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Just back from an exciting 4-day tour of Manitoba agriculture, here are a few observations on farming and no-tilling north of our border.
1. Canadians rely more on foreign buyers of crops and livestock than we do. Some 73 percent of their wheat, 81 percent of durum and 29 percent of barley is exported.
2. Country elevators have less storage capacity than ours and numbers have shrunk from 5,000 only a few years ago to less than 1,000 today. With limited elevator storage, farmers store grain on the farm.
3. Being able to consistently deliver high quality grain on time has been a big benefit to foreign buyers. The Canadian Wheat Board markets all wheat, durum and barley from western Canada. Under their grain grading rules, U.S. No. 1 wheat only qualifies as No. 3 wheat in Canada.
4. Much more diversified than we are, it’s not uncommon for a farmer to raise 6 to 12 crops. New crops, including hemp, are being evaluated.
5. Farmers are taking a closer look at seeding wheat, barley, canola and other crops in the fall to make better use of time and equipment.
6. With only a 100-day frost-free season, there’s pressure to get crops planted within a 3-week window of opportunity. To become more efficient, farmers will shift from conventional tillage to direct seeding and no-tilling.
7. By shifting to direct seeding or no-till, farmers doubled their acreage. With fall seeding, many growers will again double their acres.
8. With more emphasis…