Specialty Production
Canada’s ginseng industry receives a boost as Lawrence MacAulay, minister of agriculture and agri-food, announced an investment of $360,521 to the Ontario Ginseng Growers' Association (OGGA) to help promote and pursue new markets.
Published in Other Crops
Several regions of Quebec will start planting quinoa following the success of Ontario producers and processors of quinoa.
Published in Seeding/Planting

Alberta products stood out at the world's largest annual food trade show. Gulfood attracts about 100,000 visitors from all over the world and took place February 18 to 22, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Alberta’s delegation was comprised of a range of companies offering commodities like pulses, cereals and grains, to value-added products including honey, halal beef and lamb. | READ MORE

Published in Markets
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
Making more money on the same amount of land – it’s a mantra for today’s farmers, and one that’s increasingly relevant as land prices and production costs continue to rise.

A Sarnia refining company is helping local farmers expand their return per acre by providing a market for an otherwise low-value material: the corn stalks and wheat stubble left over after harvest.

With planning for a new facility well underway, Comet Biorefining is expanding its partnership with Ontario farmers who are members of the Cellulosic Sugar Producers’ Cooperative – a partnership that started in 2014 – to turn an additional 60,000 tonnes of crop residue into 30,000 tonnes of cellulosic dextrose, or industrial processing sugar, each year.

The facility will also produce 30,000 tonnes of hemicellulose and lignin or organic compounds found in plant cells that can be used in many industrial applications.

“Dextrose is used in everything from food products and animal feed to a wide range of industrial processes. Generating that dextrose from crop residues means farmers are increasing the value they get from every acre,” says Comet CEO Rich Troyer.

With support from BioIndustrial Innovation Canada and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, both non-profit organizations that work to promote the development and adoption of clean technologies and markets, construction of the new Sarnia refining facility is to begin this spring.

Troyer says the total North American market for dextrose is about six million tonnes every year and growing.

“There’s a very significant market opportunity here; we’re actually adding capacity at a much slower rate than market growth,” he says.

According to Cellulosic Sugar Producers’ Cooperative general manager Brian Cofell, farmers interested in participating are asked to contribute a membership fee of $500, and an initial investment of $200 for each acre they wish to commit to harvesting crop residues for the new refinery.

Yearly returns for that investment begin with a preferred dividend of $50 per acre for the first five years, then continue at $30 per acre each year after that. However, Cofell says they anticipate a return of $100 per acre by 2029, due in part to steady demand for dextrose and the capacity of the new Comet facility.

The price farmers will receive for their corn stover and wheat straw is added on top of that dividend, and is locked in at $25 and $40 per dry metric tonne respectively.

As of this past December the cooperative was supported by 80 farmer members, though Cofell says that number is steadily increasing.

While the new facility is under construction, Coffell says the immediate goal for the cooperative is to continue expanding its member base, while planning for an initial harvest in fall 2018. The new facility will reach full production in 2019.

“The cooperative will own 27.5 per cent of Comet Biorefining’s new plant. It’s an opportunity for the growers themselves to be part of creating a final product,” he says.
Published in Corn
The Canadian organic industry is one of Canada's fastest growing agricultural sectors, thanks to Canada's hardworking organic farmers and food processors who are respected around the world for supplying nutritious, sustainable, and high-quality organic products. With more than $5.4 billion in retail sales in 2017, growing the Canadian organic sector will contribute to our government's ambitious goal of reaching $75 billion in annual agri-food exports by 2025.

Speaking recently at the Guelph Organic Conference and Tradeshow, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced the Government of Canada is providing the essential support to update the Canadian Organic Standards.

The Government of Canada will provide the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) the necessary funds to cover costs associated with the 2020 Canadian Organic Standards review. The review is done every five years to ensure production methodologies reflect current practices and technological advancements being employed by the organic industry.

Recognized product standards are a key factor in the facilitation of international trade and AAFC officials will continue working with the sector to further support its sustainability and growth.

Minister MacAulay also announced $72,500 for the Canadian Organic Growers for the development of a user friendly guide to the Canadian Organic Standards. This guide will provide organic producers, processors, handlers and manufacturers in Canada as well as those wishing to enter it, a clear understanding of what is required to become a certified organic producer in Canada.

As well, the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) has received an additional $95,114 through the AgriMarketing Program, towards their international market development strategy. This investment will enable COTA to attend international conferences and trade shows and lead outgoing missions to raise awareness of Canadian organic products in key markets in Europe, United States, Asia and Latin America.

"Canadian organic farmers and food processors are producing a quality product that consumers in Canada and around the world demand. Our government is pleased to work closely with this important sector, so that together we can help reach our government's goal of $75 billion in exports by 2025, while supporting well-paying middle class jobs. Finding a solution to updating the Canadian Organic Standards is a key part of that, since they ensure our organics are recognized internationally for their quality," MacAulay said.


Join Top Crop Manager Feb. 27 and 28 in Saskatoon, Sask., for the 2018 Herbicide Resistance Summit - Register now!
Published in Corporate News
Organic sales in the United States were worth $47 billion in 2016, and organic food sales represent more than five per cent of total retail sales. In Canada, over 55 per cent of consumers purchase organic products on a weekly basis. With its new Certified Organic linPRO and linPRO-R animal feed ingredients, O&T Farms is helping its customers serve this growing market segment.

O&T Farms is a proven leader in the Omega-3 animal feed ingredient market, using its patented dry-extrusion process in the manufacturer of linPRO and linPRO-R. These specialty feed products aid in the consistent and reliable enrichment of Omega-3s into eggs, dairy and meats. The organic LinPRO products now provide the same nutritional advantages of enhanced digestibility, energy availability and improved rumen escape values only now using verified organic ingredients.

“We always strive to be responsive to changing markets, such as the incredible growth in organics, and develop products that allow our customers to be as versatile and serve as many markets as possible,” says Elan Ange, CEO of O&T Farms. “The organic certification of linPRO(organic) and linPRO-R(organic) means our flaxseed-based products can offer animal health and production benefits to a wider range of livestock producers. They open the door for the production of Omega-3 enriched organic alternatives for consumer food products such as milk, eggs, beef and chicken.”

LinPRO and linPRO-R are certified through International Certification Services Inc. under the National Organic Program (NOP) in accordance with USDA Agricultural Marketing Services and the Canadian Organic Regime (COR). The LinPRO brand offers high-energy, flaxseed-based feed products with high levels of fatty acids and amino acids.

The Omega-3 fatty acids contained in flaxseed have been associated with many animal and human health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to provide immunological benefits and potential production benefits to livestock, as well as human benefits that include improving brain and eye health and lowering the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia and arthritis. Additionally, feeding linPRO branded products to livestock is a natural way to improve the nutritional value of the end product (i.e. milk, eggs and animal protein) and therefore offer healthier alternatives to consumers.

RELATED: Flaxseed in animal feed has exciting potential
Published in Corporate News
Producers will find greener pastures and more green in their bank accounts thanks to the return of a popular forage seed program offered by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and Crop Production Services (CPS).

Under the program, Alberta producers receive a $100 rebate on every 50 lb. bag of Proven Seed forage varieties purchased at CPS retail locations. While the program is best suited to producers in the parkland and prairie regions, farmers located close to DUC habitat priority boundaries may also be eligible.

The growing need for more pastureland is expected to make this year's program especially attractive, says Craig Bishop, lead of DUC's regional forage program. It also has the potential to cover approximately 40 to 50 per cent of a producer's seed investment.

The benefits of more seeded forage acres and increased perennial cover include decreased soil erosion, retained nutrient values and better waterfowl nesting habitat. It also helps other conservation efforts like wetland restoration.

Last year in Alberta, 12,905 cultivated acres were seeded to grass under the DUC/CPS forage program. A similar program offering in Saskatchewan and Manitoba brought the total number of seeded forage acres up to 20,768 acres across the Canadian prairies.

For more information about the program, visit any CPS retail location or area DUC conservation specialist, or call the Forage Help Desk at 1 800 661 3334.
Published in Seeding/Planting
Canadian weather is less predictable than a two-year-old and just as destructive. Nobody appreciates that more than winter wheat growers in Western Canada in 2017. While they typically rely on good moisture conditions in late April, May and early June, they instead faced the first drought in many years over much of the Prairies. Fortunately, those growers and their winter wheat crops were up to the challenge.

“We didn’t necessarily have ideal conditions for winter wheat this year,” says Paul Thoroughgood, regional agrologist or the Prairie region for Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Western Winter Wheat Initiative. “That said, everyone I spoke to harvested average to above average crops and also saw less disease pressure due to low humidity.”

Given the conditions, the winter wheat results for Western Canada, according to Stats Canada – 535,000 acres seeded in fall 2016 (2017 crop) – represented something that farmers don’t often experience: a pleasant surprise. For the full story, click here.

RELATED: Winter wheat and cover crops for improved soil health
Published in Cereals
Quinoa, the ancient South American grain that’s been touted as a gluten-free superfood, is gaining popularity with Canadian farmers, but in commercial terms, it remains a small niche crop in this country.
Published in Other Crops
Winter wheat is a low-input, low-yield crop. True or False?

There’s no market for winter wheat. True or False?

No varieties of winter wheat are suitable here. True or False?

False, to all of them, answers Ken Gross, agronomist at Brandon, Man., for the Western Winter Wheat Initiative (WWWI) and Ducks Unlimited Canada. Those are just three of many myths associated with the fall-seeded, high-potential wheat. Gross runs into myths frequently among growers and at meetings – and likes to bust them with facts. For the full story, click here
Published in Cereals
Marijuana, hemp's narcotic cousin, is the subject of federal plans for expanded legalization.

Degree and diploma aggies interested in producing commercial cannabis and/or hemp will be able to get college-certified starting next year.

Niagara College recently announced it will launch a graduate certificate program in commercial cannabis production in 2018, a program it bills as Canada’s “first post-secondary credential” in the crop’s production.

Niagara picked up approval this summer from Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development to offer the one-year post-graduate program, for students who already have either a diploma or degree from an accredited college or university in agribusiness, agricultural sciences, environmental science/resource studies, horticulture or natural sciences, or an “acceptable combination of education and experience.”

The program, running through the college’s School of Environment and Horticulture, is expected to prepare graduates to work in licensed production of cannabis, whether to produce licensed marijuana for the therapeutic drug market, hemp plants for fibre or hempseed for hemp oil.

“Driven by legislative changes in Canada and abroad, there is a growing labour market need, and education will be a key component of the success of this emerging industry,” Al Unwin, the School of Environmental and Horticulture’s associate dean, said in a release.

The program, he said, “will produce graduates who are skilled and knowledgeable greenhouse and controlled environment technicians who are also trained in all of the procedures, requirements, regulations and standards for this industry.”

Topics to be covered include plant nutrition, environment, lighting, climate control, pest control, plant pathology and cultivar selection as well as regulations and business software applications.

Niagara College said the program will conform to all regulations and requirements, including a “separate and highly secure learning environment/growing facility.” It’s also expected to include a field placement with a licensed producer in its second semester.

Applicants will have to be at least 19 years old by the start of classes, and will also have to undergo a police check “at minimum” to ensure their eligibility to apply for an Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) license.

The program will run at the college’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, where it operates various other agribusiness programs, facilities and research projects.

Roger Ferreira, CEO of Hamilton-based Beleave, Inc., which operates licensed marijuana producer First Access Medical, hailed the college in its release for “having the vision to fill this knowledge gap,” citing “tremendous demand for knowledgeable, skilled workers in this highly technical industry.”
Published in Corporate News
A former potato chip plant is creating new market opportunities and lucrative new crops for the farmers of Prince Edward Island.

Earlier this year, New Leaf Essentials East took over facilities in Slemon Park previously used by Small Fry and Humpty Dumpty to produce potato chips. Now the plant specializes in processing "pulses" – high-protein legume plants like dried peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.

They are used in pulse products including starches, proteins, fiber and flour for human and pet food markets, including aquaculture feed. The company also serves export markets worldwide. To read the full story, click here.
Published in Corporate News
Researchers from Agriculture Canada have collected more than 50 samples of wild hops from across the Maritimes. Now they're putting them under the microscope to find which ones will make the best brew.

The team put out the call more than two years ago and the response was overwhelming. The research team is working to find out the exact origin of the hops, through genetic and chemical tests. READ MORE
Published in Cereals
In June of this year, Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG) organized a seminar to deliver industry knowledge and expertise to groups interested in seeing a soybean crush facility built in Manitoba. This meeting brought together the Westman Group, agriculture consultant Mark Rowe and delegates from Manitoba Agriculture.

This recent burst of interest in local, value-added opportunities for soybean farmers from the private and public sectors is encouraging. It has pulled MPSG into a largely public conversation, drawing on the experience and expertise the association has developed from having worked on the soybean crush file since 2014, when it co-funded a feasibility study looking into the potential for such a plant in Manitoba.

In the interest of transparency surrounding the topic of such a facility, MPSG would like to inform its members that its involvement in these talks is solely focused on serving the best interests of the entire province’s soybean farmers.

“We represent farmers in western Manitoba, farmers in the east, farmers in the north and farmers in the south,” says MPSG Chair Jason Voth. “Soybean acres are increasing and prices are strong. The possibility of a crush plant is an encouraging topic and we’re working hard on the research and market development side to shed light on the correct path. MPSG is sitting at the soybean crush table to make sure the plant gets built in Manitoba. We are not here to choose a specific location or take sides. We are involved because we have a deep understanding of the subject matter and are happy to share it.”

MPSG’s mission is to provide research, production knowledge and market support to Manitoba pulse and soybean farmers. Discussions surrounding a soybean crush operation in Manitoba are important to MPSG. The association is taking them seriously, providing, as its mission states, market and industry-related expertise to the interested parties.

MPSG is neutral on the possible location for such a facility. The association acknowledges that for such a large, capital and capacity-heavy project to succeed, it must be built in the best place possible without any predetermination.

The hydro, wastewater and transportation demands of a successful soybean crush facility will be key factors for a company or group of investors to think about when considering the best possible site.

In the June meeting, Mr. Rowe provided the group with information on the costs of running such an operation, its energy demands and the high input and output volumes it would need to sustain in order to produce meal and oil on a profitable scale.

“Soybean acres have increased in Manitoba, and they are poised to keep increasing,” says MPSG’s Executive Director Francois Labelle. “Potential investors in such a facility have told us and others that they would need to see a high soybean acreage base sustained for three to five years before any decisions would be made. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

There are numerous policy issues, domestic and abroad, looming and actual, that are at play when determining the viability of a soy crush facility for Manitoba. MPSG is keeping an eye on these files and is working with others to make sure that Manitoba’s agricultural sector remains strong and competitive.

MPSG is optimistic about the possibility of a soybean crush plant coming up in Manitoba. And the association looks forward to its continued involvement in this process, conducting research, opening markets, delivering expertise and promoting ventures that will benefit all of Manitoba’s soybean and pulse farmers.
Published in Corporate News
On Canada’s fertile Prairies, dominated by the yellows and golds of canola and wheat, summers are too short to grow corn on a major scale.

But Monsanto Co. is working to develop what it hopes will be North America’s fastest-maturing corn, allowing farmers to grow more in Western Canada and other inhospitable climates, such as Ukraine.

The seed and chemical giant projects that western Canadian corn plantings could multiply 20 times to 10 million acres by 2025 - adding some 1.1 billion bushels, or nearly 3 percent to current global production. For the full story, click here.
Published in Plant Breeding
Dr. Anfu Hou is a leading plant breeder. He works at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centre in Morden, Man.

Hou was born in China and his research took him through several countries before he settled in Morden, which is located just north of the U.S. border. Geography is not insignificant here. Hou and his team develop crop varieties specifically suited to grow and grow well in the unique soil and weather conditions in Manitoba and Western Canada. For the full story, click here.
Published in Plant Breeding
The Oscar-winning Cameron appeared Monday in Vanscoy, a village southwest of Saskatoon, to say the couple have formed Verdient Foods to handle 160,000 tonnes of organic pea protein.

He said that, once operational, the plant will become the largest organic pea protein facility in North America. READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
What if we could design a landscape that would provide a variety of nutritious foods, high-quality habitat, and ecosystem services, while also delivering a healthy profit to the landowner? According to University of Illinois researchers, it is not only possible, it should be adopted more widely, now.

“We need to be on the road to figuring things out before we get to tipping points on climate change or food security, or we could be left way behind. In future environments, people might get paid for ecosystem services or carbon credits, or food might become more valuable. If so, these systems become much more attractive for landowners,” says Sarah Taylor Lovell, an agroecologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I.

Lovell believes multifunctional woody polyculture is the way forward. She and several co-authors introduce the concept and discuss their experimental design in a recent paper published in Agroforestry Systems.

Essentially, the idea is to incorporate berry- and nut-bearing shrubs and trees in an alley cropping system with hay or other row crops. The combination is meant to mimic the habitat features, carbon storage, and nutrient-holding capacities of a natural system. “We wanted to capture that aspect, but we also wanted it to be commercially viable,” Lovell says. “The trees and shrubs need to fit in perfect linear rows 30 feet apart, so you can fit equipment. That was a much more practical agronomic consideration.”

Lovell and her colleagues are three years into what they hope will be a long-term experiment on the U of I campus. Their trial consists of seven combinations of species in commercial-scale plots, from simple combinations of two tree species to highly diverse combinations including multiple species of trees, shrubs, and forage crops. “We added increasingly diverse systems so we can get a sense of how much is too much diversity in terms of trying to manage everything in a feasible way,” she says.

The researchers will measure crop productivity, management strategies, and economic potential as the experiment gets established. “We’re keeping track of all the person-hours that go into each of these different combinations, so we’ll capture the labor involved and figure out whether it’s economically viable,” Lovell says.

Farmers accustomed to traditional row crops may be daunted by the long wait associated with nut crops. Lovell says chestnuts and hazelnuts don’t produce worthwhile harvests until 7 to 12 years after planting. But, she says, the other species can bring in profits while farmers wait. Hay or vegetable crops can be harvested from the alleys in year one. And shrubs could start bearing high-value fruit crops, such as currants or aronia berries, within a couple of years.

Lovell points out that the market for some nuts is growing. For example, Nutella lovers may recall headlines about an international hazelnut shortage a couple of years ago. “It would take a while to saturate that market,” she says. But she also points out that some nuts could be used more generically for their starchy or oily products.

Another barrier to adoption may be the cost of specialized equipment needed to harvest tree nuts, berries, and row crops. “There’s a tradeoff in terms of how complex to get and still be able to manage it in a reasonable way,” Lovell says. But she suggests the potential of farming cooperatives with shared equipment as a way to defray costs.

It will be several years before Lovell will have results to share, but other trials have shown that multifunctional woody polyculture could be both economically viable and environmentally beneficial. Lovell’s article details the outcomes of long-standing experimental sites in France and Missouri, but she says those two sites are the only large-scale examples in the temperate region. “That really shows just how little research there is on this so far,” she says. “We need to invest in this research now because it’s going to take so long to get to the solutions.”

The research team is working with regional farmers to replicate small- and large-scale versions of their experimental setup on-farm. Lovell knows it might take some convincing, but points out that many farmers are willing to set aside portions of their land into the Conservation Reserve Program. “If we can provide the same benefits in terms of water quality, habitat, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling as CRP but then also have this harvestable product, why wouldn’t you consider that?”
Published in Seeding/Planting
If flax gets off to a weak start, it seems to struggle all season long; it has a hard time competing with weeds, and maturity can be delayed,” says Chris Holzapfel, research manager for the Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation (IHARF) in Saskatchewan. To find out which seeding practices give flax crops a better start and better yields, Holzapfel and his colleagues have been assessing the effects of different seeding rates, seeding dates, row spacings and seed treatments.
Published in Seeding/Planting
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