order to survive and proliferate. It also doesn’t usually overwinter in the province because cold winter temperatures kill the fungus. So what was it doing in John’s field? The milder winters and cool, wet summers the Prairies have been experiencing of late may be changing the disease landscape. Mild winter conditions have allowed stripe rust to survive in infected winter wheat plants in RBC Dominion Securities Inc.

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regions farther north than usual; as a result, it is showing up earlier in Saskatchewan. Consul is typically a region that receives very little precipitation, but that was not the case in 2011. The previous winter’s heavy snowfall and its insulating effect on winter wheat plants may have allowed the fungus to survive on infected plants. That spring, I had already observed a high incidence of stripe rust in winter wheat. The large amount of precipitation, in combination with high humidity and cool temperatures that spring, provided an environment conducive to the proliferation and spread of the disease in winter wheat, which in turn may have infected spring wheat. In the past, high temperatures also prevented the spread of the disease, but now a new variant can survive the heat of a Saskatchewan summer, adding to its threat. Luckily for John, he noticed the disease in his crop before the flag leaf stage. He had been scouting his fields regularly, which is very important for preventing the spread of stripe rust. To protect the flag leaf, he immediately sprayed with an appropriate fungicide, stopping the movement of the potentially yield-robbing stripe rust and tan spot. John’s scouting practice and timely application of fungicide saved his crop. His yield was normal, despite the infestation. Other practices I recommended to reduce John’s chances of developing stripe rust in his spring wheat in the future included using resistant varieties, seeding early, using a seed treatment to delay the onset of the disease (but this is not effective against airborne spores) and the timely application of an appropriate fungicide. † Kayla Notley is a sales agronomist at Richardson Pioneer Ltd. at Dunmore, Alta.


MYTH To grow the highest yielding canola I may have to live with an increased risk of Group 1 resistant weeds.

Genuity® Roundup Ready® systems are the most effective solution for keeping Group 1 resistance at bay, while providing a win rate of 55% over InVigor® hybrids in our 2011 FACT™ Trials*. Don’t compromise. Get all the yield potential plus the best solution for controlling Group 1 resistant weeds. Group 1 resistant weeds are a real and current threat for growers, with 1 out of every 3 fields in Western Canada having Group 1 resistant wild oats. Using herbicides like Liberty® 150 (Glufosinate), which are often tank-mixed with Group 1 herbicides like Centurion® (Clethodim), may contribute to Group 1 resistance.

Leave the myths behind. See your local retailer for details, or go to

*Source: 2011 Monsanto FACT trials. Genuity Roundup Ready represented by 73-75 RR; InVigor® by L150.

Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. This result may not be an indicator of results you may obtain as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible. Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through StewardshipSM (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 StewardshipSM is a service mark 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®, Genuity and Design®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup WeatherMAX®, and Roundup® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2011 Monsanto Canada, Inc.

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DECEMBER 5, 2011

Features Agronomy

Six tips for growing edibles Growing edible beans takes special care and soil preparation but the extra work and attention is well worth it for this Manitoba farm By Harry Seimens


he  W.  J.  Siemens Farming Co. Ltd. of Rosetown, near Gretna, Man., grows thousands of acres of edible beans and soybeans in a rotation with corn, canola, seed and processing potatoes, with a little wheat thrown in for good measure. In a recent sit-down interview with one of the principles, Ray Friesen and Marlin Froese, who Friesen refers to as the best agronomist in Manitoba, we talked about how they grow edible beans, a high-maintenance

crop,  even  while  growing  so many others.

Trash management Froese says managing trash the fall before is vital for starting off the bean crop next spring. “Trash management the year before is key, especially if you plan on putting (beans) on corn ground the following year,” he says. “No big stalks, no big root balls, just nice and black (soil).” He says a tandem disc with super coulters works well to prepare the soil for edibles on corn,

chopping the heads and cobs. Soil doesn’t have to be totally black, but the blacker it is the easier it is to work with the following year, Froese says. When the soil is ready in spring, they float on pre-emergent Edge together with fertilizer in one pass and incorporate it two times.

Variety selection Friesen says the edible bean varieties they choose to grow depends on how the markets for those varieties are doing. “We talk to the bean buyers and ask them what they think the market will require and what the demand is going to be in the fall,” he says. “I would say the market dictates the type of bean we grow.” That said, he likes to grow black  beans  because  they’re easier  to  harvest  using  the flex-header, whereas the pintos  and  other  edibles  require knife-cutting,  which  requires extra  pass  during  harvest. “We’ve been leaning more to black beans so we can flex them, but did grow some pintos again this year,” says Friesen.

Equipment needs, rotations Marlin Froese is the working agronomist for the W. J. Siemens Farming Co. Ltd. at Rosetown, Man., but also farms with his father only a few miles away.

The Siemens farm uses mostly 24-row equipment on 22-inch row spacing. As farms become larger and larger, chances are soil condi-

tions and soil types will change significantly. Rotations do too, of course, especially when several crops compete for the lighter soils. Friesen says they rotate potatoes on the lighter soils with the edible beans, but in the last few years, canola has fit into that rotation. “Just before potatoes, it is either edible beans or canola, and edibles, once in either three or four years,” he says. “Generally (we rotate) a potato crop, corn, then either beans or canola followed by potatoes again, every third year. It seems to be the fit now. That may expand a little bit more in the future, giving the land a little more break from the potatoes. Right now it seems to be working well for the beans especially.” Froese says many farmers will plant edible beans every other year, but he prefers to have that third year in the rotation for edibles.

Agronomic considerations Froese likes to start planting edibles between May 15 to 20, weather permitting, of course. If the spring is nice and warm, they’ll usually go in after about two to four weeks later and apply a post-emergent herbicide. “Edible beans are not very competitive, so it’s easy to have a field get away from you,” says Froese. “Weed control works well if the weather is in your favour meaning it’s nice and warm. It takes a little more babysitting and hands-on knowledge to make sure they are working well.” He uses post-emergent Basagran for broadleaf control, but can add Relfex for broad-leaf control or Centurian for grass control, but suggests doing the grass and broad-leaf treatments separately. “Sometimes  Edge  controls some grasses so we don’t always have to go back for grass control,” he says. Not too many years ago, farmers cultivated between plant rows to control the weeds, but not any more. The Siemens farm still makes one pass with the row crop cultivators, but it’s to improve harvest conditions and not for weed control. “Generally, (you) just to push a little dirt into the row so it is easier for knife-cutting or for flexing so you don’t have the litBy Dan Piraro


tle hollows from planting in the row,” says Friesen. There are very few insect pressures for edible beans, however sclerotinia or white mould are very real disease pressures, especially for pintos.

Insects and diseases It is important to watch the weather, especially the humidity or periods of heavy moisture. “Spraying with a fungicide is preventive,” says Froese. “It is important to spray before you see (the disease) to get proper control. You have to make the call before you have the disease pressure.” Friesen says the decision to spray a fungicide is a combination of the weather and the quality of the crop. “If you have a nice-looking crop you will feel better about spending money on it, but not so if the crop is poor. For us, it is a budget item.” Depending  on  the  spring, when they planted the crop and what the weather is like through June and July, they normally look at applying the disease control from the middle of July to the end of the month. The edible bean harvest starts in September, after cereals and canola. For black beans, they use the flex-header. Since the pintos lay down closer to the ground and are a little bushier, they undercut or knife them and pick them up with a windrower header, shaking off some of the dirt before the beans enter the combine. When asked about storage, it becomes abundantly clear handling the edibles as gentle as possible is vital to keep the quality. Froese stores the edibles in Quonsets and uses belt conveyors as much as possible for gentle handling. Aeration is a must to keep them cool and to avoid heating, especially if harvested wet. If they go in dry, it is not such a big issue. Friesen says it’s never a good idea to dry edible beans, especially with the normal on-farm dryers. “I don’t think we could use one of our farm grain dryers, not sure what would be left when coming out of the auger at the bottom.” † Harry Siemens is a farm journalist, freelance writer, speaker and broadcaster based at Winkler, Man. Visit his website at www., or email him at harry@

By Dan Piraro


MONSANTO CANADA INC 15.250X5.00 D000130494 4CPage 11 3 of 3 consecutive RHP’s

MYTH To grow the highest yielding canola I have to wait for sunny spray days.

FACT Genuity® Roundup Ready® systems, with high yielding canola hybrids and superior weed control, also give you the flexibility of a wide window of application, under any condition. Don’t compromise. Get all the yield potential plus the flexibility you need. Genuity Roundup Ready systems are effective across a wide window of weed life stages. They also allow you to spray under a broad range of environmental conditions, whether it’s wet, dry, cold or hot, so weather is never an issue. Leave the myths behind. See your local retailer for details, or go to

Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. This result may not be an indicator of results you may obtain as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible. Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through StewardshipSM (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 StewardshipSM is a service mark 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®, Genuity and Design®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup WeatherMAX®, and Roundup® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2011 Monsanto Canada, Inc.

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DECEMBER 5, 2011


The benefits and risks of non-farmer land ownership The perception is that investors have moved into land ownership in a big way but, in reality, non-farmer land owners are still very much the minority. What does non-farmer land ownership really mean for your farm? BY LEEANN MINOGUE


e’ve all heard the rumours about corporate buyers turning up at land auctions and sending prices through the roof. We have vague ideas about men in suits, cruising the countryside in limos, looking to over-pay for the neighbours’ land before we get a shot at it.

How big an impact do corporate land buyers have in Prairie land markets? And how does this affect you?

A FINITE RESOURCE Prairie farmland has been featured as a hot commodity in investment magazines and blogs from New York to Nairobi. Although Manitoba, Saskatchewan and

Alberta have laws preventing foreign ownership of farmland, there are all kinds of Canadian investors eager to buy into agriculture without getting mixed up in the nasty business of actually farming. And there are corporations ready to make that investment easy. The two biggest non-farmer owners of Prairie farmland are Assiniboia Capital Corp., with about 115,000 acres of Saskatchewan farmland,

and AgCapita, which had about 30,000 acres in the spring of 2011. Both of these companies use investors’ money to buy farmland (mainly in Saskatchewan), then generate returns for their investors by leasing the land to farmers. These companies market their funds by advertising the promising future of agriculture, comparing western Canadian land prices with prices in other parts of the world, and point-

ing out how land prices have risen over time in the past. Assiniboia Capital’s website says: “Farmland is gold with yield — it’s highly correlated with inflation, but it produces income every year.” Several other organizations are following similar models in Western Canada on a smaller scale. These include Bonnefield, Topsoil Farm Land Management Company, Van Raay Land, Inc, and Scamp Real Estate Investments, Ltd.


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How much impact are these non-farmer owners having on land prices? Dr. Jared Carlberg at the University of Manitoba has been studying this very issue. Last winter he surveyed farmland realtors and rural municipal and county administrators from across the Prairies, asking questions about land ownership and prices. Based on his survey results, Carlberg estimates that in Saskatchewan and Manitoba 70 percent of farmland is farmed by the owner. The percentage is slightly less in Alberta 66 percent. For comparison, farmers in Iowa are much less likely to be farming their own land. A recent study found that more than half of Iowa farmland is farmed by renters. Carlberg’s next survey question was focused on finding out who owns the land that farmers are renting. In Saskatchewan, Carlberg found that 84 per cent of rented farmland is rented from other farmers. This category includes retired farmers or their family members (whether or not they still live in the community), and active farmers who rent out some parcels of land. Once you account for farmers, local investors, and some random “other” organizations (such as utility companies), only 10 percent of the rented land in Saskatchewan is rented from new outside investors. Remember, that’s 10 per cent of the 30 per cent of land that’s rented, for a total of about three percent. In Manitoba, the percentage of rented land rented from new outside investors is slightly higher, at 14 percent. In Alberta, like Saskatchewan, the statistic (according to Carlberg’s survey) is 10 per cent.

IMPACT ON PRICES There’s no doubt that farmland prices are rising. Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) recent Farmland Values Report (Spring 2011) reports that the price of Saskatchewan farmland rose by 2.7 percent in the last six months of 2010. Manitoba farmland prices rose 1.3 percent in the second half of 2010, and in Alberta, farmland went up in price by 1.5 during that time frame. Of course some of the increase in the price of farmland comes from high grain and oilseed prices, farm expansion and demo-

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Features graphics. But how much of the price increase can be attributed to institutional buyers (or blamed on them, if you’re a farmer hoping to expand your farm)? It’s hard to make sweeping generalizations — markets for land are very regional. The situation in southeastern Manitoba looks very different from the land market in the Alberta foothills. So while Carlberg has found that generally, corporate buyers cause some increase simply because more bidders at the auction drive prices higher, Carlberg says “in some regions, it’s not a factor at all, and in other regions it pretty much drives prices all by itself.” Both Assiniboia Capital and AgCapita say their strategy is to buy smaller parcels of land all

Five tips for renting land

over the province. This means a less shocking price impact in any one regional market, but also gives investor landowners the agronomic benefits of diversification, and more options when they’re looking for renters.

RENTING LAND FROM THE MAN Non-farmer, or institutional, land ownership is here to stay. Some farmers might be reluctant to rent land from a large corporation. How much control would non-farmer owners want to have over the land? Would rotations be restricted? Would a man fly out from Toronto in a private jet to make sure the canola swaths are straight? Murray Gogel is the senior farmland manager for Palliser Farmland Management, a Regina-based company that manages the almost 115,000 acres of Saskatchewan farmland owned by Assiniboia Capital, as well as land owned by

other parties. Gogel says Palliser has no trouble finding renters. In fact, he says, “we get to select from several candidates.” This success comes in part from Assiniboia’s goal of buying high quality land. Gogel says “We try and buy better than average land in any community, and we try to attract better than average renters.” Palliser tends to offer three to five year leases. As part of the lease terms, Palliser expects its renters to come up with a farm plan. Gogel says, “I do not dictate to our farmers how they’re going to farm.” But, “I want to know what the plan is. As long as good farming practices are used, I stay out of our clients’ way.” Four different farmers will have four or five different definitions of “good farming practices,” but most farmers would agree with Gogel’s next comment: “A crop rotation of canola /snow/ canola/ snow would not be a good thing.” To protect their investors, Gogel and other Palliser staff tour the

land managed by Palliser every summer. Gogel believes that farmers can build a long-term future with Palliser. He likes to think of his corporation as a tool that young, progressive farmers “can use in their toolbox” as they expand their land base. As an example, Gogel imagines a young farmer who’s been leasing land from Palliser and is approached privately to buy a large block of land. Maybe the young farmer would like to add the whole block to his operation, but doesn’t have the capital to buy the whole thing. Instead of turning down the deal, or seeing some of the land sold to a competitor, he could call Palliser. Palliser might agree to buy part of the block and lease it to the young farmer. And Palliser will probably agree not to bid against the farmer on the rest of the land.

POSSIBLE PITFALLS There are situations where

farmers might be grateful to see these non-farmer corporations in the local market. For someone who’s looking to rent, looking to sell, or wondering how your cityboy grand-nephew could ever manage to look after the land he’s about to inherit, these companies could be a great solution. However, there are also some downsides. Economists like Carlberg point out that when non-farmer investors buy land, the rental income is sent out of the community. Absentee landowners might not be as concerned about the environment as someone who lives next to his field. Like it or not, these institutional investors are going to part of the Prairie economy for a long time, the trick will be to make it work for you and not against you. † Leeann Minogue writes from Griffin, Sask., and as of next month is the interim editor of Grainews while Lyndsey Smith is on maternity leave. Contact her at leeann.minogue@

Whether you’re renting land from your great aunt Selma or a land management company, there are ups and downs in every rental relationship. Darren Watson is the CEO of Premium Spray Products Canada at Regina, Sask., but spent several years farming near Avonlea, mainly with a rented land base. Watson found that renting was a great way to free up capital for other uses, but he also recognized that farmers who plan to rely primarily on rented land need to take extra steps to make sure they maintain control over their land base. Watson has the following tips for renters: 1. Cultivate a good relationship with your landlord. Buying your landlord the occasional cup of coffee can go a long way. Other little things like cleaning up grain spills or chemical jugs show your landlord that you take pride in your workmanship and are a reliable land steward. And, at today’s interest rates, it doesn’t cost much to pay your rent a few days early, a trick that is sure to catch a landlord’s attention. When it comes time to renew the lease, your past behavior might give you more pull than a farmer who offers to outbid you by a few dollars. 2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you’re renting lots of land, try to have more than one landlord. That way, if one landowner makes a decision to find a new tenant or sell the land out from under you, you’ll still have a viable land base to fall back on. 3. Stagger your lease dates. Try to set up your lease contracts so that you don’t have your entire land base coming due in the same year. If one contract isn’t renewed and you find yourself looking for an extra thousand acres, you’ll be in a better position than if all of the land you’ve been renting is no longer in your hands. 4. Try to have contract renew in October. Negotiating to have your contracts come up for renewal in October rather than the spring, gives you the winter to find other land if you need to replace a lease that’s cancelled unexpectedly.

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Job#: ESTC-161

Version: Final



DECEMBER 5, 2011


Soybeans a good fit for wet acres For our farm in southeast Saskatchewan, 2012 will be the year to put soybeans into the rotation where we’d typically have put canola or lentils BY BOBBIE BRATRUD


e farm near Weyburn, Sask., and Mother Nature threw our area a lot of challenges this year. From April to August we received almost 18 inches of rain. With all of this wet weather, we only managed to seed about half of our acres. All of our seeding plans slowly went out the window as May and June went by with the drill covering very little land. Needless to say, our actual seeding progress looked very different from the plans we had made throughout last winter. We ended up with

more chemfallow than planned, as well as more canola acres. This disaster of a year is now behind us, thankfully, but we’re still dealing with its remnants as we make our seeding plans and attempt to move our rotations back to normal.

SOYBEANS AS A NEW CROP Because our farm was heavily seeded to canola last year, it is looking like our 2012 canola acres will be lower than we would like. The natural rotation was trending for our farm to be heavy into cereals and pulses. As well, many of the fields that we had slated to

go into a pulse crop, which for us is traditionally lentils, are on low lying areas where excess moisture may be of concern. In an attempt to correct some of these rotation issues we are looking at growing soybeans, both as an alternate crop for our pulse acres, as well as a way to limit some cereal acres. We see soybeans as a ‘new’ crop for us that will address many of the concerns we are facing in correcting our rotations. We see it as an alternative to lentils that should grow and yield better under wetter environmental conditions. As well, we are looking at it as an oilseed option, to help us keep our oilseed acres to

the correct proportion following a heavy canola year, without pushing our canola sequences too close together. A couple of years ago we grew soybeans on one field to try them out. We wanted to get some experience with growing a new crop so that when a year came when soybeans became a viable option we would know if we could actually grow them and get them into the bin. That experience has given us some comfort, teaching us which varieties are a fit for our area and giving us a sense that we can grow and manage soybeans with our existing equipment.

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When making crop planning decisions we compare each crop to see how it fares on a net return per acre basis. Soybeans are looking relatively positive for us, comparing closely to canola. Both large green and red lentils are still projecting a higher return per acre than soybeans, and will continue to have a place on our farm, however, we are looking at including soybeans to manage our risk on the pulse acres, as we know how poorly lentils can produce in a wet year. Our experience with soybeans has shown that it is costly to inoculate them properly, however this looks more favourable in years like this, with fertilizer prices seeming to continue to trend higher.

WEED CONTROL Roundup Ready soybeans provide a lot of flexibility in both timing of spraying and glyphosate application rates. We are looking at this flexibility as a great attribute as we are coming off of a year where the weed growth was tremendous. Last year’s weed control was not always optimal, due to

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the difficulty we had getting on to wet fields at the desired time. We may very well be facing increased weed competition as a hangover effect from last year, and Roundup Ready soybeans may come in useful to combat this. We are looking at using soybeans as an option to help us fix up our rotations from 2011, allowing us to spread our risk by moving away from solely growing lentils on our pulse acres. Since we’re going into next year with high soil moisture levels at freeze-up and concerns about weed competition, lentils may not yield as well as we would like. For all of these reasons along with concerns about fertilizer prices, we are including soybeans as an option for our farm. † Bobbie Bratrud farms with her husband Mark near Weyburn, Sask. They also run Bratrud Ag Advisory Services (

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DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Features 2012 Outlook

Watch for local opportunities for wheat and barley After this year, there will likely be fundamental changes to the way you market your wheat and barley. Prices for this year look balanced, but there is potential for volatility By Jonathon Driedger


ven  though  legislation hasn’t  yet  passed,  it’s looking increasingly like this will be the last marketing year with the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) monopoly in place. In this context, it’s worth looking ahead and seeing what the rest of the year may bring for CWB grains. In the case of wheat and durum, the Series A deadline has passed, and there was no indication that the CWB would offer a Series B delivery contract. As a result, farmers have essentially already decided whether they will market their grain through the CWB in the current crop year, target it toward other outlets such as the domestic feed market, or hold stocks over until after August 1, 2012.

outlook there isn’t much value in locking in an FPC, as it is sitting below the PRO.

OTHER WHEAT PRICES The situation is more interesting for some of the other classes of wheat, such as CPS and winter wheat. In these cases, a very strong domestic feed wheat market through various regions of the prairies makes these local outlets much more attractive than the CWB. In some areas the feed market is actually offering a higher value than the CWB PRO for milling grades of CWRS. Feed wheat values haven’t reached that level of frothiness everywhere, but the underlying tightness of the west-

ern Canadian feed grain market means that most regions should eventually see better pricing via domestic channels.

The outlook for malt barley is fairly well balanced at current levels, which include a PRO of $332/t in-store for two-row and $306/t instore for six-row, which nets farmers approximately $5.50/bu. and BARLEY $5.20/bu., respectively, depending Similarly to CWRS, in many on their local deductions. The supcases the malt barley story has ply situation in North America largely been written for farmers. was tight going into the year, and A better quality harvest has led to U.S. production was historically high selection rates early in the low, which should be somewhat year. This will make it harder for supportive. There are also new previously rejected barley to get crop malt barley contracts offered selected later in the year, as has in the $6.50 to $7/bu. range in the been the case in some past years Northern U.S. At the same time, when good quality has been hard we are entering the Australian and to find, and has also led to the Argentine harvests, which in turn drying up of any of the CWB’s are expected to put some pressure attractive CashPlus offerings that on international markets. T:8.125” had been available earlier. The best option for feed barley

is to sell into the domestic feed market. Prices have been strongest in Manitoba. But the market has started to pick up in Saskatchewan as well, where farmers on the eastern half of the province were seeing values exceeding $4.50/bu. in their yards. In summary, the outlook for returns from CWB grains is fairly balanced  going  forward,  within the  context  of  domestic  factors and  the  broader  global  dynamics overall. Of course, the overall environment is more volatile than in years past, which widens the range of possible outcomes in unpredictable ways. † Jonathan Driedger is a market analyst for FarmLink Marketing Solutions based at Winnipeg, Man.,


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For wheat committed to the CWB, there is the option of leaving it in the pool or signing up on one of the Producer Payment Option programs, such as the Basis Price Contract (BPC) or Fixed Price Contract (FPC), which have new extended sign-up deadlines until the end of March. This continues to be an improvement over previous years, since now wheat can be moved-off farm and delivered to the CWB as delivery calls allow and temporarily put in the pool, but farmers can still leave open the option of applying those tonnes against a future PPO pricing contract if an attractive opportunity presents itself. At the time of writing, the PRO for No. 1 CWRS with 13.5 per cent protein was $308/t in-store, which works back to approximately $6.90/bu. net to the farmer, depending on local deductions. This compares to an FPC value of approximately $6.65/bu. The outlook for hard red spring wheat is caught between a fairly bearish world wheat complex overall, due to big global supplies and rising ending stocks, and some tightness for spring wheat in the North American market. The  behaviour  in  the  U.S.  hard red spring wheat market is showing up in the steep inverse in the Minneapolis futures contract and rising basis levels in the country, which are fundamental indicators of a shortage of supplies in the commercial system. This contrasts with the large carrying charges in the Chicago and Kansas City futures markets, which are reflective of the more bearish global wheat markets. Estimating the CWB PRO is challenging in any given year, as it’s essentially a forecast of a forecast, but this is particularly the case this year with all the additional uncertainty over the future of the organization. The volatility in the broader global economic environment also increases the chances of erratic price moves outside of traditional supply and demand fundamentals.  However,  at  this point the outlook seems to be for the PRO to remain relatively flat going forward. This means that based on today’s



DECEMBER 5, 2011

Features 2012 Outlook

Canola prices set to soften in 2012 With troublesome global economics and good growing conditions in South America, canola fundamentals are weakening By Mike Jubinville


rom the start of the 2011 calendar year to the end of  summer  Winnipeg’s canola  futures  market traded within a very broad trading  range,  oscillating  generally between $600-$610/tonne on the topside and about $550/t on the bottom-end. But since the peak at the very end of August, the canola price charts have taken a distinctly bearish turn. Speculative  and  chart-based long selling eroded canola prices into the first half of November, when this column was written. As canola prices fell, the activation of sell-stop orders amplified those losses. This is not a pretty technical picture for the canola price charts, and concern over this developing trend has inspired aggressive selling of the 2011 crop.

BROADER MARKETS The troublesome macro-economic situation remains a near constant headwind for our grain markets. But we have had some specific fundamentals to digest recently in the form of the USDA’s November production and supply and demand report.

A greater-than-expected cut to production forecasts for U.S. corn and soybeans is supportive for these markets. On the other hand, the USDA did not trim its corn carryover forecast as much as the market expected and it raised its forecast of soybean carryover for 2011-12. This has kept corn buying interest in check and is pressuring soybean futures. USDA commentary on these reports seems almost too U.S.centred, without enough attention to the global picture. U.S. corn  and  soybean  supply  is tight, but that’s not the case on the global scene, certainly not for  soybeans.  In  recent  USDA reports, a case has been repeatedly made that global stocks of grains and oilseeds are rather comfortable, not short. Supply tightness is confined mostly to the US, and that has created a bit of an “island” of high prices relative to the global market. We still need large crops in 2012, but for the time being the world is not running out of supply. In the meantime, trader attention will regularly be diverted by macroeconomic issues and, in the weeks and months ahead, any southern hemisphere production issues. At this time of year, short-term price rallies are times to sell. We’ll

hear periodic reports of expanded Asian food demand, which will be price supportive. I am concerned about the immediate oilseed price outlook. While I’m not anticipating a market collapse, we have now seen a bullish price cycle in ag commodities for well over a year. Without some production threat ahead, I suspect oilseed prices could relax a bit in 2012. Ag markets are after all, cyclical. Always have been, always will be.


CANADA : Exports of Canola (1000 T ) August / October 2011









































U.Arab. Emir.






Other ctrs












Despite the stormy macro-economic investment atmosphere, endusers continue to secure canola supplies. A strong pace to both exports and domestic crush has continued to provide underlying price support for our canola market. Strong world demand for canola and by-products has boosted Canadian canola disposals to record  levels.  October  was  the best month ever for Canadian canola  exports.  An  estimated 880,000 tonnes were moved out (compared to 783,000 tonnes last year), bringing the total for the first three months of the Canadian marketing year to a record 1.93 million tonnes, eight per cent above a year ago. Exports to China more than doubled to

530,000 to 540,000 tonnes from August  to  October.  Year-on-year increases also occurred in shipments to Mexico and Pakistan. Increasing demand has also been noted from the domestic crushing industry. Canadian canola crush reached a record 591,000 tonnes in September and stayed high in October, resulting in an estimated 1.61 million tonnes between August and October 2011. With the current strong demand, the bulk of this year’s Canadian canola crop will be absorbed. At the time of writing this article, PFCanada estimated the 2011 Canadian canola crop at a record large 13.2 million tonnes (against 12.77 million tonnes in 2010), but some trade

sources suggest a crop size at or above 13.5 million tonnes.

COMPETING OILSEEDS These considerations seem to be fundamentally bullish for the canola market. There is still strong demand, and despite a record large crop there is a declining trend in Canadian ending stock supply. However, the canola market does not operate solely according to its own supply and demand fundamentals, but also in-line with global oilseed conditions. Pricing relationships relative to competing oilseeds such as soy-

» continued on next page

EXTENDED OUTLOOK FOR THE PRAIRIES Weather Forecast for the period of December 4 to December 31, 2011

Southern Alberta

Peace River Region

Dec. 4 - 10 Fair and seasonal conditions, but colder, windy outbreaks bring heavier snow and blowing on two to three days.

Dec. 4 - 10 Blustery. Higher windchills. Fair skies alternate with occasional heavier snow.

Dec. 4 - 10 Fair skies alternate with occasional heavier snow. Blustery. Higher windchills.

Dec. 11 - 17 Seasonal to cold. Fair skies exchange with intermittent snow and drifting.

Dec. 11 - 17 Fair skies exchange with intermittent snow and drifting. Seasonal to cold.

Dec. 18 - 24 Unsettled, windy and cold on two to three days with occasional snow. Expect a chance of heavy snowfall in places.

Dec. 18 - 24 Unsettled windy and cold conditions on two to three days with occasional snow. There is a chance of heavy snowfall in places.

Dec. 25 - 31 Higher windchills. Windy at times. Fair, but expect snow and drifting on two or three occasions.

Dec. 25 - 31 Windy at times. Fair skies, but snowfall and drifting on two or three occasions. Expect higher windchills..

-19 / -8 Grande Prairie 26.9 mms

Manitoba Dec. 4 - 10 A few higher windchills. Fair skies are interrupted by occasional heavier snow. Dec. 11 - 17 Seasonal to cold. Often unsettled, with windy conditions and occasional snow and blowing.

Dec. 11 - 17 Changeable weather and at times stormy with snow and blowing. Often cold.

Dec. 18 - 24 Weather and temperatures vary. Fair skies alternate with intermittent snow.

Dec. 18 - 24 Unsettled. Higher windchills. Occasional heavy snow and blowing on a couple of days.

Dec. 25 - 31 Generally cold with windy conditions and high windchills. Fair, but expect snow and drifting on two or three days.

Dec. 25 - 31 Cold. Fair but windy conditions, with snow and drifting on two or three occasions. Bitterly cold in northern regions.

Precipitation Forecast -18 / -9 Edmonton 22.2 mms


-22 / -11 Prince Albert

-20 / -10 North Battleford

-14 / -6 Jasper

-24 / -15 The Pas

-14 / -5

34.6 mms

-18 / -6 Red Deer 18.8 mms


-14 / -2 Calgary 13.2 mms

-14 / -3 Medicine Hat cms Lethbridge 16.219mms 20.1 mms 26 cms -13 / -1

-19 / -9 Saskatoon 17.2 mms

Precipitation Outlook For December

22.0 mms

19.1 mms

19.0 mms

26.8 mms

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


-21 / -11 Yorkton

-21 / -11 Dauphin


-22 / -11 -18 / -8 21.0 mms 20.5 mms -18 / -7 Gimli Regina -17 / -6 Moose Jaw 26.2 mms 15.9 mms Swift 18.8 mms -20 / -11 -20 / -10 Portage -19 / -10 Current -16 / -7 Brandon 22.2 mms Winnipeg 21.5 mms Weyburn 18.9 mms 18.6 mms 19.0 mms -16 / -6 Estevan Melita -19 / -7 18.1 mms

19.7 mms

Much Above Normal Below Much above normal normal below normal normal

Temperatures are normals for December 15th averaged over 30 years. Precipitation (water equivalent) normals for Dec. in mms. ©2011 WeatherTec Services Inc.

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Features 2012 OUTLOOK » CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE beans, palm oil and E.U. rapeseed must be taken into account. And while a premium for canola is justifiable relative to the other oilseeds given canola’s tighter projected supply and demand characteristics, a limit can be reached which discourages additional discretionary demand and ultimately forces substitution to other oilseed alternatives. But at what point does that occur? Looking at the canola versus soybean futures spread relationship, canola recently moved to about an $80/t premium to soybeans. As a loose rule of thumb, a move to $100/t premium typically initiates a reduction in canola demand or a substitution to other oilseed or veg oil alternatives. There are periods of exception of course, but that has generally been the case. The soybean market remains tied down in the lower end of its recent trading range. Prices are declining on concerns about slow U.S. export demand and favourable South American crop conditions, including a nearly ideal start to the growing season in Brazil. With a minor La Nina event currently developing, some traders are concerned that South American weather may be too dry, but that is neither a significant, nor widespread worry at this time. There seems to be a general sense that U.S. production for the key grain markets (soybeans included) will be high enough to meet demand, and that increased competition from South America and the Black Sea region of the Former Soviet Union will lower demand for U.S. grains. The lack of positive U.S. soy complex fundamentals this fall season plus the potential for a significant jump in total U.S. acres available next year appear to be factors which might keep end-users operating on a hand-tomouth basis for the time being, at least until a weather issue develops for South America. Soybean futures are trading in the lower end of the $11.63 to $12.84/ bu. range established by January beans in October. The current trading range may prevail through December 2011, or possibly January if there are no major production problems in South America. Beyond that, the pattern of a February break followed by a spring advance, along with the uncertainty of North American plantings could widen the trading range. At this time (mid-November) soybeans futures have little technically on the charts to cheer about. As for the Januar y canola futures, recent price pressure has taken the contract below the midMarch spike lows, and officially into the lowest price territory of the calendar year. Assuming that the broader soy complex continues to provide downside leadership and stay weak, and assuming there are no production problems in South American this winter or in the northern hemisphere next spring, there is a sense that Prairie cash bids of $10/bu. (or less) will be in the cards at least for some time during the course of 2012. Periodic rallies can be expected through the fall and winter season, but I am viewing such events as short-term selling opportunities rather than a re-establishment of longer term uptrends. † Mike Jubinville is president of Pro Farmer Canada. For more information visit www.

Future wheat prices: view from the U.S. U.S. Wheat Associates says an open Canadian/U.S. border could increase wheat prices for Canadian farmers BY MIKE WILSON


anadian wheat growers might see higher prices — at least initially — if the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly is dismantled. So says the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), who have been arguing for years to have the single desk removed. “We import around two million metric tons of wheat from Canada already, and we export some wheat to Canada too,” says Steve Mercer, USW director of communications. “Assuming the monopoly part of the board goes away, it’s likely that initially there will be more movement of Canadian wheat into the U.S.

and maybe even vice versa, if the border is truly open both ways.” That added movement across borders might boost prices as individual elevator. “A U.S. spring wheat producer can often sell new crop in excess of a dollar per bushel more than CWB offers Canadian producers under monopoly control,” says Mercer. “Once the CWB stops administratively underpricing wheat at the farmer level, existing Canadian elevators will bid competitively for wheat. Canadian farm gate prices would likely rise to approach U.S. levels, depending on location, and much of the incentive to truck wheat to U.S. facilities would disappear.

“With an open spring wheat market, cash prices on both sides of the border should equalize quickly after the monopoly distortion is removed.” While the USW says it wants to see Canadian farmers profit, there is no love lost for the Wheat Board’s price-setting policies. “Our argument is, prices should be based on open market supply and demand principles, and not an arbitrary Boardadministered price,” says Mercer. “They (the CWB) set the price for their wheat; in our case, the price is transparent and discovered in the market.” Although the U.S. produces only 10 per cent of world wheat, it is consistently the world’s big-

gest wheat exporter, followed by Russia, Australia and Canada. The U.S. exports about half of the wheat it grows. America’s recently-inked Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with Korea, Panama and Colombia may do more for its wheat exports than bidding the single desk adieu. Canada’s market share of wheat sold to Colombia has steadily increased, while U.S. sales have been penalized by 10 per cent trade duties; those fees disappear with the new FTA. “We were looking at a potential loss of (USD) $100 million in sales to Colombia a year if we had not signed the FTA,” says Mercer. † Mike Wilson is executive editor of Farm Futures, a business magazine for U.S. farmers


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DECEMBER 5, 2011

Features 2012 OUTLOOK

Feed barley should still pencil out for 2012 Farmers probably won’t see $5 barley across the board, but most analysts say there should be profits in feed grains next year BY LEE HART


eed grain prices are relatively high in Western Canada due to tight supplies this fall, but will those prices be there this time next year? Well, that’s a good question according to market analysts across the Prairies. North America is a bit of blip on the feed grains radar right now. Prices tend to be higher here than in the rest of the world. There is likely to be some downward correction in price just to align it better with the world markets. But the big unknown is next year. If the world produces an average-to-bumper wheat and barley crop that will likely force 2012 feed grain prices down. But, if there are a series of weather wrecks in North America, Australia, Europe, Russia or Argentina, for example, that could keep prices strong. Mother Nature will, as usual, call the shots this coming growing season. Should farmers in Western Canada grow feedgrains in 2012? No one is saying no or being resoundingly bullish either about 2012 price prospects. The market should be decent, particularly if you can produce a high yielding feed barley crop, but don’t count on prices to be at 2011 levels.

REBUILDING STOCKS Mike Stapleton sees 2012 as a year when major grain producing regions in the world, including North America will be rebuilding stocks. “There are so many variables out there — we don’t know for sure what the acres will be, what the quantity will be like, or the quality — so to put a price on grain for next fall is impossible,” says Stapleton. “But I do know that we have seen two and half years where prices have been trending to the upside due to increased demand and lack of supply. But supply is now catching up. Now this fall we are seeing a good crop come off in Australia; Argentina

has one to 1.5 million tonnes of barley to export; we had a good crop in Canada, particularly with malt barley. In just the past couple weeks (mid-November) we’ve seen the price of malt drop about $1.50 a bushel. And if we have an average or above average crop in 2012 that’s going to increase supply and put pressure on prices next fall.” With the current, late 2011, tight supply situation feed wheat is priced in the $6 to $7 per bushel range, and feed barley in the $4.50 to $5 per bushel range in various parts of Western Canada. Stapleton says some farmers are holding onto feedgrains this fall to market in early 2012 for a couple reasons — sell crop in the next calendar year for tax reasons, and hold off in hopes a good price will get even better. But he says as some of this stored grain comes on the market, prices could slide. “I would encourage farmers to look at contracting options for next fall,” he says. “I know everyone wants to see $5 barley, but just because farmers want it doesn’t mean it will be there. There are contracts available now to lock in feed barley for next fall at $4 bushel and I would encourage growers to look at that. “Most producers can still make a profit at $4 and locking in a percentage of production now is a good way to protect themselves against high input costs. If you have a high yielding barley crop, even at $4, compared to canola which may be in the $10 to $11 range, barley looks pretty darn good.”

OPTIMISM Charlie Pearson, market analyst with Alberta Agriculture says he is “reasonably optimistic” feed grain prices will hold up through early 2012, although weather will determine what happens to next year’s crop. Although U.S. corn prices are down a bit — around $7 per bushel as of mid-November — he says Canadian feed wheat and feed barley remain relatively strong. In ball park terms feed wheat

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was selling for about $6 to $6.50 a bushel and feed barley was $4 to $4.75 (edging up to $5 per bushel) depending on what part of the province. “While we are seeing some good world crops, supplies do remain tight,” says Pearson. “In Western Canada acres are down, so production is down, and that means we will see low carry over levels.” On the downside, cattle numbers are down about 20 per cent, and beef consumption is down, which affects demand, but that was perhaps balanced out by reduction of feedgrain production. “On the positive side, the current relationship between U.S. and Canadian feed grain prices provides more incentives for feeders of both cattle and hogs to finish livestock in Canada, which again increases demand.” Even though dry distillers grain from the U.S. has become a viable feed option for Canadian cattle feeders, it still sells at a hefty premium to Canadian feed grains. “I believe producers can be fairly optimistic to follow their standard marketing plans through winter and into early spring,” says Pearson. “Beyond that weather begins to play a factor on next year’s crop.”

ETHANOL Looking at feed wheat and feed barley, separately, Derek Squair, president of Agri-Trend marketing says future feed wheat (ethanol) prices in Western Canada will depend on what happens with subsidies to the corn ethanol industry in the United States. “We could see some changes to this subsidy program in the U.S. and if it disappears that means there will be a lot more corn available for the feed market and that will bring prices down here,” he says. Wheat ethanol prices in Canada have been in the $6 to $6.25 range, but he expects they will drop in 2012. “If it gets down for $4.50 bushel that’s not very good, but if it holds in the $5.25

or higher range, and with good yields producers can still make money.” He is more optimistic that spring wheat prices and contracting opportunities look good for 2012. On the feed barley side, he says the price of malt barley has to stay fairly strong in order to get the barley acres seeded. “The price spread between malt and feed barley needs to be fairly tight to keep the acres seeded, because if a crop doesn’t make malt, then a producer has the feed market as a back up plan,” he says. Jonathon Driedger, market analyst with FarmLink Marketing Solutions in Winnipeg says he expects feed grains to remain profitable in 2012, although not at the 2011 price levels. Particularly in Manitoba he says feed grains commanded an excellent price in 2011 due to a very tight supply market, and strong corn prices in the United States, which made Canadian feed grains more economic for both hog and cattle feeders. He says feed wheat was up to about $7 per bushel and feed barley in Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan was worth $5 per bushel in the farmer’s yard. “A lot will depend on what happens with U.S. corn prices,” he says. “It is not going to drop to $3.50 a bushel, but where will it settle out? The feed grains supply is pretty tight and on the demand side, the economics for cattle and hogs has improved. “I wouldn’t advise anyone not to grow feed grains next year,” he says. “I believe on average it will be profitable. Farmers need to pencil it out, perhaps not using this years prices, but find out where your profit levels are.” Jerry Klassen, a long time market analyst based in Winnipeg, sees a decent opportunity for feed barley prices in 2012, although he expects there will be more pressure from U.S. corn and dry distillers grain (DDG) next year as well. Klassen, Canadian representative for the Swiss-based GAP S.A. Grains says feed grain prices are high in Western Canada this year,

in part due to historically tight supplies as well as high priced corn that has priced U.S. corn out of export markets. “Most years we would see 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes of U.S. corn coming into Manitoba and that didn’t happen this year,” he says. “U.S. corn was selling at a premium to milling wheat and feeders weren’t buying.” At the same time, he says with a large unseeded acreage in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, cattle and hog feeders in the southeast prairie region were competing with Alberta for feed grains. And that drove prices up. Klassen expects there will be some changes next year. The U.S. is gearing up for a record corn crop in 2012 and countries in the southern hemisphere had very good wheat crops and will be aggressively pursuing export opportunities, competing against U.S. corn which is overpriced relative to the world market. “Australia and Argentina wheat crops are in very good shape and we are also seeing countries like France and Ukraine exporting corn picking up the slack in some markets due to the high price of U.S. corn,” says Klassen. All those factors will put pressure on U.S. corn prices. At the same time he doesn’t see any weakening of the U.S. government commitment to ethanol production, so he expects ethanol subsidies, and demand for bio-fuel to remain strong. “Our feed grain prices will be supported until next April or May, but by next summer I think we will start to see DDGs more competitively priced in the Western Canadian market,” he says. “I believe there is still a good opportunity for feed barley next year,” he says. “The market has sent a very strong price signal that it wants barley and I think we’ll see the usual acreage seeded as well as a 10 to 15 per cent increase. Prices may not be as strong as they were this year, but if farmers can get the yields there is money to be made.” † Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews at Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at

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DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Features 2012 OUTLOOK

Tight pea stocks support prices Pulse crop price outlooks are varied for next year. For peas and lentils, Canadian farmers’ selling decisions will be key factors BY CHUCK PENNER


n the past year, pulse markets have certainly flipped around. For the last couple of years, lentils were the hot ticket while peas were a bit of a dog. And nobody really noticed chickpeas at all. What a difference a year makes! Pea supplies are now looking tight and have become a market leader. Meanwhile, the market is trying to figure out what to do with all of the lentils sitting in bins, and those few farmers who grew chickpeas are seeing record prices. Let’s look a little more closely at what happened to each crop and what could lie ahead in the next few months.

before it gets better. The Australian lentil crop (mostly reds) is now being harvested and the early results are looking positive, although not spectacular. The green lentil market is looking a little stronger and the smaller U.S. crop will help to support values. Even so, it’s hard to get too excited about price potential for the rest of this year. Indian farmers are just planting their 2011-12 lentil crop and the outcome there will be a big factor for latter half of the current marketing year as well as the next. Just like chickpeas and peas, Indian farmers are being encouraged to plant lentils but this looks to be a tougher sell. It’s too soon to know for sure how it will turn out.

Canadian farmers’ planting decisions will be the key market driver in 2012-13. If farmers here look at prices and decide to reduce acreage, it will help to bring the market back to life eventually. Of course, the big carryover stocks from 2011-12 will offset that impact to some degree and it may take a while for prices to respond to lower acres.

CHICKPEAS Chickpeas have mostly been ignored in Western Canada and that situation looks like it’s paying off this year. A lot fewer acres were planted, partly by choice and partly because of weather. It’s not that Canada sets the tone

for global chickpea markets, but the timing was right. Crop problems in a number of key countries meant global supplies were extremely low and prices recently hit record highs. That’s great news for those holding chickpeas, but record prices tend to make us quite nervous about what might come next. There’s a reason why the old saying “the best cure for high prices is high prices” has stuck around — it’s true. Farmers in Mexico and India are currently planting their chickpea crops and they are doing their utmost to cash in on the high prices. In the last few weeks, chickpea prices in key global markets have already started to come off the highs

in anticipation of supplies from the Australian chickpea harvest. Of course, there is always the potential for another weather problem to kick-start the market again. These possibilities could include harvest rain (again) in Australia, deterioration in the Indian situation or more hot dry conditions in Mexico. If these global crops turn out all right however, the increase in supplies will cause prices to decline later this year. All three of these pulse markets have seen major shifts in a fairly short time period. That means the best decisions will depend on looking ahead for possible developments rather than basing decisions on the price situation right at planting time. Being a contrarian can pay off and a little luck never hurts either. † Chuck Penner is the founder of LeftField Commodity Research, providing market analysis and economic research services for Canadian field crop markets. He can be reached through the LeftField web-site at

PEAS The pea market has shifted from extremely heavy supplies the last three years to a much tighter situation this year. Record exports last year and a drop in production were the key reasons for the turnaround. Prices for both green and yellow peas are the highest they’ve been since the crazy markets of 2008. This year’s export demand isn’t quite as strong as in 2010-11, but that’s okay. There aren’t enough peas to fill the demand, which is the key reason for the higher prices. Canada exports green peas to a large number of countries and demand doesn’t change all that much from year to year. The tight supply situation will be enough to keep prices supported. For yellow peas, business to China has been brisk while Indian demand is a little quieter. It’s the Indian demand that will set the tone for the rest of this marketing year. India buys yellow peas as a cheaper substitute for desi chickpeas in various foods. As a result, demand for Canadian peas largely depends on Indian supplies of chickpeas, either grown domestically or imported from places like Australia. More importantly, Indian farmers are planting chickpeas now and all indications are that they will be trying to grow a much larger chickpea crop. If they succeed, it will cut into demand for Canadian yellow peas, starting in February or March. Further out, farmers’ planting decisions here in Canada will be the biggest factor for the 2012-13 marketing year. If acreage really responds to the historically high prices (and the weather cooperates), it will put pressure on prices.

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The lentil outlook is the mirror image of peas. Supplies were very tight for three years, resulting in record high prices and encouraging successively larger crops, not just in Canada but in other major exporters. When export demand faded a bit, ending stocks suddenly shot higher. Yes, lentil production dropped this year, but not nearly enough to tighten up supplies. Turkey has been a solid buyer of red lentils and has kept prices supported. But other demand has been mediocre and now the large supplies are starting to weigh on prices, especially for red lentils. Unfortunately, it could get worse



DECEMBER 5, 2011


Nine steps to building wealth If you want to build wealth, you need to start learning and investing now ANDY SIRSKI


hen I was 16 I started my first job working for a farmer. One part of my job was picking up parts for farm equipment. The parts dealer often told me, “Andy, you need to be a millionaire by age 40.” Funny thing is he never explained how to make that million. I don’t know if he was a millionaire at that time or if his children became millionaires. I do know that I have built some wealth even though I started with no knowledge and no money. Today I feel I can explain “How to build wealth.” Let’s face it. Someone who has knowledge, is interested and starts with a few bucks can build wealth a lot easier and a faster than someone with no knowledge and no money. That was me: No knowledge and no money. Here is some advice from the point of view of a fellow who had a job, raised a family and left home with skills but not with stocks, and no cash. You need to want to build wealth. Success is built on inconvenience in most walks of life, and building wealth can be inconvenient at times. Get a strategy you’re comfortable with and learn it well. I prefer to build wealth with stocks where I can set up four streams of income and make reversible decisions. Keep losses small. Learn how to sell covered calls on some stocks. These can bring in cash month after month like a milk cow. The profits can be taxed as capital gains or held tax free in a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). Once we learn how to sell

covered calls on stocks we own, we can expand our skills to use other options to make money and protect our wealth. Understand that cash is an investment too, and we don’t have to be fully invested in stocks all the time. Some people save money for projects. That is different than saving money to build wealth. Respect having money. Some people don’t, and as soon as they have a significant amount of money they find ways to spend so much it can hurt growth. Spending some of your profit is okay but having money needs to be respected. One reader told me he views his money as little soldiers that he sends out day after day, month after month to look for profits and bring them back. Understand seasonality. Some don’t believe this, but history shows that most years many stocks peak in April. This means we might make money from January to April, give a lot of the profits back, then have to rebuild profits come the next fall. I personally like to arrange how I sell my covered calls according to seasonality so my calls can bring in cash at slow times of the year and protect our portfolio when stocks are falling. We might not sell calls if our stocks are rising. It sounds complicated but it isn’t, though it does take some work and dedication. There is no free lunch here.

THE FIVE-LEGGED STOOL Think of a wealth-building strategy as a five-legged stool. The first leg most people need is a backbone income, either from a business or a job. The second leg is a second skill. Many people use the first leg to provide the necessities of life and use that second leg to bring in extra money for luxuries or build wealth. A third leg is

to learn how to make money with stocks. Some people don’t want to learn how to make money with stocks until they have money. This often means they lose money shortly after they start investing. It would be wiser for most people to learn how to make money with stocks now, knowing that sooner or later they will have the money to work with. For a full essay describing the five-legged stool, please contact me at

DON’T GIVE UP LIVING We all should have a life outside of building wealth. Children need stuff and love, we need to have some fun, we need to support local charities and we need to have some time to let our minds relax. Generally this might mean something like driving an older car until our portfolio reaches a critical mass. Maybe our trips are a few days shorter, or maybe we don’t eat the most expensive meal on the menu every day of our holiday. This doesn’t mean we don’t buy chocolates or flow-

TFSA. When I started out, money earned anywhere from seven to 14 per cent per year so it was easy to build wealth. These days, the same investments might pay two per cent per year, which will not build wealth. People need to learn new strategies. One such strategy is making money with stocks, including selling covered calls. Most people understand that it pays to buy low and sell high but lack the discipline to do that. It’s important to learn more about stocks than simply “buy and hold,” or “buy and hope for capital gain.”

DOMINATORS Many investors understand that dividends can help build wealth. The next step is to learn to find dominator stocks. These stocks pay a dividend and raise that dividend every year or at least regularly. The real dominators are long term survivor companies that do business around the world and have what some call a moat around them, or a bullet proof

The combination of income from dividends, capital gains and selling calls can often make investor 15 per cent annually. ers for the women in our life. All of these things are important and it would be sad if you or anyone else worked so hard at building wealth that you lost the other things that matter in life. But to build wealth we need to start. Maybe we start with $1,000 or maybe we start with $5,000 in a

vest. They provide a product or service that is hard to duplicate, and they basically own the space they work in. Companies that run systems are harder to duplicate. Utilities that are more or less monopolies have a special spot in the eyes of the law and the investment

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industry. It’s hard to set up a power grid, which is why Fortis pretty well has a monopoly on electric power in Alberta and on natural gas in British Columbia. Some world dominators include Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Oracle, McDonalds, Abbott Labs, IBM, 3M and Coke. In Canada Shoppers Drug Mart, Russel Metals, BCE, Fortis, Tim Hortons, Enbridge and others could be considered dominator stocks. The major Canadian banks are more or less monopolies in Canada, and stocks like Barrick Gold, Cameco and Suncor occupy significant spots in their industry. Silver Wheaton could easily become a dominator silver stock in a few years and it already operates around the world. Pipeline companies have also been good to shareholders. The big pharmaceutical stocks might have been dominators at one time but since patent drugs have a legislated time of life, they may not be the strong dominators they once were. BHP Billiton is a huge resource stock that might be classed more as a resource mutual fund than a dominator but it still is what might be called an authority in the world or resource industry. I might even consider Viterra as a Dominator stock in Canada. It’s in the process of buying Imperial Oil’s farm fuel distribution system. Dominators do rise and fall in price, but since they are survivors they usually recover and grow on. I’m not saying that anyone with $5,000 in a TFSA should buy $25 or $50 dominator stocks, but an investor could do worse. These stocks command a lot of respect in the investment world.

MY PORTFOLIO We own a few thousand shares of Microsoft, some Russell Metals and Silver Wheaton. The combination of income from dividends, capital gains, and selling calls can often make investor 15 per cent annually. Skilled investors could also sell puts and collect more money. If you want to see how wealth can build in a TFSA with a 15 per cent return, start with $15,000 and multiply to by 1.15. Then add $5,000 a year to the account and multiply the new total by 1.15. Then do that for 15 years. After 12 years with a 15 per cent return there could be $220,026. After 20 years, this could grow to $752,715. No one explained the numbers to me when I was younger. I’m explaining them to you today. Show them to your children. Some say that success in life depends a lot on being in the right place at the right time. You might just be in that right place today. † Andy is mostly retired. He plays with his granddaughters, gardens, keeps his Datsun running, and manages his own investments. Andy also publishes a newsletter called StocksTalk where he tells what he does with his investments and why. If you want to read it free for a month go to Google and type in, click on forms, fill out a few lines and click send. Or send an email to Andy at and he will sign you up

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /



Get ready for goat breeding season Before the bucks meet the does, both need a checkup and perhaps a ration adjustment. Breeding dates can be easily fine-tuned to coincide with market highs DEBBIE CHIKOUSKY


ver the years we have come to realize that a successful kidding season starts at least two weeks before we release the bucks. Attention to detail equates to higher profits. When deciding on an optimum kidding date a few things to consider are facilities, work force and market. 1) Facilities Goats are born approximately eight pounds. These babies freeze very easily; they don’t have the body weight of a calf to help them out. We have claimed a portion of a quonset and installed kidding pens in it so the does are under a roof and the temp stays about 0 degrees Celsius at that time. 2) Work Force From our experience goats need the least amount of human intervention at birth of any of the animals we raise. The flip side, however, is that when they do need help it has to be dealt with swiftly and cold temps will result in death loss. When we moved our kidding earlier in the winter it was only once we could guarantee enough adults to make me comfortable. There are now three adults working here to perform constant checks of the does that are close to kidding. 3) Market The market for kid goats is subject to regional demand. Many breeders plan their breeding to coincide with the needs of the predominant ethnicity of their region. It's important to note that Muslim holidays are based on the lunar calendar which is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar. This means the dates for these holidays move forward about 10 to 11 days each year depending on when the moon is actually sighted. On the other hand, Jewish holidays are celebrated on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year, but the Jewish year is not the same length as a solar year on the Gregorian calendar used by most of the western world, so the date shifts on the Gregorian calendar.

BUCK AND DOE CONDITION It pays to ensure that the does and bucks are in premium condition before the buck is released. Approximately one month prior to breeding we physically restrain our bucks to examine them to ensure they will be able to breed. This is the time to update any parasite programs, lice powder, vitamin shots, trim hooves and determine his body condition. When not breeding mature bucks can maintain good health on pasture alone because bucks require a 12 to 14 per cent protein diet. About two weeks prior to breeding season we gradually add pea screenings to our bucks daily diet.

They need the extra weight to be able to breed and forego eating. It has been our experience a buck in full rut will not eat properly, which explains the rapid kidding rates five months later. This is also the time to manually examine the bucks testicles for any frostbite damage, lumps etc. The rule of thumb is 25 does to a mature buck. Once the bucks have been dealt with we assess the does. We like to give them a bit of time between weaning and breeding to gain weight. This would be the time that we would update vitamin shots, lice powder, parasite programs, hoof trimming and determine if they need an increased ration before breeding. There is


a lot of research that shows that if breeding is timed for when the does are on an increasing nutritional plane, either by changing their ration or deworming, more multiples can be expected at kidding time. Basically, we feed them the best hay we can afford and gradually add about one pound of a grain ration (12 to 14 per cent) to their daily ration. It is also important to ensure their mineral and salt is always available at this time. Another tool used by commercial herds to ascertain exact breeding dates is a buck breeding harness. These can be purchased at index.htm. A few breeders have

reported that coating the brisket of the buck each morning with mixture of Vaseline combined with tempra paint powder also works. The color of the paint is changed daily. The breeder walks the pens and records any newly bred does in a notebook. The bucks are in the pens and the dates are recorded. Now all there is to do is wait. That is by far the hardest part of breeding seasons at our farm. The minute the first doe is bred visions of new baby goats dance in our heads. For now, all there is to do is wait till the last month before kidding. Then there will be more work to do. † Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Man. Visit her blog at


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CHOOSING BREEDING DATES Once breeding timing decisions have been made it is easy to establish a breeding date. Goats have a 146-155 day gestation. To calculate this easily we use a cow gestation wheel and have modified it for goats by marking with a pen 146 and 155 days from “bred.” It is easier than counting on the calendar. Goats are seasonal breeders, which means they only cycle for part of the year, which depends on the length of the days. They usually start coming into heat in mid-August when the days get shorter and stop in February when the days are longer. They cycle 18 to 21 days apart with the receptive part of their cycle being days or hours long.

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DECEMBER 5, 2011


Key steps for choosing loan terms There’s no one best loan for every operation. Before you make choices about financing, take a look at what will work best for your farm ANDREW DERUYCK



ay Riskenhope just purchased a section of land. He asked us to look at some scenarios and recommend the best way to finance his recent purchase. Riskenhope, like many others, is often overwhelmed by the number of interest rate options and programs out there in the financial world. There are many financing options — just like there are many options when you go out to buy a lawnmower. The key to figuring out what is best for you is figuring out what you need. For instance if you have a halfacre yard with no garden you need a 48-inch self — propelled lawnmower. It does not need a loader, tiller or blade and it sure doesn’t need to be a diesel with front-wheel assist.

AMORTIZATION VS. TERM The first step in helping Riskenhope determine what he needed was helping him understand the difference between amortization and term. The amortization on a loan is the number of years over which the loan will be repaid. The term is the number of years the interest rate is locked in. For example, you can have a loan with a 25-year amortization and a five-year interest term. This means that your interest rate will be locked in for five years. At the end of the five years your loan will mature and you must choose if you will renew for another locked-in term, go on for floating variable rate or pay the loan out. Amortization is the number of years the loan is spread over, and determines how quickly the principle of the loan will be repaid. A loan with a 25-year amortization period will be paid out in 25 years, with payments adjusted depending on the interest rate.

we are expanding or borrowing the money we are generally in a pretty optimistic mood, otherwise we would not have considered the purchase in the first place. If it looks like you can repay the loan in five years why not take a seven-year amortization with a five-year interest rate and pay the loan off early? Many financial institutions now offer an opportunity to prepay up to 10 per cent of the principal annually without penalty, so to elect for a longer amortization to preserve cash flow in tight years and make use of prepay options in good years is an effective strategy. Regardless, the focus in choosing an amortization should be determined by

your cash flow and long-term debt service projections.

INTEREST RATE TERMS Determining Riskenhope’s interest rate term is all about risk. There is no one right answer or right interest term for all farmers. The main question to be answered is: “What can I afford if interest rates go against me?” In order to determine what he could afford, we looked at his projections and changed the interest rate to look at the impacts. We could not tell Riskenhope what interest rates are going to do, but we could tell him the impact a five per cent increase in interest rates would have on

his operation. We could also show him his savings between a 10-year rate and a three-year rate. It is also important for him to consider what the other purchases he expects to make in the future. If he anticipates purchasing much more land, that could compound the future interest rate risk that he will be exposed to. At the end of the day, he must make an informed decision that aligns with his risk tolerance. In farming, we generally cannot afford to protect against every risk, but we do have to manage the risk. In picking your interest term you must balance the cost and the insurance and decide which is more valuable to your operation.

Just like you would think about what you need for your yard before you go to the store to buy a lawnmower, before you choose a financing option know what you need and don’t get talked into buying something that you don’t want or will never use. The only way you will know what you need is to know where your operation is presently at and where it is going. † Andrew DeRuyck and Mark Sloane manage two farming operations in southern Manitoba and are partners in Right Choice Management Consulting. With over 25 years of cumulative experience, they offer support in farm management, financial management, strategic planning and mediation services. They can be reached at andrewd@ and or 204825-7392 and 204-825-8443

No contest. Western Canada is our home turf and we’re taking it one field at a time. Next time you’re driving down the highway consider this: nearly one of every two canola fields is an InVigor®. And there’s a good reason for it. InVigor hybrid canola was founded on the endless pursuit of excellence, creating superior genetics that consistently deliver exceptional early season vigor, high stress tolerance and most importantly, number one in yield for 15 years.* Watch for five new “L Series” hybrids for 2012. The perfect season begins.

AMORTIZATION PERIOD The second step to help Riskenhope is to determine what kind of amortization he wants. The amortization he chooses should be based on his operation’s ability to repay the debt. We have seen many farmers be too optimistic about the environment we are currently in and take a short amortization period. Shorter amortization periods mean higher annual payments. This results in tight cash flow positions that lead to poor marketing or input purchasing decisions. Keep in mind that when or 1 888-283-6847 or contact your Bayer CropScience representative. *Source 1996-2010 WCC/RRC Trials. Always read and follow label directions. InVigor® is a registered trademark of Bayer. Bayer CropScience is a member of CropLife Canada.


DECEMBER 5, 2011 /



The mechanics of lentil price discovery Supply is relatively easy to gauge, but existing and potential market demand can be harder to pinpoint. Time spent doing a bit of intelligence gathering can help JEFF JACKSON



s the winter marketing season gears up, decisions on when and how much to sell hinge on several things, like generating cash flow and how much storage space you have. Of course, an ideal time to sell would be when you need the money and when the market wants to buy. While this may work out from time to time, it is usually better to create

a strategy based on your known cash flow needs to maximize the value of your production. This can be done by incremental selling during various periods of the year when there is historical demand for production. A sound strategy will allow for flexibility to move more when price discovery indicates you should or less when prices seem lackluster but show potential to move higher.

PRICE DISCOVERY Price discovery could be defined as the general process used in determining spot prices. These prices are dependent on market conditions affecting supply and demand. It

stands to reason that if demand is high and supply is tight the price should rise and vice versa. There are many tools available to allow you to assess supply. Local production levels and supply are the easiest to monitor. In the information age it is not difficult to gain access to production levels in areas such as Turkey, India and Australia. As well there are several market analysts willing to provide filtered and logical information and opinion for a fee and others in the industry willing to do so for free. The more difficult task for the western Canadian farmer is to gauge demand and not only

current demand but potential demand as well. What indicates demand to a farmer? Typically it is interest from buyers. The problem can be that using this alone can skew reality and create the appearance of greater demand than what truly exists. Consider this scenario as an example: an entity has opened a tender for 2,500 tonnes of No. 2 Canada green lentils This same 2,500 tonnes is open to many sellers. As a farmer you receive a call from Company A with an offer to buy No. 2 lairds, later that same day Company B calls to buy No. 2 lairds, then Company C does the same. Other companies may use farm brokers, so these begin

to call or email looking for No. 2 lairds. A farmer could receive four, five, six or more contacts on his lentils in the period of one or two days for the same relatively small piece of business. This has the potential to make what is in reality 2,500 tonnes of demand look like much larger demand and the appearance of or notion that the price is firming. In reality it may not be.



How can you filter through information received to accurately assess the demand that exists today and potential future demand? There is no perfect answer. In my opinion the best way is to ask questions, gather information and not rely on any one source for market intelligence. As in the example above ask each contact why they feel there is demand today. I’m sure many of you do this already. Some will let you know there is a tender, others may not, or may not even know the tender exists. Likely though simply asking will give you insight as to whether this is typical demand, a surge in demand, or a one-time interest. Of course the example was just that, an example. There are peaks and valleys in demand constantly. Everyday questions and conversations with neighbours, processors and marketers of your production will help you gauge demand. How is everyone feeling, is the market sluggish, if so why? Is it a currency issue? A political or economic issue in one location or more general and worldwide? An issue with quality? All these can factor into demand. The reason for the sluggish demand one day can give clues as to a potential rise in demand down the road and when that might occur. The end goal is to maximize the return from your production. Each grower’s operation has its own unique requirements inside of this goal. Understanding supply and demand, when and how demand comes and how it fits into your marketing strategy will go a long way to helping you achieve the best possible bottom line year in and out. † Jeff Jackson is marketing manager, pulses for Scoular Canada based at Calgary, Alta. Have you got marketing strategy questions? Send them to The opinions above reflect the writer’s and are not necessarily the opinion of Scoular Canada



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DECEMBER 5, 2011


Build a roadmap to meet yield goals Do you set yield goals by field or crop each year? If you’re achieving them each year, could you push those goals? BY ELSTON SOLBERG


et’s say you have a car and a destination in mind. This tells you about how much fuel you’ll need, keeping in mind the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and how big the gas tank is. Once you have this information, you can map your route and stops to your pre-determined destination. To take it one step further, once you map your route you might decide that a plane is an even better vehicle to get you where you need to go. The point is, you need to know where you are starting from and where you are going to set the correct route. As you may have noticed with this and past articles, I love analogies because I feel sometimes we need to look at things a different way in order to see things in a different light. Setting and achieving crop yields is very much like this example. If we want to travel to a specific yield goal we dramatically increase our odds of getting there by gathering as much information about the journey as possible and then acting on that information. While it’s clear that there are many factors that are out of our control that prevents us from reaching the full “genetic potential” of a crop, some farmers are achieving significantly higher yields than the average on whole or parts of fields. I would like to propose that our modest average

yields are a direct result of how we set our yield goals. Do you set yield goals, and, if so, how? There are a few ways farmers typically do this. 1. Based on yield and protein content Pros: This is simple. A thumb rule for HRS wheat is that protein will tell you if you have achieved your yield potential. Generally, 13.5 per cent protein is approximately where yields have been optimized for the growing conditions, management and nutrient balance the crop “saw” that year. If a crop has less than 13.5 per cent protein, then yield was left on the table. Cons: It’s too late to do anything about it for this year and reliant on moisture, which will likely be different for upcoming year. 2. Past yields or using local area historical experience Pros: Simple and easy Cons: Very little value is placed on economics and profitability. Past history is not a true indicator of real potential of a field. Diseases, weeds, inadequate fertility, variety genetics or some other factors may have seriously limited past yields. This method is not for progressive producers. Aiming for the average is not a method to maximize profit. Average yields do not make the most efficient use of production inputs such as herbicides, improved hybrids, fertilizer and water. In the 1970 and ’80s, research done in eastern Saskatchewan and western

Manitoba suggested a good yield goal for wheat was 48 bu./ac., now it is closer to 65 bu./ac. on the better soils. Old yield goals for barley were 67 bu./ac., now they are 106 bu./ac. A rudimentary soil sample taken in a haphazard pattern and usually on only a few fields: One depth, often 0 to 12", with a minimal analysis of N, P, K, pH, maybe S and maybe organic matter. While better than setting yield goals based on past yield results, soil tests done this way provide limited information.

BETTER TARGETTING Part of the message is, if you aim for average and you get poor yields in a bad year and just average in the good years. How then should you be setting your yield goals? The primary reasons for setting yield goals are economics and the environment. If you want to improve farm profitability by decreasing cost per unit of production, you must set yield goals. Overestimating wastes fertilizer, while underestimating yield goals leaves yield on the table. A yield goal should be attainable but also challenging. In general, most farmers’ yield goals are considerably lower than what they should be partly because they are limited by a lack of information, including the interpretation of soil analysis data lack of help in connect-

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ing bits of information budgetary input barriers for fertilizer and other yield protectors.

START WITH BETTER SOIL TESTS At the risk of sounding like a broken record, soil test at least two depths, 0 to 6" and 6" to 12", even better is three depths with a 12" to 24" depth. Request a full soil test analysis that minimally includes OM, pH, cation exchange capacity, EC, soluable salts, macronutrients and specific crop dependent micronutrients. A soil test tells your starting point and how much gas you have in the engine. A good interpretation of results will tell you how big the yield engine is, how efficiently each bushel can be grown, whether the radiator has coolant, the engine has oil, the tires are full and in good shape, etc. Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is a good indication of your soil’s nutrient and water holding capacity. The nutrient holding and supplying capacity of the soil increases as CEC increases. CEC also tells you how your nitrogen is going to behave (denitrifying or leaching) under certain environmental conditions. Organic Matter (OM) in the 0 to 6" depth tells us the nitrogen supplying ability of your soil. From OM, we get estimated nitrogen release, which is an estimate of the amount of N the OM will release over the summer. This N is partitioned to yield and/or protein, so ENR can be used to manage protein, both more or less. Progressive farmers will look at OM down the complete profile for these estimates of N release. Remember, every one per cent OM contains 1,000 lb of organic N per acre. Nitrate: Crops will utilize nitrate to 24" and deeper. Most labs will “guesstimate” NO3-N reserves to this depth based on what is measured in the top 6". Connecting CEC with NO3-N will assist with determining the NO3-N available. Soluble Salts: sub-surface salinity can have a big impact on a fields potential productivity and crops/ varieties vary dramatically in their sensitivity to salinity. pH: Especially high and low pH can have profound impacts on crop production. Nutrient availability, N volatilization potential and herbicide carry forward are especially affected. Again crops/ varieties vary dramatically in their sensitivity to soil pH.

CROP ROTATION AND FIELD MANAGEMENT Last year’s crop and yield — this will tell you how hard the “pull” on nutrient reserves was, especially for N. It also tells you a lot about C:N ratios of residue and the potential for N immobilization/ mineralization. Residue management: This determines whether the crop residue will release, tie-up or have negligible effect on N. For me the critical C:N ratio, or tipping point, is roughly 30:1. Ratios greater than this fosters immobilization while less than 30:1 allows mineralization. Tillage system and age of —

allows fine-tuning of immobilization and ENR or Estimated Nitrogen Release. This is a strange one but I was lucky enough to experience it first hand multiple times in controlled research trials. For farmers who have recently converted to minimal pass systems there is a three to six year period in which the soil needs to reset its internal N thermostat. During this time the soil’s ENR is lower but once reset the ENR is higher. ENR is basically an estimate of the amount of N that is released from the thousands of pounds of organic N bound in the soil OM, straw and root residues. Soil moisture: Remember that roughly the first four inches of crop available water will go to growing the crop and every inch after that goes to yield. Good farmers can expect significantly better water use efficiency (WUE) than average farmers can achieve. As a consequence they can expect better nutrient use efficiency (NUE) and lower cost per unit of production. Use a Brown Soil Moisture probe just before seeding and determine all of your fields’ stored soil moisture. Add expected rainfall: What is the average growing season rainfall? This information is critical to attaining high probability yield goals. What was the rainfall after harvest last year, how much snow fell and how much rain fell prior to seeding? Especially track how much rain has fallen in the first seven weeks after seeding. Answers to these questions are like gold and allow yield goal adjustment and more confidence in the use of last season inputs like micronutrients and fungicide. From your yield goal, you can calculate the amount of nutrients needed to grow that crop. From the soil tests, you know what your nutrient levels are and what the limiting soil factors are. From that information, you can develop a fertilizer plan allocating your fertilizer budget accordingly. Some fields have higher yield potentials than others perhaps with even less input. Why do so many growers have the same yield goals for all of their fields when we all know that every field is different? Yield goals are adjustable and either go up or down as weather events dictate. The key here is to build flexibility into your fertilizer program, place a moderate amount of fertilizer at/before seeding and use the rest, if moisture levels indicate. It’s also important to address your yield goals every year so as to not leave yield on the table. Take a look at the best areas of your fields and see what they yield — is there a way for more or all of the field to reach this target? Senior agri-coach Dr. Geza Racz says he thinks every farmer should have a couple “whiskey” fields where they stretch their capabilities and do a cost benefit analysis. This will give a guide for future yield targets. He also says they should spend the extra money they make on that field on something fun. There are at least 150 days until we seed our next crop — planning success starts now. † Elston Solberg is president and a senior agricoach with Agri-Trend Agrology

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /



glyphosate: OUR LIFELINE IN FARMING It pays to be proactive with herbicide resistance management. How differently would you have to farm without glyphosate? LES HENRY


nnual crop farming in most of North America, and many other places, is now very dependent on a single chemical, glyphosate. It works its way all through the root system of grasses that defy diesel fuel and steel. It also has low toxicity to mammals. When Monsanto discovered it in 1970 the original technical report to management was titled “Eureka.” My first memory of glyphosate (then the brand-named Roundup) was listening to Garry Rice, then of Sask Wheat Pool, telling our farm audience about a chemical that would stop quackgrass and Canada thistle dead in their tracks. He first hit us with the price — $30 an acre — and then proceeded to justify why we could afford such a chemical. In today’s dollars, that would be close to $100 an acre. In those days the cost kept usage low, but now it is cheap

like borscht and we use it like water. If anything happens to glyphosate, as it did with DDT, we are toast, or at best we have to redesign our whole farming system. So what problems could be on the horizon with glyphosate use?

RESISTANCE The biggest problem on most minds is weeds developing resistance to glyphosate. We have no problems in Western Canada yet but it is only a matter of time. Glyphosate resistant weeds have been confirmed in the U.S. and Ontario. I have recently perused a new book “Glyphosate Resistance in Crops and Weeds” edited by V.K. Nandula and published by John Wiley and Sons 2010. It documents glyphosate resistance in the U.S., Australia and Latin America. In the corn/soybean states, if Roundup Ready versions of both crops are used the pressure driving resistance development by weeds is that much larger. This is why we d o n ’t w a n t R o u n d u p R e a d y wheat — as more Roundup Ready crops are added into rotation, the selection pressure increases and the rate at which

weeds become resistant increases. We use enough of the stuff now and the cheaper it gets the less vigilant we are. Who among us has not used glyphosate as a pre-harvest treatment in wheat and, at today’s prices, also used it post harvest for fall weed control? I did it myself after canola this year. Was it needed? Likely not, but I threw in a little 2,4-D for winter annual control so justified it that way. The more often we use the chemical, the more we drive the potential weed resistance — and some of the weeds that have become resistant are terrors. Our crop rotation system is also to our benefit: cereal/canola/ cereal/pulse is common, so many farms only use glyphosate in-

crop every fourth year. But when we account for spring burn-off and a pre-harvest treatment it adds up.

RESIDUAL ACTIVITY? Another book I have perused is “Glyphosate: A Unique Global Herbicide” edited by J. E. Franz et al and published in 1997 by the American Chemical Society. Ed Seidel, a Medstead, Sask., seed grower with a scientific mind, brought the book to my attention a few years ago. I was always led to believe that a few days after application glyphosate was nothing but water, carbon dioxide and a bit of phosphate. This doesn’t appear to be so and cases of residuals have

been documented, mostly in less productive soils. Seidle has seen it first-hand in his area. Ed Seidle and Keith Downey (one of the fathers of canola) authored a paper on the topic in 2010 but it was rejected for publication. I am just a lowly soil scientist and farmer so may be wrong about concerns over glyphosate, but I think we need a very vigorous research program to follow up on the residuals question and aggressive monitoring for possible resistant weeds. If you agree, bug anyone you can to see that it happens. Remember, without glyphosate we are toast. † J.L. (Les) Henry is a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan. He farms at Dundurn, Sask. He recently finished a second printing of “Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water”, a book that mixes the basics and practical aspects of soil, fertilizer and farming. Les will cover the shipping and GST for Grainews readers. Simply send a cheque for $50 to Henry Perspectives, 143 Tucker Cres, Saskatoon, SK, S7H 3H7, and he will dispatch a signed book poste-haste


YOUR CROP, YOUR CHOICE The Government of Canada is delivering on its promise to give marketing freedom to Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers.* An open grain market means more investment, more innovation, more value-added jobs as well as a stronger economy.

For further information, please visit or call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) TTY: 1-800-926-9105

*Subject to parliamentary approval.



DECEMBER 5, 2011

Machinery & Shop NEW EQUIPMENT

New Versatile four-wheel drive tractors

Articulated models offer Tier IV engine technology on an updated platform for 2012 SCOTT GARVEY


hen the time came to re-power its articulated fourwheel drive tractors with engines capable of meeting the Interim Tier IV (IT4) emission standard, management at Versatile decided it would be a good opportunity to update the tractors’ basic platform as well. “We thought this was a good time for a new look,” says Ryan Shust, publications specialist at Versatile. But the changes are more than skin deep on these redesigned machines. First, the horsepower ratings on the new tractors will be a little different than those for the current models. The new line will start at 350, so the 305 (in the four-wheel drive configuration) will be discontinued. The 350, 375 and 400 horsepower tractors will be powered by the Cummins QSX 11.9-litre diesel. The 450, 500 and 550 horsepower HHT models will use Cummins’ QSX 15-litre version. Torque rise on this engine is 48 per cent at just 1,400 r.p.m. On the 11.9, that rise is 60 per cent. With a power band like that, operators can run these engines at lower throttle to reduce fuel consumption and still get maximum efficiency. “You want to run in the mid (RPM) range with these engines,” says Nick Ciavarro, Cummins’ engine marketing rep. “Use the torque we give you.” These engines use EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) to meet the IT4 standard, so adding diesel exhaust fluid is not required. But the largest tractor in the Versatile family, the 575, will not get an IT4 engine — yet. It will continue to use a Tier III version for 2012, however, the 575 will get all the other newplatform features. The mechanical 12 X 4 Quadshift transmission will still be offered in some of the new tractors, but for the first time, a Caterpillar TA Series, 16 X 4 powershift transmission will be available in all Versatile fourwheel drives. The three smaller articulated models use the TA19 Cat transmission, which was engineered specifically for Versatile. The HHT tractors use the larger TA22. A major benefit offered by the TA Series for 2012 is a faster, 25 m.p.h. road speed. These transmissions don’t require use of the clutch and allow the tractor to start off under full load. If an operator lowers an implement into the ground and programs in the chosen working gear while at a full stop, the tractor can start off and automatically shift — under full drawbar load — up to the chosen setting. “Basically it works like an automatic transmission,” says Wayne Goris, sales manager for Cat’s Ag applications. “You can select the speed you want. Just put it into drive and go. It will sense the load and know when

to shift. As you speed up, it will shift automatically.” Up front, the new hood styling allows for 35 per cent more forward visibility with its sloped nose and narrow waist. “By going lower with the rad, we were able to increase visibility,” says Shust. “We’ve gone to new features, but the important thing is what we didn’t take away — easy service and reliability.” To help with ease of service, the hood side panels and top can be completely removed in only a few minutes to allow unrestricted access to the engine compartment. The batteries have been relocated to the front of the tractor, just behind the swing-away grille. The grille area has been increased to improve cooling efficiency. Hydraulic flow rates jump dramatically from the previous models. Standard flow gets boosted to 220 litres per minute (l.p.m.). If that isn’t enough for you, an optional 428 LPM rate is available. To power all the electrical equipment on the tractor, which includes up to 12 high-intensity work lights, a 200 amp alternator is now standard equipment. Fuel tank capacity will grow by 50 gallons on all the four-wheel drives, and engineers have opted to use a new composite material for the tanks rather than steel. The tanks remain located in the centre of the chassis, which improves weight distribution. “As your fuel level drops, your front-rear ballasting does not change,” says Shust. The tanks have an exterior fuel-level sight glass for quick checking, and they can be refuelled from either side of the tractor. Like every other manufacturer that introduced new tractors this year, Versatile has significantly upgraded its cabs. The new design adds 20 per cent to the overall work space and 14 per cent to the glass area, making it one of the largest in the industry. Inside, the HVAC vents have been redesigned for more efficient air flow. To make the operator even more comfortable, the righthand console has been given a more ergonomic control layout. Its position can now be adjusted relative to the seat. The high-end version includes a push-button, fingertip control arrangement. But if you prefer more basic tractor features, the console can be ordered in several other configurations to accommodate that, too, including a good-oldfashioned control lever layout. “We don’t want to forget those customers,” says Shust. Along with a seven-inch display screen, multiple 12-volt outlets, a 115-volt outlet and one five-volt USB connection are standard inside the cab. A new storage compartment, large enough for a lunch cooler, is located under the improved buddy seat, which can fold down to create a desktop. For the first time, the cab will have two doors. The new tractors will be available for the 2012 season. †


When it became necessary to change to Interim Tier IV-compliant engines, the company decided to improve the whole four-wheel drive tractor platform with new features and a larger cab.

With 20 per cent more interior space, the new cabs also offer improved HVAC and a new control console.


Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Email him at

Engineers have moved the battery location to just behind the swing-away grille for ease of maintenance. A battery isolation switch for long-term storage periods is now standard.

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /



Building on a life-long passion for Versatile tractors This retired Elgin, Man., grain farmer spent much of his life operating Versatile tractors in the field. Now, he restores them BY SCOTT GARVEY


fter spending most of his life operating Versatile tractors on his Elgin, Man., farm, Doug Dodds found he just couldn’t stay away from them. Now that his son is operating the family farm and he has some free time on his hands, Dodds has spent hundreds of hours over the past few years restoring Versatile-brand tractors that date from the 1960s and 1970s, the earliest days of the company’s tractor production. “I’m a big Versatile fan,” he says. “We’ve always had Versatiles here.” In fact, the Dodds farm has been home to about 15 different working Versatile tractors over the years, but none of those are currently in Dodds’s collection of classic, restored machines, which includes a D-100. That model is one of the earliest and rarest to ever roll of the assembly line at the company’s Clarence Ave. factory in Winnipeg. The D-100 had already been restored when Dodds bought it at an auction near Saint Lazare, Man., in 1985. He believes it was one of the tractors used by the Versatile company for promotional purposes until the early ’80s. On one occasion it was displayed alongside the then-new 1150 model. After that it fell into the hands of a private collector. When Dodds purchased the D-100, it had an unbelievably low 1,200 hours on the clock. That translates in less than 30 working hours per year over its 40-plusyear life. Making the tractor even more uncommon. Dodds also had a gasoline-powered G-100 in his stable until selling it recently to another collector in the U.S. Unlike the diesel-engined D-100, it was in rough shape when he bought it. “It was a piece of junk and needed a lot of tightening up,” he says. Actually, it didn’t run at all. Dodds and his son spent an entire winter restoring it to better-thannew condition. Anyone who has a 100 Series Versatile in his tractor collection is fortunate, indeed, as they were only built for two years, 1966 and 1967. The first year’s production run was limited to just 100 units. Having two put Dodds in a very exclusive group. Despite having owned a pair of 100 Series machines in his stable of classics, he never did own one as a working tractor. “There were never any 100s around there that I know of,” he says. “A few went to North Dakota, some to Alberta, but none in this area.” Along with the remaining D-100, his collection still boasts a fully-restored model 125, which he purchased at an auction in 2004. After a thorough cleaning and installing a new exhaust system, all the tractor needed was a fresh coat of red and yellow paint. During the makeover, Dodds decided to remove the box-like cab the tractor was equipped with when he acquired it. The current open-station configuration gives the tractor a much more attractive appearance. Any advantages offered by those early cabs were limited at best, and this tractor

Restoring the appearance of the tractors was a little more difficult than making mechanical repairs. The decals on them are no longer available, so Dodds turned to a local automotive shop in Brandon to have reproductions created. He supplied the shop with photographs and measurements to ensure the replacements are historically accurate. Even though Dodds says he’s thinking of giving up restoring Versatiles, that seems a little hard to believe. “I’d like to find a 300,” he says near the end of our conversation. To me, that sounds like another project in the making. †

no longer spends long days in the field, anyway. The remaining two models in his current collection are a pair of 118s awaiting restoration. “The work is going slow,” says Dodds, who hints he could be convinced to sell them. Even though these tractors were built in limited numbers about four decades ago, he hasn’t found access to replacement parts to be a problem. Versatile offered a variety of engine options in the later 118 and 125 models, but the gasoline versions used were common in other applications, so there are still many around. Parts for the Ford industrial diesel in the D-100, however, are a little more expensive than those for other engines.

Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Email him at


Doug Dodds, who farmed near Elgin, Man., has been an avid Versatile tractor collector and restorer for years. His D-100 is one of the earliest tractors ever built by that company.

Exceeding your harvest

speed limit.

The Brandt 13” HP Auger is so fast it blows the competition away. It has higher material moving capabilities because it was re-engineered to do 60% more work than other augers in the same amount of time.* It was also redesigned to provide easy access transition with patented intake and includes a powerful 1,000 RPM gearbox. And, with Brandt’s renowned durability, it’s guaranteed to speed through your grain handling needs, whenever you need it to. That’s powerful value, delivered. *based on an independent side-by-side comparison by Meyers Norris Penny LLP.

For more information call 1-866-4BRANDT or see your local Brandt dealer.

BRIND-0061B_Exceeding_Harvest_Speed_Limit_8.125x10_print.indd 1

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DECEMBER 5, 2011

Machinery & Shop ATVS

Four-wheels of very useful fun Not all equipment on the farm is all work and no play. ATVs can earn their keep while keeping it fun BY PAUL WILLIAMSON


t’s not a toy it’s a tool. At least that’s what I kept telling my lovely wife Melanie in the spring when I began shopping for a new ATV. As a lifelong lover of cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and snowmobiles it really shouldn’t have come as a shock to my better half that I’d eventually want the one thing missing from our rural garage. The fact that all my friends also own ATVs and were constantly bugging me to join in the fun also didn’t help. I’m a slave to peer pressure. So it went, in May Melanie gave me the green light and we headed out to my friend Derek Roth’s motorsports dealership, Adventure Power Products at Ile des Chenes, Man., and bought a shiny new Kawasaki Brute Force 650. By the time the smoke cleared we’d spent nearly $8,000, but that also included a storage box, a winch and a snowplow. More on that in a minute. First, though, let me tell you about my amazing summer tooling around on what is arguably the most entertaining machine on wheels. I call it my magic carpet. The truth is I’m not getting any younger, and despite my best efforts I’m not exactly in ‘shape’ enough to ride a dirt bike anymore, but riding an ATV is entirely different. The suspension soaks up the big bumps, and I can stand up and crawl along at a snail’s pace through terrain that nothing

I’ve ever owned, (including my old Ford 8N tractor) could ever negotiate. As a country boy with ten acres of my own to rip around on and numerous ditches and abandoned dirt roads surrounding our humble abode to explore, there was barely a day that went

It’s not a toy — it’s a tool by where it wasn’t ridden. In fact in just six months we’ve already put more than 1,000 kilometres on it. Highlights have included riding through ditches to visit friends and neighbours, countless trips to grab the mail, searching for a lost dog (he came home) and a fair bit of yard work including pulling our garden tractor out of the muck. On a couple of other occasions we also trailered our Brute to the awesome trails and sand pits in eastern Manitoba. Throughout the summer I found myself continually telling anyone who would listen just how much fun riding an ATV is. Unlike a motorcycle, our utility ATV has a continuously variable transmission similar to the one found on a snowmobile. That means you don’t have to shift gears or operate a clutch. Our model is a 4x4 and with the press of a button all four wheels are engaged. In low gear this beast can literally pull stumps

Paul Williamson enjoyed a summer of fun aboard his new Kawasaki Brute Force 650 ATV. Believe it or not he’s even looking forward to plowing some snow with it this winter. out of the ground. In high gear on a smooth trail, even with me at the helm, it can travel at 103 km/h. Big fun to be sure, but the endless summer ended. When the snow arrived here in Manitoba and I installed the snowplow. Although we haven’t had a huge dump of snow yet, I’m already amazed with how much snow this machine is capable of pushing. Despite the fact that

we own a battered old Dodge Ramcharger with a snowplow attached to it I have a sneaking suspicion our Brute will be looking after the majority of the snow clearing. It gets into spots around the yard that the big truck could never get to, and it’s monumentally better on fuel. It’s also way more fun. If you’re in the market for an ATV take my word for it, go out and buy one, you’ll have

an absolute blast. As an added bonus, your wife might actually catch you doing some work with it. That’s what happened to me last week. “See honey,” I said with a sly grin when Melanie pulled into the yard in her truck while I was clearing two inches of fresh snow, “It’s not a toy, it’s a tool.” † Paul Williamson is a lifelong lover of all things mechanical and a proud member of the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada

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100,000: On October 26, the 100,000th tractor rolled off the assembly line at the Versatile plant in Winnipeg, Man. It was sold to a farm family in Kansas.

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Machinery & Shop ‘Tis the season

Three must-haves for the busy farmer Christmas is just around the corner. These gifts will be appreciated long after the turkey leftovers are used up By Ron Settler


es, that wonderful time of year here — the time that we get together with families to share best wishes and exchange gifts. I hope you can enjoy the season without becoming too stressed about having to do everything just perfectly and thinking you need to spend thousands on gifts and festivities. With that thought in mind here’s a few gift suggestions for the farmers in the house. Some are cheap, some are not but hopefully you’ll find something to bring a smile to the farmer’s face.

Shop hardware assortments Has the farmer in the house ever had to drive to town for some little item that he just can’t find? Be it a special screw, a clip or a pin, there’s likely an assortment of these items sold in one of those handy dandy cases with all the compartments. After spending too many years looking for the right little fastener in gallons of rusty and greasy used bolts it’s a real treat to have a few of these assortments in the shop and get the correct part right away. There are numerous assortments available including machine screws, sheet metal screws, cotter pins, roll pins and just about anything you might need. You can find them at Canadian Tire, Princess Auto and any bolt supply company. They start at $5 for a small box to up to hundreds of dollars for the really nice assortments in the handy drawer units. You can also buy just the empty containers with all those neat little bins. They are mostly made of plastic and are available in various sizes and shapes. With an empty container you can make up your own assortment of the specific ones that you need. My son Ben made a nice assortment of the special chain links and connectors that we use on our hoe drill. We keep this in the tractor cab at seeding time. A word of caution, however. Some of the cheaper imported assortments seem to have their own set of measurements and don’t always fit as well as the better quality assortments. As usual, you get what you pay for.

A good Thermos After years of farming, one of the things I’m an expert at is drinking coffee. When I head to the field I usually pack dinner and supper and enough beverages for the day. That includes coffee. After years of study I now use two 16-ounce (500 ml) Thermoses. I’ve found that as soon as you take the first cup of coffee out of a Thermos the rest of the coffee only tastes fresh for 20 minutes or less. With two, good quality containers, I can have fresh coffee twice a day no matter where I am. I also take a Thermos along when we’re traveling to the city or any other long trip. Good coffee can be hard to find out in the wilds of Saskatchewan. Or, if I’m in the city I’ll stop at Timmy’s and get a Thermos full for the road home. We also have a wide mouth Thermos that’s great for taking

hot portions of casseroles and other delicacies out to the field. Pre-warm the Thermos with hot water while you heat up the food to go in it, and, there you go, hot mac and cheese can be yours in the middle of any field. There are also some nice insulated lunch bags that work great for the hungry farmer. If the farmer in your house packs a lunch make sure he has the right stuff in his lunch box.

Booster cables As you get older you often have less spark. That happens whether you are a farmer or a

» continued on page 30

Don’t underestimate the value of truly hot coffee, good organization and high quality when choosing gifts.

Everything You Need to Go All Out

Extra versatility for your get-it-done attitude. Go all out with the new John Deere 9R/9RT Series Tractors. With up to 560 engine hp,* they’ve got the right power and performance to help you get every job done faster than ever. What’s more, the refined PowerShift Transmission with Efficiency Manager™ will help you get it done with less diesel. Combine that with the advanced GPS and information-management technologies from John Deere, and you’ll get it done better than ever – all while riding in the spacious and comfortable CommandView™ II Cab. And now you can get more jobs done with a high-horsepower track or four-wheel-drive tractor thanks to a wider selection of options, which include increased hitch-lift capacity and hydraulic flow, plus an available PTO on all models. The new 9R Series Tractors with 360 to 560 engine hp* and 9RT Series Track Tractors with 460 to 560 engine hp.* These are the high-horsepower tractors built for your go-all-out-and-get-it-done attitude. See your John Deere dealer for details. Nothing Runs Like A Deere.™ *Rated engine hp (ISO) per 97/68/EC.

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10/24/11 5:11 PM



DECEMBER 5, 2011

Machinery & Shop ACCESSORIES

Clamp-on snow blades allow quick changes


orksaver Inc. of Litchfield, Illinois, has just introduced a new clamp-on dozer blade for front-end loader buckets. It’s designed to be used on compact utility tractors equipped with loaders that don’t use quick-detach buckets. Rather than take the time and effort to manually remove all four connecting pins from a bucket and install a blade, the clamp-on design attaches directly to a bucket. The blade frame extends underneath an existing bucket, providing optimum support. Blades are available in five or six-foot widths and are equipped with a 3/8-inch by six-inch cutting edge to withstand wear. †

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machine belonging to a farmer. If your tractor needs a boost, likely the cables you bought at the discount store 20 years ago won’t do the job. There is likely an old set like that somewhere on the farm. When you hook them up to the battery on a dead truck, let it charge for 20 minutes and you have enough power to turn on the interior light and to click the solenoid twice. Life is too short to put up with these annoyances. When we started the fixing business over 30 years ago I wanted a nice set of booster cables. I went in to a supplier and asked for a set of good booster cables. He plunked them on the counter and charged me $57 plus tax. That was quite a bit more than I expected. This was back in the days when gas was under $1 a gallon (not a litre) and new pickups were $6,000. But I’ve still got those cables and use them when we need a heavy duty boost. In the long term, that’s not too much to spend either. It’s only cost me $1.84 a year or half a cent a day to own a quality set of booster cables. If the farmers in your life need a little more spark, spend the extra money on some good quality booster cables. I saw a good 20-foot set made of No. 1 gauge cable on sale for under $160. Not a cheap gift but they will last for years. A shorter set of lighter No. 4 gauge cables can be had for under $40 or less but they won’t work for the heavy duty starts, just your average car or pickup boost. I would suggest nothing lighter than No. 4 gauge cables. (Note to the purchasing department: Wire gauge sizes seem backwards because they do work backwards. A No. 1 gauge cable is heavier than No. 2, and a No. 6 cable is much lighter yet.) There’s a few items to make the farmer in the house smile on Christmas day. Enjoy the festive season and gives thanks for all the good things we have enjoyed in the past year. † Ron Settler farms with his wife Sheila and their sons Ben and Dan. They also operated a repair and salvage business at Lucky Lake, Sask. You can contact Ron at 306-858-2681 or email at

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Machinery & Shop SNOWMOBILING

Get geared up!


You’ve chosen the snowmobile that’s right for you, and have purchased the latest gear, but before you hit the trail always remember — safety first! 1) Watch out for thin ice and open water, grooming equipment, oncoming snowmobiles, unforeseen obstacles beneath snow, unexpected corners, intersections and stops, road and railway crossings, logging/forestry operations, snow banks and drifting snow, trees and branches on the trail, bridges and approaches, wildlife and domestic animals and other trail users like skiers and hikers. 2) Don’t drink and ride. Snowmobiling requires alertness, caution and attention. Your reaction time and ability to control your sled can be drastically affected after consuming even small amounts of alcohol.

Snowmobile clothing and accessories have come a long way BY PAUL WILLIAMSON


etting dressed for a snowmobile ride may remind you of that poor kid bundled up from head to toe in the classic movie “A Christmas Story.” While that may have been the case in the past, modern advancements in riding apparel have resulted in gear that is not only extremely warm but also water resistant, durable and lightweight. Your local snowmobile dealer has stocked their shelves with an amazing variety of state of the art clothing and accessories that promise to make your riding experience not only safe but also warm, comfortable and perhaps even fashionable, if that matters to you. Unlike riders of the past who utilized standard winter wear to hit the trails, today’s snowmobiler looks more like a fighter pilot with a space-aged helmet, reflective jacket, pants and lightweight ultra-warm boots. Polaris, Yamaha, Arctic-Cat and Ski-Doo offer a wide variety of brand specific clothing and accessories that match your snowmobile. FXR Racing, a Manitoba-based company that has been very popular amongst snowmobile enthusiasts, also offers a comprehensive variety of value priced gear in an array of styles and colours. Helmets have also rapidly improved and modular models that allow the face shield to be titled up allow riders to stop and speak to one another on the trail. Heated shields and even heated goggles that plug into your machines electrical system and prevent fogging have also become very popular. Prior to heading out on the trail you will require a helmet, a balaclava, a jacket and pants combination, (preferably with reflective striping or graphics), long mitts or gloves and a warm pair of winter rated boots. Many riders also opt to purchase quality thermal underwear that is designed to wick away moisture. Although snowmobile gear can be quite costly, the rule of thumb is if you invest in good quality snowmobile clothing it will last you for many winters and dramatically improve your riding experience. Snowmobile gear is specifically designed for the hobby. That winter jacket on sale at your local Wal-Mart may look good, but it will likely not provide the wind protection required when you’re whipping through the trails. Most dealerships also offer gift certificates for the holiday season and a vast assortment of brand specific merchandise like toques, hats, t-shirts, even slippers! Whatever brand of snowmobile you choose, you can rest assured your local dealer has a huge variety of riding apparel and accessories to suit your every need, and the best part is you won’t need mom to help you get dressed! †

3) Be extra careful at night. A disproportionate number of snowmobiling incidents, including nine out of ten fatalities, occur after dark. Forward visibility is reduced by darkness and it is much more difficult to spot and identify potential hazards in time. Overdriving headlights can also be a serious problem, so slow down when snowmobiling after dark. Becoming disoriented or lost is much more likely at night. Ride with individuals familiar with the area. Always wear outer clothing with reflective trim on the arms, back and helmet. Never ride alone at night. Always dress in your full snowmobiling outfit even if your intended destination is just next-door. Be certain that all lights are operational and keep in mind that hand signals become increasingly more difficult to see as darkness sets in. † Source:



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Paul Williamson writes from snowy Winnipeg, Man. OB-196B.indd 1

10/24/11 2:40 PM



DECEMBER 5, 2011

Machinery & Shop Snowmobiling

When life hands you snow, go snowmobiling Each of the four snowmobile manufacturers have exciting new models on the market to help you make the most of the riding season By Paul Williamson


any of us prairie folks may spend the winter months complaining about the white stuff but there are also countless others who revel in the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fastgrowing hobby of snowmobiling. For many sled heads the experience is akin to those who enjoy camping in the summer, a chance to get away, relax and leave your worries behind. You’re forgiven if the mere mention of a snowmobile conjures up images of your dear old dad repeatedly pulling on the recoil rope to fire up a noisy two-stroke contraption that chewed up parts like a beaver eats trees, but those days are truly history. Nowadays snowmobiles are as refined as new automobiles and feature all the latest technology including fuel injection, electric start, reverse, heated seats and grips and even ultra-reliable, fuel efficient four-stroke engines similar to the ones found in motorcycles. It’s hard to believe, but in the

history of snowmobiling there have been more than 300 manufacturers, and 75 of them were Canadian. Today, (with the exception of a few high-performance niche companies), the snowmobile industry is made up of four manufacturers, Yamaha, ArcticCat, Polaris and Canada’s own Ski-Doo. Advising you which manufacturer or model is right for you is like telling you what hockey team to cheer for, but I can tell you that each has its own merits and innovations for 2012 including the all new ProCross and ProMountain chassis from Arctic Cat, the new Pro-Ride Switchback models from Polaris, Yamaha’s vast assortment of power-steering equipped models and Ski-Doo’s new rMotion suspension with the most travel in the industry. Where to begin? Here’s a rundown on the types of machines you’ll have to choose from. 1)  High Performance. These are the race inspired bad boys of the snowmobile world and feature high revving engines and state of the art suspensions. Often the most expensive models, they are

The 2012 Yamaha Phazer GT is lightweight, nimble, torquey and an absolute blast to ride. Features include solid fuel economy, plenty of wind protection and a reliable four-stroke Genesis 80FI engine.

On the web: not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. 2)  Crossover. These dual-purpose machines offer the best of worlds, blending trail riding and high performance capabilities together. 3)  Mountain. While we may not have the big mountains we certainly have mountains of powdery snow and these long-tracked machines feature gobs of low-end power to pull you up the hills or through the deep powder. 4)  Trail luxury. The name says it all, these machines typically feature options like electric start and reverse and combine comfort with enhanced performance. 5)  2-Up Touring. Long and luxurious, these machines were designed with both the rider and passenger in mind and feature comfortable seats with backrests for an ultra-smooth ride. 6)  Starter/sport. Perfect for the beginner or as a second machine, these user-friendly sleds are value priced and much more economical to operate than performance oriented machines. 7)  Utility. Need to move the wood pile or get out to check your trap lines, these machines are designed with one thing in mind, to work hard and keep coming back for more. 8)  Youth. The kid’s machines have all the style of mom and dad’s sleds but in a miniature version with a miniature price tag. †

The 2012 Polaris 800 Rush features the all-new race proven IFS for flatter cornering and easier steering. In addition, the progressive-rate rear suspension puts the rider in control rather than letting the terrain dictate how hard they can ride.

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The 2012 Arctic-Cat TZ1 Turbo LXR is a marvel in modern engineering and is loaded with technology that includes a turbocharged 1100cc, 4-stroke engine, electronic push-button reverse, remote electric start, heated driver and passenger seat, driver and passenger hand warmers and three storage bags.

The 2012 Ski-Doo MXZ XRS is a race-inspired trail sled built for hard core riders. Features include electronic direct fuel injection and a Brembo racing brake with a braided stainless-steel brake line.

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Cattleman’s Corner The Industry

Canada Beef wants committed consumers It is not about putting more no-name steak in the meat counter, but all about developing a “got-to-have-it” consumer attitude toward Canadian beef BY LEE HART


obert Meijer is big on commitment.  If  there is one word that keeps coming around in a conversation with the president of the new company charged with marketing Canadian beef domestically and around the world, it is commitment. Meijer  assumed  the  post  four months ago following a decision earlier this year by the Canadian beef industry to create a new marketing agency. He says the goal of Canada Beef is to develop a commitment to Canadian beef among food-service companies, retailers and ultimately consumers — both domestically and abroad. Canada exported about $1.42 billion worth of beef to 70 countries in 2010. “We have the Canadian beef advantage, we have a good-quality product,” he says. “Over the years we have created an awareness of Canadian beef, we have created an understanding of Canadian beef, and we have done a pretty good job of creating an appreciation of Canadian beef as a good quality, healthy product produced with good environmental stewardship.

But, ultimately at the retail and consumer levels we haven’t created that widespread commitment to Canadian beef. Meijer says that in an ideal world every consumer would have Canadian beef at top of mind when making their purchases, but that degree of commitment just isn’t going to happen. “We may not get all, but we do need to get more consumers on board with a commitment to Canadian beef — they trust it, they prefer it and ultimately are committed to it. As we know, everything begins and ends with the consumer.”

New company Canada Beef Inc., which was created earlier this year to replace two long-standing agencies — Canadian Beef Export Federation (CBEF) and Beef Information Centre (BIC) — has all hands on deck and is ready to get more Canadian beef on the forks of world consumers, says Meijer. “Canada Beef isn’t a merger of the two former organizations,” he says. “It is a whole new structure.” The CBEF and BIC names are

Two of vice-presidents of the new Canada Beef work on the business strategy with president Robert Meijer. From left, Cam Daniels, vicepresident of Asia and Pacific Rim markets, Meijer and Herb McLane, vice-president of Emerging Markets.

gone. Under the old system, CBEF was responsible for marketing Canadian beef to international markets, while BIC focused on Canada and the United States. Canada’s Beef goal is to work with the solid reputation of Canadian beef to develop more confidence and trust in the product and supply, and a preference among retailers and food service companies, which ultimately leads to commitment. The dictionary defines commitment as a pledge to do something, a state of being emotionally impelled. Synonyms include allegiance, attachment, fidelity, devotion and faith. All those terms may seem a bit abstract to the cow-calf producer freezing his fingers this winter as he tries to get the strings off a bale of hay so he can feed a hungry herd. His thoughts might be more targeted — “Just sell the damn stuff, so I can hopefully make a profit.” But developing that commitment to Canadian Beef — ultimately at the consumer level — is the key to improving profits back on the farm, says Meijer. It’s what drives supply and demand. It’s about creating a commitment to Canadian beef through the whole value chain from producer, to feeders, to packers, to retailers, to restaurant owners that ultimately washes over to consumers.

it is a safe and healthy product and results in a food choice their customers enjoy. They trust Canadian beef and they prefer it, which leads to their commitment to only serve Canadian  beef.  That  ultimately extends  to  their  customers  who have had a good experience with Canadian beef and also develop a commitment. Canadian beef-marketing efforts nationally and internationally over the years certainly made progress with retailers, food-service companies and consumers in achieving an appreciation of Canadian beef, but there were challenges. “Certainly  BSE  didn’t  help,” says Meijer. The discovery of a Canadian  beef  animal  infected with BSE eight years ago closed international markets and in many respects rattled consumer confidence. Many of those markets and much of the consumer confidence has been restored, but it is a work in progress. And supply issues in certain markets have affected the move toward confidence and ultimately commitment to Canadian beef, says Meijer. To nail down markets and earn that commitment the Canadian beef industry has to be able to supply the quality and quantity of varied beef products, in a wide range of markets, when, and as needed without fail.

Committed retailers

United effort

Commitment is what Canada Beef sees with a retailer like Costco. It only sells Canadian beef. The company is committed to Canadian beef and its customers know that if they buy that beef it is good quality, safe and a good value. Commitment is the restaurant owner or chain that only serves Canadian beef. They have developed confidence and trust in knowing they can get the quantity and quality of cuts when they want it,

The 16-member board of Canada Beef Inc. represents all sectors of the Canadian beef industry from producer through to retailer. “We had our first formal board meeting in July and I believe it became clear we have a real family unit,” says Meijer. “Everyone is committed to working from the same page. There is a real willingness to create opportunities for the industry as a whole and not any particular sector.” Meijer says it will be the role of

A former Cargill executive, Robert Meijer worked in various sectors of the agriculture industry over the past 15 years before coming to Canada Beef. Canada Beef to listen to the needs and concerns of all sectors so the industry is producing the quality, quantity and type of product that can be delivered to markets when it is needed. That builds the confidence and trust that leads to commitment. Canada  Beef  isn’t  necessarily positioning Canadian beef as a premium price product, but it does want to capture the value the product is worth. “We’re not just trying to sell everything as hamburger,” Meijer says. “We want to choose our markets and partners so they appreciate the value of the product they are receiving. It is good quality and good value.” Meijer also plans for Canada Beef to have a series of informal meetings with producer groups to explain its objectives, but also to ensure the production side of the industry is aware of what other sectors of value chain need to satisfy their customers. The new company will be unveiling its first 15-month strategic marketing and business plan Jan. 1. † Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at

Herd Management

Sandcracks greater concern for purebred operators BY HEATHER SMITH THOMAS Part 2 of 2

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hoof cracks are common among western Canadian beef cattle. Some conditions may need treatment and many don’t. In the second part of this feature, Heather Smith-Thomas looks at some of the genetic factors as well as treatment and prevention options.


ome cattle are more prone to hoof cracks, for reasons we don’t fully understand. “Sandcracks are generally of little economic importance for the average farmer,” says Paul Greenough, a retired professor from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in Saskatoon, Sask. “Very few cracks are painful or go septic. There are a lot of other diseases that are more important. Greenough says that on the other hand, sandcracks can be a much larger concern in a pedigreed herd especially if there’s a high incidence. “I don’t think one breed is more

susceptible to cracks than any other, because I’ve seen these in every breed. There may be certain family lines within a breed that are more prone to cracks. In my experience, black and red Angus are slightly less prone to cracks than other breeds.” Greenough says there has been a lot written discussing whether a pigmented hoof is stronger than a white one. “The majority of people say the melanin (pigment) is a strengthening factor. It will also depend on the individual, and foot conformation.”

TREATING A SANDCRACK In some situations, correcting or treating a sandcrack may be necessary. “Whatever you do to the crack, it takes a year to grow a new hoof wall,” says Greenough. “You must cut the crack out, and then you have a deep groove from top to bottom of the claw. You can drill holes along each side of the crack, and thread wires through them, like you’d lace a shoe, to lace the crack back together. And you

can put acrylic on the area to halt any movement. The wire holds it in place, like reinforced concrete.” This stabilizes the area. Depending on how far the crack goes up the claw, you may also need to burn/ melt the horn at the top of the crack. This will halt upward progression of the crack. The crack will then grow out and the hoof horn will be sound and complete again. Greenough says you can do a lot by trimming the crack, but as long as there is any movement (putting stress forces on adjacent hoof horn) the crack will never resolve. “It just keeps cracking, and may pick up stones in the fissure, which press on the quick and produce pain and lameness.” Chris Clark, associate professor of large animal medicine WCVM, says that if there’s an abscess under the crack, they simply open it up and use a tool called a Merlin — a very fine grinder — which allows the damage to be cleaned nicely. “We just remove all the damaged under run horn and smooth out the sides,” says Clark. The crack takes a long time to

grow out. The hoof grows about five millimetres per month, and the average foot length is about 7.5 centimetres (3.5 inches) so it takes about  15  months for the wall to grow completely new horn, from coronary band down to the tip of the toe. Clark says some animals are more susceptible than others. “It’s a slow process getting it to grow out, and the risk for reforming is quite high, in those individuals.”

PREVENTING CRACKS There is no easy solution for preventing cracks because causes are multiple. “Any farm with a problem has to be looked at as a farm unit,” says Greenough. “The farmer himself may contribute to the problem, though he doesn’t realize it. We evaluate the farm management as well as consulting with the local agronomist to determine the general parameters of the region— looking at water, minerals and other factors. Even the type of crop fed to the cattle may be a factor.” “You need to know what crop

it is, when the silage was cut and other details to determine nutritional factors. Winter-feeding practices can play a role in general hoof health. Generally, dairy cows don’t get sandcracks. You might see maybe two per cent of dairy cows affected, compared with much higher incidence in beef cattle. It is never possible to eliminate sandcracks, but it is possible to reduce the incidence.” In commercial beef production, hoof cracks aren’t much of an issue. It’s not economically feasible to deal with them unless they are causing lameness. “The time when they might be a concern is in a purebred herd when the rancher is selling registered bulls and heifers,” says Clark. “If someone comes to look at their animals, those breeders don’t want cracked feet. Even in those cases, however, there aren’t many options other than telling them to try supplementing the cattle with biotin, to minimize the cracks.” † Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband Lynn near Salmon, Idaho. Contact her at 208-756-2841



DECEMBER 5, 2011

Keepers & Culls Industry can’t ignore proper drug use in cattle LEE HART

(Editor’s Note: I was trying to find a way to make my report on antimicrobial drug use light and funny, but I couldn’t. So here it is.)


anadian beef producers aren’t releasing hosts of drug-resistant bacteria loose on the human world due to reckless misuse and abuse of antibiotics in cattle. That’s partly because they don’t use large quantities of the higher-risk products, are aware of the risks and are working to monitor them closely. That doesn’t mean the industry can be complacent about the use of antibiotics and the somewhat more potent broader category of drugs known as antimicrobials, but it simply means they need to keep doing what they are doing and be vigilant to keep their side of the street clean and safe. If they don’t pay attention, more government regulations concerning the use of animal health drugs could be imposed, which would likely mean added costs. And, it could ripple down to the cow-calf operator, making it necessary one day to get a prescription for all antibiotics. Quebec now requires producers in that province to have prescriptions for all animal-health treatment products. These are some of the points made at a recent conference in Toronto, with the relatively long handle of “Antimicrobial Stewardship in Canadian Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine.” The conference, which brought together about 225 animal-health specialists, including veterinarians, researchers, product manufacturers and feed companies, made the point that the livestock industry in Canada — beef, dairy, swine, poultry, horses and pets — is actually doing a relatively good job of managing the use of antimicrobial drugs. In many respects agriculture is doing a much better job than the human-health side of the issue. At least agriculture is not only aware of the risks but is working to put prudent practices and proper stewardship measures in place. This is the third conference since 1999 the Canadian animal-health industry has had on the topic, where as humanhealth professionals reportedly haven’t met to discuss antimicrobial resistance issues for nearly a decade. The concern addressed at the

conference is over the use of antimicrobial drugs, which are chemicals — usually synthetics — developed to kill or slow the growth of microbes. This category includes antibacterial drugs, antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparisitic drugs. (Antibiotics are substances produced by one micro-organism, which can to kill other microorganisms. Penicillin is a good example since it is produced by mould or fungi and kills a number of bacteria.)


found in comparing samples from cattle treated with drugs during the feeding period versus cattle raised without drugs. 5. Bacteria have been around since the beginning of time and are very adaptable. Even if no antimicrobials were used in animal agriculture at all, there would still be bacteria resistant to drugs. The conference made it clear animal agriculture needs to properly communicate to all sectors of the industry the importance of proper use of antimicrobial drugs, the proper use of these drugs needs to be monitored, and their impact on developing antimicrobial resistance needs to be researched. Animal agriculture needs to ensure it is not part of the problem when there are human health concerns about “super-bugs” and it needs to be able to show that is doing a proper job to avoid any perception that is part of the problem.

There is quite a list of antimicrobial drugs on the market and they are broken into different categories. Category 1 includes products such as Baytril, Excede and Excede used to treat bovine respiratory disease; Category 2, which includes products such as Tylan and Micotil used to treat liver abscesses and prevent pneumonia, respectively; Category 3, which includes tetracyclines used to treat infections; and Category 4, which are ionophores such as Rumensin and Bovatec used to improve feed efficiency. The main concern is over products that fall into Category 1 and 2, because while these products are used in livestock production, related antibiotics are also used in human medicine. Category 3 and 4 antimicrobials are to a much lesser extent, if ever used in human medicine. And that leads to two main concerns. If the higher-risk Category 1 and 2 antimicrobial drugs are used too widely or improperly in animal agriculture, they could produce bacteria resistant to the drug and no longer be effective in treating livestock diseases. Perhaps of greater concern if socalled superbugs do develop and migrate to humans, there would be no effective human medical treatment against the bacteria.

My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high-school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table. My wife asked, “Do you know her?” ‘’Yes,” I sighed, “She’s my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn’t been sober since.” “My God!” Said my wife. “Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?” That’s when the fight started…



Information presented at the conference made several important points: 1. A lot more research and monitoring is needed to get a better handle on the use of antimicrobial drugs in animal agriculture. 2. Feedlot studies that have been done show relatively low use of Category 1 and 2 antimicrobials in feedlots. 3. Where these Category 1 and 2 products were used there was very low antimicrobial resistance found in E. coli samples collected from animals — one to two per cent. 4. Studies have also shown not huge differences in the number of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) now has a new online cattle sales listing service for registered participants. Launched at the BIXS Cattle-Classifieds enables program members to advertise upcoming auction market or private sales of their BIXS registered cattle to prospective buyers. The online BIXS Cattle-Classifieds provides registered producers with an additional platform for building potential business relationships to bolster their marketing program for their BIXS cattle. Viewers can sort the listings by birth date, weight, breed/cross, geographical location, implant status, vaccination date or other optional information entered by participants. The introduction of this service comes less than a month after BIXS launched to cowcalf producers nationwide. Larry Thomas, national BIXS coordinator, said while anyone with Internet access can view the BIXS cattle listings, posting an advertisement is reserved for BIXS registered participants only. “Producers registered in BIXS can advertise upcoming auction market sales or any private sale information on their


Write, Email or Fax Contact Cattleman’s Corner with comments, ideas or suggestions for and on stories by mail, email, phone or fax. Phone Lee Hart at 403-592-1964 Fax to 403-288-3162 Email Write to CATTLEMAN’S CORNER, 6615 Silverview Rd. N.W., Calgary, Alta. T3B 3L5

(Editor’s note: Remind me next time there is a conference on antimicrobial drug use to send someone else. This took way too much thinking!)

BIXS-registered cattle,” he said. “All that we require is for BIXS members to agree to the terms and conditions on the BIXS Cattle-Classifieds site and that the cattle are registered to their BIXS account inventory. There is no fee involved.”

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING Anyone looking for stocking stuffers might be interested in the Slippery Moon 2012 calendars and journals being sold by the Saskatchewan Stock Growers this fall. Produced by Slippery Moon Ranchography, the calendars and journals both feature photographs of ranching life on the Prairies. The calendars cost $15 and the journal $25 plus shipping. And $5 from each item is donated to the SSGA. For more information or to order contact the SSGA at 306-757-8523 or email: And for a look at the journal and calendar visit the SSGA website at www. and click on the “merchandise” button.


BEEF CONFERENCE IN JANUARY The third annual Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference is coming up Jan. 18-20 in Saskatoon. From its inception, this premier beef event has been welcomed as a collective, inclusive gathering of all aspects of the beef industry in this province. Through the continued collaborative efforts of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers Association, the Saskatchewan Livestock Association, the Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association and the Saskatchewan Beef and Forage Symposium Committee, the conference provides a forum in which to share knowledge, build business networks and shape the future of the beef industry. For more information on how to become a sponsor, trade show exhibitor or delegate, contact: Shannon McArton, Conference Co-ordinator, cell 306-731-7610, office: 306-488-4725, email:, or visit

CCA PLEASED WITH COOL NEWS The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is extremely pleased that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favour of Canada and Mexico’s complaint against U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), says a CCA

release. “We commend Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz, International Trade Minister Ed Fast, and the Government of Canada’s legal team that presented an outstanding case on Canada’s behalf,” it said. Released publicly in late November by the WTO, the ruling supports Canada’s position that provisions of COOL discriminate against live cattle and hogs imported into the U.S. from Canada to the detriment of Canadian cattle producers. The CCA has maintained that since coming into effect in 2008, COOL has increased costs for U.S. companies that import live Canadian cattle thereby reducing the competiveness of those Canadian cattle in the U.S. market. The WTO confirmed that COOL has had this effect. In addition to thanking the Government of Canada, CCA president Travis Toews acknowledged the role of the CCA in ensuring the successful outcome. “Throughout this process, the CCA has expended considerable time and resources in gathering the data and experts required for preparation of the case,” he said. CCA said the work of obtaining change in U.S. legislation lies ahead. “We hope the U.S. will decide that complying with the WTO ruling will be in its best interest. The CCA has worked closely with the U.S. industry and met regularly with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. in anticipation of the ruling to clearly communicate that we do not ask for the outright repeal of COOL but seek only those regulatory and statutory changes necessary to eliminate the discrimination that COOL has imposed to the comparative disadvantage of livestock imported into the U.S. vis-a-vie U.S. livestock.”

BURSARY WINNERS The Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) has announced the 2011 recipients of the Manitoba Beef Producers Bursary. The 2011 awards go to: Erin Cathcart, Neepawa Nicole Rae-Ann Blyth, MacGregor Cody Fedak, McCreary Justin Krisjansson, Forrest MPB awards four bursaries annually to MBP members or their children attending a university, college or other post-secondary institution or pursuing trades training. The bursaries are aimed at students pursuing a field of study related to agriculture or to those acquiring a skilled trade that would be beneficial to the rural economy. Noting it was a tough decision to select four from a field of excellent applicants, MPB president Major Jay Fox said “The goal of these awards is to encourage our young people to take up advanced education paths that will give them the opportunity to come back to our farms and rural communities. The future of both agriculture and our towns depend on providing opportunities for our kids to earn a good living back home.” †


Cattleman’s Corner

Think responsibly with broken needles This industry’s reputation rides on your response as a beef producer


f you’ve ever processed cattle in your life you may have had it happen at some point. A broken needle. When it happens you may not be sure where it is. Is it actually still in the animal or did it drop to the ground somewhere? The simple truth is that unless you find it on the ground, it really doesn’t matter. It needs to be dealt with, and you need to assume the worst and manage the situation responsibly. How you respond as a producer can have a huge potential effect on your industry. Needle management is one of the fundamentals in Canada’s on-farm food safety programs. It’s why Animal Health Management is one of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the Verified Beef Production program of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

needle occurs. It’s important to identify the suspect animal on a permanent record. If the animal is being sold, the next owner must be informed of the fact there is a broken needle in that specific animal. The animal can be euthanized and disposed of, or keep the animal for slaughter for your own use and manage the meat process accordingly. There are also some simple management approaches to help

prevent and deal most easily with the situation. On the prevention side an absolute must is never to try and straighten a bent needle. That just never works and is a recipe for disaster. Make sure to securely restrain the animal and use sharp not burred needles. Use shorter needles for subcutaneous injections. And use detectable needles. Simplest injection site is the neck. If you do have a problem

What you need to do There is a recommended course of action if a broken

this area of meat can be isolated at custom slaughter at your local abattoir. It’s a lot easier to dispose of this lower-value cut of meat than if the injection is in more expensive carcass cuts. Don’t leave it to the packer C a n a d a ’s b e e f - p r o c e s s i n g industry takes broken needles very seriously. Animals documented as having a broken needle are handled accordingly as individuals. As well, if they know the whereabouts of the suspected broken piece and it is a detectable needle, they may be able to use scanning equipment to identify the broken fragment. While that effort is ongoing and diligent, the biggest opportunity in managing broken needles is to prevent the potential situation of broken needles in the consumer beef supply in the first place. Act responsibly as a producer and work as a partner in the supply chain. A lot of people are depending on that.

Detectable needles are available so ask your farm supply store or veterinarian.

Help us protect Canada’s beef market “It’s not hard to imagine the food safety risk of a broken needle making it into a meat product. Consumers are depending on industry to control and prevent this risk from ever taking place.” — canadian packer


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

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



DECEMBER 5, 2011

Cattleman’s Corner THE MARKETS

Good news for 2012 beef markets

“Pee-wee” 400-pound calves to finish in late 2012 were fetching up to $220 per cwt



.S. fed cattle reached a record high in midNovember as Nebraska cattle traded at $125 to $127 on a live basis and $200 to $202 on a dressed basis. Cattle in Texas and Kansas traded at similar values with producers aggressively taking advantage of the higher prices. At the same time, Alberta packers were buying cattle in the range of $111/cwt to $113/cwt, which is up $2-4/cwt in comparison to a month earlier. The cattle market is contending with lower beef production and growing domestic and export demand. Wholesale prices are now in line with the spring highs with choice product at $190/cwt, up from $157/cwt for the same time last year. Retail beef prices are slowly edging higher as consumer spending increases. U.S. GDP came in at 2.5 per cent for the third quarter, which suggests unemployment will start to decline and consumer confidence will improve. The fundamental situation looks quite positive moving into 2012. U.S. cattle-on-feed numbers have been running three to five per cent above last year throughout the fall period. Feeder cattle moved into feedlots sooner than normal and at lighter weights due to the drought in the southern U.S. Plains. Despite the larger on-feed

tion next November. The potential for one party to control are three parts of government is bullish for the economy. U.S. beef exports for 2011 are projected to reach 2.8 billion pounds, up from 2.3 billion pounds in 2010. Next year, exports have potential to marginally improve if Japan relaxes the age restriction on imported beef. I’ve attached a chart showing available beef supplies for the domestic market. This takes into account imports and exports and the storage stocks each quarter and provides a more accurate picture of the market. For example, available fourth-quarter beef supplies are under six billion pounds, which is extremely tight. Feeder cattle prices have rallied $10-12/cwt throughout the fall period. During the second week of November, a group of 100 Charolais cross steers averaging 875 pounds which looked green and a bit fleshy sold for $139/cwt in southern Alberta. However, the market is drawing attention to lightweight pee-wee calves weighing 300 to 400 pounds which have sold in the range of $185/cwt to $220/cwt. These lightweight calves will only reach slaughter weight during the fourth quarter of 2012. The 2012 U.S. beef cow slaughter is actually exceeding year-ago levels and the calf crop will likely finish lower than earlier projections. Cow-calf producers in the U.S. southern Plains have been liquidating their herds but producers in the northern States have started to hold back heifers. During 2012,

Beef Supplies for U.S. Domestic Market

million pounds


numbers, beef production is starting to drop under year-ago levels as cattle are marketed at lower weights. This trend is expected to continue throughout 2012 resulting in a sharp drop in beef production each quarter. Total 2012 beef production is expected to be down 1.3 billion pounds in comparison to 2011. Notice that the percentage decline each quarter becomes sharper in the latter half of the year. There will also be a seasonality change. Usually, the highest prices for fed and feeder cattle have been in the first quarter as this was the lowest production period. However in 2012, fourthquarter supplies are expected to come in below first-quarter production. At the time of writing this article, the Dec. 2012 live cattle futures were trading at a $6-8/cwt premium over the February contract. Canadian beef production for 2012 is expected to finish at 1.2 million mt, similar to the 2011. Consumer spending is starting to increase as the U.S. economy moves into full-fledged expansion. Consumer spending is expected to increase throughout each quarter, which will enhance domestic beef demand. There is a very strong seasonal tendency for restaurant spending and grocery store spending to trend higher in the first half of the year before slowing in the third quarter. North American beef demand is expected to improve by approximately five per cent to eight per cent from January through December due to an increase in consumer incomes. Keep in mind there is a U.S. elec-




EST 2011

EST 2012

Per cent Change































the industry is expecting all regions of the U.S. to move into a major expansionary phase given the record-high feeder cattle prices this past year. The feeder cattle pool will be down sharply due to the lower calf crop and heifer retention. Keep in mind that U.S. farmers will also increase corn acres next year resulting in significant pressure on the feed grain complex during the fall. Canadian barley acres are also expected to be up 10 to 15 per cent as well increasing local feed supplies. The potential for lower-cost-per-pound gain in the latter half of 2012 has also contributed the price strength of the light calves.

In conclusion, fed cattle prices are expected to stay firm into the first and second quarter of 2012. While the market could be softer during the third quarter, fresh historical highs are expected during the October through December period. During the fall of 2012, feeder cattle prices could be eight to 12 per cent above current levels due to the higher price of fed cattle, a smaller feeder cattle pool of supplies and lower costs per pound gain. † Gerald Klassen analyzes cattle and hog markets in Winnipeg and also maintains an interest in the family feedlot in southern Alberta. For comments or speaking engagements, he can be reached at or 204 287 8268


Predator keeps spooking the cows There are always fencing and irrigation improvements to work on, and the new house is almost ready HEATHER SMITH THOMAS


arlier this month we hired a rancher with an excavator to help us rebuild the head of our ditch that serves this side of the creek (fields above and below our house, and one of the neighbour’s fields below our place). The creek washed out our headgate and diversion a few years back and we’ve had trouble getting enough water into that ditch. Now it won’t be a problem. Michael hauled several dump-truck loads of rocks to put along the creek bank, so it won’t wash out again. Carolyn started working at one of the local veterinary clinics for a winter job. Last Saturday I rode with Michael to our 320 pasture to help him gather their 45 yearlings to bring down to our upper fields, in preparation for

selling them. We found all but one heifer and rode back again to look for her. We found her carcass in Baker Creek — just the bones and a piece of hide that looked like it had been skinned off with a knife. She was fine a few days earlier when Michael checked on them. We don’t know whether she was shot by hunters and they took the meat, or killed by a cougar or wolves (something that could eat the carcass that quickly). The next day, Andrea and I moved our small herd of cows up there to graze, since there’s so much grass left on that pasture. We rode again the following day to check on them, and the cows were all at the ridge gate trying to come home. They were spooky and nervous. We herded them back up into Baker Creek and they were very upset when we tried to make them go past the bones, which had been strung around more overnight. We realized that whatever had been eating the carcass was coming back periodically and upsetting the cows.

They were too scared to spend time grazing, or to go to Baker Creek for water. So that evening Lynn and Rick took the jeep up there and loaded the bones to haul away, hoping to deter the predator from coming back all the time. Andrea and I rode daily after that, checking the cows. It took them a few days to settle down, and they still went everywhere in one big group — not scattering out like they usually do — and going as a group to water just once a day. They must feel there’s safety in numbers! Lynn and Rick finished rebuilding the pole fence for Veggie’s new pen. Andrea has been moving more things from her rented house in town, to store in her shed and trailer house next to the new house. Today Lynn and I drove the jeep to the 320 and took a tub of protein supplement to our cows. We carried a chain saw down into Baker Creek to saw out trees that had fallen over the main trail where the cows go in and out



An amazing view surrounds Andrea’s new house, which is almost ready for the family.

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Cattleman’s Corner

NOVEMBER 12 Michael helped us several days, fixing another ditch and headgate on the other side of our creek. The main ditch on that side was washed out at the top, when the creek took another channel during high water. It was so hard to get water into that ditch that we didn’t use it for several years, relying on another ditch that comes through the Gooch place. That situation worked OK when Michael was leasing the Gooch place, because we always shared water. But with the new neighbour these past two summers, and some miscommunication about the water rights, we’ve been short of water for those fields. It was time to fix the ditches and put in weirs to measure all the water. A lot of brush and trees had fallen over the non-functional ditch, so it took several days with chain saws and the backhoe to get it cleared out and the ditch rebuilt. We’ve had cold weather, down to minus 15 C, so Andrea and I rode every day to check the cows’ water on the 320 pasture. We took a short-handled shovel up there to break and scoop ice out of the water troughs. Last Friday we sent our steer calves to the sale at Blackfoot Livestock Auction. They sold for $1.33 per pound and we were pleased with their weights. The larger ones averaged 647 pounds. The smallest steer weighed 520 pounds. Not bad for April-born calves. The next day we had several inches of snow, which made it more challenging for Andrea and me to check our cows. The snow packed into our horses’ feet, making ice balls, and very slippery footing with no traction! Going around one hillside, Breezy slipped and fell down, but Andrea was able to dismount quickly, and didn’t get pinned underneath her. Yesterday the weather forecast was for more snow and cold weather, so Andrea and I brought the cows down from the 320 to our lower field. The snow won’t be so deep down here, and hopefully they can continue to graze a while longer before we have to feed hay. The weather was nasty today, so we were glad we rode yesterday to move the cows. Michael helped Lynn gather protein tubs off the 320, and it was really slippery driving up there in the snow.

NOVEMBER 21 The carpenters are basically finished with Andrea’s house, the carpet has been laid and the cabinets in (not quite finished) but we have to wait for the plumbing, electrical and other inspections before she can have an “occupancy permit.” Meanwhile, she’s been moving appliances and furniture into the new house because she needs to be out of the rental house soon and wants to get it cleaned —

and leave it in better shape than when she moved into it three years ago. Being in limbo between the two places, the kids have been sleeping on the floor at the old house, and I’ve been cooking supper for them here. It will be a lot easier once they can actually be in their new house. Michael has been helping clean and rebuild part of the main ditch above and below our driveway, using our backhoe. He and Lynn hauled several dump truck loads of rocks to fill some bad washouts. Next summer the irrigating should be a lot easier! We’ve nearly got all the ditch work done, and plan to start some fencing projects. Lynn and Michael hope to put in a lot of steel posts before the ground is too frozen — starting today on a fence that needs to be rebuilt on our upper place. † Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband Lynn near Salmon, Idaho. Contact her at 208-756-2841

Some of the cow herd on the 320 pasture where moved to a lower-elevation pasture before the next snow storm in mid-November.

Hill 70 Quantock RancH

“Barn Burnin’ Bull Sale” Sat., Feb. 4, 2012

at the Ranch, lloydminster, aB


“Cowboy Friendly” ProgramS… 3 Sight UnSeen PUrchaSe Program 3 DeliVerY... it’S Still Free 3 rePeat BUYer Program 3 BUll DeVeloPment - till Spring 3 gooD neighBor Program 3 60/40 Finance Plan

We’re here to help – if it works for you – it works for us! 60% sale day; 40% July 1, 2012; 0% interest o.a.c.

Heck... ranching may even seem easy right now! The grass was great, crops good and the fall has never been better! Optimism in agriculture is contagious right now, no matter what segment you are in. Iron is still to high... it doesn’t divide, it just depreciates. Cows multiply, harvest and never need refuelling or programming. When you think on the right side of a cow... she really works. Our “hard-nosed, dirt on the pants” program geared to “more grass and less diesel” is not the new buzz word here... it is just what we do. The bulls have been out on grass longer, the uniformity better, the numbers are up, and the cows will graze all winter for the first time... heck it is easy! As I walk thru our bull pens, I feel the excitement and see the potential... this is the time and this is the place to source your bulls. “More grass and less diesel”... more jingle in your jeans. Last year we talked about “getting off the sidelines & getting involved” with our program. This is the time and place to get your bulls and share our excitement. Get up... get to the phone or computer, call, email or use the clip and mail. We would be more than happy to get you on our mailing list. Bill Creech... “Bill The Bull Guy”

45 Horned Herefords Two’s 105 Red Angus (65 Two’s - 40 Yearlings) 75 Black Angus (50 Two’s - 25 Yearlings) 70 Charolais (30 Two’s - 40 Yearlings) 50 Red & Black Angus X Simmentals (Yearlings & Fall Born)

12 Red Angus X Gelbvieh (Two’s) 100 Registered Red Angus & Commercial Females (Bred & Open) Sight Unseen Purchase Program…

Boys, still your best bet if you can’t be with us sale day. we guarantee your satisfaction! together we’ll analyze each and every bull… we want to be sure the “fit is right”. annually sells 100+ bulls using this program.

Customer AppreCiAtion night FridAy, FebruAry 3, 2012

Supper, Branding & Bull Viewing! Visit our website...


– reply Card –

Name Address Ph



Clip & Mail For Your Free Catalogue & DVD

for water. Parts of the creek in the shady canyon have been freezing up on cold nights, but there’s a place where it stays open — where a spring comes out of the bank. We have a water trough there, and the cows can usually get a drink even in very cold weather.

# of Cows o Sight Unseen Purchase Plan o DVD of Sale Bulls o Red Angus o Black Angus o Charolais o Horned Hereford o Red Angus X Gelbvieh o Reg. Red Angus Females o Commercial Females (Bred & Open) o Black Angus X Simmental Hybrids o Red Angus X Simmental Hybrids Mail to: hill 70 Quantock ranch Box 756, lloydminster, aB S9V 1c1





DECEMBER 5, 2011

The Dairy Corner Dairy Corner

Canola has a good fit in milk production Studies show canola meal can increase milk production by four per cent over soybean meal and is just as good as DDGS BY PETER VITTI


he golden-yellow canola fields that grace our western landscape and seem to go on forever are the result of many years of hard work by Drs. Keith Downey and Baldur Stefansson. By intense breeding techniques started in the 1970s, they successfully eliminated anti-nutritional components from rapeseed and turned it into a valuable food crop for human consumption. Likewise, among the dairy industry, canola meal (and to a lesser extent, whole canola seeds) has become a well-respected feed ingredient formulated into dairy diets of high milk-producing dairy cows. In its harvested state, #1 grade whole canola seed contains about 22 to 23 per cent protein and about 44 to 46 per cent mostly unsaturated fats. When canola seeds are crushed and oil is removed through a pre-press solvent extraction process, the remaining canola meal has a protein content of 36 to 41 per cent. Subsequently, its ruminal undegradable protein (RUP) is measured between 30 to 35 per cent bypass proteins. Even when its high energy-dense fats are removed, canola meal (3.5 per cent fat) remains a relatively high-energy dairy feed with a net energy (Nel) value measured at 1.80 Mcal/kg, which can easily complement the grains in any typical dairy diets, such as barley and/or corn, which both estimated Nel of 1.90 Mcal/kg.

Canola produces milk Given such a nutritious profile, canola meal formulated into a well-balanced dairy diet can potentially produce large volumes of milk. This is the summary of about two dozen university and extension feeding trials conducted  across  Canada  and the U.S. in the last 30 years. In most of these experiments, canola meal was implemented at levels to replace the dietary energy and crude protein of traditional soybean  meal.  The  widespread data demonstrated that average milk production increased about 1.0 kg or four per cent of milk production per cow, without a significant change to milkfat or milk-protein production. Such positive milk responses due to canola meal make a lot of sense, because with the exception of a significantly lower crude protein level, canola meal is very comparable to all other nutrient


aspects of soybean meal. Similar dairy trials have demonstrated that canola meal can be used as a feed substitute for sunflower meal,  cottonseed  meal,  linseed meal and even high RUP distillers grains.

Good as DDGS This last favorable comparison to distillers grains comes as a bit of surprise. Distillers grains are often viewed as a more “balanced” dietary protein source (28-35  per  cent  crude  protein) than canola meal in dairy diets, because 40 per cent of distillers grains protein is digested by their rumen microbes, while 60 per cent of the remainder (re: RUP) is digested more efficiently in the lower intestines of the dairy cow for better milk production. Regardless, South Dakota Univerity (2009) used canola meal as a total and a partial protein substitute of dried distillers grains with solubles  (DDGS)  in  a  common diet for 12 early/multi lactation dairy cows. The respective treatments were 100, 66, 33, and 0 per cent replacement protein, which resulted in milk production and milk composition to be similar for all such treatments. The researchers concluded that canola meal was a suitable replacement for DDGS in most lactation dairy diets. In addition, there was only evidence that regular canola meal (35 per cent RUP) was used in these feeding trials, rather than any specialtytreated canola meal with higher ruminal bypass protein. As a footnote, there are a few We s t e r n   C a n a d a   c o m p a n i e s which manufacture and market heat-treated canola meal with a higher bypass protein level (55 per cent RUP) than regular canola meal protein (35 per cent RUP). Some dairy nutritionists view this man-made canola ingredient as a more comparable feed ingredient to distillers grains due to how its protein is digested in the dairy cow. Such evidence proves that canola is a nutritious supplemental protein source for good milk production, but its widespread acceptance by dairy farmers is largely related to its respective economic advantage above other protein feed ingredients. Consequently, in order to determine the simple value of canola meal protein and potential worth as a RUP source, the equation might be used: Price $/per cent of nutrient = $ mt of single nutrient.

Pencil it out A practical example for canola meal is as follows (commodity prices quoted are for demonstration purposes only): Canola ml protein (36 per cent CP) = $300 mt/.36 = $ 833 mt vs. soybean ml (48 per cent CP) = $425/.48 = $885 mt Canola ml protein (36 per cent P) = $300 mt/.36 = $ 833 mt vs distillers grain (28 per cent CP) = $275/.28 = $982 mt Canola RUP (35 per cent of CP)= $300 mt/.36 x .35 = $2,381 mt vs distillers grain RUP (60 per cent of CP) = $275/.28 x .60 = $1,637 mt This simple example is only a preliminary or initial step in determining the real monetary value of canola meal based solely upon its protein and/or bypass protein content as they compare to the cost of feeding dairy cows other feed concentrates to receive the same essential nutrients (re: protein or RUP). The next exercise becomes quickly and vastly more complex as we formulate and balance dairy diets balanced for not only protein (or bypass protein), but for other essential nutrients such as dietary energy.

Feeding whole canola As the above demonstration shows, canola meal over the years has proven to be an economical  supplemental  crude protein for most dairy rations, but some nutritionists have taken this value one step further  by  recommending  the additional feeding of whole canola seeds. Their  direction  is  to  take advantage of canola’s economical protein content as well as the high energy oil content of the natural whole seed, particularly from weather-damaged crops (re: laboratory analysis of 21 to 24 per cent crude protein and 30 to 42 per cent oil). They advise to feed a maximum amount of whole canola seeds to lactating dairy cows, not to exceed a dietary oil level of 400 grams per cow per day. The consensus is that higher levels of the whole seeds’ fat will interfere with the fermentation of forage fibre by the rumen microbes, which can lead to milk fat depression.

Reduces methane Among similar feeding guidelines but for a different objective in mind, an Alberta dairy study


If you put your dairy herd on canola meal cows will be sprinting just like the one pictured above. To be honest, that may not happen. This is a photo of a display taken by Grainews Machinery Editor Scott Garvey at the recent Agritechnica farm show in Germany. The message around this agile Holstein actually says something about more efficiency with filtered water. But as Peter Vitti says in this column, canola meal is good too. (2008) found that crushed whole canola seeds offered a means of decreasing methane production (source of apparent global warming) in lactating dairy cows. In the experiment, three crushed oilseeds; sunflower, flaxseed and canola whole seeds were separately added at 3.1 to 4.2 per cent to a lactation diet (DM basis). Their results showed that all three treatments decreased methane production by about 13 per cent. None of the treatments affected milk production or its components. The researchers concluded feeding whole oilseeds was a means of making the animals’ ruminal bugs more efficient without affecting dairy performance. Such past or new experience with canola as a dairy feed ingre-

dient is good news. Whether it is used as canola meal or whole canola seeds or even as processed derivatives, canola has a lot of good things to offer dairy diets that are fed to support optimum milk production in dairy cattle. As canola meal, it is a high quality and economical protein source. As whole seed canola, it is a sound combination of high quality protein and high-energy oil source. Given the popularity of canola acres grown throughout the western provinces, canola is an available feed ingredient for dairy cows to make large volumes of milk for the present and for the years to come. Peter Vitti is an independent livestock nutritionist and consultant based in Winnipeg. To reach him call 204-254-7497 or by email at

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /



A great year for cattle prices And more stories about Wooden Shoe Dick and theories on farm economics BOYD ANDERSON

OCTOBER18, 2011


verybody is very busy in southern Saskatchewan. Some combining is going on and many farmers and ranchers are still finishing baling and some marketing of cattle. Besides the ranchers bringing in cattle out of the pasture, many of the community pastures are also emptying out. It is a very busy time. Lloyd and Nyla have their baling finished and also have finished combining. They still have much bale stacking to do. They took time off from harvesting to trail 160 yearling steers to the annual yearling sale at Mankota. These steers were pastured just 18 miles south of Mankota. They had an easy time trailing the cattle with saddle horses. The sale was very good and Lloyd and Nyla’s steers averaged over 900 pounds and sold for $1.29 per pound. They cleared well over $1,200 per head. This is very good for cattle only 18 months old. I had a few steers with Lloyd’s cattle. One year ago,


A good summer for water and grass in southern Saskatchewan, capped off by a good fall at the markets. I sold most of my steer calves at the Big Muddy ranch. Ryan also sold his steers at this sale and they went very well also. To bring cattle from the Big Muddy to Mankota, they have to travel a distance of 140 miles. This is the best sale and the highest price we have ever received. Ten years ago the price was just about the same. The ranchers seem to be quite satisfied and I am sure many needed the boost. There were buyers or orders from Alberta to Ontario and also some may have gone to the United States. One week later on October 15, I again went to a sale at Mankota. This was a calf sale and calves sold up to $2.15 per pound. Some calves brought over $1,000 each

and many brought $800 to $900 each for steers. Once again there seemed to be a lot of smiling faces. I have not been to other sales but I have heard of many good sales at Assiniboia, Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Weyburn. The cattlemen are having a good fall. There is lots of hay and good pastures. Lloyd and Nyla and their boys moved 120 cows and their calves home to some fall grazing. These were steer calves ant they were put on stubble fields with good grass and spring-fed coulees.

NOVEMBER 15, 2011 I had some comments about my stories last month about Wooden Shoe Dick who lived at Mankota

in the 1930s. I will now tell a few more. Wooden Shoe Dick (Richard Oscam) was like thousands of people, mostly from Europe, that came to Canada between 1907 and 1914. These people came west to the new land of Canada. They came because of free land and the opportunity to have something of their own. Wooden Shoe Dick was one of these early homesteaders. When I was helping to shear his sheep in the years from 1932 to 1942, I would work away sheering his sheep with hand blades. Dick would sit on layers of some newly sheared wool and relate his experiences and opinions about everything going on around southern Saskatchewan and the world. By the way, he got his nickname Wooden Shoe Dick because one time he was on his way to Kincaid with a load of grain pulled by a team of mules and the mules balked on a hill south of Kincaid. Dick got excited and blocked the wheels with his wooden shoes. It did not work. The mules backed the wagon over the shoes and broke them into pieces. Thereafter, Dick Oscam was known as Wooden Shoe Dick. When I was shearing, we started talking about cattle losses over winter and the economics of raising cattle. I said that the important thing was to keep the cows

alive and then one could usually make a go of it as the cattle would pay off. Dick said this did not always happen and he went on to explain a situation when live cattle had lost him money. His story was in 1922 in the Mankota area when there had been a drought. There was a good crop in the north at Battleford and Dick and a partner brought calves and shipped them north to Battleford where oats were plentiful and they thought everything was going good. Then, the calves started to get sick and many died. Dick said that if they would have all died, he would have made money. He would have made money because cow hides sold very high and the winter’s oats they had bought at a low price went up in value. They could have made money by selling the oats. Wooden Shoe Dick finished the story by telling me that just enough of the cattle lived to eat up all of his oats. This story is a true story of farm economics. Wooden Shoe Dick sold his ranch to the provincial government and it became a community pasture. After the war, I bought several miles of sheep wire from him. He was an interesting person and I enjoyed him very much. † Boyd Anderson is a mostly retired rancher from Glentworth, Sask. and has been a Grainews columnist for many years


Snow works for overwintering cows A 250-head beef herd needs five tonnes of snow per day, and that doubles after calving PETER VITTI


ince we live on the western Prairies with usually lots of snow cover in the winter, clean snow is a good and readily available water source for many beef cow herds, right at their feet. Once beef cows get use to eating snow, they should be able to consume enough snow to meet their essential water requirements, right up to calving and beyond. Although providing water as snow seems so practical and economical (it’s free), producers should monitor that there is always enough snow around for the herd and be prepared with a traditional waterer backup plan to assure their overwintering beef cows always get enough precious water. Most of the winter, an average mature beef cow needs a daily supply of 20 to 30 litres of water to meet its water requirements of gestation. This consumption dramatically increases after calving to about 40 to 45 litres of water per day while nursing a newborn calf. If we concentrate on the gestating beef cow, their water consumption in the form of snow; given that 20 litres of water weighs 20 kg, and because one kg of water equals one kg of snow, then our beef cow must consume at least 20 kg of snow to survive. On a

practical basis, a beef herd of 250 cows would eat approximately five tonnes of snow per day! This quantity of snow might seem like a lot to push up in front of pregnant cows each day, but another way of looking at snowfeeding beef cows is to allow them to graze open-pasture with good clean snow cover. It’s a matter of consideration that 25 cm (10") of new-fallen snow over only one acre of pasture contains approximately 102,600 litres (22,575 imp. gal) of water, and assume a wastage rate of 50 per cent (re: trampling, defecation, and bad-tasting snow) yields enough water for the same above 250 beef cows for about 10 days. Granted, many ranchers have successfully fed snow to beef cows without as much as a single calculation, yet it should be acknowledged that the University of Alberta pioneered some of the first measurable snow-related cow herd studies. In a four-month study (1990) with a small group of mature beef cows, they monitored daily snow and free-water consumption of each cow. The researchers found that cows fed only snow as a water source ate between 14 to 20 kg of snow per day. Cows with access to water drank between seven to 11 kg of water and also consumed seven to 12 kg of snow on a daily basis. In other similar trials, these researchers discovered that identical beef diets could be fed to snow-fed cows compared to those cows with access to a waterer. There was no need to increase dietary energy of

these rations for the snow-fed cows because the ongoing process of eating snow and allowing it to melt into water has little effect on their basic body energy requirements. They speculated that natural heat, normally given off and wasted by the beef cow’s body from forage digestion and other metabolic processes, is adequate to melt ingested snow and bring it to the cow’s normal body temperature without additional dietary energy. Consequently, the overall results of these trials showed that as long as cows met their respective nutrient and water requirements from the feed and snow, there were no differences in feed intake, health, or changes in body condition scores.

TEXTURE IMPORTANT Aside from the above research that demonstrated snow intake by beef cows is vital to their survival, it is also important to know that most beef cows also prefer loose, fluffy snow that is clean and easily accessible. They tend to avoid ice-encrusted or hard-packed snow or snow that is dirty with animal wastes. While cows drink from a waterer maybe once or twice a day, beef cows consuming snow as their sole water source seem to eat it intermittently with dry feed during the entire day. Producer testimonials show converting cows to eating snow is not much of a problem other than a few bawling cows that are restless for a few days. Eating snow is a learned behaviour by beef cows, and once


As long as cows have a sufficient supply of good, clean, fluffy or loose snow they should be good for water during winter. they learn that licking and eating snow satisfies their thirst, they seem to readily take to it. Making sure that the beef herd gets enough snow throughout the entire winter is the biggest challenge to implement snow as a good water source. The best indicator of whether an individual beef cow herd receives and eats enough snow is to monitor respective dry feed intake, namely forage consumption. As long as forage intake is adequate (12 to 15 kg per head per day, dm basis), then cows should be getting enough water from snow to meet their water gestation requirements. Once the cow herd and producer get used to snow feeding, the only necessary management practice implemented might be an occasional break up of hard-packed snow with a frontend loader. Otherwise, it only

becomes necessary to watch out for extended periods where there is no snowfall or warm weather patterns in which snow disappears. Cows tend to graze snow without much effort when field are covered with at least 10 to 20 cm of fresh snow. Belly-deep snow is only a problem for dry feed accessibility. Water that comes from snow is still water and can successfully satisfy the water requirements of the entire beef herd for much of our winter. The only prerequisites for feeding snow to beef cows as the sole water source are good quality and quantity. In a typical western Canadian winter, where falling snowflakes are white, clean and plentiful, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. † Peter Vitti is an independent livestock nutritionist and consultant based in Winnipeg. To reach him call 204-254-7497 or by email at



DECEMBER 5, 2011


Call me old-fashioned

Find out the dreams and passions of the people on your farm team ELAINE FROESE


don’t think I am out of touch for having faith in the way it was, and I am thankful for the Christian values that I grew up with, and want to pass on to our family. This past September I had the fun of meeting the three Rempel brothers, Brad, Bryan and Curtis from La Crete, Alberta who have been having great success as the High Valley Band. Brad shared about the songwriting process and I shared my writing delights on being a columnist for this paper. Brad and his wife now reside in Nashville, and Curtis is the most active farmer of the crew. We decided to collaborate on this column. As I write this I am listening to the band’s website blasting out “Call Me Old Fashioned” and you can check the lyrics on their website at www. What’s fascinating about these three farm boys from northern Alberta, is that they followed their passion for music and singing at age 15, and their dad had to drive them to their gigs. They are open-

ing for the 17-city Paul Brandt tour December 2011, so you can probably catch them at a western city near you. I wonder what passions you have or your kids have that need to be fuelled? What would it look like if you took some time around the supper table tonight to shut the TV off, and focus on the dreams of the people on your farm team? Our son has a passion to fly and to hunt, so he has a pilot’s licence, plane and a gun collection to have fun with friends. Dad doesn’t hunt, but they share a passion for farming. Our daughter has a passion to help children in poor countries, so she is off to Fiji to volunteer for Children’s Camps International ( and she will return to work with the disabled in our small town. Each person in your family may have unique gifts that will build your business, or they may choose to use those talents off farm. Are you willing to let them go? Brad Rempel’s passion is to be a songwriter, but he uses the experiences of his farm roots to feed his writing. Their song “On the Combine” can bring the toughest grain farmer to tears. In fact, my friend Paul Wardlaw was in tears as he watched his bride come down the aisle at their wedding to the tune of “everytime I climb that ladder, it takes me back to things

that matter.” Paul had dated his future wife on the combine, and she really surprised him royally with the song’s powerful lyrics. The icing on the cake was that they met the High Valley Band members at a farm show in southern Ontario after the Wardlaws

to take a break, take a breath, and just slow down to smell the roses or the shortbread baking. Maybe this season is a good reason to check in and see how your neighbours are doing. As we reflect back on a year of excessive moisture, maintenance, frost boils and

Each person in your family may have unique gifts that will build your business, or they may choose to use those talents off farm. returned home to their farm! What are the things that matter to you this December as you prepare for family time and celebration gatherings? The oldfashioned values that are portrayed by High Valley’s lyrics are a soothing salve for the tough conversations I continually have with conflicted farm families who have lost sight of the things that really matter. Instead of wrapping yourself with chaotic plans to have the “perfect” Christmas celebration, how about checking in with the rest of your family to seek out what makes a great celebration and memory for all the family. Sometimes we need

weed control, we are thankful for neighbours who shared equipment, expertise and a shoulder to lean on as repairs were made together. You’ve worked hard this year and done your jobs with pride. You’ve kept promises to your family by being a faithful provider. Take some time to renew your physical and emotional strength. Call on some friends to reach out your hand to have some fun together. If there are marriages in the offering this December, encourage those young men to ask permission for a woman’s hand in marriage, and pass on all those great traditions so the kids learn

what it means to have a strong family. Strong families celebrate, and this season has many times to connect in meaningful ways with relatives and strangers who are friends that you haven’t met yet. I must confess that I am not a huge country music fan. I usually listen to a playlist on my iPod, but now that I am getting to know High Valley and enjoying the depth of the lyrics, I am happy to report that country music can be way more than heartbreak, trucks and sad tales with a twang. Who knows? Someday I may even meet Paul Brandt, who has a heart for sharing his resources with the poor. Give the gift of music to your family this year. Find out what genre really inspires each member of your family. Use your iPod to put more kick in your step as you walk miles to get into better physical shape and cope with the demands of farm life. Watch out for traffic on your road, and enjoy the vast expanse of possibilities before you. Let music lift your spirit and encourage you to be the best you can be as you love your farm family and create a legacy for your oldfashioned values to be carried on to the next generation. Merry Christmas. Blessings to your family in the adventure of the new year 2012. † Elaine Froese will be on sabbatical until January 3. Contact her for coaching your family through the key challenges of transferring your farm to the next generation. Visit to purchase her books for Christmas gifts. She looks forward to seeing Saskatchewan Pulse Growers in Saskatoon on January 10

Easy gift ideas These gifts use as many farm-direct ingredients as possible DEBBIE CHIKOUSKY


e have been having fun making soup mixes in a jar for gifts. These mixes can be used for Christmas gifts as well as showers or even a homewarming gift. We have been told some people just like to put them on the shelf and use them as a decorative item. Since the ingredients in the soup mix are all dry they will last indefinitely at room temperature. With all the hardship on Prairie farms the last few years our family decided to source as much of our ingredients as we could as farm direct as possible. That has been a lot of fun. When I embarked on my hunt for the dried beans etc. I found three sources. There was SaskCan Parent (1-204-737-2625) in southern Manitoba that deals with conventional farmers, Day Break Scheresky Mill in Saskatchewan http://www.daybreakscheresky which deals with organic farmers and Eat It which is located on Wall Street in Winnipeg, Man. All of these companies reassured me that their products would sprout which is my test for freshness. If it will grow it has to be fresh. The reason we have been

avoiding stale foods is because the nutrition drops with age and many times foods in long-term storage are exposed to fungicides, which cause my son’s health to suffer. The jar in the picture is a double batch of the recipe below.

SOUP MIX IN A JAR (Recipe sourced from Take Our Pulses Please ITALIAN PASTA AND BEAN SOUP MIX

1-quart canning jar with lid 1 c. white pea beans 1/2 c. pinto beans (we used kidney beans) 1 c. small pasta bows (or rice) 2 tbsp. dried parsley flakes 1 tsp. sea salt 2 tsp. crushed rosemary leaves 1 bay leaf 1 tsp. dried basil leaves 1 tsp. oregano 1 tsp. chili powder 1/2 tsp. garlic powder Crushed red pepper to taste

TO MAKE SOUP YOU WILL ALSO NEED: 1 796-ml can crushed tomatoes 1 c. chopped carrots 1 c. chopped celery 1 c. chopped onions 8 c. water or stock of choice Put beans into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Put pasta into a small plastic bag. Place in jar. Put spices into a small plastic bag and add them to the jar on top of dry ingredients.


Place beans in a large saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let soak for 1 hour. Drain. Add 8 cups water or stock, the seasonings and 1 cup each of carrot, celery and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 2 hours or until beans are tender but still firm. Add 1 can (28 oz./796 ml) tomatoes. If added earlier the tomatoes could make the beans remain hard. Uncover, increase heat to medium-low and boil gently for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until soup has thickened slightly. Stir in pasta. Increase heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes longer or until pasta is tender. Makes 12 cups. If soup isn’t a favourite for the people on your list the same idea can be done with your favourite cookie recipe. Although it is difficult to find some of the ingredients farmer direct, the flours are readily available from Gerry and Marie DeRuyck of Swan Lake, Manitoba (certified organic) 1-204-8362755 and at Day Break Scheresky Mill (certified organic) Estevan, Saskatchewan 1-306-927-2695.

COWBOY COOKIE MIX (Recipe source: Country Woman Christmas 2000 1-1/3 c. oatmeal 1-1/3 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda 1/2 c. chopped walnuts 1 c. chocolate chips 1/2 c. brown sugar 1/2 c. sugar

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS: 1/2 c. butter 1 egg, lightly beaten 1 tsp. vanilla Pour oats into a 1-quart glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda; place on top of oats. Follow with nuts, chocolate chips, brown sugar, and sugar, packing each layer tightly (do not mix). Cover and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. TO PREPARE COOKIES (TO ATTACH TO GIFT JAR)

Pour cookie mix into a large bowl; stir to combine ingredients. Beat in butter, egg and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place

2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 F for 11-13 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: About 3-1/2 dozen. The other bonus to these gift ideas is that the majority of these ingredients are usually on hand at our house. If a gift is needed it can be quickly thrown together. The jar lends itself to adornment if desired. You’ll know it was appreciated when the empty container makes its way back home to be filled up for next year! Hopefully these recipes will motivate your family to start utilizing these sources of farmer-direct staples for your cupboards. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality and fairness of price. For me, I just like knowing we’re giving a Canadian farmer support and adding an easy-to-make gift. † Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Manitoba Email her at

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Home Quarter Farm Life

Couple appreciates the simple things BY CHRISTALEE FROESE


t’s the simple things in life that mean the most to the Kohlers — security, safety, clean air and family time. Their previous life in South Africa offered them increasingly less of what they treasured most, prompting the family to immigrate to Canada in February 2010. “Since 1994, 3,000 farmers and family members have been killed,” said Jean Kohler. “It’s not that we were ever in that bad of a situation, but it was always in the background in our minds and we know of six or seven people who were murdered on their farms.” Also their three school-aged children had to travel 65 kms to boarding school in order to access quality education. With Marina Kohler travelling 100 kms for a teaching job, and the children in boarding school, family time was only a possibility on weekends and many of those weekends were spent hosting hunting parties on the family’s game farm. “It was an exciting life to have people out to hunt every weekend, but in the end, we were very tired of the lifestyle,” said Marina. With game farming being a way of life in South Africa, the Kohlers hosted more than 100 local hunters annually, and some international travellers, on their 3,000acre farm. Jean had grown up on a mixed farm, however, coming to Saskatchewan in 2010 and transitioning from a game-hunting operation to grain farming certainly had its challenges. Facing one of the wettest growing seasons on record was their first obstacle. They recall getting stuck on numerous occasions and having to rely on neighbours to pull them out. Despite the difficulty of their first spring in Saskatchewan, the Kohlers watched with interest as the farmers around them grew increasingly frustrated when seeding was delayed. “We emotionally handled the situation better than many farmers around us as we had overcome a lot of difficulties in Africa,” said Marina. The Kohlers were unable to get some of their crops planted and that presented them with unexpected payments from government programs. The new grain farmers were overwhelmed by the support both in terms of the dollars they received for their unseeded acres and the speed at which financial support was delivered. “It makes such a big difference to be living in a country where you can depend on your government,” said Jean. “In South Africa you have to fend for yourself.” With the Kohlers making it through their first spring on their 12-quarter farm located just outside of Glenavon in southeastern Saskatchewan, it was then time for harvest. “The strangest thing was the swather which I hadn’t seen before,” said Jean. “The first time I started it, it felt as if it was jumping in different directions. I knew what it was supposed to do, but I didn’t expect the steering to be that sensitive.” Despite the challenges of uprooting a family, leaving their home

country and learning new farming practices, the Kohlers have nothing but positive things to say about life in Canada. “Some people complain about things like the roads, and yes, sometimes it’s bad, but in South Africa you may not have your road graded for one or two years.” Other things the Kohlers appreciate are the stability of the political system, the fresh air, the reliability of resources like gas, power and water and the safety they feel. In South Africa, power outages and water shortages were common occurrences, as were incidents of theft, robbery and violence. “For example, when you’d park your car in a parking lot, you’d have to pay someone to keep it safe,” said Marina. “Here people were telling us not to lock our

house in case someone needed it in an emergency and to leave the keys in our vehicles.” The Kohlers do miss the friends and family they left behind, but bringing their two farm dogs with them to Canada has eased some of that discomfort. “We left everything behind, but here were these two dogs who had come all this way with us and they were something familiar,” said Marina. “It helped the kids, and me too.” The Kohler children, aged 12 to 19 when they moved, adjusted well to life in Canada. “The whole world has opened for them. There’s good job opportunities and they can achieve whatever they want because there’s nothing to stand in their way.” † Christalee Froese writes from Montmartre, Saskatchewan

Marina and Jean Kohler immigrated to Canada in February 2010.

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DECEMBER 5, 2011


We all do ridiculously stupid things sometimes… Just never forget how to apologize JANITA VAN DE VELDE


have a statue. It’s a regal woman who stands about five feet tall, and she’s holding what appears to be a horn of plenty. That, or she’s fondling her left breast, I’m not entirely certain. At any rate, when I placed her out in our front yard last year, the neighbours in our bay started a pool on how long she would last. I didn’t see the problem but they were like, “Don’t you remember what it was like to be a teenager? That thing will be smashed by a hormonal, pimply faced, angry person inside a month. It’s a perfect double-dog dare. You’ll see.” Well, I chose to stick to my guns and hoped for the best, but secretly I feared for the sultry woman’s life. And so the days passed. Months. Every morning on the way to work we’d back out of the driveway, and there she’d be, standing erect, proud, and protecting our front yard. At one point she did get kidnapped and held hostage by the rugby team, although they returned her alive (well, not really) and unharmed. Apparently she was a hot-ticket item and scored big points for their scavenger hunt. But for the most part, she was left alone. That is until this past summer. I was wandering around the house in early August, gearing up to do some housework, when mercifully the phone rang thus distracting me from doing anything useful. As I was chatting with my sister on the phone, I happened to look out my front door just as two girls were approaching my statue, giggling, whispering, elbowing each other as if to say, “You do it. No, you do it!” I almost knew it was going to happen before it did. And then it came — an arm shot out and shoved my lady, and she went ass over horn of plenty into the shrubs. I don’t remember

hanging up on my sister, but I did. I went flying out of my house wearing a bright-purple dress with a large patch over the top of my chest, covering the stitches from a mole I recently had removed. In hindsight, it may have looked as though I had just got home from heart surgery. Needless to say, whether it was from my outfit or me trumpeting at the top of my lungs, I must have looked completely bat shit. The girls jumped 10 feet in the air and took off like their pants were on fire. I shouted out after them, “Hey, I saw that girrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrls!” I wanted them to know that I had witnessed the whole thing unfold and that I could easily identify them. Sort of. When relaying the details of said event later that evening to my husband and sister, I said they had to be teenagers, close to six feet tall if they were an inch. In all likelihood, gang members with sleeve tattoos. I rather shamelessly admitted that what I had done was extremely dangerous and brave, and should not be attempted by the average person. In my mind’s eye, I was a smalltown hero, avenging neighbourhood crime and statue bullying. I boldly declared, “Now, one of two things will happen. Either my statue never gets harassed again, or by tomorrow morning, it’ll be smashed to smithereens. Either way, I’ll be here waiting.” By this point in the story, I could see I was dangerously close to losing my audience so I was about to make minor adjustments to the story to amplify my heroic behaviour, when something caught my eye. There was a letter hanging out of my mailbox. My inner detective lunged outside and greedily opened what appeared to be a handwritten note. Here’s what it said: ”Dear Nabors, I am so sorry about what happind. It was my friend. And she is very sorry. I will never do it agine. And I know it was very very worg. Ps. To know me better hear is a picher of me” (to protect said juvenile, I’ve withheld her name and her picture)

Now at first glance at the spelling, I thought perhaps one of my brothers was in town — upon closer inspection however, I realized the punctuation was far too advanced. My sister took one look at the letter, then the photo, then looked at me and declared, “So really, what you’re trying to say is that you spend a large portion of your day terrorizing small, adorable children. Nice.” I snatched the letter back and stared at the photo. What a clever child she was, attaching a picture of herself most likely taken years ago when she was still young, dewy and innocent looking. Point to you, Miss Petty Crime. For some reason, this whole incident reminded me of a letter my mom recently found. While going through old boxes containing report cards and other school crap, she came across two letters written to her, one from me when I was eight years old and one from my sister, who would have been five at the time. My mom had been in the hospital for a bit so my note went something like this: “Dear Mom, I hope you are having fun in the hospitle. We are havng fun. I helped Dad do dishes. Dad took us bowlng. I did not win. We miss you. Come home son.”

NOW FOR MY SISTER’S LETTER: “Dear Mom, I hope you are having fun in the hospitle. I am havng fun two. I helped Dad do dishes two. Dad took me bowlng two. Janita did not win. She got mad. We miss you. Come home son. P.S. I love Jesus.” The little goober had pretty much copied my letter word for word, and then to add insult to injury, added in the clinching postal script, P.S. I love Jesus. What kind of five-year-old does that? It was sheer brilliance on her part, one-upping me with a near-perfect God-fearing statement that put her right up there with the Big Guy. It also made her look more spiritual than me, hence depositing her as rightful owner of the favourite child

The handwritten note. badge. Not that her competition for that has ever been fierce. What did I learn from all this? That it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being a big enough person to apologize to someone when you’ve done something wrong or hurt their feelings. That little girl who tormented my statue got it right. I wish I could meet her, give her a great big hug, thank her for the laugh, and tell her parents that they’re raising her right. I would also tell the clever little kitten that I totally got a kick out of how she dropped her friend under the bus while apologizing. But hey, I enjoy that sort of humour. And remember, if you can’t imagine apologizing to someone face to face, then drop a letter in their mailbox. Hell, attach a photo of yourself from high school to really throw down the charm... who can get mad at a mullet wracked by a Toni

Home Permanent? If it’s a particularly heinous crime, then don’t be afraid to throw in a “P.S. I love Jesus.” After all, he’ll be making the final call so best to have him on your side all the way. As for me, I’ll be writing a few apology notes myself, although I plan on attaching my sister’s photo to all the letters. No sense in being a damn fool about it. Merry Christmas friends, and may 2012 bless you big. † Janita Van de Velde grew up on a farm near Mariapolis, Man. She holds a bachelor of science degree in agricultural economics from the University of Manitoba, and has worked for a financial institution since graduating. She lives in Regina, Sask., with her husband Roddy and their children Jack, Isla and James. Her first novel, Postcards Never Written, was the recipient of the Saskatchewan Reader’s Choice Award and also listed by CBC as one of the top funny books in 2009. She donates a portion of proceeds from the sale of her book to World Vision to help those less fortunate. For more information, or to order her book, visit her website at



e eat an excess of empty calories but lack real nutrition to keep us healthy,” says Megan Ness co-ordinator of the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education and Family Nutrition programs. Plus, the rising cost of food can put a strain on families’ budgets, according to Debra Pankow, NDSU Extension family economics specialist. But that doesn’t mean eating nutritious food necessarily is more expensive.

“Tried-and-true food shopping techniques such as using coupons, planning meals and shopping with a list are more important than ever for those wishing to stretch their food dollar,” Pankow says. Here are some tips from the NDSU Extension Service on making quick, healthful meals without breaking the budget: • Check the weekly grocery store ads and plan menus around what’s on sale. • Make a grocery list to cut down on your trips to the store. That can save time and money, and help you avoid impulse buying. Remember to check what you already have at home.

• Limit your shopping to one or two stores. Driving to several stores for special deals can waste time and gas. • Use coupons only to purchase foods you were planning to buy anyway. • Compare store and national brands. Most store brands are similar in quality to name brands but cost less. • Compare prices using “unit prices.” The unit pricing on the front edge of the shelf shows you whether the regular-priced super-sized package is a better deal than the sale-priced regularsize package. Be sure to look up and down the grocery shelves.

Sometimes the higher-priced items are at eye level. • Aim for serving a variety of foods from all of the food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein foods. • Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. If buying canned produce, choose fruits without added sugar or syrup and vegetables without added salt, butter or cream sauces. • Tu r n l e f t o v e r s i n t o “planned-overs.” For example, if you had whole roasted chicken one night, shred what’s left, add mayonnaise and chopped celery and use it for sandwiches. Or use leftover spaghetti sauce

to make lasagna or homemade pizza, or freeze it for a quick dinner later. • Find a block of time when you can make a few recipes at once and then freeze them to use later. • Create healthful snacks at home. • Don’t use a credit card to pay for groceries unless you plan to pay off your bill each month. Otherwise, you may be adding interest charges to the cost of the food. † For more information on making nutritious meals and stretching your food dollar, visit and http://

DECEMBER 5, 2011 /


Home Quarter Farm Life SINGING GARDENER

Lots of jargon and Ted Talk Plus, Christmas wishes from Ted TED MESEYTON

who planted garlic weeks earlier told me the cloves have been sprouting.

A note from Ted. “Christmas Card”… is the name of a song I wrote many years ago, while I was still sporting a full beard. Remember those days when it was a common practice to send and receive Christmas cards via mail? In appreciation for all my Grainews readers, here are some lyrics that express my sentiments.



tep right up folks! Brew a pot of tea, find a comfy spot and open your copy of Grainews to the Singing Gardener page. This final issue for 2011 includes lots of jargon and Ted Talk starting with garlic and onions. Even tomatoes rank some space, as does growing hair and weather folklore according to the moon.

MY DICTIONARY SAYS … jargon means “a twittering of birds,” but it can also mean speech, language and gibberish. Well I can talk, sing, yodel and write, but utter a succession of songbird notes; I cannot so far. Locally, I know a gentleman who does the most profound variety of meadowlark trills that I’ve ever heard from a human voice. He also whistles to hymns from his pew at the church he attends.

MEDICINAL BULBS … are what I call garlic and onions. New Zealand flu remedy is about as easy as it gets to make. Cut a slice of raw garlic clove as thinly as possible. Place it on your tongue and let it soften, but do not chew. Swallow the garlic slice once it’s sufficiently soft. This can be repeated frequently during the day, and is especially beneficial at the onset of a cold or the flu. It works well in combination with an oldtime European remedy. Cut a strong onion into thin slices and sprinkle with white or brown sugar. After an hour or two, it soon yields a syrup that can be pressed out through a sieve. The dosage is a teaspoonful of the liquid three times daily and before retiring. A brief reference to fall planting my garlic. I did it on November 2 and the soil was still quite workable. A gardener


MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM FARMLIFE Do you have a story about a farm or home-based business? How about some household management tips? Does someone in the family have a special-diet need? Share some of your recipes and some meal ideas. Send them to FarmLife, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3H 0H1. Phone 1-800665-0502 or email susan@ Please remember we can no longer return photos or material. — Sue

I n e a r l y N o v e m b e r, B e t t y Terschuur wrote: Thanks for your column in Grainews. You give lots of good advice. This has been a marvellous gardening year, but I’m having a real “beef”with tomatoes. I got some Bush Early Girl (new to me), had a beautiful crop, only to find them almost as tough and tasteless as the 14 m.p.h. stuff in the store. Is this the variety (bad hybrid), or something to do with the season? Also my old-faithful Manitobas are really slow to ripen (indoors, now, of course). Thanks for whatever you can tell me. Best, Betty Terschuur, Raymore Sask. I, Ted, am adding tidbits of my own experience to that of a couple of experienced tomato growers with whom I spoke. First, let me say the only thing early and tasty about some tomatoes is in the description. One person’s idea of a tasty tomato won’t always agree with another opinion. There’s an old saying that says: Every mother goose thinks her own geese are swans. The nature of the season, regardless of where you live in the country can always have an impact on the outcome, as does the soil and surroundings. Be aware there’s both a bush (determinate) and staking (indeterminate) variety of Early Girl. Tomatoes that are vine ripened to a glorious red are always better tasting. Those picked green and brought inside to ripen (such as Manitoba mentioned above) can contain too much starch, suffer from too little natural sugars and have lower levels of the full natural vitamin C spectrum. Note the original Manitoba tomato was introduced for Prairie conditions in 1956; now almost an heirloom. More recently I’ve noticed a so-called Improved Manitoba. The strong consensus of those I spoke to is that (indeterminate) staking beefsteak varieties are their preference for best-tasting tomatoes. They train only the central main stem so it vines upward and prune out the side suckers. Of course, garden-fresh, juicy, good-flavoured tomatoes are also determined by the practice of non-chemical gardening techniques that encourage high productivity and healthy disease-resistant plants. If you’re unhappy with results from one supplier, try another source for tomato seeds. Consider the following among the keys to good plant growth and maximum fruit sizing. Tomatoes require full sun without competition from tree roots and shrubs and prefer slightly acid to neutral soils (6.5 to 7 pH). They respond to a booster dose of manure tea or other soluble organic fertilizer early in the growing season. Once fruits are the size of golf balls, pour a couple litres of manure tea around each plant and side dress with some good-


quality compost. You can make this brew by steeping several handfuls of well-rotted manure in pails of water overnight. Other options to achieve similar results are fish fertilizer emulsions. An occasional drink of Epsom salts dissolved in water will improve taste; especially sweetness. I heartily recommend spraying tomato plants with seaweed foliar spray to help offset fungal diseases. But like anything — don’t overdo it! Too much nitrogen will encourage “Jack and the beanstalk” foliage growth, with an adverse, slowing effect on fruit development.

HAIRCUTS AND MOON CYCLES Thanks to James VandenBerg of Medicine Hat who sent the following email during October. I’m a big fan of your Grainews page. I love reading about folklore and must have thrown out the article about Russian folklore haircuts. Can’t remember! Is it the waning or the waxing of the moon? Thanks for the entertaining and educational page every month. Jim I, Ted, had a couple of questions for Jim pertaining to his haircuts according to the moon. Here’s what he further said: Ted, Yes, the experiment has to do with haircuts. Have been getting a haircut every new moon and do not see that it is getting any thicker. Maybe variables like genes and age play a huge part and maybe nine months isn’t long enough. I need a haircut regularly anyway so I thought why not try this, but so far it would appear to be a bust — for me. Well first of all, let me say to Jim and anyone else who’s growing hair according to the moon: “Never Give Up.” I agree when Jim pointed out variables

I received your card, Christmas card, Have a merry, beautiful Christmas, And a happy, bright New Year, Warmest wishes for a happy holiday filled with cheer. After all there is a reason, Why we celebrate this season, Something special happens at this time of year, Spirits rise as families plan, To be with loved ones if they can, I’m coming home for Christmas that is clear. Children’s faces beaming bright, Just like the star on that first night, Nothing else could make me feel so glad, May the beauty of this Christmas, Bring contentment and peace to us, Love’s the best gift to give and be had, Let the blessings of this season, In abundance give us reason, To say thank you Lord for coming here. copyright © 2011 Ted Meseyton

such as genes and age. Also, maintenance between haircuts can affect growth. The general statement for quicker growth is to cut your hair when the moon is increasing in light. However, there are some tweaks or fine tuning for improved results that hopefully lead to faster, thicker hair growth. Here are some times to consider for the next while. Get your hair cut during any of the following dates and signs while the moon increases in light: during Taurus and Gemini from December 6 through to 10, during Pisces on December 29 and 30, 2011; during Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and Leo between January 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, 2012; during Pisces, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and Leo during January 25, 26, 30 and 31; then on to February 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, 2012.

HOME REMEDY FOR THINNING HAIR My hair isn’t thinning, so have not tried this myself. It’s an old folklore hair-loss treatment that is said to bring results within weeks and I pass it along for what it’s worth. Mix equal parts of cayenne pepper and ginger spice powder in a bowl. You don’t need a lot. Add some pure apple cider vinegar to make a thin paste. Moisten and gently rub the scalp for a short time with this solution three times a week. Leave on for about 20 to 30 minutes each time. It is said to be effective at improving blood flow to your head, reduces dandruff and improves hair loss problems. A cautionary note: Personal experimentation is involved. For some people this could be too much and too strong. The scalp may sting and will get quite warm, so do be careful. Also, avoid getting

any of it in your eyes. One of my favourite ways of improving blood flow to my head is by lying on a slant board for 10 or 15 minutes.

MOONLORE WEATHER STATEMENTS … not only intrigue me, but feedback from Grainews readers indicates an element of interest and intrigue as well. I have no idea how valid this is, but Grandma was insistent that if a river floods and leaves behind ice, it will return for it later. That is to say, there’ll be another flood once warmer weather arrives. Perish the thought of that happening somewhere next spring. If Christmas comes during a waxing moon (increasing in light), we will have a very good year to follow, and the nearer it comes to the new moon, the better the next year will be. December 25, 2011 arrives the second day after the new moon, so it couldn’t be much sweeter than that. Will it be a honeymoon of a year for gardeners and farmers in 2012? I was once inspired by moonlore to write a humorous weather song. So do you agree with the following verse? When it’s hot we want it cold, And when it’s cold we want it hot, Canadians can’t make up their minds, They’re always wanting what it’s not. † This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. Gardeners know a tomato is a fruit of the vine. Wisdom is to not put a tomato in a fruit salad. But read on! Has anyone ever been quick to tell you that something can’t be done? Probably most of us can say “yes” to that question, at one time or another. It brings to mind the following Chinese proverb: “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” Somebody just might make a fruit salad with grape or cherry tomatoes in it. My email address is singing

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Grainews - Dec. 5, 2011  

A plan of attack for cleavers [and other stories]