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Crop circle of friends

Agroup of farmers in the Killarney area has found that friendship and crop tours can boost their productivity.

The Killarney Marketing Club, which has been meeting regularly for 18 years to share breakfast and each other’s company, got together June 6 for its Annual Crop Tour and Golf Day. This year there were approximately 50 people, which included retail and service industry reps. The networking day benefits both, say club members.

“Collectively, we are a force to be reckoned with,” said longtime member Betty Turner, who helped organize sponsors for the event. “We have hog and cattle farmers, mixed farmers and straight grain farmers. We are such a diverse group of people, and I can’t imagine the number of acres we control as a group. There’s a lot of buying power out there. Our group is about sharing information that we can all benefi t from.”

For an annual fee of $100, the 20 members and their families enjoy a weekly breakfast meeting, which often has a speaker who brings the latest news on agri goods, services, and crop and livestock information. Fall trips have included visiting the Chicago Grain Exchange, potash mines in Saskatchewan, and breweries. The Annual Crop Tour was expanded 12 years ago to include a round of golf at the start.

“We always did a crop tour from the beginning, and we decided to add some golfing. It evolved into a fun day,” said Turner, who farms with her husband Dennis east of Killarney.

After a buffet breakfast they hit the links, and thanks to generous donations from the sponsors and reps, there were take-home packages available back at the clubhouse and big-ticket items to auction off.

“The main result of the day is networking,” said Blair Foote, secretary-treasurer for the club. “All these donations came from Killarney, Boissevain and Minto Co-ops, from chemical companies, and from dealerships and farm suppliers. We use the money we raise to pay for the cost of the day.”

For Grant Yule, who farms north of Holmfield, the club makes a difference in his life and his business.

“It’s a way to share information,” he said. “It’s all good, and we get to see what’s going on, and do things we don’t normally do.”

Ryan Sawatsky’s farm was the first stop on the crop tour, where six trial plots of canola were surveyed, each with three acres of varieties from DeKalb, Brett Young and Pioneer. He is interested in seeing the results for himself, and sharing his experience with other club members.

“It’s more about the yield that I’m concerned about,” said Sawatsky. “When it’s time to harvest, I’ll weigh each sample – that’s the most important to me. One variety is supposed to be resistant to sclerotinia, so I’ll see if that’s true. I’ve done canola trials before, and I like to do it to see what’s best. Each company reports on its own varieties, but nothing’s like doing your own field trials.”

A Hard Red Spring wheat, “Glenn,” is being grown by another member to check out its resistance to fusarium and its bushel weights.

Harley Foote showed off his best canola field, a field of Invigor 5030 which last year netted him 47 bushels an acre. He’s been planting it for five years.

“I’m not going to change that,” he said. “Usually I get 35 bushels, but last year was exceptional. If we got a bit of rain it will be great this year. I like the stubble for holding snow.”

One producer displayed a new modification for his auger, which he created from parts and scraps on the farm. Attaching a small hydraulic cylinder to his auger wheel using a welded frame, Barry Reimer ran a hydraulic line to his tractor, allowing him to adjust the final position of the auger mouth to the bin without leaving his seat once he’s ready to unload.

“It took me about 12 hours, and everything was made from pieces in the yard,” he said. “You can move the end of the auger one foot either way, and it’s saving us time backing up to the bin, and we can do it at night. Some of the guys want me to make one for them.”

The day ended with an evening barbecue.

“I don’t know of any other groups like ours,” said Turner. “It’s just a great group of people; fathers and sons who farm together, husbands and wives, and people of all ages and faiths. It’s all about fun, and learning. We’ve gotten on so well together, and for so long.”

– Kim Langen writes from Holmfield, Manitoba

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