Is climate change making leaf diseases worse?

Durum quality took a beating last year, and climate change could see more of the same

It is difficult — even impossible — to define the precise relationship between climate change and disease incidence and severity in Western Canada. But new research from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Swift Current Research and Development Centre is contributing a few pieces to the puzzle. Research scientist Myriam Fernandez says breeding for resistance to the […] Read more


The more you spend, the less they work

If you want to keep using herbicides, give them an occasional rest and try a winter cereal or a heavier seeding rate

Neil Harker says that when you no longer have the big hammers in the tool box, it’s time to use the little ones. For the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) weed scientist, wild oat herbicides are the big hammers, and the little ones are integrated weed management practices. Harker says that although western Canadian producers […] Read more



If you want to dispute a grain grade

If you don’t like the grade at the elevator, you can appeal to the Grain Commission, but most farmers choose to shop around for the best deal

It’s their legal right under the Canada Grain Act — if farmers don’t like the grade their elevator manager offers, they can appeal to the Canadian Grain Commission for an official ruling. But not many do. “In 35 years of buying grain, I’ve only had it once or twice with guys that I’ve dealt with,” […] Read more




Wheat breeding: Public or private?

Some argue private investment will boost yields, but others note that public breeders have done a pretty good job so far

Making wheat a more competitive crop requires public and private breeder co-operation — and getting a return on investment from farmers buying seed. That was the consensus among panelists discussing wheat breeding at the 3rd Canadian Wheat Symposium in November. “My observation would be that ultimately farmers are going to be paying for this one […] Read more


Halting the feed barley decline

Many growers still take a yield penalty in hopes of a malting premium, but breeders say feed varieties offer advantages

Feed barley has some tough competition. Once the second-largest crop by far on the Prairies, in recent years it’s had to compete for acres with canola and pulses. And while malting premiums are still tempting some growers, feed barley has to compete with cheap U.S. corn and corn gluten. As for the formerly touted qualities […] Read more



New in spring cereals

They may not be large-acre crops, but their growers are dedicated

Production of spring wheat, oats and barley follows some rather rigid realities from one year to the next. It’s true that spring cereals are a tougher sell across most of Eastern Canada; there are more acres of soybeans or corn than there are of spring cereals combined. Yet it’s also a fact that those who […] Read more


Durum marketing 101

Durum is grown in a few distinct regions of the world, and problems in just one can mean a sharp change in prices

If you’re selling bread wheat — Triticum aestivum — there’s a new price signal literally every second as it’s traded on futures markets. If you’re selling its cousin T. durum, finding a fair value is another matter. There’s no viable futures market for durum wheat, and there can be days or even weeks between trades […] Read more



A genetic solution to fusarium?

Across the country, several researchers are studying fusarium from every angle, from pathology to agronomy

In the early ’90s, farmers in the eastern Prairies started to ask questions about odd white “tombstone” wheat kernels. When they received the answer, some wondered whether the name would refer to the tombstone on the grave of the wheat business, especially when there was a huge outbreak in Manitoba in 1993. Near-panic ensued, as […] Read more


Heading off a stem rust pandemic

Only two older wheat varieties are resistant to Ug99, a devastating race of stem rust which threatens to spread around the world

Working under tight security in their plant science laboratory at Morden, Man., Tom Fetch and his scientific colleagues look as if they’re handling extremely hazardous material. After changing into hospital scrubs in a locker room, Fetch and his team deactivate an alarm system and go through four doors to enter the laboratory. The Level 3 […] Read more