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Great September Salvages Year

“I think the Polarstar is going to do well. It is a newer malt variety produced under an IP system for Sapporro Breweries in Japan. They have been taking CDC Kendall barley, but now it appears they prefer Polarstar.”

—KRIS MAYERLE

Yield and quality results seem to be all over the board, but the farmers interviewed for this panel agree it has been a great harvest season. Brian Chorney of Manitoba says after fighting rain all year, Environment Canada reports it has been the warmest September on record in Manitoba. It was too late to help crop quality or yield, but at least he was able to get what he did have in the bin.

Again it depends where you farmed, some producers report bumper yields, others have below average. Kevin Auch says the crops on his southern Alberta looked better that the yields reflected, but it was still about average.

Here is what the farmer panel for the late-October issue of Grainews had to say:

KRIS MAYERLE TISDALE, SASK.

It was a cool year, bordering on being quite dry, but all things considered crops are looking not too bad on Kris Mayerle’s farm near Tisdale.

In late September when we talked, Mayerle had about 50 per cent of the farm’s 16,500 acres harvested, they still needed a couple more weeks of good harvest weather to get the crop in the bin. But he was even hopeful that 320 acres of late canola (reseeded June 26) would still ripen and produce a reasonable crop.

“We only had seven or eight inches of rain during the growing season, but it was timely rain,” says Mayerle, who along with his wife Rhonda and father and uncle, operate KRM Farms Ltd. “We had a bit of rain in June, then a few showers in July and some rain again in August to help finish things off, so over all things are looking better than expected.”

Mayerle, who grows both commercial and pedigree seed, says there wasn’t any variety that he was disappointed with. He grew several wheat varieties including Infinity, Harvest, Unity and AC Fieldstar — all hard red spring varieties. Yields ranged from 40 to 60 bushels per acre, with some of the crop a bit above average.

“Infinity and Harvest appear to be two very good varieties with good yield and good protein,” says Mayerle. “Our farm is largely in one area, but there is still some variability from field to field. Some of wheat had ergot, but it wasn’t variety specific, so I think it had more to do with environment. Proteins on both wheats ranged from 11 to 15 per cent, and again it was more field specific. They are both good varieties.”

Unity and AC Fieldstar both did well, too. These are high-yielding hard red spring wheats, which trials show yield 10 to 20 per cent higher than check varieties. This was the first year he grew Unity, a midge tolerant wheat, on a field scale. Wheat midge has been a problem in the Tisdale area for the past couple years. Mayerle treated part of the crop with an insecticide and part of it he left untreated, “but even the untreated fields look really good, so I think this could be a very good crop for our area,” he says.

He grew both AC Metcalfe and CDC Polarstar two-row malt barley varieties. The AC Metcalfe yielded 80 to 85 bushels per acre and CDC Polarstar (from Canterra Seeds) was in the same ball park.

“I think the Polarstar is going to do well,” says Mayerle. “It is a newer malt variety produced under an IP system for Sapporro Breweries in Japan. They have been taking CDC Kendall barley, but now it appears they prefer Polarstar.”

Among pulse crops, Mayerle says CDC Meadow, a new yellow pea variety, did well this year. It yielded 50-plus bushels per acre, while greens were around 40 bushels per acre.

“This is the first year CDC Meadow was commercially available, and overall it looked pretty good,” he says. “It stood well, yield was good and it didn’t show any sign of disease. We didn’t have to spray. I think it is going to do well.”

Looking ahead he plans to try some new green pea varieties in 2010. “I can’t remember their names, but there are some new varieties with higher yield and improved bleach resistance I want to try,” says Mayerle. in mid-September he was held up waiting for fields to dry so he could resume harvest. Standing winter wheat had already sprouted in the kernel, down grading it to feed quality.

“In all my years of farming, we’ve never had a year when we couldn’t get the crop seeded and

He also may focus more acres on wheat varieties that qualify for the Warburton IP production. The large bakery located in the United Kingdom contracts production of specific varieties with specific quality standards to suit it’s production. “Infinity wheat is one of the Warburton varieties that seems to do well,” says Mayerle. “If we can grow it and contract it for an extra $20 per tonne premium, it is very worthwhile.”

BRIAN CHORNEY EAST SELKIRK, MAN.

What a difference a couple weeks can make. When we first spoke to Brian Chorney in mid-September he was sitting with a recent 1.25 inches of rain on already soaked fields, waiting to get at harvest. That was followed by two “exceptional weeks” of fall weather in late September leaving him, the last week of September, with all but 10 acres of crop in the bin and most fall field work completed.

Chorney, who farms near the eastern Manitoba community of East Selkirk, slogged through much of the year, saying he had to muck the seed in last spring, work through wet fields to get herbicide and fungicide applied, and then this year we had 350 acres we couldn’t seed,” says Chorney who crops about 1,300 acres of grain and oilseeds. Along with getting the crop he does have harvested, the other concern was being able to get on the land for fall tillage.

Working the fields with a chisel plow or deep tiller in the fall is important, even in an average year, for helping the soil dry out so he can get on the land for seeding next spring. With a wet fall in 2008 he wasn’t able to deep till some fields last year, and those are the ones he couldn’t seed — even muck in seed — this past spring. Fortunately he was able to get fields worked by October 1.

With all the growing season moisture, fusarium head blight was a real issue for both winter and spring wheat varieties, he says. And Chorney says it appears all his CDC Falcon winter wheat will only make feed grade this fall due to sprouting. Last year the sample squeaked through to make a No. 2 grade, but this year sprouting was worse. “I think just about any variety of winter wheat is very susceptible to sprouting,” says Chorney. “Even a quarter inch of rain late in the season is enough to cause it to sprout and we’ve had much more than that.”

CDC Falcon is a hard red winter wheat developed by the Crop Development Centre and registered in 1998. It is a semi dwarf variety with superior stem and rust resistance, and is a higher yielder.

He also grew AC Kana, a hard red spring wheat developed by the Ag Canada’s Cereal Research Centre in Winnipeg. Despite all the rain this summer, the crop looked good and stood well. “Even with the rain it survived not bad,” says Chorney. “With that much moisture, there is always a chance the crop will go down.”

He has gown AC Snowbird, a hard white spring wheat, in the past, but the incentive program to grow the variety has ended.

Chorney had three canola varieties to harvest, as well, “but with all the moisture, they’re not great. I didn’t get them seeded until June 10 and shortly after they germinated we had about 3.5 inches of rain, so they have been wet. I have something to combine, but none of it looks that good.” He seeded InVigor 5440 and two Roundup Ready hybrids: Dekalb 7255 and a new Viterra variety, 9553. He says the canola quality was surprisingly good, despite the rain, but the cool, wet growing season did affect yield, which was below average.

With the year he has had in 2009, Chorney says he will be looking for canola varieties that show greater tolerance for high moisture in 2010.

KEVIN AUCH CARMANGAY, ALTA.

With everything swathed and four custom combines arriving on the farm the last week of September, Kevin Auch hoped to have the remainder of his 5,000 acres of grain and oilseed in the bin by October 1.

“If everything is ready and we get everything running, we can have it off in four or five days,” says Auch, who is a no-till farmer at Carmangay just north of Lethbridge. He has his own combine, but has also used custom combining services for the past six years. With ideal late September weather this year, he says it is well worth it for him to hire the custom services once all crops are mature and dry.

Although he began harvest September 4, actual days of combining were intermittent during the month, due to uneven maturity in the crops. It started out as a cool dry year, then turned cool and wet, and now fortunately for harvest was mostly warm and dry. He had to swath all grains, as well, this year because of uneven crop maturity.

He was a bit surprised by some of the early combining because some of the crops looked better than their actual yield was showing. As he got further into combining, he was also planning to use weigh wagons to give him a more accurate picture of yield.

With about 1,500 acres of AC Navigator durum, he says the crop looked above average, but was actually yielding in the more average 40 to 60 bushel range. He hadn’t harvested the AC Lillian hard red spring wheat at the time of the interview, but again “it looks like it is pretty good.”

AC Lillian and to some extent AC Navigator both have sawfly resistance, which is important in many parts of the southern Prairies. “And Navigator is a semi-dwarf, which I really like,” says Auch. “I’m a zero-till farmer so any crop that produces the yield without the straw is better for me.”

He had only just touched some of the canola, so he didn’t have a clear picture on yields. He grew several varieties of Liberty Link and Roundup Ready canola this year. Other years he has included Clearfield varieties in rotation as well. The canola looked like a 40-to 50-bushel crop, but the initial yields were producing more like a 30-bushel crop. “I really won’t know until we get it all combined and I have a look at the weigh wagon figures,” he says.

Auch hadn’t made any decisions on what varieties to grow for 2010. He planned to keep AC Navigator in rotation and was waiting for yield results before deciding on canola varieties.

Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]

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Field Editor

Lee Hart

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

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