Harvesting
Presented by Breanne Tidemann, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe, Alta., at the Herbicide Resistance Summit, Feb 27-28, Saskatoon.

In order for harvest weed seed control (HWSC) to be effective, weed seeds still have to be retained on the plant at the time of harvest. If they’ve already dropped to the soil, they’re already in the seed bank. The weed seeds also need to be at a height where they can be collected by the combine. For example, chickweed is very low growing and its seeds are very low to the ground. Most producers don’t cut that low to the ground because of risk of damaging their equipment, so chickweed would not be a good candidate for harvest weed seed control.

Harvest weed seed control also means being able to get the weed into the combine. An example is a big tumbleweed, such as kochia. If the tumbleweed won’t feed into the combine and goes over top of the header, then you won’t be able to get the seeds into the combine for harvest weed seed control.

There are different methods of harvest weed seed control. Some of them have been scientifically evaluated in Australia. One of the most common methods is narrow windrow burning. The straw and chaff are dropped into windrows using metal chutes that are attached to the back of the combine. It’s cheap and easy to implement. But there are environmental impacts because it does involve burning. From a practical point of view, it may not work in western Canada, but it is used a lot in Australia.

windrower on a field at dusk
Chaff carts were originally developed in Canada. The Australians have modified Canadian chaff carts and use a conveyer system instead of a blower system to move the chaff to the cart. They’ve also adopted new technologies to make burning or collection easier and more efficient. Some of the chaff carts are programmed with GPS to dump the chaff in a certain area of the field to be grazed or burnt.

There was one Australian producer that commented he’s been using a chaff cart for 15 years, and about 10 years in he started seeing annual ryegrass that was much shorter, much lower to the ground and was dropping its seeds much earlier. So this is still a selection pressure. You will select for resistance to these methods if it’s what you’re relying on to control your populations.

chaff cart
The bale direct system bales chaff and straw directly behind the combine into a square bale. The square bales are removed from the field, taking the weed seeds with them. The loss of the residue from the field can be detrimental in terms of nutrients loss. And there is potential for transport of weed seeds in the bale from one region to another, potentially moving herbicide resistant weeds with the bale. The other issue in Australia is one producer started doing this and he saturated the entire market. The bales can also be pelletized to produce pelletized sheep feed, but again it’s a relatively small market. So market can be an issue with this methodology.

bale direct system
The Harrington Seed Destructor uses a cage mill to grind the chaff and weed seeds. The cage mill has two counter-rotating plates that spin very fast in the opposite directions. The weed seeds go in to the middle of the mill and have to move from the inside out to continue to move through the system. The straw moves along a conveyor belt and goes through a spreader at the back. Only the chaff is processed through the cage mill. The disadvantage is that the first model was towed behind the combine and required a lot of horsepower.

harrington seed destructor
The tow-behind model was always intended as step one. The Integrated Harrington Seed Destructor (iHSD) is mounted on the combine and uses the same cage mill system. The integrated model had several improvements. Instead of having the two counter-rotating plates there’s only one rotating plate and one stationary plate, but that rotating one turns twice as fast. It is a hydraulically driven machine and takes about 80 horsepowers from the combine to run this machine.

integrated harrington seed destructor
A new combine mounted seed impact implement was first announced January 2017. The Seed Terminator is competition to the Harrington Seed Destructor. It uses a slightly different type of mill called a multi-stage hammer mill, but it works on essentially the same idea of crushing or grinding those seeds so that they’re dead and can’t grow the next year. This is mechanically driven rather than hydraulically driven. In terms of price differences, the original tow behind Harrington Seed Destructor was about $200,000. The integrated Harrington Seed Destructor is somewhere around $150,000. The Seed Terminator is about $100,000. So what you’re seeing is as these competitors come to the market that price point is dropping, and we do expect that to continue.

Seed terminatorChaff deck or chaff tramlining works in a controlled traffic system. The idea is to put chaff on the permanent tramlines so if weeds grow there isn’t much impact on overall yield. The chaff in the tramline is also driven over multiple times, which can impair weed growth, and there is potential for seed decomposition in those tramlines. What farmers have seen is that there are fewer weeds growing in the tramlines, but it hasn’t been scientifically evaluated at this point.

chaff deck
Chaff lining can still be used outside of a controlled traffic system. The chaff is placed in a narrow row to decompose instead of spreading the seeds across the entire field. However, there is potential for some seeding or emergence issues if you’re seeding through this concentrated chaff row. It hasn’t been researched, but a lot of producers are adopting this in Australia as their first step in harvest weed seed control because it’s inexpensive and easy to implement.


The Australian experience

In Australia, a 2016 survey of 602 growers were asked about their adoption of narrow windrow burning, chaff carts, chaff tramlining, the bale direct, and the HSD. The Seed Terminator and integrated Harrington Seed Destructor were not released at the time so they don’t show up in the survey.

Across Australia 43 per cent of producers were using some method of harvest weed seed control. Narrow windrow burning was the most common. In Western Australia that number goes up to about 63 per cent. Western Australia is essentially where all of these methods were developed. Western Australia is really the epicentre because of herbicide resistance, and harvest weed seed control is spreading out from there.

The adoption of chaff tramlining this past harvest has skyrocketed. There is a lot more discussion about different systems on social media, and a lot more discussion about what works and what doesn’t work than we’ve see in past years. If that survey was to be redone I think we would see some of the tramlining and chaff lining skyrocketing.

Results from the same survey show that 82 per cent of producers said they expected to adopt some form of harvest weed seed control in the next five years with 46 per cent expecting to use narrow windrow burning. More producers would like to be using the iHSD, but they had concerns about the cost and the perception that it was unproven in terms of weed kill. The perception of unproven control of weed seeds is interesting because weed kill is where there is the most research.

Research has been done in Australia to show how effective harvest weed seed control was on controlling annual ryegrass populations in “focus paddocks” or “focus fields.” The research compared crop rotations where harvest weed seed control was used in 38 per cent of crops compared to rotations where it was only used in 11 per cent of crops. The ryegrass population was managed far more effectively where harvest weed seed control was used, and it has stayed very low.

Effects of HWSC in Australia:
Effect of HWSC in Australia
Photo courtesy of Michael Walsh.

Potential in Canada

In Western Canada we’ve believed that the physical impact implements that destroy seeds are most likely to have the best fit. They don’t require the burning, and it has some scientific testing behind it that shows it’s effective. So that’s where researchers have focused efforts in terms of testing a method for Western Canada.

We looked at the top 10 weeds in Saskatchewan and gave them a seed retention rating -- how well does the weed holds onto those seeds until harvest. A number of weeds are in the good or fair to good retention rating, and that’s promising. Green foxtail gets a good retention rating while buckwheat gets a fair to good. Volunteer canola is rated good. The unfortunate ones are the poors: wild oat, spiny annual sow thistle, narrow-leaved hawk’s-beard. Those have poor retention and are unlikely to be primary targets for harvest weed seed control because a lot of their seeds are already gone by harvest.

10weeds FocusOnHRLooking at some small plot experiments, seed retention of wild oat, cleavers, and volunteer canola was looked at. Volunteer canola retained most of its seed by the end of September, cleavers was intermediate and wild oat retained about 20 per cent of the seed by the end of September.

Kochia has good seed retention. Their seeds only mature after harvest, so most of the seed is still there at harvest, but the concern is that below the cutting height, typically six inches, there can still be over 5,000 seeds below that cutting height. So even though a lot of seed is collected by the combine, there could still be a lot missed and left in the field. At this point we aren’t sure what impact harvest weed seed control would have on kochia.

As part of my PhD research, we looked at running samples through the Harrington Seed Destructor in a stationary format set up in the shop. We mixed buckets of chaff with weed seeds and ran them through to determine how many are destroyed. We looked at five weed seed species: kochia, green foxtail, cleavers, volunteer canola, and wild oat. We put 10,000 seeds of each of those species into a five-gallon pail of chaff, put it into the Seed Destructor and assessed how many lived when they came out the other side.

A second study looked at weed seed size. Weed seed species are all different shapes, sizes and seed coat types. We took canola seeds and we hand sieved them to get thousand kernel weights between 2.2 grams per 1,000 and 5.8 grams per thousand.

We also looked at weed seed number by comparing 10 canola seeds up to a million canola seeds in the same volume of chaff. We also looked at chaff volume, so 10,000 canola seeds going through with no chaff or up to eight five-gallon pails of chaff in the same timeframe. And we also looked at chaff type, so barley, canola, and peas.

When we looked at weed seed species we did find significant differences in terms of control but our lowest level of control was still over 97 per cent killed. It worked really well on all the species that we tested.

In terms of canola seed size, we expected to see an increase in control as the size of the canola seed went up, and we did. But again, we’re within a percentage point of 98.5 per cent control so weed seed size isn’t a big factor in control.

Looking at weed seed number, once you have over 100 seeds going through, we were back up at that 98 per cent control.

As we increased the amount of chaff going in, initially our control increased, which may be that there’s more deflection within that mill. Those seeds get hit an extra time or two, and then it started to taper off. But again, we are in the 98 to 99 per cent control so it’s not going to have a huge impact in the field.

There was a similar story with chaff type. We did have less control in our canola chaff but we were running volunteer canola seeds through the seed destructor so there was likely a background presence of volunteer canola in our canola chaff that we did not account for. But again it’s by one-half per cent and we are still getting 98 to 98.5 per cent control.

In summary, what we found with the seed destructor was if you can get the weed seeds into the seed destructor you’re going to kill most of them – greater than 95 per cent.

The big question now is how does it work in the field? The answer is we don’t know yet. We have an ongoing study with the seed destructor in 20 producer fields where the seed destructor is in the field at harvest time. We harvest with the seed destructor and compare it to a pass with the seed destructor not milling the chaff. We learned a lot of lessons in 2017.

The first is that air velocity is really key. Chaff needs to be moved from the sieves, up and into the input of the tow behind Harrington. In order to get the chaff from the sieves, it has to go up into an input tube, and takes a fair bit of air velocity. If your air velocity is too low, your machine will plug. And if you don’t catch the plug fast enough, you end up with burning belts.

Greener, wet material also doesn’t work. We know it takes a lot more effort for the combine to thresh green or wet material. It’s a similar story with the mills. You need higher air velocity, and without it the green, wet material can plug where it forms a nice solid block of really hot, wet chaff in the blower. Green, wet material doesn’t grind well, either. So if you have green material in the field desiccation or swathing is going to be needed to dry the material down.

The other complication the tow behind HSD is a big machine that has problems with hills. The integrated seed destructor or the Seed Terminator makes a lot more sense for Western Canada. The research that’s been done in Australia shows that the tow behind unit and the integrated unit are very similar in terms of their control, so it’s still a valid test for those integrated units in Western Canada.

An example from a single field in 2017 shows some interesting results, although very preliminary. We compared photos from an untreated and treated Seed Destructor pass. There was substantially less volunteer canola in the treated pass after harvest. There is still some volunteer canola, but there’s substantially less.

We hope to start seeing benefits in the spring of 2018, but it is a three-year study. We’ll be back on the same locations for the next two harvests so that we can take into account the seed bank buffering that we’ll see in terms of our treatments.

These are new strategies. There’s always going to be bugs to work out, but they can be very effective in helping us manage the herbicide resistance that we’re currently facing.

For more stories on this topic, check out Top Crop Manager's Focus On: Herbicide Resistance, the first in our digital edition series.
Published in Weeds
According to Angela Brackenreed, an agronomy specialist for the Canola Council of Canada, seed losses during canola harvest are often higher than producers might think – about two bushels per acre on average, but can reach double digits in in extreme cases.
Published in Canola
The outlook for hard white wheat production in Western Canada nudged upward this past winter for the first time in approximately six years.
Published in Cereals
Some fungi such as Fusarium and Penicillium can infect the grain of corn, wheat and other cereals and may produce toxins under certain conditions. Preventing or minimizing the accumulation of these toxins is very important for ensuring food and feed safety and for maintaining the grain’s value in the marketplace. A recent study shows that ultraviolet (UV) light might offer another way to decrease fungi and fungal toxins in harvested cereals.
Published in Storage
About a decade ago, Kyle Folk was at his parents’ grain farm helping his dad load up a semi of canola to meet a contract when the two made an unpleasant discovery.
Published in Storage
One of the first research questions was to determine what we expected aeration to do and what the main objectives were,” says Ron Palmer, IHARF research engineer. “The first reason was to remove some of the moisture from the grain, especially if it is tough.
Published in Storage
The Government of Saskatchewan recently approved a new recycling program for agricultural grain bags. The program, set to launch this month, provides a responsible option for producers to return these large, heavy bags for recycling and to prevent environmental harm from open burning or improper disposal.

The recycling program will be operated by Cleanfarms, a non-profit environmental stewardship organization, and regulated by The Agricultural Packaging Product Waste Stewardship Regulations, which came into effect in July 2016.

With the assistance of funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, Cleanfarms will establish 20 grain bag collection sites in 2018, with more sites planned for 2019.

The Ministry of Agriculture funded a grain bag recycling pilot program from 2011 to 2017, operated by Simply Agriculture Solutions. Through the program, 4,209 metric tonnes of material was shipped to recyclers – equivalent to approximately 28,000 grain bags.

The new program will include an environmental handling fee of $0.25 per kilogram, which will be paid at the point of purchase effective November 1, 2018.
Published in Storage & Transport
Marrowfat pea is a very large-seeded, green-coloured pea with a blocky shape and a unique taste that makes it the pea of choice for certain specialty markets. Depending on the marketplace, this pea can command a premium price, but it has some challenges.
Published in Pulses
With industry meetings and conferences in full swing across the country, many producers have taken the winter months to seek out information and networking opportunities. As I recently navigated my way through a number of sessions at the SouthWest Agricultural Conference (held in early January at the University of Guelph Ridgetown campus), the turnout painted an obvious picture.
Published in Storage
The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) is making an exception and allowing deliveries of canola variety 46A76 made before August 1, 2018, to be assigned any grade for canola.
Published in Corporate News
John Deere grain and cotton harvesting equipment have been honored by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) with the AE50 Award for 2018. The AE50 Award highlights the year’s most innovative product-engineering designs in the food and agriculture industry, as chosen by a panel of international engineering experts.

The John Deere S700 Series Combine was recognized for its significant innovations in “smart” technology, improved operator comfort and data capabilities for more efficient grain harvesting, said Matt Badding, John Deere marketing manager for harvesting equipment.

“The S700 Combines integrate new technologies that optimize and automate grain harvesting, making it easier, faster and more efficient for the operator,” Badding said. “By automating more adjustment and calibration tasks, we’ve enhanced the operational intelligence of these machines while improving overall durability and productivity, based on each customer’s crop and field conditions.”

The latest features include the Combine Advisor package that incorporates seven technologies to help operators set, optimize and automate the combine performance as crop conditions change; Auto Maintain and ActiveVision cameras for maximum threshing performance and grain quality; and Active Yield technology that automatically calibrates the mass flow sensor to eliminate the need for manual calibrations and ensure the best data is collected during harvest.

In addition, the CP690 Cotton Picker and CS690 Cotton Stripper were recognized for innovations in precision cotton-harvesting technologies that include moisture sensing, round module weighing, Harvest Identification, Cotton Pro and John Deere Operations Center Field Analyzer.

ASABE is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food, and biological systems. From the many entries submitted each year, an expert panel of engineers selects approximately 50 products for recognition. The award-winning products are those ranked highest in innovation, significant engineering advancement and impact on the market served.
Published in Combines/Harvesters
A crop related research project will look at how to better manage the production of oats in Saskatchewan.

Northeast Agriculture Research Foundation (NARF), located at Melfort, received $80,255 in funding from the province’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) for the three-year study that will start this spring. Western Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission and Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission are also dedicating a combined $110,255 to the project.

Research manager Jessica Pratchler said specifically she will look at not just relying on fungicides for disease control in oats. For the full story, click here
Published in Harvesting
Harvest quality of milling oats is very important, and growers sometimes utilize harvest aids such as pre-harvest glyphosate. A properly timed application can help growers control perennial weeds and improve crop harvestability, while meeting maximum residue limit (MRL) requirements. However, some buyers have placed restrictions on the use of pre-harvest glyphosate on oats they purchase.


Christian Willenborg, associate professor with the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, initiated a small study in 2015 to collect some initial research data and find a way to lend science to the decision-making process.

“We were surprised at the announcement that some milling quality oats would not be accepted if treated with glyphosate, and frankly, this didn’t sit well with me. But there was no science on this and so we immediately established a one-season ‘look-see’ trial in 2015 at two locations near Saskatoon to compare different harvest systems and their effects on quality of milling oats,” he says. “We compared two different oat cultivars: CDC Dancer, a medium maturity cultivar, and AC Pinnacle, a later maturing cultivar. The oats were managed using typical agronomy practices, including a seeding rate of 300 seeds per square metre (seeds/m2) targeting 250 plants per square metre (plants/m2) and fertilized for a target yield of 150 bushels per acre.”

The second factor was a comparison of three different harvest systems, including swathing at the optimum timing of 35 per cent moisture, direct combined (at approximately nine per cent seed moisture content alone and direct combined with a pre-harvest glyphosate application. The pre-harvest glyphosate was applied according to label requirements at 30 per cent seed moisture content using the recommended label rate. The project compared various harvest quality parameters, as well as functional quality characteristics and residue testing across the different treatments.

Through funding from the Prairie Oat Growers Association and the Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund, the initial 2015 trial has been expanded into a fully funded, much larger three-year project that will involve several additional experiments.

“We gained some very good insights in the initial trial, but these very preliminary results will be compared again in this larger expanded trial over the next three years. Until we get the final results at the end of 2018, these early one-season informational highlights have to be considered very preliminary,” Willenborg says.

The 2015 preliminary results showed that, as expected, cultivar had an impact on all of the quality parameters, such as yield, plump kernels, 1,000 kernel weight and test weight. However, there was no cultivar by harvest system interaction – the effects of the harvest system were consistent regardless of which cultivar was planted.

“The harvest system did have an impact on several of the quality parameters, however the preliminary results did not show any negative effects of a pre-harvest glyphosate application,” Willenborg explains. “In terms of yield, swathing resulted in a 15 to 18 per cent yield reduction compared to direct harvest, however some of that reduction may be a function of our plot harvesting equipment, and this may be different with field-scale grower systems. The direct harvested plots, with and without a pre-harvest glyphosate treatment, had virtually equal yield. Swathing produced the highest test weight, with direct harvest plus pre-harvest glyphosate equal to the swathing treatment; direct harvest with no glyphosate had a significant lower test weight.”

The swathing treatment also produced the highest percentage of thin kernels, with direct harvest and no glyphosate intermediate and the lowest percentage of thin kernels with direct harvest plus glyphosate treatment. On the other hand, the percentage of plump kernels was the same in both direct harvest treatments, but slightly lower for the swathing treatment. Overall, the pre-harvest glyphosate reduced the percentage of thin kernels in the sample, which is a benefit for growers.

“For the initial and longer term project, we partnered with Dr. Nancy Ames at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to compare the functional aspects of the oat cultivars under the different treatments,” Willenborg says. “Her preliminary functional test results were similar to the seed quality results, with no major impacts on functional quality among the treatments. For the glyphosate testing, we partnered with Dr. Sheryl Tittlemier at the Canadian Grain Commission to develop a glyphosate residue test for oat. Her initial test results from the 2015 treatments showed that the direct harvest plus pre-harvest glyphosate treatment did have very small levels of residues at four [parts per million], which is well below the MRL threshold levels in North America. We will continue to use this test for the larger project.”

The expanded three-year study will include the same harvest treatments, with some additional trials assessing seeding rate and stand uniformity. Stand uniformity is related to the question of whether or not additional tillers in the stand may be a factor with potential glyphosate issues. The three harvest treatments will also be compared at a range of different moisture contents, from 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 per cent at the time of swathing, or direct harvest alone and direct harvest plus pre-harvest glyphosate.

Willenborg will also be investigating alternative cultural and herbicide combinations for managing perennial weeds in oat. The full analysis and final project results will be available in 2019, including seed quality and functional analysis.

“So far it doesn’t appear that glyphosate is having an adverse effect on oat seed quality or functionality, and if anything is showing a small quality benefit to having glyphosate applied prior to harvest,” Willenborg says. “The key is to follow the label directions for pre-harvest application and make sure the crop is at 30 per cent moisture or lower, which corresponds roughly to the hard dough stage of development. All of our research treatments have been completed according to the label, but once you get off label in terms of timing we don’t know what will happen with glyphosate residues.

“For example, in some of our earlier work with lentil, the results were fine as long as label directions were followed, but as soon as application got off label in terms of timing and at higher moisture content, [that’s] where problems with quality and MRLs showed up. We expect that may be similar to oat, which is often harvested late in the season, when growers are between a rock and a hard place, with frost or heavy rains threatening harvest.”

Although it can be a challenge to apply glyphosate at the proper timing, there can be serious consequences due to not adhering to the label timing. Always follow the label, and check with your grain buyer about the acceptance of all pre-harvest and other product use and MRLs for all crops, including oats.
Published in Herbicides
Linamar Corp. recently announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100 per cent of the outstanding equity interests of MacDon and its Group of Companies for an aggregate purchase price of C$1.2 Million, less the assumption of small transaction related expenses, and subject to certain customary adjustments.

Headquartered in Winnipeg, Man., MacDon is a global innovative market leader in the design and manufacturing of specialized agriculture harvesting equipment such as drapers and self-propelled windrowers.

MacDon is an industry-leading manufacturer with a strong customer following and advanced agriculture equipment technologies.

It has developed an indstury-leading reputation for quality, reliability and passion for harvesting technology over its 67 year history as a family owned company. MacDon’s mission is to manufacture reliable machines that make harvesting easier and more productive for its customers in over 40 countries worldwide.

MacDon’s products excel in the toughest real-world conditions, and its pioneering, industry-leading innovations like the FlexDraper® have propelled the company’s strong reputation for providing customers with quality, innovative equipment. Further, MacDon has developed strong relationships with a global dealer network of approximately 1,400 leading dealers and distributors, a major competitive advantage in the industry.

Linamar sees a compelling cultural fit with MacDon given its strong family legacy and looks forward to building on that foundation, which has been a key driver of MacDon’s success. This platform acquisition positions Linamar as a leading global agricultural equipment manufacturer.

MacDon will be combined with Linamar’s existing agriculture harvesting business in Hungary to position both businesses for significant growth. Linamar’s existing harvesting business is highly complementary to MacDon product plan allowing Linamar to offer a full lineup of grain and hay harvesting equipment. Linamar plans to expand its agricultural platform by increasing penetration in both new and underserviced markets globally.

Linamar expects to realize modest synergies from the transaction and create opportunities to utilize existing distribution channels for agricultural products. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings per share and free cash flow per share even before accounting for these synergies. As it expands, MacDon will benefit from Linamar’s established manufacturing footprint in Asia and Europe along with employing best practices from both Linamar and MacDon.

Linamar has a long track record of executing strategic, accretive acquisitions followed by seamless integration. Its previous acquisitions of Skyjack, Montupet and Seissenschmidt are compelling case studies of Linamar building its global manufacturing platform with broader product lines, additional capabilities in new markets and incremental geographic presence, while continuing to deliver outstanding financial performance and returns to its shareholders.

“The acquisition of MacDon provides a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move our agriculture business into a market leading position while providing meaningful diversification to the end markets we serve. We believe the long-term growth fundamentals for the agriculture industry are very strong given the growing and developing global population, noting the market is in the early stages of cyclical recovery.” said Linda Hasenfratz, Linamar’s CEO, “MacDon is a strong, well-managed company and an innovative market leader in both customer penetration and technology evolution; it will be the centerpiece of our agriculture business, which includes our existing European corn header business, highly complementary to MacDon products. We get diversification, innovation, growth and a solid deal, we couldn’t be happier."

For more information, visit http://www.linamar.com/
Published in Corporate News
When researchers at the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) heard that some producers were looking toward the practice of straight cutting shatter-resistant canola varieties, they set out to find the true post-harvest comparison of straight cut or swath.
Published in Canola
Prairie farmers continue to insure their crops for hail damage at near record levels. 2017 recorded one of the lightest hail claim years since 2009. Claims produced insurance payouts of $96 million on just over 8,600 claims in Western Canada. Producer premiums totaled just over $286 million for an industry loss ratio of 33.8 per cent.

Dry spring conditions, combined with 2016 unharvested acres, and some continued industry rate declines resulted in a five per cent decrease in producer paid premiums for 2017.

With the lack of moisture much of the western prairies received little in the way of convective storm activity resulting in hail losses.

Hardest hit was Manitoba with a loss ratio of 45.9 per cent, a figure still well below a record 2016 loss ratio of 158.9 per cent. Alberta followed with a loss ratio of 33.7 per cent, compared to 83.6 per cent in 2016. Saskatchewan reported a 30 per cent loss ratio compared to 73 per cent in 2016.

Another year of contrasts and challenges emerged for producers. Dry conditions followed what looked to be a promising planting season. The dry conditions were wide spread across the western prairies. While welcomed by some after excess moisture in 2016, record and near record dry was reported through a large portion of Saskatchewan and parts of Alberta. Manitoba producers appeared to receive more timely precipitation. In spite of the dry conditions producers were presently surprised come harvest with yield and quality.

The storm season was spread across mostly July and August. All months of June thru October reported hail, however all months showed a decrease in storm frequency from the five year average. Claim frequency or claim to policy ratio was down about 30 per cent from the five year average. Storm severity or average per claim was down about 16 per cent from the five year average.

Alberta hail claim payments decline 60 per cent from 2016

Alberta’s quiet storm activity resulted in lighter than average loss activity for the industry. The first storms were reported as early as May 13th. The dry southern Alberta crops advanced quickly with an early harvest ensuing. Areas of central and northern Alberta were still recovering from excess moisture and late seeding due to a carry-over of the 2016 harvest. This resulted in some of those areas having the current fall harvest delayed compared to their southern producers. Fall conditions allowed for nearly all crop to be harvested in 2017.

Early storms were localized to small areas. By mid-June larger more organized storms became prevalent for the summer hail season. Alberta’s most expensive storm date(s) were July 23rd costing companies over $19,000 per claim and July 27th damaging over 33,000 acres and costing in excess of $2.2 million.

Total hail payments were reported just over $25 million as compared to over $60 million in 2016. Storm severity decreased by about 25 per cent, while the storm frequency was down about 40 per cent from the five year average. The overall reported loss ratio was 33.7 per cent.

Total sums insured were down from 2016, with average charged rates showing a slight increase from 2016 after a less than stellar loss result last year. The decrease in sums insured resulted in a premium declined of four per cent.

Saskatchewan reported lower than average losses

The west central part of the province began the season with early moisture and delayed
seeding. The north east part of the province meanwhile still was trying to clean up 2016 harvest due to excess fall moisture and early winter. Meanwhile the southern part of the province awaited moisture to help start the crops.

The dry conditions gave way to some areas receiving timely mid-June moisture. Some southern areas not so lucky had spotty germination and continued drought concerns. Regardless most areas in the province produced average to above average crops with good quality.

Saskatchewan’s hail season began in early June with storms on the 2nd and 9th. Hail frequency was down about 44 per cent based on the five year average. The five year hail severity was decreased by roughly 10 per cent. Saskatchewan’s most expensive storm date(s) was July 20 and 21, costing companies $14.9 million on over 1100 claims. Total hail payments were just over $48 million compared to $125 million in 2016, a decrease of 61 per cent from a year earlier. The overall reported loss ratio was 30 per cent.

Provincial total sums insured decreased in 2017. The average charged rates also decrease for the year. Continued average industry loss results and competitive pressures likely contribute to the continued rate decline. These combined changes resulted in a five per cent decline to premiums for the year.

Manitoba recovers after a record hail year in 2016

Seeding was mostly complete by early June. Timely rains helped negate the dry conditions suffered in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. With below average precipitation through June crops were still in good condition from spring moisture. Seasonal moisture provided great conditions throughout the growing season. This along with good harvest conditions provided Manitoba with average to above average yield and crop quality.

Manitoba’s hail season started in early June as well. With most crops still in the early stages minimal damage was recorded. The results from hail damage in Manitoba mirrored her sister prairie provinces. Manitoba’s most expensive hail day(s) appear to be July 21 and 22 costing companies over $11,000 per claim.

Hail frequency was down about 19 per cent from the five year average. Claim Severity was down about 17 per cent from the five year average. Total hail payments were just over $23 million compared to over $74 million in 2016. 2017 reported a stellar loss ratio of 46 per cent, compared to last year’s record 158 per cent loss ratio.

Total provincial sums insured had a marginal increase of three pre cent. This could be contributed to the large hail loss last year. Average charged rates also saw a minimal increase, likely from the historic loss results in 2016. These two factors would help contribute to a six per cent increase in premium for the year.
Published in Corporate News
A surprise late-season rally has rescued Southwestern Ontario’s vital corn crop. But not everyone has done well in the region, one of the nation’s richest farm belts and one where corn is one of the biggest crops.

Some areas, especially north of London, have lower yields and quality problems due to the shortened season and not enough rain.

An agronomist says about half of the corn crop has been harvested but the first snow of the season last Thursday idled the combines especially in areas north and west of London. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
The grain industry is adopting innovation from motor racing specialists when it comes to new technology and materials designed to reduce the risk of fires in headers. READ MORE
Published in Harvesting
Farmers keep a close eye on the yield monitor as their combines roll across the field. GSI (Grain Systems, Inc.) recommends that growers also monitor their grain storage system during harvest and rate its performance once the season’s over.

“Evaluating how well their grain system handled the harvest season, and what improvements may be needed, is one of the most important steps farmers can take to help prepare for next year,” says Gary Woodruff, GSI conditioning applications manager.

Woodruff suggests farmers keep track of any grain handling, drying or storage issues, and then give their grain system a post-harvest “report card” based on the following considerations:

  • Material handling – How well did grain handing equipment – dump pits, grain legs and other conveyors – perform in loading and unloading of grain? If bottlenecks were experienced, consider adding faster, higher-capacity handling equipment for next season.
  • Dryer capacity – Ideally, grain should be dried the same day it is harvested. If wet grain remained in a hopper tank longer than one day, plan to add drying capacity next season to protect grain quality.
  • Grain storage capacity – Did grain bins have adequate storage for the bushels harvested? If not, and it was necessary to transport more grain than expected to an elevator, expanded storage may be a wise investment for 2018. Hauling grain to an elevator not only entails storage costs, but may also can take time away from harvest for transportation.
  • Safety – Post-harvest is also a good time to consider possible system enhancements, such as improving safety. This can include installing roof stairs or peak platforms on bins, checking to see if bin safety cages are secure, and making sure all safety shields on motor drives and dump points are in good condition.
  • Maintenance – Grain bins and dryers should be thoroughly cleaned of debris as soon as they are empty and the entire storage system inspected, so that all equipment will be ready for next season. Common maintenance needs can include repairing and/or replacing worn motors and belts, damaged down spouts, noisy gear boxes, worn flights on augers and oil leaks. “The off-season is a much better time to address these issues, rather than waiting until the busy spring or summer periods, when dealers are booked and required parts may be difficult to find in time for harvest,” Woodruff notes.
“Farmers know the importance of inspecting and cleaning their combine following the harvest season,” says Woodruff. “It’s just as important to evaluate their grain system to be sure it will efficiently meet their storage needs for next season.”

For more information, farmers can contact their GSI dealer or visit www.grainsystems.com.

Published in Storage
The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, recently announced at the Farms.com Precision Agriculture Conference, the launch of the Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform into Western Canada for the 2018 growing season.

With Climate’s analytics-based digital tools, more Canadian farmers will be able to harness their data in one connected platform to identify and more efficiently manage variability in their fields, tailoring crop inputs to optimize yield and maximize their return on every acre.

In September 2016, the company first announced the introduction of the Climate FieldView platform in Eastern Canada, where hundreds of farmers across nearly one million acres have been experiencing the value of data-driven, digital tools on their operations.

Now, farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta will have the ability to use the Climate FieldView platform to uncover personalized field insights to support the many crucial decisions they make each season to enhance crop productivity.

“The Climate FieldView platform is a one-stop shop for simple field data management, helping Canadian farmers get the most out of every acre,” said Denise Hockaday, Canada business lead for The Climate Corporation. “Through the delivery of the platform’s powerful data analytics and customized field insights, farmers across Canada have the power to tailor their agronomic practices more precisely than ever before, fine tuning their action plans for the best outcome at the end of the season.”

Over the past year, the Climate FieldView platform had a strong testing effort across many farm operations in Western Canada, enabling the Climate team to further develop the platform’s compatibility with all types of farm equipment and crops, including canola and wheat, to collect and analyze field data from multiple sources.

“Part of the challenge with data is managing all of the numbers and having an adequate cloud system to store and effectively analyze the information,” said farmer D’Arcy Hilgartner of Alberta, who participated in testing the Climate FieldView platform on his operation this season. “The Climate FieldView platform instantly transfers the field data gathered from my farm equipment into my Climate FieldView account, which is especially useful during harvest season because I’m able to see where various crop inputs were used and analyze the corresponding yield. I’ve really enjoyed having this digital platform at my disposal, and I’m excited to see the positive impacts on my business this coming year.”

As Climate continues to expand its digital technologies to help more farmers access advanced agronomic insights, additional new data layers will feed the company’s unmatched R&D engine, ultimately enabling the development of valuable new features for farmers in the Climate FieldView platform.

In August 2017, the company announced the acceleration of R&D advancements through the company’s robust innovation pipeline, along with new product features and enhancements to help farmers manage their field variability more precisely than ever before.

Launched in 2015, the Climate FieldView platform is on more than 120 million acres with more than 100,000 users across the United States, Canada and Brazil. It has quickly become the most broadly connected platform in the industry and continues to expand into new global regions.

Climate FieldView Platform Offering in Western Canada

  • Data Connectivity - Farmers can collect, store and visualize their field data in one easy-to-use digital platform through the Climate FieldView Drive, a device that easily streams field data directly into the Climate FieldView platform. FieldView Drive works with many tractors and combines across Canada, in addition to anhydrous applicators and air seeders, helping farmers easily collect field data for the agronomic inputs they manage throughout the season. Recently, The Climate Corporation announced a new data connectivity agreement with AGCO, providing more farmers even more options to connect their equipment to the Climate FieldView platform. In addition to the FieldView Drive, farmers can connect their field data to their Climate FieldView account through Precision Planting LLC's monitors, cloud-to-cloud connection with other agricultural software systems such as the John Deere Operations Center, and through manual file upload.
  • Yield Analysis Tools - With Climate’s seed performance and analysis tools, farmers can see what worked and what didn’t at the field level or by field zone, and apply those insights to better understand field variability by quickly and easily comparing digital field maps side-by-side. Farmers can save regions of their fields in a yield-by-region report and can also save and record a field region report through enhanced drawing and note taking tools, retrieving the report at a later date for easy analysis on any portion of their field to better understand how their crops are performing.
  • Advanced Field Health Imagery - Through frequent and consistent, high-quality satellite imagery, farmers can instantly visualize and analyze crop performance, helping them identify issues early, prioritize scouting and take action early to protect yield. Climate's proprietary imagery process provides consistent imagery quality and frequency by using high-resolution imagery with vegetative data from multiple images, in addition to advanced cloud identification. Farmers can also drop geo-located scouting pins on field health images and navigate back to those spots for a closer look, or share with agronomic partners.
  • Seeding and Fertility Scripting - Farmers can manage their inputs to optimize yield in every part of their field with manual variable rate seed and fertility scripting tools. Through Climate’s manual seed scripting tools, farmers can easily create detailed planting plans for their fields to build a hybrid specific prescription tailored to their unique goals, saving time and improving productivity. Additionally, Climate offers a manual fertility scripting tool, enabling farmers the ability to optimize their inputs with a customized management plan for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and lime tailored to their unique goals.

2018 Availability and Pricing

The Climate FieldView platform is currently available for purchase in Western Canada on a per-acre basis so that farmers can begin using it on their farms in time for the 2018 growing season. To experience the complete value of the platform throughout the entire growing season, farmers should sign up for a Climate FieldView account by Jan. 1, 2018. For more information about the Climate FieldView platform and pricing, contact Climate Support at 1.888.924.7475 or visit www.climatefieldview.ca.
Published in Precision Ag
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