Early seeded canola can avoid some threats by getting a good start, even in cold soil, but hard frosts in late May can end what would have been a great crop fairly quickly.  | Michael Raine photo

Choosing seeding date can be tricky; early has advantages

Crops can tolerate spring frost better than early fall frost. To offset the cold stress associated with early seeding, follow these best management practices: Seed as early as possible Weather changes at this time of year make it difficult to predict when growers will be on the land. Growers are starting to seed as I […] Read more

In his travels across Southeast Asia last year, agronomist Thom Weir personally experienced plowing with water buffalo.  |  Thom Weir photo

Technology gains may have saved many a crop last season

We often reflect on the previous year at this time of the year and give thanks for the bounties that we have received. This is magnified with those of you who receive their livelihoods from the land. We are so at the mercy of Mother Nature. This was very evident this past year. However, the […] Read more

Foxtail barley tolerates the saline conditions that occur once it dries out after periods of excess moisture. It has managed to establish itself on a significant number of acres in Western Canada recently. | File photo

Weed of the Week: foxtail barley

Some weeds have flourished with the increase in no-till acres over the past 20 years. One of them is foxtail barley, known to biologists as hordeum jubatum. It has become an increasing concern after our series of wetter years and with the expansion of saline-affected soils. Foxtail barley tolerates the saline conditions that occur once […] Read more


Weed of the Week: cleavers

Last week I addressed a weed that I called the scourge of the south. For more northern grain belt farmers, this week I will discuss the scourge of the north, more commonly known as cleavers. Just as we saw a significant increase in the acres infested with kochia, we have seen cleavers spread across agricultural […] Read more

Kochia contains saponins, alkaloids, oxalates and nitrates that can be toxic to livestock, so it must be controlled in their diet.  |  File photo

Weed of the Week: kochia

I would like to discuss two weeds over the next couple of weeks. One I will refer to as the scourge of the south and the other as the scourge of the north. Unluckily, I have worked in an area where the two come together so have experience with both. The scourge of the south […] Read more


Managing ruts this spring is required but it needs to be delicate management. Ideally, it should take place when the soil is dry or frozen, which eliminates compaction.  | File photo

Oh, ruts: tread carefully over the fields when repairing

It is no secret that discussions around what to do with ruts dominated many coffee row discussions this winter. These ruts were produced by combines and grain carts operating in wet fields last October and November. Some of them are more than 60 centimetres deep. Managing ruts this spring is required but it needs to […] Read more

Yellow leaves mix with the green in a wheat crop damaged by residual herbicide presence.  |  Thom Weir photo

Watch for crop damage when using residual controls

I am sometimes asked to look at cereal crops in the spring that have been seeded on fields treated with burn-off herbicides containing residual products such as florasulam and metsulfuron. These products are often added to a glyphosate product to improve control of dandelions, narrow-leafed hawk’s beard and wild buckwheat and provide up to three […] Read more

Producers planning to make the best use of their fertilizer inputs this coming spring should take advantage of all the tools available to them and look to maximize margins.  |  File photo

Many tools available to help with soil sampling for seeding

I have to apologize for the length of time between columns this year. I have had some health issues but am now on the road to recovery so hopefully you can expect more regular articles in the future. I have, over the years, written a number of pieces on the importance of soil testing. In […] Read more


Alternaria seems to affect some canola hybrids after frost.  |  Thom Weir photo

How to evaluate frost damage on various crops

Temperatures dipped below -4 C at various weather station locations in Western Canada last week. We shouldn’t be surprised because the average first killing frost occurs in the second week of September for most of the Prairies. Many crops will have missed most of the damage, but some will still be in the susceptible stage. […] Read more

Lack of disease resistance information hinders control

Australian farmers have carried out an ongoing struggle against blackleg. Genetic resistance hadn’t been keeping up to the onslaught of virulent pathogen types by the early 1990s, but then a new source of resistance was incorporated into canola from a wild relative, brassica rapa subsp sylvestris. The sylvestris resistance, which provided what looked like an […] Read more