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Alberta crop commissions have partnered with the Adaptation Resilience Training (ART) program to build climate change knowledge within their organizations and provide skills and networking opportunities for Alberta university graduates.

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On a bright but chilly day last October, Nevin Rosaasen, Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) sustainability and government relations lead, and Hayley Webster, the commission’s Adaptation Resilience Training project assistant, made their way to a small slough on Hannah Konschuh’s farm near Cluny. Konschuh, a former Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) director, joined them for the short hike down from an adjacent dirt road to examine this modest, semi-permanent wetland.

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As drought ravaged crops across the Prairies this past summer, it was once again made abundantly clear farmers can’t control the weather. On the Prairies, crop losses in dry years can range from 30 to more than 50 per cent of average yield.

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For more than 20 years, Cereals Canada has welcomed farmers from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to its Winnipeg headquarters for its annual Combine to Customer program. The exception was 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation.

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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.

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Each year, the province’s wheat and barley farmers invest heavily in research and innovation. In fact, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley reserve the largest part of their respective budgets for this programming area—between $4.5 and $5 million annually combined. And while farmers set the priorities and make funding decisions, the commissions’ research team makes sure they get the maximum return on investment from every dollar.

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Knowledge is everything in controlling a difficult pest such as wireworm. “You’ve got to know your enemy,” said Haley Catton, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientist. With funding from the Alberta Wheat Commission and the Western Grains Research Foundation, she has led a three-year project that will produce a huge amount of wireworm data and contribute to integrated management approaches.

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With early snowfalls having impacted harvests in recent years, the time couldn’t be better for Dean Spaner’s wheat breeding program to hit its stride. A University of Alberta professor and plant breeder, Spaner focuses on bringing high-yielding but early-maturing wheat varieties to market. It’s a natural fit for the northernmost wheat breeding program on the continent.

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Research plots dot the Prairie landscape and provide farmers a glimpse of what may come from new crop varieties in yield, disease resistance, standability and more. About the size of a pickup truck and just as numerous across Alberta, these plots are an inescapable component of agricultural research. However, dimensions and conditions continually leave something to be desired. Highly manicured and cared for by research scientists in specialized environments, the plots don’t simulate real life and that’s a real problem for farmers who farm sections, not square centimetres.

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