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Haying continues in the province and livestock producers now have 74 per cent of the hay crop baled or put into silage. An additional 14 per cent is cut and ready for baling, according to Saskatchewan Agriculture’s weekly Crop Report.

Hay quality is currently rated as nine per cent excellent, 61 per cent good, 25 per cent fair and five per cent poor. Hay yields have been significantly less than normal for many producers and hay will be in short supply this year in some areas. Most producers have indicated that there will not be a second cut of hay this year.

While some areas of the province received some rain this past week, many southern and central areas remain very dry.

Rainfall this past week ranged from nil to 98 mm in the Barthel area.

Across the province, topsoil moisture on cropland is rated as five per cent surplus, 35 per cent adequate, 38 per cent short and 22 per cent very short.

Hay land and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as four per cent surplus, 29 per cent adequate, 34 per cent short and 33 per cent very short. Continued hot weather and lack of moisture in many southern and central areas have further depleted topsoil moisture and damaged crops. Significant rainfall is needed in most regions of the province to help replenish the topsoil and fill out crops.
Crops are ripening quickly, with the majority ranging from poor to good condition.

Harvest is just beginning in some parts of the province, with pulses being desiccated and some winter cereal and pulse crops being combined.

The majority of crop damage is attributed to hot temperatures, strong winds, hail, localized flooding and lack of rain. Several storms moved through the province late last week, with damage ranging from minimal to severe. There are also reports of insects such as grasshoppers, diamondback moths and aphids.

Producers are scouting for pests, haying and getting ready for harvest.

With this sustained stretch of dry weather, applications to Saskatchewan’s Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program will be considered until September 30, past the current August 1 deadline. The program assists farmers and ranchers in developing sustainable water supplies for agricultural use.
Another large hit of rainfall in eastern Ontario has put a stop to field work in the area again. Other parts of the province were slowed down by smaller amounts of rainfall over the weekend and overnight Thursday; however combining and hay harvest have started again.

The two week forecast is showing some real opportunity to get field work done so combines and sprayers are rolling and hay equipment is in the field.

Cereals
Good progress has been made on harvest in Essex and Kent, areas further east and north started the first of this week. Harvest to date has shown average to above average yields and good grain quality. Protein is running 9-9.5 per cent. Despite the wet conditions so far in the 2017 field season, there has been very little fusarium or other disease impacts showing up in the crop harvested to date.

When combining, think about plans for the field following harvest. Ensure the combine is spreading the chaff uniformly and broadly. The goal should be to spread the width of the header. Where red clover is underseeded, this is especially important to ensure that the sensitive red clover seedlings are not smothered. Where straw is to be harvested ensure the swaths are quickly baled and removed from the field to aid red clover growth. Where straw is being left in the field, ensure it is well chopped and evenly spread as it has an impact on decisions related tillage, cover crop planting and volunteer wheat termination.

Volunteer wheat is a problem in lost revenue, and red clover or annual cover crop stands for both seedling establishment and plans for terminating the cover crop. With lots of moisture red clover should flourish rapidly and germination of annual cover crops planted in the next month should be excellent. Watch the planting timing of cover crops relative to the species choice and expected growth possible with the amount of moisture available.

Corn
See last week’s crop report for coverage on Western Bean Cutworm (WBC). In terms of tasselling, there are almost three distinct crops across the province based on planting date. Many fields are not uniform because of the cool damp weather and this makes insecticide timing for optimal WBC control problematic. A lot of fields are currently coming into tassel and silking has or will begin shortly. WBC has been found in many fields and in non-traditional areas where this pest has not previously been a problem. Scout! Where insecticides are deemed necessary, timing is critical to achieve optimum control. The goal is to protect the silks which the larvae feed on and result in injury to the ear and entry for disease. Consult the Field Crop News website for additional information on WBC thresholds as well as optimal scouting and insecticide application timing. Information on product choices is available in the OMAFRA Field Crop Protection Guide.

Ontario and United States (US) data indicates that disease pressure is an extremely important consideration when making a fungicide application decision, since it has a major influence on overall yield response and profitability. Significant numbers of acres are being considered for fungicide treatment. Basing foliar fungicide application decisions on disease risk (weather, hybrid susceptibility, previous crop, planting date, history of disease in field, etc.) will increase the likelihood of making profitable fungicide application decisions. Therefore, targeting fields with the greatest risk and using scouting observations to trigger application decisions for foliar fungicide will result in a better chance of the treatment being profitable. Fungicide applications to corn at the tassel (VT) growth stage has been most consistent at reducing disease and improving yields especially when conditions are favorable for diseases such as northern corn leaf blight (frequent rain/dews and cool temperatures (18-27 C). In year’s with delayed corn plantings such as 2017, late season corn leaf diseases (northern corn leaf blight, common rust and gray leaf spot) as well as stalk rots and ear rots often are a problem and as noted above, target fungicide applications to the fields with the greatest risk.

Soybeans
In many areas the soybeans have seen significant improvement in the last week. They and other crops continue to need sunshine and warm temperatures.

Insect pressure has been relatively low across the province despite the weather. Aphids are present in fields in many locations but at very low populations in most cases. Scouting to monitor this pest is important.

Many areas continue to receive above average rainfall. This, along with cooler summer temperatures, makes ideal conditions for white mould development and other diseases in soybeans. Foliar fungicides should be considered if a field has a history of white mould or shows symptoms of other foliar diseases. Fields with continuous soybeans in the rotation often respond more to foliar fungicides than fields with a good crop rotation. For most diseases an R2 (full bloom) up to R3 (early pod formation) timing is considered ideal to protect the most flowers as possible.
Ontario yield trials have shown that a mid R2 timing provides a higher yield response than spraying at later growth stages. Spraying too early (before flowering) has shown no yield benefits. If white mould is the only disease of concern a two application strategy should be used if weather conditions favour the disease. In this case the first application may be applied as early as R1 (beginning bloom) followed by a second application 10 to 14 days later. Once the disease is visible it’s too late to spray. Only some foliar fungicides registered for soybeans have activity on white mould so check the label before application.

Canola
With the extended planting window for canola this spring, some fields are still flowering but most have passed this stage. While swede midge has been in high numbers in trap counts this year, the amount of damage detectable in the crop is relatively low although incidence of damage can be found in almost every field.

Edible Beans
Beans are moving toward row closure in most fields, but it has been slow this season. Fungicides are standard practice in edible beans. Timing should be at 30-50 per cent bloom. There is concern for root rots with the season’s weather and growers should be on the lookout for anthracnose.

Forages
While much of the provinces haylage has been harvested with good quality for both cuts so far, dry hay quality is suffering. There are still people working to get a first cut of dry hay harvested. Yields have been okay for the most part although potato leaf hopper has been caused significant yield loss and seedling stand loss, especially in the east. While both cutting timing and insecticides are standard management practices for this pest, the wet weather has prevented many people from doing either on a timely basis. Stands will have to be assessed thoroughly in late fall and next spring to allow planning for the required amount of forage required next spring.
If you read about neonicotinoids in the news, the context is likely the impact of this class of insecticides on pollinators. But according to Christy Morrissey, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan, there’s another side of the story that’s been neglected in the mainstream media.

Since 2011, Morrissey has been studying the impact of neonics on Prairie wetlands. More specifically, she’s been charting the extent to which wetlands could be contaminated by neonic residues, and the impacts on invertebrate life that form the basis of the food web, as well as effects on bird populations in those wetlands.

“We were interested in wetlands in the Prairie pothole region because of their ecological significance,” she says. “There’s an obvious interaction between water and agriculture in this region of Canada.”

Morrissey and her graduate students have analyzed hundreds of wetlands in the Prairies, and have bird studies at five sites in a range of landscapes across Saskatchewan. Almost all of these sites are located on private land. Morrissey says most farmers are receptive and interested in her work.

“Most people genuinely think the chemicals they’re using are safe because they’re on the market and they are generally following guidelines as to how to apply them,” she says. “It’s the guidelines that we believe are flawed. They aren’t necessarily as safe as [people] were led to believe they are. They do say you shouldn’t use the chemicals near water, but that isn’t possible in the Prairies.”

Last year, Morrissey co-authored a review paper looking at neonicotinoid use in more than 230 studies to come up with guidelines for safe levels. In Prairie wetlands, she says, the levels routinely exceed guideline levels researchers would set as being safe.

“These compounds are extremely toxic at very, very low levels — 1,000 times more toxic to an insect than DDT [dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane]. At these low levels, and because the compounds stick around for a long time, that is enough to cause effects on native aquatic insects,” she says.

Spring runoff
Anson Main, formerly one of Morrissey’s graduate students, is the lead author on a study released last year looking at spring runoff transport of neonicotinoid insecticides to Prairie wetlands.

Main studied 16 agricultural fields on a single farming operation, each of which had at least one wetland collecting runoff from a surrounding field. He took samples of top and bottom snow, particulate snow and wetland water. “In the wetland water you could be detecting up to 200 nanograms of neonicotinoids per litre, but for meltwater it could be 489 nanograms per litre. The mean was something like 170,” he says.

“Prairie wetlands are 85 to 90 per cent formed by snowmelt, so these pothole wetlands were accumulating this runoff,” he explains. “Meltwater is scouring the surfaces of the fields where there is some residual insecticides that are persisting. In the spring, the residues are being washed in as these basins are filling with water.”

Depending on the chemical, the half-life of some neonicotinoids (including clothianidin) is about three years, Morrissey says. Neonics are highly water-soluble and re-mobilize when water pools.

Francois Messier is the owner of a 10,000-acre farm near Saskatoon, where Main conducted the study. He grows canola and cereals (including barley, wheat and oat), of which only canola seed is treated with neonicotinoid insecticide.

Messier, once a wildlife ecologist at the University of Saskatchewan, now makes his operation available to university collaborators for studies such as Main’s.

For Messier, the use of neonicotinoids is unavoidable when it comes to canola. “The impact of flea beetles could be so devastating,” he says. “The average seed cost is about $75 per acre, and you don’t want to lose the crop right off the bat. I don’t think there is an alternative to using insecticide.”

But Messier says a distinction must be made between canola systems and cereal systems. He believes neonics are used preventatively against wireworms in cereal crops but in most cases are unnecessary. “I never use any insecticidal seed treatment on my cereal seed, and I would put my yield against anyone else’s in my neighbourhood,” he says.

Real-farm implications
Morrissey says the biggest take-away from the research is that neonicotinoid insecticides should never be used as an “insurance policy” due to the potential long-term negative effects, such as the development of resistance. “A, it’s expensive,” she says. “And B, it’s a toxic chemical that is environmentally concerning.”

Over the next few years, Morrissey hopes to connect the research community with farmers in the Prairie pothole region in a new “resilient agriculture” project that will develop and implement sustainable practices at a field scale. The project will aim to find strategies to keep crop yields high and environmental impacts low, with farmers as the key decision-makers.

“The information farmers are getting is almost all from seed and chemical companies that are selling them a product,” Morrissey says. “That’s not all the information out there.

“The word hasn’t gotten out to producers as much as I would like. They need to know this information more than anyone,” she adds.

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Biochar from recycled waste may both enhance crop growth and save health costs by helping clear the air of pollutants, according to Rice University researchers.

Rice researchers in Earth science, economics and environmental engineering have determined that widespread use of biochar in agriculture could reduce health care costs, especially for those who live in urban areas close to farmland.

Biochar is ground charcoal produced from waste wood, manure or leaves. Added to soil, the porous carbon has been shown to boost crop yields, lessen the need for fertilizer and reduce pollutants by storing nitrogen that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.

The study led by Ghasideh Pourhashem, a postdoctoral fellow at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, appears in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Pourhashem worked with environmental engineering graduate student Quazi Rasool and postdoc Rui Zhang, Rice Earth scientist Caroline Masiello, energy economist Ken Medlock and environmental scientist Daniel Cohan to show that urban dwellers in the American Midwest and Southwest would gain the greatest benefits in air quality and health from greater use of biochar.

They said the U.S. counties that would stand to save the most in health care costs from reduced smog are Will, La Salle and Livingston counties in Illinois; San Joaquin, San Diego, Fresno and Riverside counties in California; Weld County in Colorado; Maricopa County in Arizona; and Fort Bend County in Texas.

“Our model projections show health care cost savings could be on the order of millions of dollars per year for some urban counties next to farmland,” Pourhashem said. “These results are now ready to be tested by measuring changes in air pollutants from specific agricultural regions.”

Pourhashem noted the key measurements needed are the rate of soil emission of nitric oxide (NO), which is a smog precursor, after biochar is applied to fields. Many studies have already shown that biochar reduces the emissions of a related compound, nitrous oxide, but few have measured NO.

“We know that biochar impacts the soil nitrogen cycle, and that’s how it reduces nitrous oxide,” said Masiello, a professor of Earth, environmental and planetary science. “It likely reduces NO in the same way. We think the local impact of biochar-driven NO reductions could be very important.”

The Rice team used data from three studies of NO emissions from soil in Indonesia and Zambia, Europe and China. The data revealed a wide range of NO emission curtailment — from 0 per cent to 67 per cent — depending on soil type, meteorological conditions and the chemical properties of biochar used.

Using the higher figure in their calculations, they determined that a 67 per cent reduction in NO emissions in the United States could reduce annual health impacts of agricultural air pollution by up to $660 million. Savings through the reduction of airborne particulate matter — to which NO contributes — could be 10 times larger than those from ozone reduction, they wrote.

“Agriculture rarely gets considered for air pollution control strategies,” said Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Our work shows that modest changes to farming practices can benefit the air and soil too.”

Medlock is the James A. Baker III and Susan G. Baker Fellow in Energy and Resource Economics and senior director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and lecturer of economics.

The research was supported by the NASA Air Quality Applied Sciences Team, Rice’s Shell Center for Sustainability and the Baker Institute.
John Deere and Granular have announced a product development and co-marketing agreement that gives John Deere customers more tools to measure and improve their financial performance.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will work to further integrate Granular’s leading Farm Management Software (FMS) product and the John Deere Operations Center. Certain Granular FMS functionality will be offered free-of-charge to Operations Center users in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, so that producers who choose to share their machine data with Granular can measure their profitability at the field and sub-field levels. In addition, the companies will launch a program that rewards John Deere Dealers who work with Granular to serve common customers.
AGCO, Your Agriculture Company, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, has announced that a definitive agreement has been signed for AGCO to acquire the Precision Planting LLC equipment business.

The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform will retain connectivity with Precision Planting’s 20/20 SeedSense monitor.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.
In Canada's far north, the government of Yukon Territory wants to attract small farmers to the frigid region with a simple pitch: free land.

And as global warming makes Canada's northern regions more hospitable to agriculture by opening once frozen land to farming, the opportunities are growing.

Bordering on Alaska in northwestern Canada, the Yukon has given away nearly 8,000 acres (3,208 hectares) of farmland in the past decade, a senior government official told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. A dozen new applications are under consideration. | READ MORE
Until recently, virtually all canaryseed was destined for the global birdseed market. However, significant efforts by the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan (CDCS) resulted in dehulled canaryseed receiving novel food approval for human food last year. Canaryseed is the first novel cereal crop in Canada to receive such approval.

As the top world exporter of canaryseed, Saskatchewan growers welcome the new approval, which covers glabrous (hairless) canaryseed varieties, with both brown and yellow-coloured seeds. Saskatchewan produces over 95 per cent of the canaryseed grown in Canada, with an average of 300,000 acres per year of production. With human food approvals now in place, new market opportunities are slowly becoming available, but growers are cautioned that market development into these markets will take some time.

“Now that we have approvals in place in both Canada and the U.S., we are working to develop opportunities with food processing companies,” explains Kevin Hursh, executive director of the CDCS. “However, one of the current challenges is to establish commercial dehulling capability for the glabrous varieties and to improve technical and efficiency aspects of dehulling. There is interest from both small- and medium-scale companies, and as we bring commercial dehulling capability online, we anticipate more interest for a range of food applications.”

There are several food applications for canaryseed, with other opportunities being investigated. Whole seeds can be used in nutrition bars and sprinkled on hamburger buns in place of sesame seed. Canaryseed has high protein and high oil, including 84 per cent unsaturated edible oil content. Canaryseed flour can be used to make breads, cookies, cereals and pastas, while the high starch content can be used for both food and industrial uses.

Canaryseed is also gluten-free, and for growers willing to follow the strict protocols similar to oat required to make a gluten-free claim, there may be niche market opportunities. However, individuals with a specific food allergy to wheat may also be allergic to a protein in canaryseed, unrelated to gluten sensitivity. Until further research is completed, canaryseed human food products will be required to carry a cautionary statement of warning for consumers with a wheat allergy.

“We have cautioned growers from the beginning that the food market will take some time to get established, so for now the primary market for canaryseed continues to be for birdseed,” Hursh adds. “The number one market today is Mexico, followed closely by Europe, with sales to numerous other countries around the world. The birdseed market has remained fairly consistent over the past few years and is not expected to change very much, however the new opportunities in the food market over the next several years should open opportunities for acreage expansion.”

New varietal development led by Pierre Hucl, canaryseed breeder at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre, may also open new opportunities. Along with yield improvements, Hucl is working on developing yellow-seeded varieties similar to established brown-seeded glabrous varieties, but that are more aesthetically pleasing for food products.

“CDC Calvi is the newest brown-seeded glabrous variety and 2016 was the first year for commercial production,” Hursh says. “A new yellow-seeded variety under seed increase looks very promising and has good yields. Although there may be small amounts commercially available in 2017, it will most likely be 2018 before substantial seed quantities will be available through Canterra Seeds.”

Since the introduction of CDC Maria, the first glabrous variety in the ’90s, the yield gap compared to the original hairy or “itchy” varieties Keet, Cantate and Elias, has closed with newer varieties such as CDC Togo and CDC Bastia. The newest variety, CDC Calvi, still has a slight yield gap compared to the hairy varieties. However, for Hursh and some other growers the “itchy” hairy varieties will very soon be a thing of the past. The newer hairless varieties maintain the high protein of regular canaryseed, while being less irritating to the skin during handling and eliminating the oiling and polishing steps in processing. This makes it the perfect option for birdseed processors and packagers.

“Until now, the marketplace hasn’t been willing to pay a premium for the glabrous varieties, so little efforts were made to segregate the different canaryseed varieties,” Hursh explains. “To meet the needs of the human food market, the glabrous varieties will have to be segregated either at a dedicated plant, or a plant that is able to meet strict cleanout protocols between varieties. Some smaller plants are beginning to segregate hairless varieties for specific health food markets or dehulling processes, and this will likely expand as food application markets grow.”

Along with the substantial effort made by the CDCS to obtain human food approval and develop food applications, research and development efforts continue on breeding and improving agronomics. Research continues on fertilizers, herbicides, diseases such as leaf mottle and fusarium, and pests such as aphids. A number of broadleaf weed control products are available, however the only registered wild oat control option is the granular pre-emergent product Avadex. A couple products were registered in the past, but one is now off the market (Avenge) and minor use registration for the other (PUMA) was withdrawn because of unacceptable crop injury. Hucl has variety comparison research underway trying to find lines that have enhanced resistance to post-emergent wild oat control, but the research will take time.

Canaryseed is a reasonable cereal option for growers, depending on market demand, and is widely adapted to the Prairie growing areas. “Canaryseed is an easy crop to grow in many respects, and can withstand challenging wet harvest conditions better than other cereals like durum,” Hursh says. “Canaryseed often provides the best marginal rate of return compared to other cereals, typically better than barley and oat based on provincial average yields and often better than durum in some years. Although new food use markets are expected to take time to develop, once dehulled product is readily available, food companies have expressed interest in developing food applications. Growers shouldn't expect the human food market to change the economics in the short term, but over the long term new opportunities are expected to open up.”

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Dr. Gord Surgeoner, OOnt, former president of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT), will receive the 2nd annual BIO Leadership and Legacy Award on Wednesday July 26, 2017, during a lunch plenary session of the 2017 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) today announced that Gord Surgeoner, former president of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT), will receive the 2nd annual BIO Leadership and Legacy Award. The award will be presented on Wednesday July 26, 2017, during a lunch plenary session of the 2017 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology. The world’s largest industrial biotechnology and partnering event will be held July 23-26, 2017 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, added, “BIO’s Leadership and Legacy Award was created to honor an individual who has dedicated a significant portion of their career to growing the biobased economy. Gord Surgeoner is a strong advocate for Canadian agriculture and the opportunities Canada has in a global biobased economy. During his 30-year career, he has worked tirelessly to champion causes that are important to Canada’s agricultural industry. Montreal is a fitting place to present him this award.”

After completing his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1971 at the University of Guelph, Surgeoner earned a Master’s degree in Economic Entomology in 1973, also from Guelph, and a Ph.D. in Forest Entomology in 1976 from Michigan State University. Gord became an esteemed professor at the University of Guelph in Environmental Biology and Plant Agriculture, where he remained on faculty until his retirement in 2004.

Seconded from the University of Guelph in 1999, Gord became the president of OAFT, a non-profit organization consisting of members from farm associations, universities/colleges, industry and regional governments. The organization focuses on ensuring that Ontario producers have access to the latest technologies to compete globally and to develop new market opportunities, many of which are beyond food.

In September 2014, Gord retired as president of OAFT, but continues to advocate on behalf of Canadian agriculture as an Associate with OAFT and through various Board positions. Gord is currently semi-retired and working with agriculture producers and food processors on sustainability initiatives.

In 2005 Surgeoner was invested with the Order of Ontario. This distinguished award recognizes Surgeoner's significant contribution to Ontario's agri-food sector.

Surgeoner is the 2nd recipient honored with the annual BIO Leadership and Legacy Award. The recipient of the inaugural award is Dr. Ganesh Kishore, CEO, MLSCFI and co-Managing Partner, Spruce Capital Partners.
Retired University of Guelph professor Dr. Gord Surgeoner is being honoured by his peers for his leadership and legacy in the biotechnology industry.

The former president of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT) will receive the second annual BIO Leadership and Legacy Award from The Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the world's largest biotechnology trade association. | READ MORE
The agriculture and agri-food sector is a key growth industry in Canada, contributing over $100 billion annually to the economy and employing 2.3 million Canadians.

Ministers of Agriculture reached agreement today on the key elements of a new federal, provincial, territorial (FPT) agricultural policy framework during the Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture held in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, from July 19-21.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3 billion investment, will come into effect on April 1, 2018. It will strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. In addition, producers will continue to have access to a robust suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership will focus on six priority areas:
  • Science, Research, and Innovation – Helping industry adopt practices to improve resiliency and productivity through research and innovation in key areas.
  • Markets and Trade – Opening new markets and helping farmers and food processors improve their competitiveness through skills development, improved export capacity, underpinned by a strong and efficient regulatory system.
  • Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change – Building sector capacity to mitigate agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, protect the environment and adapt to climate change by enhancing sustainable growth, while increasing production.
  • Value-added Agriculture and Agri-food Processing – Supporting the continued growth of the value-added agriculture and agri-food processing sector.
  • Public Trust – Building a firm foundation for public trust in the sector through improved assurance systems in food safety and plant and animal health, stronger traceability and effective regulations.
  • Risk Management – Enabling proactive and effective risk management, mitigation and adaptation to facilitate a resilient sector by working to ensure programs are comprehensive, responsive and accessible.

Under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, BRM programs will continue to help producers manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage. Governments responded to industry concerns regarding eligible coverage under AgriStability, ensuring a more equitable level of support for all producers. Highlights of upcoming BRM changes are available at Canadian Agricultural Partnership - Business Risk Management Programs.

Governments further committed to engaging in a review that explores options to improve BRM programming. The review will recognize the important role played by all programs (AgriStability, AgriInvest, AgriInsurance) in the risk management plans of producers given the diversity of the sector. The review will also directly involve producers and have an early focus on market risk, including as it relates to AgriStability addressing concerns regarding timeliness, simplicity and predictability. Ministers will be presented with options in July 2018 for consideration based on early findings of the review.

The agreement reached by ministers today sets the stage for FPT governments to conclude bilateral agreements by April 1, 2018. It is a priority for ministers to implement a seamless transition from the current policy framework to the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Extensive consultations with industry and Canadians informed the development of the new agreement, which builds on the success of previous FPT agricultural frameworks. Governments will continue to work closely with the sector as Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs are developed and implemented, to reflect the diverse needs across Canada, including the North.

This year’s Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture focused on important initiatives touching the agriculture and agri-food sector including the status of trade negotiations and market access initiatives in key export markets. To this effect, FPT Ministers reiterated their support for supply management. Ministers agreed to the approach for optimizing the Pan-Canadian Regulatory Framework and endorsed the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada. Indigenous agriculture in Canada and the development of a Food Policy for Canada were also addressed. A summary of items discussed at the meeting is available at Summary of items from the 2017 Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture. The next annual FPT Ministers' meeting will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 2018.
Gone are the days when weather forecasting meant predicting the weather. These days, it’s about so much more: meteorologists can calculate temperature and relative humidity, soil temperature, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, rainfall and lightning risk right at the farm level – or the field level, if you prefer.

“Weather costs a lot of money to a farmer in a given year,” says Guy Ash, chief meteorologist and chief operating officer of Precision Weather Solutions, a Winnipeg-based company. “Weather technology integrates into every aspect of what goes on on the farm. If I can improve my management based on very localized weather tools, those translate into savings, or increased yield and quality.”

Ash has collaborated with Masasah Mkhabela, a research associate at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Soil Science, on a project evaluating thermal time models for forecasting spring wheat development.

“Thermal time refers to the temperature time for the development of a particular crop. We used a number of thermal indexes to look at how well they performed in spring wheat field trials,” says Ash. “There are a host of thermal models, which are typically called ‘growth stage models’ – the growth stage of the crop is what you’re trying to predict.”

The team used site data to evaluate how accurate each model was at predicting crop development.

Ultimately, the growing-degree-day base-temperature zero model (GDD) performed best in the study, over other, more complex models. This research will contribute to the development of ever-more precise tools for forecasting.

Why does this matter in the field? The concept of growth stages is important for producers to know, Ash explains, because crop stage dictates their management scheme for fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation.

Ash says public weather services are no longer adequate to meet the needs of large-scale farming operations, which can spread over many kilometers and land types. Ash says the government’s job, when it comes to weather, is to provide watches and alerts for extreme weather events. But this doesn’t help farm-level management.

“The biggest issue in Canada has been the lack of information at a field level to make management decisions. If you’re relying on data from a few kilometres away that doesn’t really help you,” he says.

Precision Weather Solutions works with producers to perform climatological and meteorological data processing on their farms, turning all of that data into information they can use to schedule farm management tasks. “Whether it’s disease pressure or development of the crop, we’re providing technology and solutions that allows you to do that at a much finer resolution than what’s been available in the past,” he says.

Personalized weather data
In practical terms, what this means is that producers can hire companies like Precision Weather Solutions to install (sometimes multiple) weather stations on the farm – at $2,500 to $3,500 each, depending on the package. Data from the station is immediately available to the farmer, but can also be shared with agronomists.

Farmers Edge, the precision agriculture and independent data management firm that patented Variable Rate (VR) Technology, also offers “personalized weather data” to individual growers, as part of its FarmCommand integrated farm management platform.

“A key principle at Farmers Edge is our focus on field-centric data – the right data to drive precision agriculture going forward, and the weather component is pretty critical to that,” says Patrick Crampton, chief operating officer at Farmers Edge.

In fall 2015, Farmers Edge announced a partnership with The Weather Company (TWC), an IBM business and the world’s largest weather company, which provides Farmers Edge forecasts. “By combining TWC's Forecasts on Demand (FoD) weather forecasting engine with Farmers Edge on-farm weather stations, customers can access hyper local forecasts including 48-hour hourly forecasts and 10 days of daily forecasts, as well as historical weather data to support decisions surrounding their field operations,” says Crampton.

According to Farmers Edge, there is typically a nearly 48 per cent reduction in accuracy of weather stations when they are 20 kilometres away.

“For our Smart Solution services we deploy an advanced weather station on every 2,500 acres of a client’s farm. That provides the density of the weather network to capture critical data to input into the models.”

The FarmCommand platform also performs “passive data collection” via CanPlug telematics installed on field equipment (sprayers, combines, etc.) – including fuel usage, speed, and sometimes live yield data.

The Smart Solution complete data package comes to farmers at the cost of $1.95 per acre on a whole farm basis, says Crampton – available at the touch of a smartphone screen.

The most pressing question, as ever, comes back to actual value on the farm: is it worth it?

Crampton says it is. “Every one of our customers will have one or more stations in 10 years,” he says. “I believe when you look at the integration opportunities of soil information, rainfall modeling, etcetera, the ability to get into predictive yield products is only going to increase the value of the weather station on your farm.”

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Crops are developing quickly but normally in much of the province, according to Saskatchewan Agriculture’s weekly Crop Report.

Seventy-one per cent of fall cereals, 62 per cent of spring cereals, 61 per cent of oilseeds and 70 per cent of pulse crops are at their normal stages of development for this time of year. Many areas in the province remain very dry and crop conditions continue to decline due to hot temperatures and lack of rain.

Livestock producers now have 20 per cent of the hay crop cut and 59 per cent baled or put into silage. Hay quality is rated as 13 per cent excellent, 54 per cent good, 26 per cent fair and seven per cent poor. Many hay swaths are significantly smaller than normal and hay will be in short supply this year in some areas.

Hay yields are below average overall. Estimated average dryland hay yields for the province are 1.2 tons per acre for alfalfa; 1.0 ton per acre for alfalfa/bromegrass; 0.96 tons per acre for other tame hay; and 1.4 tons per acre for greenfeed. Estimated average irrigated hay yields are 1.9 tons per acre for alfalfa; 2.0 tons per acre for alfalfa/bromegrass; and 1.8 tons per acre for greenfeed.

Pasture conditions continue to decline due to lack of rainfall.

The majority of the province received very little, if any, rain this past week; however, the Pelly area reported receiving 60 mm. Many areas have not received any significant rain for a number of weeks. Topsoil moisture is quickly deteriorating and rain is needed for crops to fill and for topsoil to be replenished.

Across the province, topsoil moisture on cropland is rated as three per cent surplus, 32 per cent adequate, 43 per cent short and 22 per cent very short. Hay land and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as three per cent surplus, 26 per cent adequate, 37 per cent short and 34 per cent very short.

Sources of crop damage this past week include hail, wind, localized flooding, diseases such as sclerotinia and insects such as aphids and wheat midge. The high temperatures have caused heat blasting damage in many flowering canola crops.

Producers are haying, scouting for pests and getting ready for harvest.
Agriculture industry leaders met with federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers yesterday during the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's (CFA) annual Industry-Government FPT Roundtable in St. John's, Newfoundland, where they explored priorities and strategies to grow the sector. Discussion topics included the next Agriculture Policy Framework (APF), which is set to begin on April 1, 2018, efforts toward creating a National Food Policy, and NAFTA trade negotiations.


Celebrations around Canada's 150th birthday continue in many communities, and farm leaders proudly highlight that agriculture is positioned to bring greater prosperity to Canadians, both in urban and rural areas. "We've got the land, resources, technology and expertise to become world leaders in this industry. And we've reiterated to governments that investments in strategically-designed programs will allow our producers to compete for a larger share of export markets. This includes tools needed by sectors that rely on the domestic market such as the supply managed industries," said CFA President Ron Bonnett in a press release.

The current suite of APF programs, under Growing Forward 2, expire on March 31, 2018. CFA and other organizations that are part of the AgGrowth Coalition are advocating for a review of business risk management programs that would make them more effective and responsive to farmer needs. Other APF requests relate to supporting young farmers and new entrants into the industry, and accounting for newly identified priorities that governments will add to the next APF.

CFA presented the ministers with its A Food Policy for Canada discussion document that describes a range of recommendations to this end.

Board members also heard comments from Scott Vanderwal, Vice-President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, who offered remarks on the importance of maintaining a strong Canada-U.S. trade relationship. He noted that the AFB values their ongoing dialogue with Canadian farmers and that the two organizations share views on issues such as labour requirements and the need for regulatory harmonization.
It's time to scout for western bean cutworm, especially as moth flight activity climbs in Ontario. Although there are no significant reports of soybean aphids, growers are still urged to scout by OMAFRA. Winter wheat harvest is underway, while growers are reminded to plant cover crops after wheat harvest to minimize the amount of annual weeds going to seed. 

Cereals
Winter wheat harvest has begun throughout southwest Ontario but intermittent rainfall has caused delays. Some farmers in Essex County have finished harvest and initial word is that the quality and yield of the crop has been good. Harvest progress is likely seven to 10 days behind what was observed in 2016, but comparable to the 2015 season.

Post-harvest weed management
A significant amount of annual weed seeds can be produced and dispersed after wheat harvest if the ground is left fallow. In some years, annual weed seed can mature in as little as four weeks after harvest. Planting a cover crop (i.e. oats) after wheat harvest can do a nice job of minimizing the amount of annual weeds going to seed and then allows for an opportunity in the fall to terminate the cover crop and deal with perennial weeds at the same time. If it is not desirable to plant a cover crop, shallow tillage can also reduce the amount of weeds setting seed and will allow the perennial weeds to re-grow so that they can be managed in the fall.

If red clover was inter-seeded into the wheat crop there are a couple of ways that you can knock back annual weed growth so that you can let the clover grow as much as possible and maximize its nitrogen credit. The tried and true method, but most labour intensive, is to “clip” or trim the top of the red clover which will ‘chop off’ the weed seed heads at the same time. More recently OMAFRA and the University of Guelph have experimented with the application of MCPA as a way to manage broadleaf weeds in a red clover cover crop. There are three key learnings from this work:

1) The ester formulation of MCPA causes significantly less plant damage than the amine formulation.
2) Red clover biomass is initially stunted during the first week after application but does recover within two to three weeks.
3) Targeting broadleaf weeds when they are smaller will result in better control. If annual grassy weeds are predominant then the application of MCPA Ester will be insufficient and clipping is a better option to minimize weed seed dispersal.

Corn
Western bean cutworm moths have been found in traps throughout southwestern Ontario. An interactive map of trapping numbers can be found at cornpest.ca. Moth flight activity has indicated that it’s a good time to scout fields for egg masses which have become visible in several fields with some approaching or are above the action threshold of five egg mass per 100 corn plants. Peak flight has not occurred yet in Ontario so to provide the most protection with one application, time the application once threshold has been reached and when there is an ear developing with fresh silks. Download the pestmanager app (pestmanager.ca) to have access to management options for this pest.

Soybeans
There have been no significant reports of soybean aphids, although regular scouting should be done from now until the R6 (full seed) stage of soybean to minimize any yield loss with this pest. The action threshold is 250 aphids per plant, and with actively increasing populations on 80 per cent of those plants when the crop is in the R1 stage until end of R5 stage.

Edible beans
Monitor traps to determine western bean cutworm (WBC) presence in your area and be aware of what WBC infestations are like in adjacent corn fields. Bean fields should be scouted as soon as a pod is developing to spot any pod feeding by WBC. Refer to the moth trapping maps at cornpest.ca to identify areas where moths are actively being trapped.
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