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Canola 100 Challenge still waiting for a winner

Canola 100: The top yield was 81.4 bushels per acre in 2016. Will we have a winner next year?

Fortunately there’s next year. While there was no 100 bushel canola yield winner in the first-ever 2016 Canola 100 challenge, organizers say that isn’t necessarily all bad, as the interest, excitement and momentum will carry on in 2017.

None of the 21 western Canadian farmer finalists who registered for the high yield contest produced a 50-acre plot of canola that yielded a verified minimum 100 bushels, per acre.

There is a leader in the contest, however. Mike Nelson (coincidentally featured in the December 6 issue of Grainews) produced the highest yield in the 2016 contest, with a verified yield of 81.43 bushels per acre on his farm near Wetaskiwin, Alta. If no one beats that yield over the next two growing seasons, Nelson could be named the grand prize winner — winning the use of 100 hours of field time for a whole fleet of John Deere equipment.

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Nelson was one of about 80 farmers from across Canada who registered for the Canola 100 challenge — a national contest sponsored by Agri-Trend Agrology, John Deere Canada and Glacier FarmMedia. The contest threw down the challenge to Canadian farmers to produce a plot of canola with a verified yield of at least 100 bushels per acre. The first farmer to hit that target (or come closest) over the three-year term wins.

Of the 80 farmers registered for the contest, 21 saw the contest through to the harvest verification stage. Farmers needed to harvest a 50-acre block of canola yields verified by third-party auditors.

“In some respects I am delighted there was no winner in 2016,” says Rob Saik of Agri-Trend Agrology, who announced the results at the company’s annual Farm Forum Conference in Calgary, in early December. “The contest would have been over too soon. It is creating interest, it is creating a lot of discussion, producers are challenging themselves — it is a friendly and fun competition. I am pleased it is going to continue.”

Saik, who met with all contest participants at the December conference, emphasized that this is a learning experience for all growers. The idea is to share experience and knowledge.

“Hopefully the contest is fun, with a great prize, but it should also be a learning experience that hopefully can be a benefit to all producers,” says Saik. “The Canola Council of Canada has set a goal to increase the average of Canadian canola yields to 52 bushels per acre by 2025. All of those participating in the challenge in 2016 produced yields way north of that 52 bushel figure. That 52 bushel average isn’t unreasonable. We may not see a 100 bushel average, but hitting that 100 bushel mark is very doable.”

While there are reports of a few producers in Western Canada who have hit 100 bushel yields, Saik says “it is too bad they weren’t part of this contest.”

Next year, Saik says, he hopes more farmers across Canada will sign up and see the contest through to the final weigh in. “It would be good to have farmers from across all of certainly Western Canada and all of Canada participating in the contest,” he says.

He says a couple of tweaks for the 2017 contest year include encouraging all contest participants to have a fall or pre-seeding soil test analysis completed, making it easier to determine the amount of nutrients actually needed/used by the crop to produce whatever yield it produces.

He also plans to have Premium Weather service available for each grower location providing an accurate report on the actual growing conditions during the growing season.

While Mike Nelson didn’t win the grand prize with an 81.43 bushel yield — not yet anyway — he didn’t leave the Agri-Trend conference empty handed. There was no field-scale equipment, but John Deere did award “the leader” a complete line of John Deere toy machinery.

For more details and registration information on the Canola 100 challenge contest visit www.agriprize.com.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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