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Editor’s Column

This is our harvest issue.

It’s hard for me to focus on harvest. We haven’t had one on our farm since 2010, and earlier this spring it seemed possible that it would be another year and a half before we needed the combine.

After last year’s floods, by late April it was still pretty wet in southeast Saskatchewan, especially in fields that weren’t worked last year. My husband likes to seed early, but it was too wet. And then it rained.

The first few rainy days were ok. After he got things ready to go, Brad had some paperwork to catch up on. But when the clouds set in on Day 3, worry set in. Neither of us wanted to say, “Is it last year all over again?”

On Day 4, I accidentally said, “I hope this rain stops. I have 20 bucks tied up in garden seed I really want to get into the ground.” (Yes. I realize a jury of farmers would see this as fair grounds for divorce. Or homicide.)

The frustration

Some farmers claim that seeding is their favourite time of year. I see it as a short window of time with a ridiculously high level of stress.

If you don’t get your crop seeded, the information in Grainews is more depressing than helpful. “Leaf disease? I just wish I could get leaf disease,” I imagine a flooded-out farmer saying, flipping through a March issue.

Grain farmers don’t have it easy like weather forecasters or Grainews editors. Inaccurate forecasters can try again tomorrow at noon. If there’s a typo in Grainews, I have 17 more issues this year to try to get it right. (Thank goodness. See below.) But if it’s too wet to seed during the short seeding window, a farmer’s whole year is shot.

With no crop in the ground, there’s nothing left to look forward to until next year. Everything a flooded-out farmer might want to do — cultivate, spray, move to the Sahara — costs money, money that won’t be offset by canola sales.

Here at Grainews, we like to supply helpful “how-to” lists. I thought about calling an expert to ask for “10 ways to cope with a wet spring.” Then I thought again.

You already know what kind of things these experts are going to tell you: phone a friend, get away from the farm, appreciate the extra time you have to spend with your family.

Last year, we learned the hard way that it’s way easier to read that sort of list (or even write it) than it is to actually follow one.

We are lucky. The sun came out and Brad got into the field on May 12. (See a photo on page 52 along with Richard Kamchen’s article on spring seeding conditions.) We may not seed all the acres we’d like to (it’s raining right now, and the soybean seed is still in bags). But we’re in the game.

Not being able to seed is just plain frustrating. And arguably, the hardest part of farming.

Three ways to make women happy

I was far from the only woman picking up fertilizer at the Weyburn Inland Terminal this week. On the May long weekend, there were so many women around that one (male) farmer waiting in the office for his load laughed and said, “I feel like a minority here! Every farm wife is home this weekend and driving truck!”

Instead of a list of ways to cope with rainy weather, I offer our male readers a list of three things NOT to do when you’re waiting to pick up fertilizer and spot a woman in line.

1. Don’t ask, “How’s your husband coming with seeding?” If she’s in the truck, she’s part of the seeding operation. Just say, “How’s seeding?”

2. Don’t hop in her truck and drive it under the spout without asking first. This happened to me a couple of years ago, when someone assumed I couldn’t manoeuvre under the fertilizer spout. While it’s always polite to ask a lady if she would like help, make sure we need it first.

3. Don’t assume she knows all the “rules.” Many women are busy with full-time jobs and kids, and only have time to do relaxing things like haul fertilizer once in a while. We might not know all the etiquette, like where you’re supposed to hang out while you’re waiting for your load, and which way the lineup works.

This might seem like conflicting advice: “Don’t hop into my truck,” but “tell me where to stand.” How about this: Just treat us as competent farmers, working to get the job done.

Farm progress

Last November the Trade Show News Network (TSNN) recognized the Western Canadian Farm Progress Show as Canada’s largest trade show.

By TSNN’s measurements, last year’s Farm Progress show was 1,189,783 square feet. That’s amazing. (Or, as Lee Hart points out on page 26, “a lot of walking.”)

Not only is the show big, it’s also long running. This is its 35th year. Over the years, lots of new technology has been unveiled at this show. This year will be no different. Versatile will introduce a brand new combine — the first new combine to be launched in Canada in more than a decade.

Even if you’re not in the market for a new combine, the farm show can give you new ideas for your farm. 

Correction

Our April 16 cover story was about micronutrients. In a paragraph about the difficulties of getting products registered, Grainews said: “Only one micronutrient product, Loveland’s Awaken ST, distributed in Canada by UAP, has received CFIA registration.”

What we should have said was that UAP’s product is the only liquid micronutrient registered with the federal government. It is not the only micronutrient registered for seed application.

Wolf Trax Inc.’s dry product, Protinus Seed Nutrition, was registered for use in Canada in March, 2010. Protinus is a seed-applied micronutrient fertilizer comprised of 40 per cent zinc and 10 per cent manganese for the promotion of early seedling growth.

Jennifer Bailes, director of seed products and innovations for Wolf Trax Inc., says, “Protinus has been adopted by several large seed companies and farmers. For example, it was offered on proprietary canola hybrids from Viterra this past season. It’s also available to homeowners across Canada on C-I-L Golfgreen brand grass seed.”

Protinus Seed Nutrition has been extensively tested on a wide variety of crops, including corn, cereals, canola, soybeans, grasses, vegetables, cotton and peanuts, across many different geographies. The product is currently sold in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Europe.  

Grainews regrets this error, and I apologize to freelancer Lisa Guenther, who included correct information in her original draft of this article.

And more corrections

In our April 2 issue, we ran a story on sea buckthorn berries. The photo that ran with this story should have been credited to photographer Jenna-Lyn van Zyl.

Then, on April 16, we ran an article profiling Linda Nielson. We led off by saying “Linda Nielson believes keeping an older line of equipment running is helping to keep her farm in the black.” We ended the story by misquoting Linda. Of course she didn’t say, “You need to go big to make money.” Linda likes working with older equipment, and her philosophy is: “You don’t need to go big to make money.”

That article about Linda Nielson ran in the machinery section as part of our “Keep it going” series, where we profile farmers with the know-how and passion to run older farm equipment. If this describes you or someone you know, get in touch with me or our machinery editor, Scott Garvey ([email protected]). Your story (and pictures of your tractor) could be featured in Grainews.

 Leeann

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