The Defining Moments of Farming
Sep 27, 2018
We interviewed two stewarded trial growers of TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology.
Please note that the following interviews took place on August 27 and 29, before harvest season had begun.
Will Groeneveld is based in Alberta where he grows barley, canola, oats, peas and wheat. This year, he was one of the stewarded trial growers of TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology*. As harvest approaches, he reflects on the challenges he faced this season and his experience growing this new canola trait system.
Q: Looking back on this season, what particular challenges did you have to overcome? What moments really tested you?
A: Well, I guess when you talk to a farmer they put weather near the top of that list. Moisture’s been adequate, but barely; and fairly inconsistent. And we’ve had a bit of hail which is never a good thing. But I’m hesitant to complain about such things because I know there are always people in much worse shape. Our crop actually looks pretty darn good. And I know that our hail damage is a lot less than what some of my neighbours experienced. So, I’m hesitant to do too much complaining.
Q: What motivates you to keep going when you experience these hang ups?
A: I wouldn’t say I’m towards the end of my farming career, but I’m a long way from the beginning of it. I learned a long time ago that Mother Nature is the boss, and you’re in this for the long run. That’s the nature of the business. You don’t make a fortune in a single year. [Farming is like baseball]: it’s a game where you keep hitting singles; it’s very seldom that you hit a home run. But if you keep hitting singles, you score runs and you stay in the game.
Q: What was your experience growing TruFlex™ canola this year?
A: It was different. The plot had isolation strips and a corn border around it which was a little bit different for us. We had to use Liberty® herbicide on a small area because the plot has a few strips of InVigor® canola varieties. That wasn’t necessarily a challenge, but it required a little more effort to work around that. But, we knew what we were signing up for.
Q: Was taking on that challenge worth it in the end?
A: Oh, absolutely. It’s always good to seed new things. Part of what made it different is the fact that we’re working with unregistered varieties. In that case, you need those extra precautions along the way. Hopefully this is all worth it and it does get registered, because I think it’s going to be a pretty decent product. We’re not in corn country. There are some cattlemen that use corn for grazing, but generally speaking it’s not corn country. So, to see a 20-ft wide square-shaped strip of corn in the middle of a canola field—I think that probably made a few people curious. And I think that probably helped generate an interest in field tours.
Q: Did you have people coming by and asking what that was all about?
A: Yeah, a few people would ask me. Our DEKALB® agronomist lives right in the neighbourhood and there’s a sign at the plot that has her name and phone number on it, so I’m sure she fielded most of the calls. But the odd neighbour would ask what was going on there.
Q: What was their reaction when you explained?
A: They all thought it was good. It’s nice to have yield data. These plots are spread out in different geographic areas, and I think people appreciate that trials like this are happening in close proximity. It’s probably more realistic to use that data compared to [data] that’s from 500 miles away.
Q: Any additional thoughts about your experience growing TruFlex™ canola?
A: Generally speaking, we’ve been lucky with spray timing in the past. We’ve done well with the varieties and the rates that were available to us. But it’s always nice to know that if you grow TruFlex™ canola, you can have a wider spray window and can use higher rates. That’s a nice tool to have if you need it.
Q: Final thoughts on the defining moments of farming?
A: We have a neighbour that we work with quite a bit who isn’t a grain farmer, he’s strictly into cattle. He had some Roundup Ready® corn for grazing, but it got shredded by hail so badly that crop insurance completely wrote it off. It’s already a dry year here and yields are way down. So, having this destroyed field—which is for late fall and winter grazing for cows—was a big deal. But it’s one of those situations where, after the initial shock, farmers get on with it. You say, “Well, what can we do to make the best of a bad situation?” With the seeding equipment we have, we were able to go in and plant some annual forages into what was left of the corn. There will be seed there come fall, and it will also give the surviving corn plants a chance to keep growing. The whole point of the story is that farmers have challenges, but you make the best of a bad situation and do what you can. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? It might not be the best lemonade, but it’s something.
Ryan Warawa is a grower based in Mundare, AB. His 4,500-acre operation is made up of barley, canola, peas and wheat. Like Groeneveld, he was a stewarded trial grower of TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology this past season. Warawa touches on overcoming challenges in the field and his experience growing this new canola trait system.
Q: What were some of the moments that really tested you this season
A: The dry spring we went through and the lack of moisture. And the heat—we’ve never had a May with 30-degree weather and week-long wind like that.
Q: When you experience something like that early in the season — a really dry May combined with intense wind — it’s probably disheartening for you. How do you overcome that? What motivated you to keep going?
A: You just can’t stop, you’ve got to keep going. We experience different things every year, and next year will probably be a perfect year after the last three we’ve had. Whatever you experience, you just have to suck it up and keep going. You have to hope for the best and hope Mother Nature will help us.
Q: Can you describe your experience growing TruFlex™ canola
A: It’s been pretty simple. We’ve only planted a plot; it’s not a full-scale field. But the plot itself is nice and clean — it’s the cleanest one I’ve had this year. It’s easy to work with and it’s nice so far. We’ll see when we harvest it, but it looks good.
Q: How did the TruFlex™ canola react to the dry weather you had at the beginning of the season?
A: The canola came up perfectly and within the space of a week. It was surprising how well it came up. We have a sandier peat, so you worry that it’s going to dry out faster, especially with the winds. But it came out of the ground like nothing.
Q: Compared to your other crops, was that quite unprecedented?
A: No, some of them were lagging a little bit, but not as badly as I thought they would.
Q: How are you feeling about the TruFlex™ canola plot now that you’re getting closer to harvest season?
A: I’m getting excited. Harvest is my favourite time of year, especially when we do these plots. You’re able to see all the work you accomplished at the end of the season. I really enjoy knowing the outcome right at that moment, rather [than waiting to] bin it and then calculating it.
The next generation of farming begins with TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology. This new canola trait system will give you improved weed control against tough-to-kill weeds like cleavers, foxtail barley and wild buckwheat. If bad weather or broken equipment delays your spray dates, you can still get the job done. TruFlex™ canola has a wider application window, giving you 10 to 14 more spray days than our current technology**.
Plus, new advances in trait technology and new genetics means you get better weed control and crop safety compared to Roundup Ready® canola. This combination can help you see a higher yield potential at the end of the season, giving you peace of mind and helping to improve your bottom line.
* TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology is not yet available for commercial sale or commercial planting. Current plans are to commercialize for the 2019 growing season.
** When applying sequential rates of 0.67 L/ac.