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Why were canola yields down?

Has canola turned into a wimp or were 2012’s lacklustre western Canadian yields due to poor weather, diseases, insects and pushed rotations?

The Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) hopes to find out later this month when it meets with the life science companies that produce new canola cultivars, MCGA director Ernie Sirski told the Keystone Agricultural Producers’ (KAP) General Council meeting here Oct. 25.

Statistics Canada estimates Canadian canola yields averaged 28 bushels an acre this year, down 14 per cent from the five-year average of 32.

Bill Campbell, who farms at Minto, said in his area certain canola varieties performed much worse than others.

Sirski, who farms at Dauphin, said all canolas performed the same on his farm this year. But in his area, later-seeded canola generally yielded better. So did fields that were entirely sprayed for cutworms, rather than just spot sprayed. Sirski wondered if spraying an entire field might have killed a generation or two of leafhoppers, the vector for aster yellows phytoplasm — a disease, which affected many canola crops this year

In an interview earlier this fall, Ed Rempel, another MCGA director, said many farmers suspect some of the new canola hybrids don’t perform as well under severe stress as older ones.

New leaders sought

The MCGA is also looking at ways to encourage new farm leaders. That used to happen naturally through farm organizations such as United Grain Growers, the Pools and Canadian Wheat Board, Sirski said. UGG and the Pools are gone and the wheat board is no longer engaged in farm policy.

The MCGA plans to approach other farm organizations across the West to explore ways to encourage new farm leaders, he said.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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