GFM Network News


James Oberhofer took this picture at noon on August 15, 2018. With the smoke-dimmed sun, lights were essential in the yards and fields and on the highway.

Canola growth stalled under a shroud of smoke

Alberta canola farmers dealing with another late harvest in 2018 estimate that smoky skies in August delayed their crop by at least 10 days. Is that possible?

It was an eerie orange noon on August 15 and James Oberhofer needed to turn his truck lights on. When the agronomist for Six Strong Agronomy tried to scout under a canola field canopy, he saw only darkness. Things were in a stunning standstill as Alberta suffered the worst day in what had been a […] Read more

Soil pH is often highly variable within fields, as demonstrated in this map of a single central Alberta field. The range is from red (pH of 4-4.5) to dark lime green (pH of 7.5-8). That is why grid sampling is an important step in lime application.

If you have low soil pH, should you lime?

It can take tonnes of lime per acre to move soil pH from 5 to 7, but improved fertilizer availability for all crops, better nodulation for pulse crops and alfalfa, and reduced risk from clubroot in canola can make the investment worthwhile

“Finally.” That word got special emphasis when Doug Penney was asked about liming. “It has become a hot topic… finally.” Penney, a long-serving Alberta Agriculture fertility specialist and now semi-retired crop consultant, says many fields in Western Canada — especially in Alberta — probably would have benefited from lime a long time ago. Fields most […] Read more


Peas provide a pulse option in the black soil region but recent wet years have increased disease problems.

Pulses. More than a break crop in your canola rotation

Tours and events this summer will help you check which pulse crops can diversify your farm’s rotation

Rob Stone says red lentils “drive the bus” on his farm at Davidson, Sask. Granted, he says canola does quite a bit of driving too. But the point is this: his pulse crop is so much more than just a break crop for canola. Stone seeds about one-third of his land to lentils, on average. […] Read more

Three short season soybeans were grown at four plots to study their nutrient benefit.

New Saskatchewan study compares soybeans to peas, lentils

Jing Xie et al. at the University of Saskatchewan recently published results from a study comparing soybeans, peas and lentils for their nutrient benefit for following crops.* The small-plot study was repeated at four Saskatchewan locations: Scott (dark brown), Saskatoon (dark brown), Rosthern (black) and Yorkton (black). At each site, three cultivars each of short-season […] Read more


A professor of plant science at the University of McGill expects the “microbiome” to do as much for crops in the 21st century as chemical inputs in the 20th century.

Giving crop roots a boost

Researchers can now identify the microscopic organisms on which roots depend, and are discovering ways to make their relationships even more effective

For as long as plants have been growing on land, their roots have shared a symbiotic relationship with microbes in the soil. Arbuscules — the microscopic nutrient-gathering hairs of mycorrihizae — have been found connected to 400-million-year-old plant root fossils from the Rhynie chert in Scotland. A paper by Winfried Remy et al, published in […] Read more

Mark Belmonte, researcher and associate professor at the University of Manitoba, uses big data and next-generation genetic sequencing to develop crop protection products. One new result is an RNA interference molecule that can stop sclerotinia stem rot.

Species-specific crop protection

RNA interference provides a new method of pest control, using tools so precise they hit only the target insect or disease

“We like to call sclerotinia the bully,” says Mark Belmonte. And stopping a bully is not easy. The pathogen attacks fast, it moves quickly through the plant and it can do heavy yield damage right away. “Because it acts with brute force and involves multiple genes, sclerotinia is difficult to study and get a good […] Read more


Rapeseed production in China increased from just under 400,000 tonnes in 1961 to 15.3 million tonnes in 2016.

Why China needs canola imports

China has been growing rapeseed for millennia and has seen a rapid increase in productivity over the past 50 years. Even so, production can’t meet demand

Brassica rapa plants have contributed to Chinese cuisine for millennia. “The Book of Songs”, an ancient collection of Chinese poetry, includes one 3,000-year-old poem, Gu Feng, which specifically mentions the plant. In this English translation, Brassica rapa is called “mustard plant.” Gently blows the east wind, With cloudy skies and with rain. Husband and wife […] Read more

Wilde Ag Ventures makes and sells fan-specific gauges, taking information from airflow tables for a particular model and overlaying that on the gauge dial. This provides a quick estimate of airflow based on the static pressure reading.

Do you know how your aeration fan blows?

Understanding different fan types, and the difference between moving air versus moving water, will help you keep those ever-larger bins of canola in top condition

To cool a bin of canola, the aeration fan needs to move 0.1 to 0.2 cubic feet of air per bushel per minute. To remove moisture, airflow should be about 10 times that. Does your fan achieve those rates? How do you know? A five-horsepower axial fan can blow more air per minute than a […] Read more


Plants that look healthy can also have small clubroot galls. While these galls may not cause much yield loss for this plant, they will produce billions of spores that can be spread around and cause yield loss the next time canola goes on that field.

Dealing with a flush of clubs

Clubroot specialists across the Prairies are sharing how to slow the disease’s spread, and how to keep it down when it does arrive

It turns out 200 kilometres of forest is not an impenetrable barrier for clubroot. Canola growers in the Peace River region had crossed their fingers, but knew deep down it couldn’t hold. “Most growers knew we weren’t living in a bubble up here,” says Gregory Sekulic, Canola Council of Canada agronomy specialist for the region. […] Read more

Clubroot galls on a canola plant.

Six management steps to help prevent clubroot

The first step in managing clubroot is to minimize the chance of introducing clubroot to the farm in the first place. Make sure equipment and vehicles entering fields are clean. All people entering a field should have disinfected rubber boots or wear disposable booties over their footwear. All seed (not just canola) should be cleaned […] Read more