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Editor’s column


I’m still finding my feet here at Grainews. Unfortunately, I suspect that by the time I get a good grip on this job, your actual editor, Lyndsey Smith will probably be back from her maternity leave!

As a new editor, I’m making occasional mistakes. Last month, I accidentally omitted a caption from one of Les Henry’s graphics. There have been a few typos. And I’ve mislabelled a photo.

Every month the Crop Advisor’s Casebook includes a photo of the crop advisor who describes a problem. In the February 6 issue, Elizabeth Simpson explained the mysterious case of some wild oats the refused to die. Elizabeth Simpson is a sales agronomist at Richardson Pioneer Ltd. in Lamont, Alta.

I put a photo of Elizabeth in with the article, but accidentally labelled the photo “Allison Pierson.” Allison is an area marketing representative at Richardson Pioneer Ltd. at Manning, Alta. My apologies to both Elizabeth and Allison.


As you know, we include the Crop Advisor’s Casebook in every issue. Each week, there’s a new agronomic problem and the solution from the problem featured in the previous issue. (This issue’s Casebook is on page 16). Readers who think they can solve the mystery are welcome to submit their solutions. The correct responses are pooled and one winner is drawn for each edition. The winner receives a hat and a one-year subscription to Grainews.

I enjoy reading your responses to Casebook. It’s always great to hear from readers. With a typical issue, most entrants come up with the same answer as the agronomist. However, for one recent Casebook problem I received a surprising number of answers with different solutions.

The January 23 Crop Advisor’s Casebook was titled “Bin Bungle.” Allison Pierson submitted the mystery. It was a problem her client “Dennis” had with one steel bin in a row of 11. He’d put his canola in the bin dry and aerated it for 10 days afterwards, but in the fall Bin No. 7 was warm to the touch. The canola had heated. And, some of Dennis’s barley had heated the year before, also in Bin No. 7.There was definitely something funny going on with this bin.

I received several emails and a fax about this case — every one with a different answer to this problem.

A grain bin sales representative wrote in to suggest that the bin was closed tight after aeration, and then, “The grain did not get a chance to breathe as the weather outside changed.”

A farmer said, “I have had trouble with direct sun on steel bins causing the bin to heat. It takes a while but by mid-July or August, one side will start to heat. I have stacked round bales where the sun hits the hardest and have good success.”

A reader from Carnduff, Sask., said “One of two things has happened. The first possibility is that the bin still has a standard bin door on it. If this door has been bent or the caulking has dried up or been damaged, the door will leak rain into the bin, causing high-moisture grain to build up at the floor under the door and eventually heat the bin and rot the grain at the floor.

“The second possibility is a problem with the auger lid at the top of the bin. Some bins allow snow to blow past them either by a gap at the lid when closed (by missing seals between the lid assembly and the corrugations of the bin roof leaving gaps that snow and rain can blow past), or by the wind blowing the lid open when the wind is in the right direction and strong enough. This will cause a shaft of high-moisture grain down from the peak of the pile in the bin, causing heating. This can usually be spotted by towers of grain standing up in the center of the bin during emptying.”

I had no idea so many different things could go wrong a piece of farm equipment that seems as simple as a bin.

Mystery solved

None of the reader responses I received matched the agronomist’s answer that we ran in the February 6 issue.

Allison Pierson reported that one of her colleagues had helped her solve the mystery. They went out at night with flashlights to confirm visually that the seal between the wall and the roof joint of the bin was broken. It had been picked away by birds, and moisture was getting in through the broken seal. Allison helped her client solve the problem with some spray foam insulation. Since birds don’t like spray foam, they didn’t bother with it again. The mystery was solved, and “Dennis” could keep on using Bin No. 7.

Because it was so unusual for me to receive so many different answers to a Casebook problem, I called Allison at work in Manning, Alberta to talk to her about it. She said she’d received a few calls at the office too, and she was pleased that her article had generated so many responses. “I know they’re reading it,” she said.

As it turns out, Allison had a special interest in this particular case. “Dennis,” the bin-owning client, is Allison’s father. And Allison was feeling a little guilty about the problem. She said, “I’d talked him into keeping his canola through the summer, in case he needed to blend it with some poorer canola later. And then it heated!”

There was also something special about Bin No. 7. Allison’s father purchased most of his bins at auction sales, and his bin row is a bit of a mismatched set. Bin No. 7 was originally a fumigation bin, fully sealed with rubber foam gasket around the top and on all of the joints. The fact that this bin was originally different from the others helps to explain why it heated while the rest in the row did not.

I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story. If there is, I suppose it’s that farming is complicated. Even something that seems simple can go wrong 40 different ways. Farmers have to be on their game all the time, ready with creative solutions for any problem.

Seed and seeding

This time of year farmers are getting down to the final stages of pre-seeding planning. We hope we’ve included some information in this issue that will help you do that.

Angela Lovell kicks things off with a cover story about winter wheat. In the coming seasons, marketing changes may make it more important to choose seed that buyers want.

Jason Casselman has an article on page 8 about quality control. Jason makes the point that, though farmers usually plan what they’re going to seed where and with which fertilizer, it could help to take the next step, and come up with a detailed plan laying out who’s going to do what, when.

On page 9, Grainews field editor Lee Hart has an article about a new flax variety you might want to consider.

On page 22 you’ll find a piece I’ve written about new midge-tolerant wheat varieties. Studies are showing that these varieties yeild as high or higher than the varieties we’ve been using, and have the benefit of increased resistance to wheat midge.

I hope you’ll find something in this collection that helps you with your seeding plans.


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