Growing Soybeans Issue 17

Page 1

For Western Canadian Soybean Growers

Issue 17 / Fall 2016

#IGROW SOYBEANS What are growers saying about NorthStar Genetics’ soybeans? “I choose to grow NorthStar Genetics soybean varieties because I find the genetics very important. I believe they have the earliest genetics with a pretty good yield package to go with it. And NorthStar Genetics has helped us out in terms of agronomics, gave us some tips on what to do, how to do it.” “I believe soybeans are going to keep gaining acres as we move forward, and I’ve been recommending NorthStar to other farmers.” Brent McCarthy – Corning, SK

At NorthStar Genetics, we know beans.

Table of Contents Publisher Ray Wytinck NorthStar Genetics

Letter From the Editor pg 5

Editor Jenny Flaman

Market Timing Critical for Best Returns pg 6

Art Director Kate Klassen

How Did the Pea and Lentil Crop Do This Year? pg 8

Copy Editors Chantelle Toews Heidi Brown Krystle Pederson

Soybeans in Rotation With Peas and Lentils pg 11

Contributors John Dietz Geoff Geddes Cheryl Manness Shari Narine Ron Friesen

Printed by McAra Printing For another copy of Growing Soybeans call 204-262-2425 or e-mail For a digital copy visit

Scientists Developing Soybeans for a Wider Range of Environmental Conditions pg 14 Grower’s First Xtend Soybean Fields Look A+ pg 18 GMO vs Non-GMO Soybeans: A Growing Debate pg 22 Are Soybeans a Viable Crop for Alberta? pg 26 Drill Search - Finding a New Comfort Zone pg 30 “Buying Local” Hits Close to Home for Soybean Farmers pg 33

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Letter From the Editor


he beginning of this growing season was one for the books. It started with uncharacteristically hot weather accompanied by a dry early spring. We thought it would be a dry summer, but then some clouds rolled in across Western Canada and we got some rain right when it counted. As the International Year of Pulses, which we told you all about in our spring issue, and the lentil market demand making lentils a no-brainer, especially in many parts of Saskatchewan, we expected that lentils would win out over soybeans this year, and we graciously give this one to them. Soybean acres may have leveled off this year, but all that means is they should exceed expectations next year as the rotational crop of choice. In Soybeans in Rotation With Peas and Lentils, we explored how great of a crop soybeans are for the rotation, proving that they should be on the top of the list for next season.

You’ll see in our Market Outlook that the soybean markets are also on the upswing, which is more reason for soybeans to dominate in 2017. For this issue we’ve looked into many management practice topics, such as various weather conditions, and the best options for seeding equipment. We’ve also looked into many hot topics of the moment from the debate about GMO soybeans versus non-GMO soybeans, how to apply shopping local to your soybean seed, and whether soybeans are a good option for dealing with unpredictable weather. And with all of the new technology on the horizon, we have looked at the actual potential of expanding the territory for soybeans into Alberta. Are soybeans a viable crop for Alberta? Check out page 26 to find out.

We also have an exciting addition to announce in our distribution and frequency structure. Going forward, we will now be publishing Growing Soybeans articles online on If you subscribe to our newsletter on our website or include your email address on our subscription card that is free to mail into us, you will also get email updates whenever we have a new article on the website. Our online articles will be updated twice a month to provide our readers with more timely and relevant soybean content. We will still publish a print edition of Growing Soybeans every September with fresh, additional content for our soybean enthusiasts. As always, we encourage you to send us your thoughts on topics you would like us to explore, and we commit to following through. As you’re finishing up harvest, planning for next year, or finally putting your feet up, we hope you enjoy this issue of Growing Soybeans.


Market Timing Critical For Best Returns By Ron Friesen


et’s say you’re a Western Canadian soybean grower in late May or early June. You’ve sold most of your old crop and your new crop is starting to poke out of the ground. Markets, which have been in the doldrums for some time, have suddenly gone crazy. Futures prices for soybeans are 15 percent higher than a year ago. Cash prices are up to 20 percent higher. Also, the long-range weather outlook calls for a hot, dry summer. That would be bearish for yields but even more bullish for prices. What should your marketing strategy be going forward? That was the situation facing soybean growers earlier this year. Up until spring, soybean markets had been bearish for months. Soybeans were being discounted because of large carryovers in the U.S. and the expectation of a big crop in South America. But that changed suddenly. Brazil experienced hot, dry weather while Argentina received heavy rains just as the soybean harvest was getting underway. That meant a smaller crop than the potentially record harvest which had been expected. The possibility of a short crop in South America prompted China, the world’s largest soybean importer, to shift its buying patterns to the U.S. sooner than usual. With China suddenly scrambling for soybeans, markets responded psychologically. CBOT soybean futures began recording their highest price since August 2014. November futures, which had ranged from $9.80 to $10.50 USD a bushel in June 2015, jumped to over $11 USD a bushel in June 2016. Cash prices for October delivery in the Red River Valley climbed from around $10 a bushel a year earlier to $12.85 a bushel and counting this past June. Of course, as every grower knows, soybean markets can be very volatile. Market corrections can happen any time. This spring, however, it appeared as if the rally might actually have legs. One reason was the weather. Forecasters were suggesting that a waning El Nino phenomenon might switch to a La Nina pattern by late summer. If that happened, it would produce hot, dry weather just as beans were starting to fill their pods. Although


yields might be lower, a hot, dry summer combined with production problems in the U.S. soybean belt could push prices even higher. For growers caught up in a bullish market, it was a conundrum. What should their marketing strategies for the new crop be? Should they lock in a price early? Or should they wait to see what the markets would do later on? The answer? Both. Al Kluis, a commodity advisor and broker with Kluis Commodities in Wayzata, Minnesota, recommends producers forward contract between 30 and 50 percent of their new crop, based on conservative yields. He also says producers should have sold at least 80 percent of their old crop by seeding time to clear bins for the new crop. Kluis encourages growers in a bull market to sell a sizeable chunk of their new crop in advance because prices could be lower by harvest time. “When you’re back in a profit zone, you don’t want to screw it up.” But Kluis has several reasons for believing market fundamentals are sound. He thinks China will continue to source soybeans from North America aggressively because the international market could be short after July. Another positive sign is huge participation in agricultural futures by commodity funds. He says Wall Street hedge funds earlier this year took a “massive long position” in soybean and other commodity futures. That should keep prices reasonably strong for now. All of which is good news for soybean growers, said Kluis. “Soybeans are the most profitable alternative U.S. and Canadian farmers have right now. It’s way, way more profitable than wheat. It’s definitely more profitable than corn. It’s going to pay a lot of bills.” Not everyone agrees that forward contracting 50 percent of a new soybean crop is the best strategy. Mike Davey, a market analyst with FarmLink Marketing Solutions, is more conservative.

Davey says he would be comfortable with selling 20 percent of a new crop in spring and possibly advancing that by another 10 to 20 percent by early summer. But he suggests growers should also exercise caution in case the weather turns hot in late July and early August when seed development occurs. “If you throw heat on that baby come August, all bets are off and those futures will trade higher. Maybe the basis widens but the futures aren’t going down.”

“Soybeans are the most profitable alternative U.S. and Canadian farmers have right now. It’s way, way more profitable than wheat. It’s definitely more profitable than corn. It’s going to pay a lot of bills.”

Davey agrees it’s a good strategy to have 80 percent of the old crop sold by spring. But it depends on how the new crop is looking at that point. “If you’re comfortable with what you have coming, then let the old crop go. But do get some new crop on the books.” John Duvenaud, an analyst with Wild Oats Grain Market Advisory, was also conservative when asked if growers should price soybeans early or wait. “This market is moving and let’s just give it some time,” said Duvenaud, adding he doesn’t feel comfortable with forward contracting more than 20 percent of a new soybean crop. “I don’t like selling what I don’t own and I don’t like recommending it either,” he said. “I would just sit and wait and let this work its way out. Once you start combining, you should start selling.” Scott Ryrie, merchandising manager for Richardson International, believes more soybeans were forward booked this year than in previous years, due to robust prices. But when it comes to actually delivering soybeans, Ryrie warns that Western Canadian growers have a very small delivery window. “Soybeans are generally not a storage crop,” Ryrie said. “The bulk of the crop moves in October, November, and December. Sometimes we slip into January. So you’ve got to be focused on those months. After that, you’re rolling the dice. “Because after that, as you move into

February, March, April, the big South American countries start coming off and you’re at a huge risk of what price you’ll be receiving for your product at that time.” Dale Heide, president of Delmar Commodities in Winkler, Manitoba, thinks it’s okay to forward contract 30 percent in spring and reserve 20 percent for July. “But I don’t ever think a guy should sell more than half,” he added. Heide doesn’t see any difficulty marketing soybeans this year. Because production has increased dramatically in recent years, grain companies can now assemble 100-car unit trains to ship soybeans to Vancouver for export to Asia. “Basically, they’re running after your combine in the field asking to buy your beans. Absolutely.” But make sure you have soybeans to sell, Heide emphasized. For that reason, he urges growers to manage their crops carefully in order to maximize yields. That includes inspecting fields, checking for pests, and spraying for insects if necessary. “Don’t lose five bushels. Five bushels is a lot of money this year,” said Heide. Above all else, hone your marketing skills, he stresses. “Learn to be a good marketer. You can make just as much money marketing a small crop as you can growing a huge crop and making bad decisions.” 7

How Did the Pea and Lentil Crop Do This Year? By John Dietz What’s the outlook for next year’s acres and prices? It’s OK.


olitely, and particularly, the profit potential in 2016 has pushed seeded acres of peas and lentils to all-time records in Saskatchewan in 2016.

And, according to the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) association executive director, Carl Potts, the outlook for these pulses next year is also pretty firm, pretty good. Saskatchewan planted 7,165,000 acres of lentils and peas. Specifically, seeded acres of lentils soared to 4,855,000 acres, according to the StatCan report for June. That compares to 3.7 million acres last year and 2.46 million acres in 2011. Seeded acres of dry peas rose to 2.31 million acres in 2016. That was a slight increase over last year, but really in line with dry pea plantings since 2012. By comparison, soybeans were “on hold” in terms of their Saskatchewan presence – at about 250,000 acres. Potts said, “Strong prices for both lentils and peas are pulling acres up. Lentils now exceed pea acres. In Western Canada, we’re expecting acres of peas to be up


about 16 percent to 4.3 million acres this year, and lentils to be up about 9 percent to 5.14 million acres.” Potential net return per acre for the two pulses, he says, can be as much as double the return for wheat or canola crops produced in 2016. The two pulse crops normally are seeded in late April and May. “Conditions were very good this year,” Potts said. “We had an early start for seeding overall, without a lot of moisture or dryness. We had a lot of dry weather during seeding. Then following seeding, we had a number of rains. It was quite conducive to getting the crop in and started.” As of June 20, the crop condition report from SaskAg was looking good for the province, overall. Nearly everywhere, Saskatchewan crops had good growing conditions with adequate moisture. “We had a little early season pest pressure. Always, with peas and lentils, if you get a little too much moisture there can be challenges with root disease. Some areas of the south were bordering on having too much moisture in early June, but some warm dry weather came along at the right time,” Potts said.

Market-driven Weather, elsewhere, has been behind the strong market-driven prices for Canada’s pulse growers.

Indian economy. “If their Monsoon is weak, often their crop yields will be lower. India has had two successive weaker than average monsoons, so their domestic pulse production has been lower,” he said. Simply, farmers in Canada, the United States, Australia, and elsewhere have responded to those market signals by putting in more pulse crops to fill that rising demand. In addition to India, growers have significant export markets for red lentils in Turkey, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Sri Lanka. The international green pea trade is smaller and more diverse. For yellow peas, India, China, and Bangladesh are the primary importers.

Price signals Strong price signals for an increase in 2016 acres began in December 2015 and are still strong as summer begins. The fact that these commodities are priced and traded internationally in U.S. dollars is also an incentive to Canadian pulse growers. The Canadian dollar was trading at a long-term low this past winter, boosting the value of U.S.-dollar payments by 30 percent or more. Potts said, “Growers are seeing, since about December, very strong prices for new crop contracts. That really is what pulled in the additional acres in the ground this May.

“Demand out of south Asia and India, in particular, has driven a lot of import demand for Canadian peas and lentils, resulting in production increases here in Canada,” Potts said. “They have rising population and rising incomes. That means more and more pulses are consumed each year. And when they have a production challenge, it means they need to import more pulse crops.”

“We had record high prices for lentils. Over a good portion of the marketing year, lentil prices were largely 50 to 70 cents a pound (Canadian). That is much higher than they normally are. Red lentil prices, particularly, have been very strong.”

India relies on Monsoon rains, mainly in June, to produce both the summer crop and the winter crop. Lentils and dry peas are staple foods for the 1.3-billion-person

“Those new crop pulse prices are expected to remain fairly firm until we get much closer to the Canadian crop harvest because old crop supplies are virtually sold out,”

On June 20, there is still firm price support for red lentils, green lentils, and yellow peas.

he added. “Even with expectations that Canada will produce a much larger crop, we expect prices to remain firm for the remainder of 2016.” The price outlook for dry peas and lentils in 2017 will shape up once India takes off its summer crop. The outlook now (June 20) is that India will have an “above normal” monsoon season. The four-month season, JuneSeptember, is predicted to have about 10 percent more rain than normal. “We could see the prices soften a little. That’s the general expectation, but that’s if everything goes as normal. Those expectations could change if there are production problems in India, in Canada, or in any other major exporting nation,” Potts said. “Other areas of the world are responding by producing more lentils and peas. There could be some softening of prices, but global demand does remain very strong for these crops. That’s why the outlook is so positive in all this.” Along with the role of weather in the choices that growers make for planting, Potts notes that they also have better technology and more flexibility than even five years ago. So, it’s easier to switch acres to a pulse crop. One change is the availability of highyielding red lentils with Clearfield technology. One of the first was CDC Maxim, released in 2007. “It’s one of the most widely produced red lentil varieties in Western Canada. Now, with the amount of acres we’ve seeded, it’s probably the leading red lentil variety in the world,” Potts said. “With the Clearfield herbicide resistance technology in the seed, growers are finding weed control easier and more effective. They’re also able to fit these lentils into their rotations more easily, and are able to control weeds in the crop better than ever before.”


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Soybeans in Rotation With Peas and Lentils By Cheryl Manness


rop rotations are designed to manage crop residues, optimize available moisture, improve organic matter, reduce inputs, improve weed management, and maintain or improve soil health. Even though adding varied crops to a rotation increases the management required, it provides many benefits that make it worthwhile. “Planning for pulses and soybeans in rotation provides a different plant growth habit that can help to alleviate disease, weed, and insect pressures of other crops in rotation,” says Daphne Cruise, Cropping Management Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture. “Pulses generally harvest earlier which provides time for post-harvest weed control or fall cereals to be planted. More time is also allowed for soil water recharge as no crop is actively growing using up available water. Soybeans, however, often are the last crop to be combined due to their long maturity. This can take some time pressures off at the tail end of the harvest. Many crops mature at the same time and it can be stressful deciding which field to get to first. Soybeans have excellent shatter and lodging resistance and can remain standing in the field until the combines can get to the field.” According to a study of three-year crop rotations outlined in the article “Diversifying crop rotations with pulses enhances system productivity”, “The global demand for grains such as wheat is forecast


Rotating cereals with broad-leaved crops, such as oilseeds or pulses, allows weeds to be controlled with different herbicide groups, thereby reducing the risk of developing herbicide resistance. Incorporating this type of rotation into practice can also break the cycles of diseases, except for those that remain dormant in the soil or persist for long periods. Soybeans have increasingly become the crop of choice in Manitoba and some areas of Saskatchewan.

to increase by 100-110 percent by 2050 to meet the ever-growing human population’s need for food, feed, fiber, and fuel. Given the limited availability of uncultivated farmland on the planet and the growing concerns over converting carbon-rich forests and grasslands to cropland, most of the future increases in grain production will likely come from the existing farmland. Thus, alternative, pulse-based cropping systems, when used to diversify conventional summer fallowbased systems, can provide an opportunity to increase total grain production without exploring new farmland.” In this study, carried out at the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre in Swift Current, Saskatchewan by a team headed by Dr. Yantai Gan, a three-year cropping sequence was repeated for five cycles from 2005 through 2011. Overall, they found, “In a three-year cropping cycle, the pulse system increased total grain production by 35.5 percent, improved protein yield by 50.9 percent, and enhanced fertilizer N use efficiency by 33 percent over the summer fallow system. Consequently, the pulse system enhanced the fertilizer N use efficiency for grain by 99 percent and the fertilizer N use efficiency for protein yield by 186.6 percent, compared to the cereal monoculture. Diversifying cropping systems with pulses can serve as an effective alternative in rain-fed dry areas.”


“The production improvement with pulse systems was consistent regardless of the dry or the normal-to-wet conditions encountered in the present study. The inclusion of annual pulses in farming systems, either as a green manure or grain crop, has been shown to improve soil physical, chemical, and biological properties, reduce soil degradation, and enhance environmental sustainability.” Rotating cereals with broad-leaved crops, such as oilseeds or pulses, allows weeds to be controlled with different herbicide groups, thereby reducing the risk of developing herbicide resistance. Incorporating this type of rotation into practice can also break the cycles of diseases, except for those that remain dormant in the soil or persist for long periods. Soybeans have increasingly become the crop of choice in Manitoba and some areas of Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association article Crop Rotation, states that rotation planning begins with deciding on the proportions of the various crops to be grown in the rotation over the long-term and then developing a rotation strategy for the entire farm. When developing a rotation, consideration should be given to the benefit one crop will leave for the next crop planted. Each crop in the classic oilseed-cereal-pulse-cereal rotation benefits the succeeding crop in that it confuses the pests. The diseases common to broadleaf crops are not common to cereals and cereal

diseases are not found in broadleaf crops. The article goes on to say that volunteer weed management is also made easier by alternating crop types. With herbicides, it’s easy to remove a volunteer broadleaf from a cereal and a volunteer cereal from a broadleaf. Cruise suggests, “The more time you can allow before you seed the same crop in a particular field again will help alleviate some disease, weed, and insect pressure. “Soybeans tend to have higher tolerances for insect thresholds. It is a bit more elastic and can tolerate a bit more feeding pressure from insects, especially earlier on, compared to peas and lentils. The plant is also somewhat hairy, which can deter some insect feeding. “Soybeans are susceptible to sclerotinia, which is something to watch out for, but so far we have not seen much pressure from this disease. “RR and Clearfield varieties of lentil and soybeans allow for more options for weed control in-crop.” According to Pulse Canada in their article “Sustainability”, “Although every crop in a diverse rotation is important and brings specific benefits, pulses have been shown to bring extra benefits to rotations. Pulse crops bring an advantage to cropping systems by leaving nitrogen behind for the

following crop in the form of crop residues. Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers claims, “By definition, soybeans are not a pulse because their seed is not dry, it contains high amounts of oil. MPSG includes soybeans in their portfolio because they are a legume and agronomically, they grow like a pulse, they are able to fix their own nitrogen and their seeds grow in pods.” “Pulses and soybeans fix their own nitrogen,” says Cruise. “Little, if any nitrogen fertilizer is needed for these crops and, therefore, nitrogen fertilizer costs can be reduced. The decomposing plant material will contribute some nitrogen to the following crop, as well.” Determining the right crop rotation for a specific field depends on several variables including weeds, diseases and insects present. The following is information from Manitoba Agriculture on a few of the crops. Lentils like well-drained soil with the yield being severely reduced on wet, poorly drained soils as root diseases will increase. Lentils can be seeded early in the season, tolerating several degrees of frost with regrowth possible even if the above-ground portion of the seedling is damaged. Lentils are a relatively non-competitive crop and the herbicides for the control of some broadleaf weeds are either not available or provide less than acceptable control.

Lentils must be sown to fields free of difficult-to-control perennial weeds such as Canada thistle and perennial sow thistle. Field peas can also be seeded early in the growing season but are sensitive to a number of herbicide residues. As with lentils, the herbicides for the control of some broadleaf weeds are either not available or provide less than acceptable control. Soybeans are more adaptable to all weather conditions; they can handle the extremes during the growing season. However, soybeans are more susceptible to spring frost, they are unable to recover if frost damaged. Soybean seedlings are not very competitive with weeds but most weeds can be managed effectively and inexpensively when planting glyphosate tolerant varieties. “Soybeans can tolerate wet feet much better than lentils or peas,” states Cruise. “In recent years we have been receiving more rain, and this is part of the reason why they have gained popularity. Lentils do better in a drier climate as they can be more prone to disease. Peas are a fairly resilient crop, so are grown in most areas of the province.” Cruise cautioned that lentils and peas are prone to Aphanomyces eutiches, a disease that seems to be gaining ground in Saskatchewan, however, soybeans are resistant to this particular root rot.

Root rot of pea and lentil is a disease that affects the below ground portion of the developing plant, leading to poor performing pulse crops, according to the publication Root Rot in Pea and Lentil in Western Canada. Unfortunately, once root rot has set in, there is nothing that can be done. In the case of Aphanomyces, it is important not to grow a susceptible host for a minimum of six years, maybe longer. Aphanomyces can infect peas, lentils, alfalfa, dry beans, some varieties of red clover, some varieties of fababean, and possibly some of the native weedy legume species. Soybeans are an option for a nitrogen fixing crop that is more resistant to Aphanomyces. “Producers are always looking for ways to diversify their crop system when it comes to rotations, economics and logistics (seeding time, pesticide options, and harvest timing),” says Cruise. “We have had many years lately with more moisture than normal in many areas of the province. Peas and lentils seemed to be having some issues when it came to disease because of the moisture. “Soybeans seem to do well in wetter conditions and can be planted further north than the typical lentil territory. Reduced inputs when it comes to disease and insect control are also an attractive upside for soybeans.”


Scientists Developing Soybeans for a Wider Range of Environmental Conditions By Shari Narine

Work underway by Agriculture Canada to help soybeans combat lack of moisture could help growers take advantage of climate change in Western Canada.



hange in temperature is not a big deal for growing soybeans. It’s not like canola or cereals that are susceptible to heat stress. It’s much more heat tolerant. The concern is in the moisture,” says Dr. Malcolm Morrison, research scientist and crop physiologist, with Agriculture Canada’s research and development centre in Ottawa. Tracking precipitation on the prairies from 2000 to present day indicates an increase in moisture. Wetter springs may delay seeding, but on the back end dryer, warmer falls and later frost provide a longer window for harvest. But wetter springs will not always be the case. Climate change is leading to wider fluctuation in precipitation, says Morrison, which in turn means droughtlike conditions for extended periods of time during the growing season. Morrison says Agriculture Canada, both in Ottawa and in Lethbridge, are working “on lots of different things” to address the issue of precipitation as soybeans are sensitive to drought stress. “Anything you can do to improve drought tolerance…will be a benefit to the producer because at some point in time during the growing season, you’re going to have drought stress,” he says. Morrison defines drought stress as a period of more than two weeks where less than five millimetres of rain is received. The timing of that two-week plus period makes a difference to the crop. If it occurs when seeds are developing or during flowering it will likely lead to a decrease in yield. Drought during seeding has

less impact if there is enough soil moisture to get the seeds up, and drought past seed development is of no concern. Dr. Yvonne Lawley, soybean agronomist at the University of Manitoba, agrees that dry weather will present a challenge for soybeans, as they continue to be grown west of Ontario. “Soybeans are a larger seed than some of the small seeded crops that we’re used to working with (and) they need to take up a lot more moisture,” says Lawley. “I saw in my research plots more variability because of that dryness in terms of plant emergence.” She notes that as soybeans are a longer maturing crop, they need moisture later in the season as well to obtain optimal yield. In Western Canada, late rainfall isn’t part of the usual pattern, which in turn presents ideal conditions for harvesting other crops. But soybean producers do not need to rely solely on Mother Nature to meet those precipitation marks, says Morrison. Crop rotation, stubble management, and minimum tillage can all help retain moisture early in the season. “Soybeans do well under minimum tillage. If you can trap an additional two to five centimetres of water in the spring from the winter snows, I think that this would be a benefit,” says Morrison. He adds that more work needs to be done on these management techniques. Lawley has concern with new tillage practices.



“Don’t worry about temperature. Worry about precipitation. We’re trying to find varieties with improved drought tolerance. We’re trying to develop screening systems to do it.” “I see a bit of a compromise there because as this crop moves into western Manitoba and Saskatchewan, we’re moving into areas where we’ve had no till and farmers have been using no till to conserve soil moisture to make sure they have it at the end of the season. But because they’re concerned about soybeans maturing and getting them planted into warm soils early, people are using strategic tillage for their soybeans. So we may be compromising the ability to have that moisture at the end of the season if we need it,” she says. Morrison says in order to grow soybeans in Western Canada, a minimum of 260 mm of in-season rainfall is needed along with 2,250 to 2,300 crop heat units, which is a combination of temperature and growing days. In southern Manitoba producers could probably get away with growing 120-day soybeans, but such would not be the case in Saskatchewan or Alberta, he adds. Days of growth vary depending on the location of the crop and type of variety that is grown. “As the number of heat units required for maturation increases, so does the yield, and farmers tend to want to hedge their bets and grow a slightly longer season crop… and I think they kind of do this with soybeans a bit in Manitoba. But they haven’t been caught yet, so that’s good,” says Morrison.

Soybean varieties are getting more and more attention, he says. Agriculture Canada is working with soybean breeder Elroy Cober, who is specifically looking at a short season soybean for food type. Private companies are working on soybean varieties for crushing and industrial use. Morrison contends that soybean growers on the Prairies don’t have to be concerned about temperature variations. Climate change models he has seen indicate that temperature in the west will increase an average of 2 degrees Celsius. Soybeans are a temperate to tropical crop. “We’ve made it a short-season crop, but it still likes warm temperatures,” he says. Soybeans like temperatures up to 32 to 34 degrees Celsius in the vegetative state. However, temperatures over 28 degrees Celsius can present issues with fertility and seed set and also concerns during flowering. The bottom line is, says Morrison, when it comes to climate change, “Don’t worry about temperature. Worry about precipitation. We’re trying to find varieties with improved drought tolerance. We’re trying to develop screening systems to do it.”


Grower’s First Xtend Soybean Fields Look A+ By John Dietz

“The story of my first experience will be told at harvest. So far, for weed control, I’m extremely happy,” is the way Brian Nadeau was talking July 15 about his first experience growing soybeans with the Xtend trait.


adeau is one of the senior soybean growers in Manitoba. Nadeau Seeds Inc, at Fannystelle, is on the western edge of the Red River clay-loam soils. The family has operated a cleaning facility since 1967. This year, Brian put in his 13th crop of soybeans. “NorthStar Genetics supplied the Xtend seed for two fields,” he says. One is NSC Starbuck RR2X. It is rated for 2425 CHU as a mid- to long-season variety suited to the eastern Prairies. The other is NSC EXP 114 RR2X. It is the


earliest Xtend variety from NorthStar, rated at 2275 CHU. It is due to be named soon. Both lines have the new Roundup Ready 2 Xtend technology, resistance to both glyphosate and dicamba. They are ready to enter the market this fall. Xtend technology is licensed in Canada, the United States, and recently, in the European Union. Along with the two-trait seed, Monsanto is introducing a new herbicide — XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology herbicide. XtendiMax contains a proprietary formulation of dicamba that controls broadleaf weeds in the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend system in soybeans.

As a system, this sets the stage for managing resistance to glyphosate while enhancing control of weeds such as kochia, wild buckwheat, and Canada thistle. “The key thing for Xtend is weed control. We don’t want weeds building up with Roundup resistance,” Nadeau says.

Spring 2016 Nadeau waited to plant his NorthStar Xtend seed until all his other soybean seed was planted. “The condition of the fields was very good. This seed is a bit more expensive, and the supply was limited, so we kept it for last to avoid any risk of frost damage,” he says. The planting date for both fields was May 17. Since then, the farm has had about nine inches of rain. The new soybeans were at about the R2 stage in mid-July, starting to flower and showing some initial pods. Nadeau hopes to harvest in mid-September. Nadeau was extremely cautious with weed control. He applied the pre-emerge XtendiMax at 0.7 litres per acre in 13 gallons of water, with 25 psi and travelling at 8 mph. Wind was about 8 km/h at the start. “When the wind came up a little, to about 14 km/h, we quit. Where it would be normal to still be spraying, we quit. Those fields stayed whistle-clean for 20 days, for sure. We almost couldn’t find a weed; it was so impressive. “We did our second application at 0.3 litres per acre. The crop came through, stayed extremely clean – then we got wet. It started to rain and rain. The Xtend is not made to control grasses, but it did a really good job on the buckwheat, lady’s-thumb, lambsquarter – they were done!”


“Volunteer canola in soybeans isn’t pretty, but it will not hurt the yield. It fooled us, and that’s something a grower should be aware of,” he says.

Observations The seed grower used low-drift, heavy water volume nozzles for spraying the XtendiMax. He also took extra precautions with spraying. “Drift is the Number One issue for commercial growers,” Nadeau says. “Be extremely cautious and know your surroundings, like which field is beside you, wind direction, wind gusts. Be careful. The Xtend will take out any Roundup Ready 2 soybeans beside you. Everything around you, you can damage it.” The big gain is weed control along with resistance management. “The benefit is that we’re taking out a lot of weeds that WeatherMax wasn’t really handling,” Nadeau says. “Buckwheat is the number one broadleaf weed on our farm, and it’s not even an issue this year on these two fields. When buckwheat comes to maturity in the crop, it becomes a corker to harvest,” he says. North and west of the Red River Valley, a lot of areas are fighting kochia. That’s another issue. “If you’re going to be fighting kochia, you want the Xtend system,” he says.

NSC EXP 114 RR2Y At mid-July, between the two Xtend soybean fields, Nadeau is most excited about the early, short-season experimental line that’s yet to be named. “In my EXP 114, the control is fantastic,” he says. “There’s no weeds or volunteers 20

in it. The appearance is really good. Lush. Green. Tall. There’s excess moisture, and it’s taken that very good. The rows closed nicely. I don’t know where the yield is going, because it’s very, very early maturing, but we’re excited about it.”

NSC Starbuck RR2Y Volunteer Roundup Ready canola from 2014 became an issue in the new Starbuck variety. Nadeau planted his Starbuck seed on winter wheat stubble. For a few weeks, Nadeau and his agronomist saw excellent control of the volunteer canola. They had an option to add something to the post-emerge XtendiMax application to control canola in the soybeans, but decided the Starbuck field would be fine without it. “The volunteer Roundup Ready canola out there was curling. It looked like it was dying. Then, after the second application, when it was too late to do anything, the canola grew out of it. Xtend set it back about three weeks for us, but it did not control it,” Nadeau says. “If we had known the canola would recover, we would have put something on there to control it in the soybeans.” It’s become a second issue, but has nothing to do with NSC Starbuck. “Volunteer canola in soybeans isn’t pretty, but it will not hurt the yield. It fooled us, and that’s something a grower should be aware of,” he says. Onward to harvest.

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GMO vs Non-GMO Soybeans: A Growing Debate By Geoff Geddes Back when genetic engineering was in its infancy, the mention of GM (genetically modified) soybeans may have prompted a simple question: “What the heck are they?”


oday, GM soybeans comprise a substantial share of the market, but non-GMO varieties also have a large following among producers. And instead of asking what GMO stands for, soy farmers are looking at what’s involved in growing both GM and non-GM soybeans and deciding which one is right for them. Generally speaking, GMO refers to any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and other products, and are widely used in scientific research. The GM soybean is one of the most


widely used genetically modified plants in the world today. Also referred to as the Roundup Ready (RR) soybean, it was developed by the biotech giant Monsanto and made commercially available to farmers in 1996. It was created largely to let the plant survive being sprayed with the non-selective herbicide, Roundup, which can kill conventional soybean plants.

Pay up Because non-GMO soybeans are primarily used for human consumption whereas the GM variety is found mostly in livestock feed, there is extra work and attention to detail required of the non-GMO producer. “For growers, there is an additional effort in growing non-GM soybeans to food grade, and most producers would say that growing non-GM soybeans carries greater risk because it is more difficult to ensure good agronomic outcomes with more limited tools – such as weed control products,” said Jim Everson, Executive Director of Soy Canada. For that reason, Everson said the non-GM beans tend to attract a premium which compensates the farmer for the extra effort and risk they take. That premium is critical, because if it’s too low, producers won’t see the value in growing non-GM soybeans and shortages can result. As with many things these days, it’s all about supply and demand.

“The marketplace seems to move in cycles of two to three years,” said Maxim Charbonneau, Commercial Manager (Grain Desk) with Sevita International, a company that offers soybean research and development, certified seed, grower contracting and crop production, and foodgrade non-GM soybean supplies. Over the last five years, Charbonneau has seen premiums for non-GM soybeans nearly triple from $45 to $50 per tonne in 2011 to $100 to $160 per tonne last year, depending on the variety. “2015 saw the highest premiums paid, causing overproduction of non-GM soybeans in 2016 as supply badly outpaced demand. When exporters have enough supply, premiums may decrease; then supply drops for the next year so premiums increase.” You get the idea. Depending on how you look at it, Charbonneau said the method of setting prices could be a blessing or a curse for both GM and non-GM producers. “The downside to growing GM beans is that you’re not getting a premium, just whatever the local elevator is paying, so you have no way to improve your bottom line. With non-GM, on the other hand, you do receive that premium but you’re really at the mercy of supply and demand from year to year.” 23

“As farmers, we need to see this as a long-term investment in Canada’s future. I think the Canadian producer is in a prime position to help grow our market share and support one of the world’s most important players for non-GM soybeans.” Take control So is that premium enough to make growing non-GM soybeans worth your while? It really depends on your unique circumstances, but if you’re Hugh Dietrich, the answer is a resounding “yes.” On his farm near Lucan, Ontario, Dietrich has been working with non-GM soybeans for 30 years. While he appreciates the premium for the extra work of spraying and keeping weeds under control, he said yield is also critical. “By planting beans year to year with no history of heavy weed pressure, we can keep weeds in check and still get normal to above normal yields compared to GM soybeans.” That’s not to say that he sees no benefit to the GM approach. “There are a lot of new traits coming out and a lot of technology has gone into genetic modification, so we need to keep our yields as high as the GM beans going forward.” Should you opt for the non-GM route, Dietrich said to keep a few things in mind. “If you’re growing non-GM for an export market, pay strict attention to detail and stay focused on quality and traceability at all times.”

The ABCs of GMOs As high as Dietrich is on non-GM soybeans, fellow farmer Ernie Sirski – a director with the Manitoba Pulse and


Soybean Growers as well as Soy Canada – is equally enthralled with the GM option. Farming near Dauphin, Manitoba, Sirski cites ease of use and decreased risk as two reasons for his choice. “The fact that GM beans are Roundup Ready crops is a big attraction,” said Sirski. “It makes them easy to grow compared to non-GM where you’re limited in the herbicides you can use. In the process, there’s less risk involved as you’re not at the mercy of pests that can wreak havoc with non-GM beans if left unchecked.” Added to that, Sirski stressed that the “variety development in the GMO market is huge, making them more available to a wider geographic area than for non-GMO.”

On your mark, get set, grow In spite of their differences, there seems to be at least one thing that growers of GM and non-GM soybeans can agree on: the future is friendly. “I would say the market for non-GMO soybeans is strong and will continue to grow,” said Soy Canada’s Jim Everson. “Canada has an excellent reputation internationally for the quality of our foodgrade soybeans and a very robust quality assurance system.” For his part, Charbonneau foresees some ups and downs but stresses the upside. “Like any other market, soybeans are

consumer driven. Demand fluctuates and the last two years have seen supplies on the higher side. I expect that we will slowly move towards a breakdown of around 65 percent GMO and 35 percent non-GMO. But again, the cycle continues to prevail and premiums will follow.” Taking it a step farther, Charbonneau is big on the big picture. “As farmers, we need to see this as a long-term investment in Canada’s future. I think the Canadian producer is in a prime position to help grow our market share and support one of the world’s most important players for non-GM soybeans.” Similarly, Ernie Sirski is bullish on GM beans. “GMOs hold huge benefits for producers. As the demand for soybeans as a protein source rises across North America and around the world, the science of genetic modification is a key to helping us meet that demand.” To be sure, he doesn’t begrudge anyone growing non-GMO beans if they are able to capture the premium. He just feels confident that GM soybeans are here to stay. Clearly there are arguments to be made on both sides of the soy farm fence. The savvy producer would be wise to ask a lot of questions and figure out what works best for him or her. One question not to ask, though, is “What the heck are GM soybeans?” These days, it’s a sure sign that someone is in the wrong business, or the wrong century.


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Are Soybeans a Viable Crop for Alberta? By Shari Narine

A grower and a research scientist both hold that there is great potential for soybeans in Alberta.



nd Patrick Fabian, who operates Fabian Seed Farms near Tilley in southern Alberta, believes acreage will increase north of the Trans-Canada Highway once early maturing soybean varieties are more readily available. “There’s great interest throughout the north, particularly around the Grande Prairie/Dawson Creek area where they have the extra light and there’s a pocket of heat in there. They’ve already been tinkering with soybean up in that area, so you get something that is a week earlier, and those guys will be all over it,” said Fabian. Fabian has grown soybeans for the past nine years on his irrigation farm. However, this year he won’t be, instead taking advantage of the opportunity to plant his available acres with pedigreed seed canola. But next season, he is planning to return to soybeans. In 2015, almost one-third

of Fabian’s 900 acres were seeded in soybeans. It’s been a steep learning curve leading the way, Fabian admits. He started with six acres as an experiment and each year planted more. “We kept on slowly increasing as we got a little bit more used to it and finding out what we could do and what we should not do,” he said. Through the growing pains, he discovered that soybeans were a viable crop. “They have a substantially lower input cost than a lot of other crops so less front-end loaded risk,” said Fabian. Soybeans have rotational benefits with nitrogen-fixing capabilities. Also, with their timing for both planting and harvesting, soybeans fit well in the diversified crop rotation in southern Alberta.

Fabian holds that producing 50 bushels of soybeans per acre – which is what most producers are getting now – makes the crop economically viable. Manjula Bandara, pulse and special crops research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, believes for producers to replace some of their tried-and-true crops, soybeans need to hit 60 bushels per acre or four tonnes per hectare. He sets that as the target yield because soybeans average about $10 per bushel. Higher production output is one of the goals Bandara is striving for, now half way through a four-year trial on the crop, which is funded by a consortium. “Southern Alberta has so many options because of irrigation facilities available, and a lot of perennial and annual crops are already traditionally grown. If we introduce a new crop like soybeans, it has to be economically competitive,” he said. So trials are setting the threshold high in that deliverability area.


“Very early varieties may be useful up north where the limiting factor is the length of the growing season,” said Bandara. “[In the south] we are in a fairly warm area. Under that situation, we need moderate not early maturity. Maturity has a positive correlation with the yield – the longer the plant stays in the ground, the higher the yield, but you cannot exceed 130 days. If it takes longer, there could be frost damage. We have to have some sort of balance.” For economic viability comparisons, including productivity, cost-effectiveness, and rotational benefits, Bandara draws on dry beans. Dry beans are a well-established crop with 48,000 to 52,000 acres planted and dry beans have a well-established market. Bandara says growers have had a good experience with dry beans so for them to switch some of their acreage to soybeans, it has to be worth their while. The four trial sites, located in Brooks, Medicine Hat, Bow Island, and Lethbridge, are testing 18 genetically modified seed varieties. Each plot, about eight to ten square metres, is replicated at each site. Each variety is tested for two years and now, into the third year of the trial, Bandara says companies have chosen to swap out one or two varieties based on performance. Two full seasons have yielded some valuable information. Available seed varieties dictate maturity dates and those make a difference whether planting in the south or the north, says Bandara. In the south, the maturity range for the best crop yield is 116-121 days, says Bandara, anything after that risks the possibility of frost-kill. Anything maturing before that isn’t producing good yields. “Very early varieties may be useful up north where the limiting factor is the length 28

of the growing season,” said Bandara. “[In the south] we are in a fairly warm area. Under that situation, we need moderate not early maturity. Maturity has a positive correlation with the yield – the longer the plant stays in the ground, the higher the yield, but you cannot exceed 130 days. If it takes longer, there could be frost damage. We have to have some sort of balance.” Irrigation is also a factor in the south. “Soybeans like water,” said Bandara. “We’re trying to fine tune that water requirement. When used at the proper time, the proper amount can influence the yield very appropriately.” Supplementary irrigation increased yield by 1.7 times, but how much water at what crop stage is still not clear. However, two seasons have determined that while early irrigation is not important, irrigation during flowering and after-flowering is critical. Seed density and row spacing are also still being considered. Although increasing seeding density consistently increased seed yield, optimization of seeding density and row spacing in regard to cost effectiveness and return-on-investment is yet undetermined. Crop rotation is another aspect of soybeans that the trials are looking at. Wheat after dry beans is a proven, effective rotation. It has yet to be determined whether a field that yielded soybeans the previous year,

increases the wheat yield. A benefit of using soybeans in crop rotation, notes Bandura, is the fact that as a new crop in Alberta, there is little disease to be concerned about. Fabian says there is another benefit to growing soybeans locally. In 2012-2013, 122,000 metric tonnes of soybean meal was brought into Alberta for the livestock industry. Last year, the southern Alberta Granum Hutterite Colony began operating a soybean crushing plant. It has doubled its crushing capacity intake to 54,000 acres. There is also a soybean crushing plant in Edberg, and Fabian points out that a number of farm operations have their own crushers. And while the crushing intake of 54,000 acres of soybeans is four to five times the acres of soybeans that are scattered throughout the province, Fabian contends it’s a realistic goal especially when the “triple zero” short season soybean variety allows more northern acres to be planted. Right now, approximately 75 percent of soybeans are grown in the south. “It only makes sense that if you can produce the beans here and get them crushed here, the productivity and efficiencies that are capitalized on, should translate to a lower soybean meal cost for the end user as well as for keeping our products and building value in the province of Alberta,” said Fabian.

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Drill Search - Finding a New Comfort Zone By John Dietz


recision placement, emergence, trash clearance, efficiency, cost – these words were swirling like dust over a dry field this spring for Sintaluta, Saskatchewan, farm manager Darren Luscombe. Luscombe had a decision to make. He wanted to trade in two well-used Bourgault 5710 air seed drills for one new, wider, more efficient precision seeding instrument. Also, he was convinced he needed to look outside his comfort zone.


He’s been committed to one system, Bourgault, most of his career. He has three drills, all by the St. Brieux manufacturer.

He also had gained experience watching his soybean crops respond to different seeding systems.

His newest drill is a 75-foot 3310 built in 2011. It has independent paralink openers, each with its own pressure setting, and mid-row banders. His 54-foot drills were built in 2000 and in 2004.

As a result, he’d narrowed the choices, but as of spraying season this June, he still was working on the decision details. For spring 2017, he fully expected to put in the crop with two high-efficiency precision seeding systems.

He’d made progress by this spring. He knew the results, and experience, from planting canola in 2015 with two systems that were outside his comfort zone – a John Deere 1870 air hoe drill and a New Holland P2070 air hoe drill.

“For sure, we’ll get out of the two 54-foot drills and go to one that’s at least 66 to 76 feet wide. The two big drills will give us one less tractor running in the field. Probably, at the end of the day, we’ll get

more acres done,” he said. “In our kind of operation, that third drill can sometimes get in the way of keeping the other two going.”

Soybean response One difference is likely to be in soybean production. With his cousins, Larry and Sheldon Blenkin, Luscombe is managing about 9,500 acres between Sintaluta and Indian Head. They are seed growers, operating Whispering Pines Farms. They grow cereals, canola, peas, soybeans, and a little flax. His experience now includes four crops of soybeans using two seeding systems. The first two were done with a 5710 Bourgault, after he removed the mid-row banders. Last year, he did precision planting with the New Holland 2070 air drill. This year, he went back to the 5710 for soybeans. “The soybeans were really, really good last year. They way out-performed our expectations. I was hoping for high 20s to 30 bushels per acre and they were all over 35, into the high 30s and even 40 bushels per acre,” he said. “It was mostly due to the weather, but I did use the precision drill to seed them last year, and the emergence was second to none. It’s looking good, looking promising this year, but it’s probably not quite as good. The precision drill was busy seeding canola this year, so I seeded the soybeans with the 5710 Bourgault again. It’s a great seeder but probably not quite as good as the precision drill with paralink.”

Narrowing the field Growing Soybeans introduced Luscombe’s effort to identify his next seeder in the Winter 2015 edition. A year ago, he was willing to consider John Deere, New Holland, Seed Hawk, and SeedMaster systems as alternates to Bourgault. Dealers for New Holland and John Deere each brought out seeding systems for

Luscombe to judge for himself in 2015. He was interested in trying Seed Hawk or SeedMaster, but has yet to try either of those. The John Deere experience was useful, but now he has ruled it out for his farm. “That’s not even an option for me,” he said. “I have two New Holland T9 tractors and a Versatile. Deere has good drills but they pull too heavy. They don’t work for me.” He added, “New Holland has the P2070 drill that I really liked last year, but I’m still a little undecided about which system to get and how wide it needs to be.”

Trash clearance With the field down to four competitors (Bourgault, New Holland, Seed Hawk, and SeedMaster), Luscombe is carefully searching for insight into trash clearance to make his final selection. The four are all able to apply all the seed and fertilizer he needs in one pass, with placement away from the seed. They also can give him variable rate fertility options. Whatever it is, his next precision drill purchase will be linked to trash clearance. His area has quite a bit of straw. Wheat tends to be shorter, but straw from a heavy crop can be a problem. Peas that have lodged can also leave a matted residue after harvest. Heavy harrowing or burning are not suitable options for the way Luscombe wants to farm.

He can’t dodge the trash clearance issue “That’s a must,” he said. “We need good trash clearance in whatever we buy, to preserve our ground cover. It’s got to be capable of going through quite a bit of trash. “You want it to clear the straw as you’re going. If you had a real heavy crop the year before and if you seed directly into that stubble, it needs to pass through the

drill without making clumps and making a mess. For some precision drills, that’s a problem and a huge inconvenience. One brand I really like has a trash clearance problem. The brand I use, Bourgault, has the best trash clearance you can buy.”

How to decide? “Usually by talking to people and hearing about how they work. That’s probably the best way to tell,” he said. He’s back to the comfort zone issue, and the thoughts are swirling like dust. “There’s so many different opinions out there, talking to people. All I can really do is see what they’ve done with these drills, drive by fields they’ve been in, and see what impresses me. What I’m saying is, I think there’s better [drills] out there than what we’re using. I’m just convincing myself to try it.” Each new growing season has its own unique situations. He had a few more quarters to farm in 2016. He was looking at an early spring and dry conditions. “We were a little worried about moisture in the seedbed. Out of the three drills we run, we pretty much shut down two and seeded with just the Paralink – the one that would place the seed with the most precision,” he said. “We went with that drill mostly because we could place seed so accurately. We wanted to get it not too deep, not too shallow, but just right into the moisture. And, it packs a lot better. It could pack seed into the moisture and the emergence would be just that much better.” Right after seeding, moisture came and his crop emerged. “Bourgault has been my comfort zone, all my life. It’s hard to move away from your comfort zone but you should be willing to try it anyway,” he said. “They’ve all got pros and cons, every single one, even the Bourgault.”


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“Buying Local” Hits Close to Home for Soybean Farmers By Geoff Geddes For some people, the idea of buying local is like recycling: a good thing to do as long as THEY don’t have to do it. Increasingly though, shoppers are buying into the concept of supporting local products and services. It’s an idea that’s also catching on with some soybean farmers as they choose between local seed growers and retail operations for their seed needs. Friesen out the competition In his role as Sales Agronomist with Friesen Seeds in Rosenort, Manitoba, Kevin Rempel not only understands the appeal of buying local, he banks on it. As an independent seed company, Friesen Seeds focuses on growing, conditioning, treating, and selling cereals, pulses, and oilseeds, with a strong emphasis on the soybean market. When it comes to the secret of their success, Rempel points the finger squarely at their hands-on approach. “The benefit of buying from the local seed grower is that we have tried and tested the varieties and have firsthand experience with their performance,” said Rempel. “Also, we are solely focused on seed. We specialize in it; we grow it, clean it, test it for quality, and sell it, so it’s our responsibility to put the best seed out there.”

Confidence for sale While his product may be tangible, Rempel said a lot of the attraction for farmers in dealing with local seed growers is something that can’t be seen or touched: confidence. “My customers like to buy from someone local who really knows the product and who has grown it before. As seed growers, we try to grow the variety one or two years before selling it to our customers so that people have confidence that it will perform for them too.” Rempel said it’s not just important to look at how and when they grow their seed; it’s also a matter of where they grow it. “We are testing the product in the same area that we’re selling it, with similar soil types, maturity zones, and management practices.”

When bigger is better It seems there’s a lot to be said for the local seed grower; still, something must

be keeping the bigger retail operations big. One such enterprise is Paterson Grain based in Winnipeg. As a division of Paterson GlobalFoods Inc. — a familyowned group of companies with clients and ongoing ventures in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas – Paterson Grain operates approximately 40 sites across the Canadian Prairies. According to the manager of the Paterson Grain outlet in Holland, Manitoba, greater size provides greater resources for their clientele as compared to a typical local grower. “Most people make the decision to buy from a retail business because of the full range of services we provide, such as inoculation and treatment,” said Darrel Callewaert. He pointed out that some local seed growers are just that: growers. “Our customers don’t want to worry about treating and inoculating. They want to pick up the product, put it in the planter and be on their way, and with us they can do that,” said Callewaert. 33

Even Rempel conceded that the larger players can offer bundling of products with fertilizers and chemicals or provide certain financing options. At the same time, he stressed that Friesen also has a one-stop seed service where farmers come and get their seed treated and head straight to their planter.

Ask the expert Another resource that the big boys can offer is expertise. While Rempel has a Bachelor of Science degree along with his CCA (certified crop advisor) designation, not all local growers can claim the same. “We have an agronomist on staff, so producers know they are getting sound advice from a knowledgeable source,” said Callewaert. When it comes to being an expert on local seed grower versus retail, Kris Mazinke fits the bill. On his 3,500 acre farm southwest of Morris, Manitoba, he grows soybeans, canola, wheat, corn, oats, and rye. He uses local growers for about two thirds of his seed and retail for the other third, and finds that both have their benefits. “Of course you want to shop around for strong varieties, but if the local seed grower has a competitive variety, I want to support them,” said Mazinke. Still, he’s quick to point out that dealing locally isn’t a charitable endeavour on his part; it’s a good business move. “If I show loyalty to the local guy I will usually get some benefits back, like getting in early on the next strong variety coming down the pipe.” As well, Mazinke appreciates what local growers can bring to the table. “In most cases they have grown these varieties on a field scale level already to see how they perform in our area, so they have a little extra background knowledge on the local scene. If you just go by the book, it won’t always indicate how a certain variety will perform in your area.”


Never one to have tunnel vision, Mazinke also taps into the benefits that retail can offer.

can to keep the local business. We try and make it as convenient as possible and offer a complete seed service.”

“Often they’ll have a wide range of varieties to choose from, so you can compare one to another and make sure you’re getting the best product for your business.”

By his estimate, local growers have captured more than half of the cereal seed business in Manitoba, and he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

Like the handyman in search of the latest power tool, Mazinke said success in farming is about constantly seeking the better producing varieties.

Seeds of success For Kevin Rempel, “buying local” is not something he actively promotes; however, he does see a benefit to it. “We don’t necessarily use ‘buying local’ to bring in customers, but we do whatever we

“We are still the independent, local option, and there’s a certain comfort level with that. We see our customers in the community and they see us; I think that helps build our local relationships.” So while some only pay lip service to the concept of “buying local,” as long as the majority continues to put their money where their mouth is, it may be a trend that’s here to stay.

You’re not just buying seed


At Richardson Pioneer, we give you access to more than today’s best seeds. We’re here to help you increase your yields and profitability with expert advice and end-to-end service. From crop planning to grain marketing, we’re truly invested in supporting you at every stage of growth.


#IGROW SOYBEANS What are growers saying about NorthStar Genetics’ products and services? “The first thing I think of when I hear NorthStar Genetics is that they offer many good varieties which are well suited for our farm and growing area, and growing conditions. “I’m very excited about NorthStar’s current variety lineup. They have a wide range of choices with the maturity ratings, which gives us a great opportunity to manage our harvesting risk by using short, medium, and long-season varieties to spread out our harvest.” Jeremy Calder – Carlowrie, MB

At NorthStar Genetics, we know beans.

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