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Craig Shaw farms so far north that many people believe that fall-seeded crops won’t survive because of the cold winter temperatures. But thanks to the many benefits of direct seeding, the Lacombe, Alberta, grower is definitely making fall seeding work.
As a result, he’s boosted yields, trimmed costs, put more dollars in the bank and spread the seeding, spraying and harvesting workloads. Direct seeding leaves plenty of stubble to trap more snow and provides additional moisture for future crops.
In fact, Shaw says the stubble-catching benefits of direct seeding are probably more important in providing an insulating barrier of snow to protect winter wheat. While providing extra moisture is valuable, it’s probably not as critical as protecting the winter wheat crop from freeze damage.
By stretching the critical time between harvest and fall seeding, direct seeding also lets Shaw be more timely with field work and provides more efficient use of both labor and equipment in his 2,700-acre operation.
When it comes to being successful with winter wheat, Shaw believes seeding on the right date, seeding at the proper depth and selecting the right varieties are critical.
Shaw first tried fall seeding wheat and canola in 1996. One of the surprises with winter wheat was fewer resulting weeds even with reduced herbicide costs.
With canola, he’s produced a good crop even when fields are flooded in the spring. He’s also found canola often grows faster on light sandy ground rather than darker soils, which becomes even more…