Archive for the ‘seed’ Category

Part 1 of 2 Lloyd Dyck CEO Brett Young -The Future Success at Brett Young is in Biologicals and Leveraging Strong Strategic Relationships

March 25, 2009

This is part 1 of 2 of my interview with Lloyd Dyck, CEO of Brett Young. Brett Young is truly unique because it is family owned and provides a a very diversified product line to the marketplace. In this video Lloyd discusses how the future growth of the company is in biologicals like PodCeal and Bio Boost and how it leverages strategic relationships to build the business. Lloyd is a well respected strong businessman who has a tall task to compete against very large competitors like Monsanto, Bayer and Viterra. As Lloyd mentions in the video, Brett Young has found success by leveraging their strong relationships with like minded companies like Miller Chemical and DL Seeds.

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There Will Not Be 17 Million Canola Acres In Western Canada in 2009

March 21, 2009

There is much speculation around canola acres for 2009 in Western Canada. Farmers are hesitant to order canola seed, retailers are hesitant to speculate on inventory, distributors are cautious, and seed companies will not treat on speculation just to make sure seed is available for spring. What we have here is a system that is so built on just in time inventory management that with every day that passes the opportunity for the industry to supply 16 to 17 million acres of seed becomes impossible.

What makes this year different than others is that the industry has the bare seed available to supply these records acres. The challenge is that orders are very slow as farmers have shown hesitation across the prairies in ordering canola seed. This wait and see strategy is applicable in cereals but in canola it could cause forced seed shortages to the marketplace. Canterra Seeds, Brett Young, Monsanto (Dekalb) and Pioneer do not treat their entire inventory and wait for the farmer to make up his mind. All bare canola seed is not treated until the order has been placed by the distributor who has an order from the retailer who has an order from the farmer.  The reason that no one in the chain is willing to spec on inventory to ensure that there is in season supply is because the inventory carry over penalties are very punitive. Probably the only company that treats all of its inventory every year regardless of orders is Bayer (Invigor) because they are always sold out with the exception of this year.  The only companies rumored to be up in sales versus last year at this point are Dow (Nexera) and Cargill (Victory).  

My suggestion is that if you are planning to plant canola this spring book your seed now to ensure that you have supply.  If there is going to be demand for 16 to 17 million acres it will be a good idea to have your canola seed variety ordered.  Based on the just in time system that we have created to manage inventory costs, everyday that passes without canola orders will raise the probability that canola acres will not reach 16 or 17 million acres this year because there will not be enough seed on the retailers warehouse floor.  The big variable is whether or not one of the companies places a  big bet and treats a bunch of spec seed to ensure they will be able to supply the short market in the spring.  It should be interesting.    

Part 3 of 4 Jay Bradshaw, President of Syngenta Canada – The Canadian Variety Registration System and Transgenic Wheat

March 18, 2009

This is part 3 of 4 of my interview with Syngenta Canada President, Jay Bradshaw.  In this segment Jay talks about how the variety registration system in Canada needs to be improved and how transgenic wheat will bring benefits to farmers and consumers.  Transgenic wheat is an issue that will have to eventually be dealt with.  Transgenic wheat is not all about Round up Ready or the terminator gene.  It is about being able to access technology like the fusarium resistant trait or end use traits that allow for tastier bread.

What Should Be the Vision For Cereal Research — Stan Blade

March 16, 2009

Last week while I was in Edmonton I listened to Stan Blade, Executive Director of the Alberta Agricultural Research Institute (AARI), talk about where Alberta is focusing cereal research in the long term. Currently in Alberta the three biggest products in terms of value are beef (3.104 billion), canola (1.216 billion) and wheat ( 1.251 billion).

Blade asked the group at the meeting a pressing question, “What should be the vision for cereals?” He continued by summarizing the issue of cereal development in three questions.

  1. Have we made a big enough investment?
  2. Are we investing in the right place?
  3. Where should we be investing in the future?

Cereal acres in Western Canada have been dropping over the past 15 years due to the return potential of other cash crops. Currently, the livestock industry is really struggling which has forced them to invest some check off money into crop genetics. Blade told the group that cheaper feed is the livestock industry’s goal along with end use development such as feed grains that produce better feed conversions or higher energy per acre. Blade emphasized that he feels there is a lot of opportunities in triticale but much work is still needed.

Stan Blade is an incredible resource for Alberta’s future as he works with the industry to put Alberta on the cutting edge in terms of crop technology.

Gerry Ritz Visits Lethbridge for a Producer Roundtable

March 7, 2009
Yesterday, Rick Cassson, MP Lethbridge hosted Federal Agricultural Minister, Gerry Ritz in Lethbridge.  On top of serving at the Farm Credit Canada Breakfast at Ag Expo and meeting with a farmer round table, Ritz also announced 15.5 million in funding for the Canadian Triticale Biorefiniery Initiative. 
I participated in the farmer round table where all twenty of the producer participants had a couple minutes to voice their opinion on any given subject.  This is the first time I have met the Honorable Mr. Ritz but I have to say that he appears to be a very fast on his feet, intelligent and has a very firm grasp of the subjects at hand.  Based on his opinion of the Canadian Wheat Board alone I think that we are in good hands.  I cannot say that I agree with him on all subjects but you should never expect that. 
The issues brought up at the round table were country of origin labeling, the creation of the certified seed tax incentive, farmers wanting a choice on how and where to market their grain, the inability of the Canadian Wheat Board to manage its finances, the inadequate rail system in Canada, consolidation of the beef industry, how to create a long term sustainable sugar beet industry, the need for public plant breeding, the need for own use allowances on certain animal drugs and crop protection products, pollination research needs, wildlife control as it pertains to sheep production, transgenic wheat and many questions about the need for government stability programs to be bankable going forward.  
Afterwards I reflected to a good friend that it was great to meet Gerry Ritz and get some of his candid feelings on the issues as he really encouraged to be challenged and given ideas on how things can be improved.  Thank you Mr. Ritz for taking the time to come to Lethbridge and listen to our Southern Alberta concerns.  

Alliance Seed Corporation is Created – Dale Alderson

March 5, 2009

Last week there was a very unique joint venture formed that will provide additional genetics to the Western Canadian market place.  Alliance Seed Corporation is a new seed company formed by Parrish & Heimbecker, Patterson Grain and several inland terminals in Saskatchewan.  As Dale mentions in the video, the new company will be focusing in cereals but has plans to eventually launch a canola line as well.  

My Trip to Chile

February 5, 2009


I will be in Chile until February 14th. I am going to try and post to the blog as much as I can while I am here but I will probably be able to add the majority of the content after I get back.

So far on my trip I have toured several canola fields and spent time in the back country this afternoon. I am staying in Temuco with a friend and it has really allowed to see the real Chile and stay away from the touristy destinations. Chilean agriculture is very interesting from the sense that there is many different things happening here. In the north around Santiago there is corn seed production and in the south there is a growing canola seed production industry. Chile also has dairies, sheep and cattle.

The main crop seems to be wheat (spring and winter) along with oats and forages. The country is currently harvesting and the yields are lower than past years. While here, I will be visiting different processing plants, field sites and a couple feedlots.
I look forward to sharing some of my trip with you over the coming weeks.

Crop Week – Why Camelina?

January 13, 2009

Canada has very diverse agronomic conditions across the country. Many times farmers just think of the big crops like corn, canola, soybeans, barley, wheat and oats and forget that there are many other crops being grown in Canada. One of those crops is Camelina, which is being promoted by the Great Plains Camelina Company. I have known Ryan Mercer, President of Canadian Operations, my whole life and thought that I would try and learn more about this crop that I self admittedly know nothing about except that it can be planted in February and is used for bio-diesel. Low input costs, low rainfall requirements and July harvesting are what drive some farmers to try camelina on their farms. One of the marketing tools being used to convince people that camelina is sustainable for bio-diesel is that it is a true fuel only crop. Camelina is never used for food products therefore will never affect the food supply.

In talking to Ryan it is very evident that Camelina is not a crop for everyone but does provide an oilseed alternative on marginal land. As Ryan mentions in the video, there were 10,000 acres in Western Canada in 2008 and they hope to have 50,000 acres in 2009.

If you would like more information on Camelina go to http://www.camelinacompany.com/

Crop Week – Selecting a Seed Variety

January 13, 2009

There has been a lot of discussion at CropWeek today about seed varieties. Whether it is corn, canola, wheat or barley, there are some key fundamental criteria that you should use to make the right variety selection decision. I am sure that every farmer has different criteria and puts different levels of importance on each point but the fundamental basis of decision making is present. I wanted to get the perspective of someone that sits on the otherside of the fence. Jim Downey, Research Manager at Secan works with breeders around the world to bring new genetics to the market so that farmers have access to the latest and greatest in cereal seed vareties.

I sat down with Jim Downey to see how he thinks farmers typically select a seed variety. I think that Jim really hits the nail on the head in the fact that yield, soil zone, annual rainfall and availability are all greatly important when selecting a seed variety in any crop type. Depending on your situation or the annual conditions you may change the weighting of your criteria.

If you want more information on Jim Downey or Secan, go to http://www.secan.com/

Transgenic Wheat Will Provide Benefits

December 6, 2008

Several years ago, farmers debated the possible benefits that Round up Ready wheat would or would not bring to the market place. Based on the result of the industry debate at the time the idea was shelved. One of the negative fall outs from this has been that transgenic wheat in general has been held back from entering the market place. Round up Ready wheat is just one area of transgenic wheat. All transgenic wheat is not Round Up Ready tolerant. Varieties with specialized characteristics for disease resistance or end use could be farmed like conventional varieties currently are.

Benefits such as fusarium tolerance or innovative end use traits would provide farmers with not only revolutionary agronomics but also increased revenue. The genetic advancements of corn and soybeans are leaving cereal crops behind and it is becoming evermore difficult to compete on a revenue per acre basis. It is time that we at least revisit the topic of transgenic wheat because it is a much bigger topic than just round up ready wheat. As a Canadian industry we must ensure that the US farmer does not receive these advanced traits before we are able to use them provided our global customers want the grain. Consider the money that Western Canadian farmers would save if Syngenta was able to bring its fusarium tolerant trait to the market. Millions of revenue per year is lost by Canadian farmers because of Fusarium.

Click on the link below to read more about how farmers are ready to discuss the topic further. It is time that we start looking to the future and not close the door forever on genetic advancements.

http://www.scientificblogging.com/news_account/awareness_of_gm_wheat_is_low_so_is_opposition