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.
Blood dripped from Liz Roberts’s hand. She needed help but her cell phone showed no service. She stepped away from the fence stretcher that had gashed her hand. Driving to get medical help, she stopped several times to phone for assistance without success. From her family’s farm south of Cereal, Roberts arrived 30 minutes later in Oyen, a town of 1,000 hardy souls perched just south of Highway 9 in southeast Alberta, relieved to have remained conscious long enough to find a doctor and stitches for her wound.
Spring wheat is Western Canada’s most significant crop. In the northern Prairies, though, much of the wheat grown for bread ends up being downgraded due to frost damage. This creates difficulties for farmers at harvest, but also impacts their bottom line. Dean Spaner, a University of Alberta Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences professor, is addressing the problem in a research project funded by the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC). The initiative will examine early-maturity traits in the hopes of addressing the challenge.
Stakeholders in the Canadian ag industry are optimistic that a potential free trade agreement (FTA) with China could vastly increase value, predictability and competitive edge in export. With other countries—including Australia, New Zealand and Chile—already securing FTAs with China, the potential for Canada to do so looks promising.
As Canadian trade negotiations continue with potential global partners, opportunity for economic growth in agriculture is greater than ever. The prospect of modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and fully implementing agreements with large, rapidly expanding populations in the Trans-Pacific, the European Union (EU) and China holds massive opportunity.
In 2016, the founder and former CEO of communications agency AdFarm initiated and advanced a national strategy to rebuild public trust in farming and the food industry. A living legend within the agri-food industry and a driven advocate of the farm sector, he was uniquely suited to the task.