GFM Network News


Resistant to resistance?

If you don’t have clubroot, should you be planting clubroot-resistant canola?

Should a farmer who regularly practises a one-in-four-year rotation of canola in an area without confirmed clubroot be growing clubroot-resistant (CR) cultivars of canola? This was a question I asked at a canola agronomy meeting last November. At that time, I was describing my own farm and I thought the answer would be straightforward, but I received conflicting responses. One canola company representative said […] Read more

This photo compares two 
Invigor varieties in the fall of 2018, L233P and L230. You can see some pod shatter.

The straight up on straight cut canola

Lessons learned after straight cutting canola on an Alberta farm for six growing seasons

Since 2013 we have exclusively straight cut canola on our farm and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Some years the “straw” came out of the back of the combine looking more like silage and we learned that if the soil moisture profile was still full at the end of August we should desiccate […] Read more


A Prairie farmer who pays provincial wheat and barley check-offs or ships grain by rail is already paying a de facto end point royalty for variety development in Western Canada.

Bring back the Western Canadian Deduction

Ensuring producer funding for variety development is fair, transparent and market driven

I attended the value creation meeting in Edmonton on December 6, 2018. I went as a farmer, seed grower and a person deeply interested in the policies that shape the success of the cropping industry in Western Canada. As a professional writer, I am used to reporting what other people have to say about an […] Read more

Producer contributions to variety development

After reading through numerous consultation reports and reviewing expenditures in the annual reports of producer organizations I have come to two conclusions: producers have and continue to make significant contributions to variety development and it’s very difficult to pin down the exact amount they contribute through various channels including royalties, check-off dollars that go to […] Read more


Paying for new crop variety research

Consultations around new producer funding models for variety development are underway

Throughout November and December 2018, officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) consulted in Winnipeg, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Edmonton about a new framework for plant- breeding institutions to collect a return on their investment for the varieties they develop. The consultations began with some discussion on the concept […] Read more

A view from outside of the kitchen along the mess tent.

Lesson 3: From tree planting to farming

When you get your own feet under you, that’s the time to pull others up

Over my last two columns relating my experience as a cook at a tree planting camp to my life as a farmer, I explored two aspects of tree planting that seem to be an opposite ends of the balance beam: the immediacy of the task at hand and the need for rest. Through my work […] Read more


The mess tent looking relatively tidy in the afternoon — the calm before the treeplanter storm.

Lesson 2: You can’t make supper tomorrow

For camp cooks, or farmers, there’s no such thing as a last-minute vacation day

In my last column I talked about the need for rest, even idleness as a tree planting cook. I needed to rest because I needed to be on top of my game every single day. I was the backstop in the kitchen and as the cook you end up feeling like a vital backstop for […] Read more

A tree planting camp in early spring. The kitchen on the left, the walk-in cooler centre, and the mess tent on the right.

Lesson 1: Everyone needs a cigarette break

The lessons Sarah Hoffmann learned at a tree planting camp have paid off on the farm

I was a cook in a tree planting camp for three summers in my early 20s. It’s been 10 years since I first packed up my Pontiac Sunfire and headed north from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C. No experience in my adult life has had such a profound impact on me. It’s one of the […] Read more


When you’re a pedigreed seed grower, changes of plans can also mean extra, itchy combine clean ups.

You must take courage, farmers

Courage, and discipline, are job requirements for farmers in these risky times

This summer the world watched as “Brexit,” the United Kingdom’s historic vote to leave the European Union, unfolded. While the chattering class pondered what this meant for the British people and the European vision, a name familiar to Canadians was helping to steer the world’s fifth largest economy through tumultuous times. It isn’t the first […] Read more

Sarah Hoffman shares a picker truck, a heavy harrow and yes, even this sprayer with various neighbours.

The neighbours that spray together…

How we make sharing a crucial piece of farm equipment work on our farm

I’m not dead, I’m just married!” These were my words to Grainews editor Leeann when she wondered if I was writing another column anytime soon. That was several weeks ago. Being married and also farming in two different locations has certainly blown my hair back these last several months. The logistical challenges, not to mention […] Read more