If I asked you where Bentley barley was grown, what would your first guess be? I can pretty safely assume you wouldn’t have thought “Vancouver Island”, but that is one of the many places you can find it, in this case being grown by producers who have partnered with Phillips Brewing Co to produce barley for their malts. I chatted for a while with Matthew Phillips, who is the owner of the brewery, about his passion for beer, his choice of Bentley as an ingredient, and what it means to him to see his ingredients all the way through the chain.
In his own words, he was “drawn to beer in university” which is not something particularly unique. It was once all of his projects started to turn in the direction of fermentation that he realised he had a passion. A job helping out at the local brew house, followed by a couple more jobs and both small and large breweries, further strengthened his interest. After deciding he wanted more control over the types of beer he made, he started his own brewery in 2001.
I asked Matt if he could describe what it was that made Bentley a preferred variety for their beers. He said that there are a couple of challenges associated with the fact that they use 100% malt barley in their beers.
For those outside of the agriculture marketing world, the Best of CAMA might not mean anything. To fill you in, this is basically the Oscars of agriculture marketing in Canada. It's a fancy evening where the who's who of the top agencies in Canada get together to highlight the best work of the past year. You can check out this year's Ottawa event here.
At CANTERRA SEEDS we work very closely with Think Shift, an agency based here in Winnipeg. We've worked with them for almost ten years, and they've been with us through many ups and downs over the years (mostly ups!). They are a strategic partner for our business, and are a valued member of our marketing team.
This year Think Shift was nominated for awards in a number of categories at the Best of CAMA, including point of purchase material for our canola bag redesign!
Check out our Best of CAMA winning bag redsign here
Congratulations to Think Shift, and thanks to the team at CANTERRA SEEDS who worked on the bag redesign. We didn't take top spot in the category, but a runner-up merit award isn't too shabby.
Jesse Meyer is our Territory Manager in the Peace River. He gathered observations about straight cutting canola in the Peace this year from his own farm, and from discussions with customers. Please note CANTERRA SEEDS has not done analytical testing to measure the effectiveness of straight cutting vs. swathing CANTERRA 1990, and Jesse's comments are not meant as an official recommendation.
Straight Combining Canola Gaining Popularity in the Peace
This past harvest there was more straight combined canola acres in the Peace Region than ever before, and it is gaining popularity with growers. By doing one less pass in the field and allowing the plant to mature fully, many farmers feel like they are gaining vs swathing. Liberty link canola seems to be the system of choice for growers who decide to straight combine, because they are able to do a pre-harvest with glyphosate, although Roundup Ready canola is gaining popularity as well. Just recently, Heat from BASF was registered as a pre-harvest on canola, and farmers have had good results from that application. It acts quickly and evens out the field. Reglone from Syngenta has also been used, but with less success. Although many farmers do use a pre-harvest herbicide, it is not necessary, canola will dry on its own. This past year a heavy, early, September frost killed all the canola, much like a herbicide would.
Green Seed Issues
Green seed was an issue this past year. If the canola was at 60% colour change when the frost came, green seed was minimal between the straight combined or the swathed. Swathing seems to only lessen the risk of frost if you are swathing before ideal colour change…less than 60%.
Types of Headers
Most growers are using draper headers on their combines, and that works well. A cross auger up top would help the flow in heavy canola but is not mandatory. Auger headers work very well because they grab the crop. There has been lots of discussion about headers where you can extend cutter bar and have side shears to reduce shatter loss. I have never worked with these, but understand they are a significant amount of money. The headers that you use for cereals will work for canola. A grower should pull the reel back as far as they can to the back of the header, and run the reel slowly to minimize shatter.
Shattering was minimal when it was around 10% moisture, but as the canola got dryer the risk of shattering increased. At the same time, swaths did blow in the wind and shattering was significant in those situations as well.
Advantages of Each Method
One of the biggest advantages of straight combining is that if it rains, the standing canola dries much quicker and gets you back in the field harvesting quicker. The advantage to swathing is that it does get you started with harvesting canola sooner by approximately a week, and that is a significant. So I believe a blend of both swathing and straight combining is important. It spreads the grower’s workload and spreads their risk - there are risks and advantages to both methods.
Experience with CANTERRA SEEDS canola
Several growers in the Peace, including ourselves, straight combined CANTERRA 1990 this year, and the variety worked very well. It has a nice lean for netting, and shattering seemed to be minimal, even in strong winds. One grower I know grew CANTERRA 1990, 73-45, and 45H29, and said the CANTERRA 1990 was the best canola for straight combining in his experience.
These were just my observations from one year of straight combing and every year is different, others may have had different experiences than I have had.
We will continue to straight combine canola, and I believe it will gain popularity on many farms.
At the end of every planting season, each and every bag of remaining CANTERRA SEEDS canola is collected and brought to a central location. Once all the seed has arrived, our own Sandy Lavoie and Duane Ransome head out to spend a couple of days counting inventory of all the seed, and taking an extensive array of samples representing each seed lot. Last week I had a conversation with them about why it is that we do these samples, and why we bring the seed back to one location.
The more I learned from them, the more it became clear that all of these things were done for the exact same reason; to ensure top quality seed in every bag of CANTERRA SEEDS canola each year.
I grew up in a farming community, and though I lived in town, I spent many summer days out on our grandparents’ farm. When I was young this meant I played games with grandma and went for combine rides, and as I got older it meant learning how to change a belt, unplug a combine, use a welder, or back a grain truck up to an auger in the dark. I was a ‘50% farm kid’. While I didn’t live out there (though in the summers I was pretty close), I got a glimpse of what it was like to grow up on a farm.
That meant that I had also heard a lot of stories about the farm 30 – 50 years ago. Stories about the community, about bin raisings, driving over to the neighbour’s yard to use their new moisture tester, and if something was broken, stopping to help them fix it while you were there. While some of this still happens (we always say hi to the neighbours if we see them in the yard as we’re driving home) I used to think the difference between the stories I was told and the stories I had experienced meant that community had simply disappeared. It’s a reasonable assumption that the increased size of farms would drive that kind of change. But I was wrong.
The community is there, and it is active, and it is buzzing and connected, it just exists in a different medium than it did before. It’s here online.
There is an unbelievable amount of research, technology, and fascinating science that goes into the process of developing and producing canola varieties. After spending an hour talking hybrid production with our resident expert Duane, I could likely do an entire blog mini-series, (that after about 3 episodes would surely be cancelled) but here are some of the most important things to know about the differences between Open Pollinated and Hybrid Varieties.
In its simplest form, the difference is this: An open pollinated variety starts as a single variety that is self-pollinated through each generation of seed production. A hybrid canola variety however, is the product of two unique parental lines.
One of these two lines has been bred to be male sterile (this is the female parent), which means that it cannot pollinate effectively, it can only be a receiver of pollen, and the other of these lines, the male parent line, pollinates as normal. The two parent lines are planted in separate strips, with the female strips being 2 or 3 times the width of the male strips. Honeybee hives are placed next to the field, to aid in the distribution of pollen. In some cases leafcutter bee shelters will also be placed next to the male strips (as seen in the photo below). Sometimes the male strips will also be clipped back to keep them producing pollen for the females as long as possible.
(a hybrid canola production field. Photo: Shaan Tsai)