Category Archives: canada

Tractor and Combine Sales Numbers (YTD)

AEM and Rosagromash reported new monthly numbers of year-to-date combine and tractor sales for the U.S., Canada and Russia.

As you can see, the first graph represents the total tractor sales for each of the countries, and the second is total self-propelled combine unit sales numbers.

YTD tractor sales for September for the U.S. are up 12.1 percent. Russia’s total tractor sales were down 9.4 percent YTD August. And Canada’s tractor total sales were up 8.9 percent YTD September over 2012. In all three countries, the units sold were primarily 2 wheel drive units versus 4 wheel drive units.

The U.S. combine sales were up 16.4 percent YTD September over 2012. Canada’s combine sales were down 1.4 percent YTD September over 2012 figures, according to AEM. And Russia’s combine total sales were down 41.7 percent over 2012 YTD August, according to Rosagromash.

One might expect sales are peaking here in the U.S., if grain commodity prices remain lower due to global competition, decreased exports, and a possible reduction of the ethanol mandate — as farm profit margins could decrease in the near term.

3 Picks: Canadian Surplus, UK Surplus, Amaranth Superweed

Below, are today’s three chosen agricultural-related news picks.

1) Canadian Prairie Crops Bursting at the seams this Season: By Jennifer Graham. “the highest all-wheat yield in the last 10 years was about 42 bushels per acre and this year it is expected to be about 49 bushels per acre. … Mr. Townsend said estimates are that the six major grains in Western Canada – wheat, oats, barley, rye, flax and canola – could produce 61.4 million tonnes this year. The previous nine-year average was about 47.7 million tonnes…”

2) Surplus Grains in the UK: “It is not just milling wheat which the UK (unlike most other countries) faces a surplus of. In oats too, the country has an unusually large surplus which is confronting farmers, and traders, with what Robert Leachman, oats trader at Gleadell, says is a ‘serious situation’ on how to find homes for the grain…”

3) Palmer Amaranth Super-weeds: By Kurt Lawton. “Before you run that combine through every acre of your fields, I’d highly recommend reading “Resistant Palmer amaranth hits the Midwest.” This weed is a game changer, and if left unchecked without multiple herbicide modes of control, you can literally lose a field in three years’ time.”

BONUS: Carole King — A Natural Woman’s Idaho property is for sale. (Photo above.)

This news post was written and compiled by K. McDonald.

Agriculture News April 18, 2012

Cal Poly Scene (photo credit: Kay McDonald)

Sorry about the longer than usual gap between posts. I was traveling last week and put many hours of work into writing which I was planning to put up mid-week. Because Google has made some changes to Blogger recently, and the bugs aren’t worked out yet, the post was irretrievably lost. Fellow bloggers beware that if you try to “edit” a post using the updated system on an ipad you might as well hit the “delete” button, because they both do the same thing. I took the photo above and will be posting many more photos from the trip in the future, including the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara farmers markets.
Kay M.

● Bill Reinert, national manager of advanced technology for Toyota, spoke in Boulder recently about Peak Oil, when it is expected to peak, and about the future of cars. (Daily Camera)

● Demand for edible oils is climbing to a record as drought damages crops across South America, leaving buyers with the smallest stockpiles in three decades. (BusinessWeek)

● Farmers must spend more on herbicides as effectiveness fades … “I’ve gone from budgeting $45 an acre just two years ago to spending more than $100 an acre now to control weeds,” said Mississippi farmer John McKee, who grows corn, cotton and soybeans on his 3,300-acre farm in the Delta. (USA Today)

● A decade ago, Iowa’s 22 million acres were evenly divided between corn and soybeans. But this year, 14.6 million acres will be planted for corn, while soybean plantings, which were 11 million acres a decade ago, will be just 8.8 million acres this year. (DesMoines Register)

● Jim Rogers: “Someday it’s going to be that America will be producing tens of thousands of agriculture graduates, as we did once upon a time, and there are not going to be many MBAs.” (Yahoo finance)

● Contrary to popular belief, ”food miles”, or the distance food has travelled before we buy it, is a poor indicator of our food’s total greenhouse gas emissions, or ”carbon footprint”. (SMH)

● Scientists unlock indigenous secret to sustainable agriculture in the Amazon’s savannas (Mongabay)

● DuPont opened a $40 million plant genetics research facility in Johnston, Iowa this month. (4-traders)

● The Folly of Big Agriculture: Why Nature Always Wins (environment360)

● Live From the Cutting Room Floor (Mark Bittman – NYTs)

● University of Calcutta has developed the nation’s first genetically engineered(GE) drought resistant rice variety, a top Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) official said … According to ICAR, India can now develop variety of drought tolerant wheat, rice and maize. (Outlook India)

● Thirty-five people, aged 18 to 30, from Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom are spending five to seven months on farms in Canada learning and living agriculture as part of the AgriVenture Global international exchange program. (The StarPhoenix)

● There were two recent Food/Ag Room-for-Debates:

Do We Need More Advice About Eating Well? (NYTs)
Is Veganism Good For Everyone? (NYTs)


Canadian Farmland Price Changes by Province in 2011

Spring 2012 report from Farmcredit Canada

Idyllic Farming on Île d’Orléans

NOTE that this post was inspired by a late summer visit to Quebec, Canada in 2010.

A visit to this 73 square mile, 18-mile long island named Île d’Orléans near Quebec City in the Saint Lawrence River is enough to give anyone small farm fever. Oh, but for a piece of land on this island to grow food and join the camaraderie of small farms here.

Originally inhabited by native American tribes, French explorer Jacques Cartier landed on this island in 1535. He discovered an island filled with wild grapes and abundant hunting and fishing. One hundred fifty years later, it had over 1200 French inhabitants and 917 livestock. Boat building became an early industry. Today, many French Canadians trace their ancestry to Isle de Orleans.

A bridge connecting Île d’Orléans with the mainland was built in 1935, and in 1970 the whole island was designated a National Historic District. Today’s island population of 7,000 is dotted with small 300 year old towns.

When I travel, getting to know a place means getting to know the artists who previously lived there and left their legacy. Here, well-known artists were painter Horatio Walker and songwriter Félix Leclerc.

The above 1933 photo shows artist Horatio Walker painting in his Île d’Orléans garden. He spent his summers here and his winters in New York City, where he sold his work.

Below, is his painting, Ploughing, the First Gleam at Dawn, which was completed in 1900. An art critic described this painting as evoking “the apparent balance between mind and body that was commonplace when people lived in harmony with the rules of nature.”

Walker and his contemporaries feared that the agrarian lifestyle was being threatened by a dirty and less desirable industrial age. Though his own life was filled with tragedy, he painted agrarian scenes in an effort to cling to that which was disappearing from the modern world.

Forever amongst us is that human genre which rebels against the advances of civilization and since the dawn of the industrial revolution, that has included the subject of agriculture. This island served as a hold-out for such idealists. By the late 1800′s, those seeking refuge from the undesirable changes to civilization brought about by the use of fossil fuels and mechanization, gravitated here where life remained serene and agrarian.

The Loi sur la Protection du Territoire Agricole [Agricultural Land Preservation Act] reserves 90 percent of this island’s land area for agricultural purposes. Had this act not been instated, it is easy to imagine what this isle would look like today, and it would not be small farms. Even so, tourism drives this economy now, and so it is a mix of local farm producers, artists and artisans, and land owners with tourism interests as well as vacation cottages.

Photo credit: Amerique Francaise

No small part of the visual appeal of this island, next to the charming landscape of rolling hills with water views, are the picturesque cottages, the quaint French villages, the old churches with their cemeteries, and rustic barns which are visible throughout the island. It is home to six parishes and 600 heritage buildings. To visit here from the urban U.S., one feels one has walked back in time, seeing clothes hanging out on clothes lines, small houses and villages, backyard gardens and orchards, and the variety of local food being grown on small farms. The pace is noticeably slower.

A French house on Isle de Orleans.

In the days of early European settlement of the island, fishermen hauled in eel, salmon, sturgeon, muskellunge, tilefish and walleye. Hunters bagged snow geese, ducks, and Canada geese and abundant passenger pigeons, which disappeared from the island around 1850.

Traditional farming on the island produces fruits, vegetables, cereals, and dairy including cheeses. In addition, today one can find smoked fish, wine, cider, farmed game, blackcurrant aperitifs and ports, maple products, and organic jams, chutneys and jellies made from local orchards. There are a few eat local eateries.

Food growing on the island tends to be regional, determined by the soil and micro-climates. The island has mixed growing conditions and rich soils that are either clay based or sandy mixes. There are wetter and drier areas, higher and lower lands, hills, plateaus, and slopes. The northern end tends to raise berries and carrots, the southern side apples and grapes, and the west side grows leeks and potatoes. The island is located in plant hardiness zone 4 with an annual precipitation of about 48 inches.

Today, tourism helps support local artists and the island farm endeavors which are tugged by less authentic interests of outside ownership and competition from nonlocally produced food. Walking and biking by tourists is encouraged, although designated bike trails are lacking. One senses that the farmers here, too, are faced with that same never ending struggle to make ends meet that small farmers everywhere have always faced.

Next, are some of my photos to show you why the word idyllic comes to mind here.

Vineyards with a nice water view

Ripe plums still on the tree

Plums for sale

Large round bales of straw in this farm field.
From the island roads, you look down towards the water and see farms.

A field of leeks

Nearly ripe apples

This is the view the apple trees enjoy each day.

A potato harvester was parked along one roadside. The tractors that I saw on this island were all “small.”

The next set of photos show an Isle de Orleans farm produce stand and the fruits and vegetables which were for sale inside.

Ferme La Jeunesse

Ripe tart cherries

These were the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted! I suspect they were mara des bois strawberries.

Yellow wax beans


Crab apples


It is regrettable that more land near urban populations in America was not preserved for farming as it was here on Isle de Orleans. Instead, we have urban sprawl reliant upon a car culture which has gobbled up much of our most productive and convenient farmland. When you can stand in one place and see that in one direction is a small potato farm, another an apple orchard, another a carrot field, and another a vineyard, like you can here on this island, something feels very right. So right, in fact, that you wish you could be a part of it or that more of your own world looked like that.

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2011 Canadian Farmland Prices Up 9.5%; Saskatchewan Farmland Up 14% in Year

On average, Canadian farmland increased 7.4% in the first six months of 2011, and 9.5% for the year ending June 2011 according to Farm Credit Canada.

Saskatchewan farmland led the nation in farmland price increases, up 11.6% in six months ending in June, and up 14.3% for twelve months.

Why? According to Wikipedia:

Saskatchewan’s economy is associated with agriculture; however, increasing diversification has meant that now agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting together make up only 6.8% of the province’s GDP. Saskatchewan grows a large portion of Canada’s grain. Wheat is the most familiar crop and the one most often associated with the province (there are sheafs of wheat depicted on the coat of arms of Saskatchewan), but other grains like canola, flax, rye, oats, peas, lentils, canary seed, and barley are also produced. Beef cattle production in the province is only exceeded by Alberta. Mining is also a major industry in the province, with Saskatchewan being the world’s largest exporter of potash and uranium. In the northern part of the province, forestry is also a significant industry.

Oil and natural gas production is also a very important part of Saskatchewan’s economy, although the oil industry is larger. Only Alberta exceeds the province in overall oil production. Heavy crude is extracted in the Lloydminster-Kerrobert-Kindersley areas. Light crude is found in the Kindersley-Swift Current areas as well as the Weyburn-Estevan fields. Natural gas is found almost entirely in the western part of Saskatchewan, from the Primrose Lake area through Lloydminster, Unity, Kindersley, Leader, and around Maple Creek areas.

photo: wikipedia cc
Fields of canola and flax on the Saskatchewan Prairie.

The market for Saskatchewan’s farmland was summarized by Farm Credit Canada like this:

Strong commodity and cattle prices were the primary reasons for the increase. It is becoming more common for owners to accept rental agreements on their land instead of selling. Demand significantly exceeded supply, as land in Saskatchewan is considered a safe investment and is currently providing a solid return. Interest rates also remained attractive.

The largest increases occurred in the northwest and southeast areas of the province, which experienced good crops and strong commodity prices in the fall of 2010. Factors impacting this increase included out-of-province farmers relocating to Saskatchewan to purchase competitively priced farmland, larger local producers expanding their land base, oil and gas influence (especially in the Bakken oilfield), and continued demand for heavy clay soils.

Since Farm Credit Canada doesn’t report actual per acre prices, I googled around a bit and found southern Saskatchewan grain producing farmland to be in the $600-800 range, and as high as $1,100 per acre. If any reader here is knowledgeable about this region’s going prices, please leave a comment.

Following, is Farm Credit Canada’s graphic showing average farmland price increases since 2006. Note that farmland prices across Canada vary widely.

Next, how the provinces compared to one another:

source: FCC