When Olds College assumed management of the Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC) from Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development this past January, management and staff jumped into action. The College took on the support of FCDC breeding programs and amalgamated those employees into its own team. Over the course of just nine months, the College also developed a new strategic direction for the venerated crop breeding institution. In September, its board of governors approved the draft plan for the new strategy. Over the coming months, the College will develop a rolling three-year business plan that will put the new guidelines into action.
Grain companies and certain industry groups would like to see Canadian Grain Commission’s (CGC) outward inspection practice halted. They insist it is a duplicate service, as these companies typically hire independent firms to complete grain inspections. Is it a matter of “double trouble” or “twice is nice?” It depends whom you ask.
Wholesale meat producers with their own Calgary butcher shop, Brant Lake Wagyu (BLW) owners Michelle Ball and son Brandon said demand is on the increase for their ultra-high quality, Kobe-style beef products. What makes the meat so tasty, said Michelle, is a combination of excellent Wagyu-Angus genetics, slow production and a strict barley regimen.
The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) is neck deep in the preparation of a funding application in hopes of securing another round of Canadian National Wheat Cluster funding under Canada’s agricultural policy framework, known in its inaugural term as the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).
Plastics have become a key part of farm life but the industry continues to grapple with the hefty volume of waste material produced. According to a benchmark Cleanfarms study released in August 2021, more than 61,700 tonnes of agricultural plastics are generated annually in Canada, primarily bale wraps and tubes, grain bags and net wrap. Approximately 10 per cent of the plastics are recycled, which is greater than the average of nine per cent for other industrial sectors.
Using high-tech chemical analysis tools, Canadian Grain Commission researchers are examining wheat at the molecular level to better understand how gluten proteins vary from one variety to the next. Their aim is to reveal how these previously hidden variations affect dough and baking qualities.
The 2020/21 crop year was good for Canada’s barley industry. According to Statistics Canada, production hit 10.74 million tonnes, the highest level since 2008 when tonnage topped 11.78 million tonnes. The 2020/21 crop is also up 50 per cent from 7.11 million tonnes in 2014, a year that saw the lowest barley production in Canada since 1967.
On coffee farms across Central and South America, a vicious invader called coffee rust has devastated the livelihoods of farmers and forced them off their land. In Colombia, a long-feared nightmare known as Panama disease, which destroyed banana production in Asia and then the Middle East in the 1990s, now threatens to end global banana production as we know it. Closer to home, a whole list of epidemic diseases from wheat stem rust to potato and tomato late blight have spread through cropland and have bitten into yield.
With the use of new biotechnology processes known as gene editing, a revolution in plant breeding technology is now underway. Methods such as CRISPR/Cas9, the best-known gene editing process, can carry out targeted changes within crop and livestock genes. Naturally, there is fear within the farm and agri-food sectors that foods produced via this technology will face public resistance as GMO crops once did.
Pests are a top concern for farmers, especially those with limited management options. Wireworms are one pervasive example. A misnomer, they are not actually worms but rather the larval form of click beetles. These sneaky creatures can wreak havoc on fields as they hollow out seeds and shred stems in cereal crops. Hard to identify and even harder to manage, these small but mighty pests can devastate entire fields.