BY NATALIE NOBLE A distinct lack of rainfall throughout Alberta in 2015 was not conducive to starting crops off well or keeping them going. On top of this, a long mid-summer drought allowed pests to get ahead of some crops. However, in most cases, weather conditions last season did not allow pests and disease to reach […]
One of the first major “crops” exported from southern Alberta to U.S. markets was coal. This train, owned by the Alberta Railway and Coal Company (although the line appears to have had several different names), is making the run in 1912 between Lethbridge, AB, and Great Falls, MT, passing through the Coutts/ Sweetgrass border crossing carrying both coal and passengers.
While the theory behind plans to reclassify more than two dozen Hard Red Spring (HRS) and Canadian Prairie Spring (CPS) wheat varieties has merit, the real test is to see what the market does with this reclassification, said Kent Erickson, a central Alberta farmer and chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission.
Those in the commercial seed treatment industry will have to change some of the ways they operate, thanks to new industry standards outlined by CropLife Canada, an industry-led advocacy group focused on sustainability and biotechnology. The new guidelines were released to the public in 2014, but operators will have until 2017 before they are required to implement them. While most operators should be able to make the necessary changes, there are concerns that some will find compliance too onerous, thus reducing farmers’ access to competitive seed treatment options. Another worry is that farmers’ ability to treat their own seed could be affected over time.
With widespread dry conditions, the 2015 growing season was a roller coaster for many farmers. Some areas received enough rain to see larger than expected yields, but that wasn’t the case everywhere. A good portion of farms in the western half of the Prairies now have fewer bushels to sell than had been anticipated in spring, and/or have lower grades to work with. Both of these situations present marketing challenges.
Big leaps in innovation don’t occur every day. It sometimes takes special people (think Steve Jobs) or teams (think NASA) to imagine so far beyond our current experience that they create a new paradigm. In hindsight, these major advances might seem obvious or inevitable, but if you have lived through any of them, you’ll recall the awe with which people viewed the change.