Latest articles

The ‘Holy Grail’ in cereal technology

Can wheat and barley really be taught to act like pulses, and produce their own fertilizer?

A new research project funded by the Alberta Wheat Commission and the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission will try to answer a question that has bedevilled plant scientists for years: can cereal crops be made to fix their own nitrogen the way legumes do? The AWC is spending $100,000 to have Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists […] Read more

Detecting spoilage before it starts

An adaptation of cancer-screening technology offers a better and safer way to check for grain bin moisture, with a bonus of theft detection

An electromagnetic imaging technique originally designed to detect breast cancer tumours is now being adapted for a totally different use — locating spoiled grain in bins. The research project at the University of Manitoba uses electromagnetic imaging (EMI) to create a 3D profile of a bin, showing pockets of moisture which can overheat and spoil. […] Read more

When you need great crop advice

Some tips on choosing the right person to help navigate the maze of new crop varieties and technologies

There was a time when growing crops was fairly straightforward. You planted in spring, sprayed in summer and harvested in fall. There weren’t all that many varieties to choose from. Chemical inputs were limited. The provincial guides to field crop protection were only a few pages long. Today, there are scores of registered varieties and […] 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

Checkoffs to become a checkerboard

The plan is for a single checkoff next August 1, but will different provincial recipients all go in the same research direction?

What a tangled web. That’s one way to describe the system of checkoffs to support cereal research in Western Canada. From a centralized system administered by a single agency, the plan has splintered into six separate checkoffs and five different producer-run wheat and barley commissions in three provinces. This patchwork will simplify a little on […] Read more

alfalfa seed - Glen Nicoll

Forage breeding faces funding challenges

Government has cut back, private companies are not keen on crops that don’t need to be reseeded every year, and you can’t check off sales to farmers’ own livestock

Forages are Canada’s biggest crop but you wouldn’t know it because of the few resources that go into breeding them. You’d think that, given its size, forage would be a giant in the world of plant breeding. Unfortunately, it’s more of a midget. Canada has only four major publicly funded programs for breeding tame forages, […] Read more

Waterhemp knocking at Canada’s door

This cousin of the feared Palmer amaranth has reached the Canadian border, and could soon begin marching across the West

A new alien is lurking in the fields of North Dakota and Minnesota, preparing to invade Canada and cause no end of trouble. The potential enemy is a noxious weed called waterhemp, a member of the pigweed family and a cousin of Palmer amaranth, a glyphosate-resistant weed currently plaguing cotton and soybean growers in the […] Read more

Soybean Field on the Edge of Small-Town Iowa.

Is Manitoba the new Iowa?

Moisture gives the top U.S. soybean-producing state a yield advantage, but also causes more disease problems

Is Manitoba the new Iowa? That was the official theme of one Manitoba Agronomists’ Conference as professionals considered the future of soybeans in the Keystone province. It is also the question that producers and industry officials are pondering now that soybeans in Manitoba are well over the million-acre mark. The doubling of soybean acres in […] Read more

Corn crops point their compass north

What do climate change and western corn share? “Plenty,” says Jeff Rubin

Jeff Rubin is former chief economist for CIBC World Markets, now a bestselling author, and he believes a warmer climate will result in a longer growing season and more heat units on the Canadian Prairies. This, he suggests, could turn the region into the new North American Corn Belt as production inevitably creeps northward. “The […] Read more

man in greenhouse with plant

Controlling crop weeds with beneficial insects

Flea beetles that eat leafy spurge are only the first wave of biological weed control

What is it about weeds? No matter how hard you try to eradicate them, they always come back. Worse still, each method of weed control has its drawbacks. Spraying with herbicides can lead to weed resistance if the same product is used continuously. Tillage can result in soil erosion (remember the Dirty ’30s?), and although […] Read more