Archive for April, 2009

What is Going on With Canola Acres Forecasts

April 30, 2009

We have moved from bizarre optimism to pessimism. StatsCan came out this week stating that canola acres would be just short of 15 million acres. This is in line with my thoughts back on March 21, 2009, when I said there would not be 17 million canola acres. To widen the range even more I talked to an industry insider today who predicted 13.5 million acres based on the seed that has been sold so far. so feel free to bet on canola acres somewhere between 13.5 and 17 million acres. The morale of the story is that no one has any clue what is going to happen over the next four weeks.

On April 24th, Mike Jubinville of ProFarmer Canada commented on SyngentaFarm, that canola acreage usually increases in subsequent StasCan reports.

In the same story….”Keith Ferley, a canola broker with Union securities in Winnipeg, said farmers were still very much up in the air with regards to their cropping decisions when the StatsCan planting intentions survey was actually undertaken in March.”
The reality is that the canola acreage will most likely be lower than the original forecasts. I am still betting in the 15 million acre region but only time will tell if the latest StatsCan report and myself are correct.

Alberta Legislation Changes Checkoff Rules

April 30, 2009

If you don’t follow the beef industry very closely then you have been missing the battle of the beef check off dollars.  Traditionally all the check off dollars have gone to the Alberta Beef Producers but there was growing dissent within the industry as to what the ABP was doing with that money for the industry’s benefit.  As of April 10, 2009 you will be able ask for a refund from the ABP which is much similar to the Barley Commission of Soft Wheat Growers.  

Much of the criticism surrounding the move is that the dollars will leave the system and be out elsewhere.   
In talking to Rick Paskal, an Iron Springs based cattle feeder, he really disagrees by saying, “This is is just not so.”  Paskal sees that most cattle-feeders that ask for a refund will place the funds with another association or will use the money for business related type expenses like purchasing feeder cattle.    
I am sure that this story will continue to shake the halls during beef meetings over the next 12 months as industry participants continue to speculate on the affects on the industry.  From my perspective I just hope that the end result is a more stable and profitable beef business in Canada.  This must be the end goal for all decisions in the beef business going forward.   If the neigh-sayers are correct that this decision will just increase the amount of fragmentation in the beef sector then we will have new problems to address in 24-72 months.  

Weather Provides Delays in Seeding

April 29, 2009

Apparently, winter is never going to end.  This is a picture from the seat of my truck in Barons, Alberta on Monday afternoon.  With continued snowfall warnings seeding has halted in Southern Alberta.  Between the Manitoba floods and Alberta spring snowfall, weather has definitely been a challenge.  It will be very interesting as the spring proceeds whether or not the recent StatsCan acreage forecast will come to fruition.  Late springs can dramatically shift acreage intentions and we may be in for this result this spring.  Our office has had lots of calls this week from farmers with a renewed interest in the availability of barley seed.  I am not saying that we are officially in a late spring but I can tell from talking to customers that everyone is getting itchy to scratch the ground.  Weather is either a friend or foe to the farmer and this year apparently is no different.    

Canola School: Taking Care of Your Canola Seed

April 29, 2009
In this segment of our Canola School, Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada discusses how you should be caring for the canola seed you purchased.  Matt talks about why you should keep a seed sample and a blue tag from every lot of seed to help you if issues arise.  I tell customers that they should think of the blue tag as a receipt of quality.  Matt also discusses the need to be careful when loading your drill with canola seed and to be sure the seeder wind speed is set properly.  
To see the other Canola School segments click here

Canadian Wheat Board Election Controversy —

April 29, 2009

Harry Siemens of SiemensSays does a great job in the following article and podcasts to bring to light the controversy over who has or hasn’t reported their donor list in the past CWB elections.  Harry interviews former board candidate Rolf Penner, Ian Craven of Meyers Norris Penny and Larry Hill, Canadian Wheat Board Chair.  

Get the Story and Podcasts Here

It seems that when it comes to the Canadian Wheat Board there is always controversy around the election process.  I am not sure what comes with more controversy, elections in Florida or at the CWB.  Based on the single candidate fundraising limit of $14000, I am not sure what the big deal is but if farmers demand these donor lists then so be it.  
When you listen to the clear violation of the election rules as it pertains to signs and the use if the logo (Larry Hill interview) it really makes you wonder what is going on and why the rules are not more clearly enforced to ensure election fairness.  

Canola School: Field Selection, Seeding Speed, Seeding Rate

April 22, 2009

In this segment Matt Stanford walks us through the key points in field selection, the proper canola seeding speed and obtaining the proper seeding rate. All three things are key factors in getting a great stand. In canola growing, cutting corners can cause pain through the growing season.

Canola School: Preparing Your Drill For Canola Planting

April 20, 2009

Before you ever leave the farm yard you better must make sure that your drill is ready for planting. Too many farmers across North America don’t go through the final checks to make sure that canola planting will be a success.  In this video Matt Stanford from the Canola Council of Canada walks us through drill preparation.  

Canola School with the Canola Council of Canada on

April 20, 2009

Starting this week we will be launching a very special series called Canola School. Along with Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada, we will feature an assortment of videos and features on growing canola through the season. From pre planting tips to a post harvest regiment, Matt and I will guide you to make sure you have success this canola growing season.  There are many considerations and decisions during the growing season that can make or break your year.  Canola is not the most difficult crop to grow but also is not the easiest.  There are certain things you must be aware of to ensure you maximize this popular cash crop.  

To see the canola wikipedia page for more background information on the history of canola click here. would like to thank Matt Stanford of the Canola Council for assisting us in this project. 

Ensure Success With On Farm Trials

April 11, 2009

There is an over abundance of research that is done every year and presented to you to prove which product your farm needs to ensure success. Whether it is seed, chemical, agronomic enhancement or a miracle herbal additive, the amount of information is monstrous. There are many private research trials and public trials for all the different types of products that are available to your farm. Many of these trials are regionalized to provide more accurate information for your farm.

The one type of trial that is the best way to find out what works best on your farm is the on farm trial. When doing an on farm trial there are several things that you must remember and keep in mind to ensure successful and accurate results.

  1. Decide what you actually want to accomplish–You must set up your trial for the based on the information you need. If you want to test the drought tolerance of certain varieties then make sure the trial is not on irrigated land.
  2. You must have a check strip–You must have a standardized check to compare your test back to. It is important that the check be relevant to your test and is a fair evaluation of the normal circumstance. The check should be included in this years trial. Comparing a new seed variety to what you did last year is not a fair comparison.
  3. Replicate if possible–More samples is always better than one. If you have the time and energy, your trial results will be considered more accurate if you replicate the trial over a coupe different locations or within the same location.
  4. Test multiple products–Since you are going through the effort to have on farm trials I would recommend that you try a couple different products to see what works best for your farm. Usually there is several competitive products that justify being tested against each other.
  5. Plan to properly collect the data–Data collection is a very important step and takes time. This is usually where most on farm trials fall apart. Harvest time is very busy which can lead to mistakes as it pertains to trials. For example, I have seen where a farmer was doing a yield trial and at swathing time he swathed across the trial instead of parallel to the strips. The trial was destroyed and a lot of work and time had proved to produce no data and benefit.
  6. Ask for financial assistance–There is the possibility of getting financial assistance from the companies that own the product in the trial. There could be a donation of product, financial payment or help in running the trial itself.

There is no better way to make sure that you are using the products that work best for your farm than an on farm trial but you need to make sure that it is done right or the information is misleading and useless to yourself or anyone else.

If you think I have missed a key point please add it in the comments section.

Lets Talk Agriculture on #agchat Every Tuesday

April 9, 2009

Michele Payn Knoper has started a Twitter chat (tweetchat) for people in agriculture. The chat will take place every Tuesday 8-10PM Eastern and it will allow people in the industry to chat about issues and ideas in real time on Twitter. Have I mentioned to everyone that I love twitter. This is a great way for people in the industry to use interfaces like twitter to network and make new connections in the same industry. This is something that twitter does very well which facebook does not really provide.

Make sure you get a twitter account which is free and then go to the tweetchat url link above. Type in #agchat in the topic and presto you are involved. Be sure to tag each tweet with #agchat so that it shows up properly within the chat page. On another note, for all of you regular twitter users remember to tag all your agricultural based tweets with #farm.

Check out the Facebook Page for #agchat

Check out what Chuck Zimmerman of AgWired said about #agchat

Check out the Shaun Haney twitter profile

Check out’s twitter profile