This year proves you should never give up on the growing season

USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Growing a crop is not easy with all of the variables and factors impacting your decisions made and results achieved. If only we could make all agronomic decisions with hindsight, it would allow us to be way more effective agronomists and farmers.

This year has brought its own challenges across Canada that have proven to be just as challenging as we would expect from Mother Nature.Ontario saw a wet August, which has created potential record soybean yields but also high vomitoxin levels in the corn. The Prairies experienced a drought that has diminished yields, and surprise snow events early in the harvest season has been a struggle.

At this time of year I like to ask agronomists and farmers about the takeaways and learning lessons from the growing season. This year, a common comment that I am hearing is that you should “never give up on the growing season.”

Jeremy Boychyn, agronomy research and extension specialist with the Alberta Wheat and Alberta Barley Commissions said on RealAg Radio on Monday, “my hat goes off to the resilience of growers.” Boychyn continued, “many growers decided to cut back on some costs like herbicides and fungicides, but as we get to the end of the season and see some of these yields, we realize that we cannot give up on the crop because we are not farming for failure.”

Some growers in Western Canada were ready to throw in the towel in May, no Ontario grower thought record soybean yields were at all a chance in July, while at the same time this high level of disease in the corn crop seemed unthinkable in early August.

“Every year we learn that you never stop managing the crop, those growers that continued to manage the crop through all of that dry weather are reaping the benefits now,” says Agromart’s agronomy lead, Steph Kowalski on RealAg Radio‘s Monday edition.

In hindsight, all decisions look easy but in reality, if August had been dry those same growers might be in a much more regrettable financial position.  All decisions come with risk and reward in farming no matter the province you are in. 

Aaron Stevanus, of PRIDE Seeds, says that you need to take a look at the results from a year like this and remember, “that there is information to glean out of a year like this but maybe on a small scale. Sometimes looking at the two to three year average is difficult but sometimes developing your management strategy over the longer term prevents you from chasing your tail from year to year,” says Stevanus.

Personally, I remember as a kid my grandfather always saying, “you never know what you got until it’s in the bin.”

Three weeks ago growers in parts of Alberta never thought that they would be able to finish harvest with the remaining crop blanketed by snow. Most of that crop is now harvested, some is in poor condition, some is better yield than expected, but patience and persistence of growers finished the harvest.

It’s easy to get too low when it looks bad or too high when things are great but being dedicated to the process of the growing season has been showcased once again this year.

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