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Seeding decisions made, now waiting for spring

Farmers planning to hold their rotations steady with no major swings

Now that combines are shut down for the season, western Canadian farmers have a pretty good idea of what they will be growing in 2016, say producers contacted for the November Farmer Panel.

They all plan to leave a bit of room for last-minute decisions — depending on markets and spring seeding conditions — but for the most part crop types have been decided and depending on the crop, seed supplies have been locked in.

Myron Krahn, Carman, Man.

“As soon as we start harvest, we start thinking about what we will be growing on each field next year,” says Myron Krahn, who crops about 3,000 acres of commercial and pedigreed grain, oilseed and grass seed near Carman, Manitoba.

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“We don’t make any firm plans in August, but certainly once we get along to late October we have about 80 per cent of our acres planned for the next season. We always leave a little bit of swing room, depending how things look in the spring, but for the most part we have it planned.”

For 2016, Krahn will be growing soybeans, grain corn, wheat, oats, canola and hemp on his farm. This past season, 2015, was the first year he’d grown hemp for certified seed. It seemed to work quite well, so he will keep it in rotation for 2016. While he is producing it for seed, there is a fairly decent market for hemp grain. And as in the case in other Western Canadian regions growing hemp, Manitoba is waiting for a fairly strong-demand market to open for the straw or hemp fibre. As it stands there is a limited demand for the fibre so far.

“We’ve included a bit of hemp in our rotation, but otherwise there are no major changes in acres for 2016,” he says. “We try to keep rotation reasonably consistent from year to year.”

Marcel Van Staveren, Griffin, Sask.

After about a 15-year “sabbatical” Marcel van Staveren plans to bring lentils back into the rotation on his southern Saskatchewan farm.

“We’ve had six really wet years in this area which hasn’t been good for lentils, which was part of the reason we haven’t grown them for some time,” says van Staveren. “But in 2015 we finally had a dryer year which gave us some hope. If we go through the winter and into the spring and don’t have excessive moisture I plan to commit about 10 per cent of the farm to lentils next year.”

The lentil market has also been fairly strong which is another reason to consider growing red lentils in 2015. If there is a bit of moisture next August, red lentils tend to be a bit more forgiving than green lentil varieties.

Van Staveren has planned out most of his acres for 2016. “We certainly gave it a lot of thought during harvest, so we have a pretty good idea of what we will be producing,” he says.

As he brings back lentils, he will probably cut back some of his canola and soybean acres to make room. He has lined up his InVigor canola seed already for 2016. He has been growing Nexera canola, a specialty canola contracted for Dow AgroSciences, but will be dropping that line next year as he is not impressed with the seed treatment used on the variety. He figures there are improved seed treatments that provide better flea beetle control. Along with InVigor he will also be growing Clearfield non-GMO canola as well.

Another reason van Staveren is increasing pulse crop acres in 2015 is to offset the high cost of phosphate fertilizer, which in his area is running about $800 per tonne. “Pulse crops such as lentils and soybeans do need phosphate but they don’t respond that well to phosphate during the first year of application,” he says. His plan is to grow the pulses on land to make use of soil-available phosphate, until the cost of phosphate is a bit more reasonable.

On the cereals side, van Staveren says winter wheat acres remain quite stable. He may increase durum wheat acres in 2016 and possibly cut back or eliminate spring wheat acres. He says while the market isn’t quite as strong as the $10/bushel price a few years ago, he was able to produce fairly high yielding No. 1 quality durum in 2015 which has encouraged him to grow it again next year.

He has lined up most of his canola seed for 2016 and will probably rely on good quality bin run seed for the rest of the crops next year.

Larry Spratt, Melfort, Sask.

Although he had excellent yields in 2008, after several years of wet growing conditions, Larry Spratt isn’t planning any major changes in rotation for 2016.

Wheat, barley, oats and canola will be back in his cropping plans next year, with no major changes in acres. After seeing yields in the 30 to 40 bushel range in 2014, due to excessive moisture, he was glad to see 50 to 60 bushel canola and wheat in 2015. At about 80 bushels per acre, barley was just about double the yield from recent past seasons. “It is encouraging when you do get a good year,” he says.

“We usually keep the same acres of wheat and canola every year,” says Pratt who is part of a family run mixed farming operation. With oat prices down he may cut back some on oats and increase barley acres for 2015. He had about 700 acres of barley in 2015, which is grown for both silage as well as feed grain for the beef herd. While the annual crops did quite well in 2015, he says the hay crops seemed to be the most affected by a late May frost and then a dry spell during July. Yields were about 70 per cent below normal.

Jason Lenz, Bently, Alta.

In central Alberta, Jason Lenz says he is planning to grow two types of wheat, two types of barley and two lines of canola in 2016.

While Lenz isn’t planning any major changes in rotation, he will be growing both Canadian Prairie Spring and Hard Red Spring wheat in 2015. He includes both malt and feed barley in rotation for his mixed farming operation. And while he has been growing just Roundup Ready canola, he will include another herbicide line in the rotation in 2016.

He has been really impressed with a newer CDC Kindersley malt barley variety, which grows well, made malt quality this year and is well received by the malting companies. And CDC Austensen, a two-row feed barley, has performed well on his farm west of Red Deer.

With a dryer growing season which meant same late germinating Roundup Ready canola this year, he will be growing a line with a different herbicide mode of action to deal with the volunteer Roundup Ready plants. He has been impressed with DuPont Pioneer varieties which this year topped about 62 bushels per acre in yield. He also plans to try a new Pioneer variety that has stacked gene traits providing improved resistance against clubroot and sclerotinia. “We don’t have any clubroot in this area year, but it is good to be proactive,” he says. “We try to include a clubroot resistant variety once every four years.”

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Field Editor

Lee Hart

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

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