GFM Network News


Patricia Bishop and Josh Oulton are building a business plan to bring linen flax back to their farm, and to the country.

From flax in the field to shirt sleeves

Meet a Nuffield Canada farmer scholar with a vision for a value chain for Canadian-grown linen

Reading Time: 10 minutes [UPDATED: Jan. 11, 2021] Josh Oulton and his partner Patricia Bishop have grown flax on their Nova Scotia farm for nearly a decade, but not with an eye to the market that most Canadian flax growers are after. Instead, Oulton and Bishop grow varieties of flax that produce the plant-based fibre used to make linen, […] Read more

In some locations tested, beneficial insect population was up to 20 times higher in field boundary sites compared to open fields.

Putting a value on a shelterbelt

Yields drop immediately adjacent, but start to increase after 10 to 20 metres beyond

Reading Time: 4 minutes Areas such as road allowances, wetlands and shelterbelts take up land that could otherwise be used to produce grain. But does that mean that if you remove them, you’ll have more grain production? Maybe not. You might even get less, says Shathi Akhter, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist at Indian Head, Sask. She’s […] Read more


The only in-crop products registered for grass control in flax are Group 1 chemistries: sethoxydim (Poast Ultra), clethodim (e.g. Centurion) and quizalofop (e.g. Assure II), and broadleaf products such as clopyralid and MCPA (Curtail M).

Don’t rely completely on the herbicide’s label for advice when seeding flax

Making sure the crop receives good fertility, planting into warm, moist soils and bumping up seeding rate can all help improve the outcome.” — Michelle Beaith, Sask Flax

Reading Time: 5 minutes If your flax isn’t looking as healthy as it should, you might consider the usual suspects — disease, insects or nutrient deficiency. But you might add another to the list — residual herbicides. “The main concern is impact on the crop such as decreased emergence and reduced plant stand,” says Michelle Beaith, an agronomist with […] Read more

McEachren tried different seeding rates on his test field: 140,000 as an average with 175,000 and 115,000 the extremes.

Relay cropping

The goal for Ontario’s Dave McEachren is three crops in two years

Reading Time: 7 minutes For the 2018 growing season, Dave McEachren decided to revisit the past with something old and something new. A dozen years ago, he had tried relay cropping after hearing about it and reading the research that had been done on it at Ohio State University. The practice involves planting soybeans into a wheat crop as […] Read more


Growers have been completely shocked by the soil tests they got back.” – Jim Hazlewood, Stratford Agri Analysis.

Empty soils

Today’s big-yield genetics really are draining the nutrient supply in our soils

Reading Time: 6 minutes The power of today’s corn hybrids and soybean varieties to exceed farmers’ expectations is a testament to the science of plant breeding, and also to the value of selecting the best elite genetics. That farmers in Eastern Canada have been able to push corn yields to 200 bu./ac. and soybeans to 60 bu./ac., even in […] Read more

Governing the farm

On most farms, ‘governance’ sounds like the last thing you’d want to talk about if you hope to keep everyone happy. Steve Tomtene used to think so too, but is glad he changed his mind

Reading Time: 5 minutes Like many farms with added complementary enterprises like a trucking company or livestock barn or a seed business, Tomtene Seed Farm at Birch Hill, Sask., has developed systems to juggle all the moving parts. “Maintaining identification and producing seed products of quality merit takes a shift in thinking about the products, about production, about the […] Read more


Brothers Rob, Derek and Rick Kootstra aim to plant cover crops on every acre, every year.

Real sustainability

Integrating the benefits of his Ontario Soil Network membership into how he farms is helping Rick Kootstra find real sustainability

Reading Time: 5 minutes Like a lot of farmers, Rick Kootstra doesn’t see himself as an innovator or a leader. He just goes about his business. Thanks to the Ontario Soil Network, though, he does it with a lot of great connections with farmers who share similar goals and aspirations. Kootstra, along with his brothers Rob and Derek, works […] Read more

Sunflowers need a hybrid lift

Sunflowers need a hybrid lift

With Western sunflower acres dropping sharply in recent years, new varieties are needed to claw acres back from easier-to-grow soybeans

Reading Time: 4 minutes There are fewer sights more appealing than a field of mature sunflowers, but this golden vision is growing rarer. The reason is simple — sunflowers are losing out to soybeans. In Canada’s biggest sunflower province, Manitoba, acres dropped under 62,000 this year, with a little more than half the crop going to black oil and […] Read more


Prairie flax acreage is not as high as it once was, but Canada is still the world’s largest exporter.

Improving flax one allele at a time

Rust hasn’t affected Canadian flax for more than 40 years, but new varieties must still incorporate resistance

Reading Time: 4 minutes On the surface, you’d think that a research project seeking to locate and sequence specific rust-resistance genes, then find ways to quickly identify the presence of these genes in plant breeding material is ultimately about preventing crop loss to rust. But we’re talking about flax here, so think again. Flax is a one million-acre crop […] Read more

Recommendations on Pasmo fungicide choice and spray timing are getting much sharper.

Flax opportunities

Agronomics and yield are the big priorities for flax growers in Western Canada

Reading Time: 9 minutes Flax acres have started to rebound over the past few years, with Saskatchewan still accounting for most of the flax grown on the Prairies. In order to entice more growers to flax, however, yields will need to increase. Average flax yields have hovered around 22 bu./ac. for many years, and although growers in some areas […] Read more