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A SUNNY FORECAST

Two acres of James Molnar’s 800-acre family farm near Barnwell cause him continuous headaches. Just a short distance from his house, these troublesome acres contain an old oil well site. Its lingering traces of asphalt and oil prevent Molnar from planting the lot with high-value Taber corn or the tomatoes, pumpkins and other market vegetables he farms. Doing so would violate the exacting standards of the grocery stores he supplies.

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COMEBACK CLASS

There was a time when Canadian Western Hard White Spring (CWHWS) wheat was touted as the next big minor class. Today, though, the class is virtually dead. Despite having lost its shine, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) wheat breeder Harpinder Randhawa believes CWHWS is poised to make a comeback thanks to a new, higher yielding variety he developed. While AAC Whitehead yields 21 per cent higher than previously established CWHWS varieties, industry experts believe it will take more than yield to revive the class. If the history of CWHWS has taught any lessons, it is that marketing, competition and quality all play a crucial role in determining the success of a wheat class. However, GrainsWest recently spoke with farmers and scientists who are cautiously optimistic about its return.

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FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

Beneficial insects are old news, at least to entomologists. However, their benefits, hence the name, are in the limelight once again. This is thanks to a recent promotional campaign and the reinforcement of the notion that positive alternatives beyond blanket spraying exist.

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THE YIELD GAP CHALLENGE

In February 2020, Eric Watson of Ashburton, New Zealand, produced a new world record wheat yield. At an incredible 258.8 bu/ac, his 21-acre irrigated crop was grown in the country’s South Canterbury region where the average wheat yield is a respectable 178 bu/ac. It was his second such record yield confirmed by the Guinness World Records organization.

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SOFT, WHITE AND LUCRATIVE

The production volume of Canada Western Soft White Spring wheat (CWSWS) grown for food purposes in Western Canada is low. However, the handful of Alberta farmers who grow this limited acreage crop consistently praise it.

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ADAPT OR DIE

Whether it is an Amazon package arriving at the door, a hotel deal found through Expedia or a ride right now in an Uber, people increasingly prefer a culture made possible by apps and finger taps. It was perhaps inevitable that aspects of agriculture would also become a prime target for disruption.

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ALBERTA CRAFT BEER GOES GLOBAL

Canadian beer is one of the best kept secrets in the world,” said Michele Tse, who co-owns Far Out Exporters with her husband Don. “American, European and German beers are popular all over the world. Canadian beer just hasn’t gotten out there yet.”

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THINK INSIDE THE BOX

To think outside the box can be good for business as containerized shipping gains popularity in the Canadian grain industry. Though this mode of transport is not without its challenges, more and more shippers see it as a viable alternative to bulk movement.

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