Latest articles

Doggerel — 30th anniversary edition

The holiday is over, with all its big meals epicurious
You know what that means: it’s time to get serious
And start the new year with a bit of reflection
On how the past year went in an agricultural direction
Then look ahead to advise which crops to be seeding
And give you one or two other suggestions you’re needing

My dad used to tell me how badly the ’30s were dirty
But last year I thought they were back, the fields were so snirty

Come spring there were days so dusty that the sun was obscured
So it seems all poor farming practices haven’t been cured
I’ll say it directly, rather than hinting it subliminally
It’s time for some farmers to be tilling more minimally
The dust finally settled, but it was still difficult to see
The sun because of smoke from fires in Alberta and B.C.
Aside from making some of us cough, wheeze and hack
It lasted so long that it set some crops back

When the smoke cleared many farmers watched the horizon
For some clouds to bring rain to get their crops risin’
It finally arrived, though most farmers had rather
That it wasn’t the day that they started the swather
After waiting all summer for their crops to get wetted
Many had a drenched harvest that they will have rather forgetted

Now given a summer which for rain was a bit iffy
Despite it for many the yields still turned out quite spiffy
Good management partly; using the right inputs and seeders

But some credit is due to good work of plant breeders
While there’s been a big yield bump for fancy hybrid canola
There’s been an even greater increase in the breeders’ payola
But if you crunch the numbers in metric or imperials
It turns out the increase has been even better for cereals
So some breeders say “More royalties, we need ’em”
They want you to pay at the elevator every time you reseed ’em
Maybe that’s reasonable, I can’t say we should nix it
But if things are going so well, maybe “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it?”

Back in the ’70s it made some of us forlorn
When they changed the wheat grades from One to Four Northern
The name ‘CWRS’ doesn’t do much for my ears
Especially when I hear buyers are just calling it “Cweers”
Now we’ve got a new class so some farmers can’t holler
That they couldn’t grow U.S. varieties like Prosper and Faller

But to call the new class Canadian Northern on me kind of grates
A Canadian wheat marketing brand of “Just like the States!?”
And after all the fuss about how varieties like Faller were needed
The statistics now show that’s there’s practically none seeded

Though they’re not having much luck selling us cereal genetics
To try to send us more milk Americans were quite energetic
U.S. dairy farmers managed to be successful in seduction
Of Trump, saying “We need somewhere to dump overproduction”
So now that these U.S., Europe and Asia trade deals are finished
Canadian dairy farmers are finding their market diminished
The prospect doesn’t really make my heart flutter
Of going to the store to see New Zealand butter

Besides having trouble finding hay for their heifers and steers
Cattle producers heard many who were expressing their fears
That once that hay through a bovine beast passes
It comes out front and back as bad greenhouse gases
Which is true, but I think that the story that they need to disperse
Is that without forage land to trap carbon, climate change would be worse

So much for last year’s reviewing; since you’ll need advice
On what crops to grow, and how to get a good price
So I took another $19.95 online analysis course which shows
How to talk about ag markets and sound like the pros
Like “Sell into a rising market” — which is real analyst-speak
But does that mean rising since yesterday or last week?
Or “Watch what the futures are saying,” which may sound nifty
But doesn’t that mean up or down chances are exactly 50-50?
Should you hedge? Maybe, though half the time surely
You’ll kick yourself after for selling too early
Should you plant wheat? Is that the right crop for adoption?
Well let’s face it, for rotation you really don’t have too much option
Speaking of options, if canola is one you still want to choose it

Stick to one year in four, or to clubroot you might lose it
I’ve much more advice, but since most of the space I have here
Is gone, so again, you’ll have to wait till next year
In the meantime, I hope what you sees is
A year with just enough rain, and no pests and diseases
Once again, best wishes from all of us here
For good crops, good prices and a Happy New Year!

About the author

explore

Stories from our other publications

Comments