The field tour on July 31st, saw over 45 participants come to Carberry to learn about a number of challenges facing many different crops in the region, some well established and others just building momentum.

The tour was an opportunity for attendees to learn more about Canola, Wheat, Soybean, Hemp, and Quinoa from industry experts.  It was also a chance to contrast these crops based on their unique agronomic challenges and reflect on how they might best be integrated into current rotations to capture future opportunities while minimize risk and providing rotational opportunities.

The tour started and ended with the two largest acreage crops and most mature industries: Canola and wheat.  Speakers discussed ongoing work to maximize yield using the wide range of tools available to these crops.  In between, we discussed three crops at very different points of their timeline with regard to industry development.

Quinoa, which is relatively new to Manitoba in terms of acreage that has more recently been receiving new investment and development to position Canada to take advantage of the many opportunities related to the crop’s rising popularity.

Industrial hemp that has been in Manitoba since the late 1990’s but with new legislation coming this fall will finally see past growth restrictions lifted and is poised for future growth and expansion.

And finally, Soybeans, a crop once limited to southern regions that now, through leveraging from massive corporate investment has rapidly expanded to become one of the major crops in the province.   Each of these crops present growers with unique challenges and opportunities to diversify rotations and increase the overall long-term sustainability of their operations.

Starting with Canola, Angela Brackenreed, Agronomy Specialist, with the Canola Council of Canada discussed their Ultimate Canola Challenge; a series of field scale trials spread throughout Western Canada in producer fields.  These trials examine many agronomic practices including fertility, establishment and other inputs.  Farmers get a first hand opportunity to test the applicability of these practices on their farm using replicated, randomized designs.  This is the first year CMCDC has participated in the Ultimate Canola Challenge, conducting a seeding speed trial.

The second tour stop focused on Stubble Management in Soybeans.  Laryssa Stevenson (Production Specialist, MPSG) discussed the importance of soybean establishment and research looking at the effect of stubble and tillage practises on soybean establishment and development.  CMCDC is currently collaborating with Dr Ramona Mohr on a study looking at the effects of wheat stubble management; including stubble height, incorporation and burning on soybean development across both mid and late May seeding dates.

Jeff Kostiuk (Director of Operations, HGI) transitioned into the specialty crops speaking on the Industrial Hemp Industry.  Jeff gave an overview of industrial hemp variety evolution, current and future uses for industrial hemp and listed some of the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.  CMCDC participates in the national industrial hemp variety trial program as well as conducting additional agronomic research.

Next Marc Vincent (Head Plant Breeder, NorQuin) & Dan Bolton (Director of Farm Services, NorQuin) spoke to the agronomic challenges facing quinoa production in Manitoba.  The previous notion that heat blasting was the greatest impediment keeping Quinoa north of highway 16 has been shown false and insects have been found to be the greatest challenge.  Variety development work in southern Manitoba and seed production in Chile have shown varieties can achieve high yields, even amid 30+ degree Celsius heat.  Wide genetic diversity provides excellent future opportunity for this crop and work currently under way promises to provide new tools for agronomists and producers in the near future.  CMCDC is collaborating with NorQuin on a seed treatment trial, as well as others looking at pesticide registration and variety adaptation.

Lastly, a discussion on management tools for increasing wheat yield was discussed by Anne Kirk, Cereal Specialist with Manitoba Agriculture.  Anne spoke on a trial being conducted at the Manitoba Diversification Centres examining the contribution plant growth regulators, additional Nitrogen and fungicides have on multiple varieties of wheat.    CMCDC is also examining through field trials altered seeding rates for new genetics and assisting with the validation of fusarium head blight modelling within the province.

It was an excellent morning that proved very informative and engaging.  Work such as this being conducted at CMCDC and other similar centres within the province is providing valuable information.  By supporting the growth and development of multiple crop industries and building options for producers to maintain diversity on their operations these collaborations improve the sustainability of agriculture in the province.