Regional crop tour — global attention

Whether in the newspaper or on producer.com, it would have been hard to miss our coverage of the crop tour held by FarmLink Solutions this past week.

At The Western Producer, we believe strongly in the value of knowing. Just as we are big believers in remote sensing, ground truthing proves what we believe to be true and can provide questions as well as answers. Good information brought by many hands, even if it is sometimes anecdotal and site-specific, helps paint a picture.

In Western Canada, we farmers often think of ourselves as growing some mainstream crops. Canola, hard red spring wheat, durum, lentils, peas, barley and oats make up the bulk of the acres, with minor crops such as chickpeas, mustard and flax filling up most of the rest. All of these tend to have relatively large production elsewhere in the world, but mostly disappear inside the countries where they are grown and few make it to export.

While canola is a big crop for us, in the grand scheme of food and vegetable oil production, it’s a drop in the barrel. Canola or rapeseed is 70 million tonnes globally while soybeans are 370 million. We produce about 21 million tonnes, but only 17 million tonnes of all canola are exported and most of that comes from Canada. In fact combined with oil and meal, 90 percent of our production is exported.

Our yields matter to traders, buyers and farmers around the globe. We hold the balance of globally available imports when it comes to the supply-and-demand balance of a number of crops, all from a relatively small 62 million acre patch of cropland.

This is why the world pays attention to a prairie crop tour.

To that end, we sent four reporters out on the road last week with the tour. News editor Bruce Dyck co-ordinated the information gathering and its delivery, and we provided live updates on producer.com and also covered the event with several pages in this edition of the paper.

Starting in Edmonton, Kindersley, Saskatoon and Winnipeg, reporters put in long days observing the experts on the tour and talking to farmers along the way.

Reporter Karen Briere was on hand in Regina to hear the culmination and analysis of all the information that was gathered and the best yield and production guesses for the coming harvest from one of the more unusual production years in our history.

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