I recently went on my very own personal crop tour.
It’s what happens when you go on a bike ride in the country with a retired farmer.
My wife and I like to spend as many summer days as we can cycling on the quieter paved roads that surround Saskatoon. Sometimes we go on our own and sometimes we go with another couple. The male in that couple is the retired farmer.
It’s a pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning, particularly because we go only when the weather is decent and the wind isn’t blowing too hard.
It’s nice to get out of the city, chat with our friends for a few hours and get some exercise. Sometimes we even pick a route that has a place where we can sit down and have a meal half way through the trip.
But what I really like about these cycling tours are the ag seminars conducted on two wheels.
My friend has a keen interest in the land and everything that grows on it. He is obviously most interested in the plants that he spent a lifetime growing, but it doesn’t stop there.
One morning I got quite an earful about nodding thistle as we passed by numerous stands of the weed.
Another day it was a passionate explanation of the unique biology of trembling aspen, what he called white poplar.
But on this particular morning on the last Sunday in July, it was all about the crops.
We were cycling east and south of the city toward Clavet, and much of the route gave us as good a look at the crops as can be had while moving at 20 km-h.
There were obvious signs of the extremely wet conditions that had plagued the area in the spring, but for the most part, the canola was looking great and the wheat was what my friend called “beefy.”
I’ve spent most of my career at The Western Producer, but there were still things I would have missed if I hadn’t had this guided tour.
For example, I thought I was pedaling past a solid field of wheat, but it turned out it had a large patch of foxtail in the middle. The low spot had been under water during seeding and had now filled in with something a little less desirable.
The day was proof that agricultural journalists can never totally get away from their jobs, especially if they choose to spend a day off cycling in the country with a retired farmer.