Farmer Focus Richard Crewe - Farmers Weekly

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Farmer Focus Richard Crewe

THINGS ARE moving, at last. The snow is melting rapidly in temperatures of around 17C and all the migratory birds are back – Canada geese, mallard ducks, hawks and chirping blackbirds.

Also coming in is dry compound fertiliser in bulk before the weight restricting road bans are in force as the frost comes out of the roads.

We use two blends. On all crops, except canola, we apply 120kg/ha of 14:25:10:10 NPK+S, which costs 145.22/t. The canola gets 5:25:10 NPK, costing 10.60/ha for 70kg/ha, with sulphur going on with 110 l/ha of liquid 28% nitrogen. Nitrogen this year is priced at 110.87/ liquid tonne (0.40p/kg of actual N).

 A recent arrival in Canada to join us in the farming operation is our son John, his wife Dasha and our eight-month-old granddaughter Annabelle.

All I have to do now is get him up to speed on the Canadian farming system and I will be halfway to my ambition of becoming a triple “A” farmer – April, August and Arizona for the winter!

Hopefully helping towards that goal is the use of the futures markets, options and target pricing to protect against falling prices while gaining any upside increases.

It is something we had not experienced in England and have not really felt comfortable with here, but this year”s depressed prices and poor returns have concentrated the mind.

I recently attended a three day course sponsored by Sask Wheat Pool and run by Mitcom”s Paul Cassidy – a former grain trader turned consultant and instructor.

It was very informative, showing us how to protect yourself while trading. One thing was certain. Grain in the bin is not yet money in the bank and any means to make that bank balance better has to be looked at seriously.

richard.crewe@imagewireless.ca

Farmer Focus: Richard Crewe

Mother”s Day in Canada is not until May 8, which gives an indication of when the spring flowers emerge.

Here, we are still in winter sports mode. That is apart from NHL ice hockey, whose season was cancelled after team owners could not agree on salaries with players.

One famous hockey dad stated he has “no sympathy for big shots in suits or in skates”. I agree, but which is worse England losing at rugby or no hockey?

Curling, the other winter obsession, has been wonderful to watch, with the world championships due soon in Paisley, Scotland. Watch out for the Canadian teams.

Another Canadian icon, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, is in turmoil. A farmer-controlled co-op, which had 70% of the province”s farmers as members in its hey day, is now a shadow of its former self, because of crippling debt and bad diversification decisions.

 Delegates last week voted away its farmer control, so becoming a publicly traded shareholder company. That will inevitably make the pool ripe for a take-over and give the big shots large pay-offs.

 The US border should have re-opened to live cattle exports on Mar 7 after being closed for 22 months because of one case of BSE. But it remains closed after a court injunction was granted in Montana to a group called R-CALF USA opposed to the reopening.

 I recently heard the US Agricultural Secretary Mike Johanns expressing concern that increasing Canadian slaughter capacity would cost jobs in the USA.

We are not in cattle, but it has to be better to keep the border closed, given the newly-built slaughter and packing plants due to open soon in the Western Provinces, boosting the Canadian economy by adding value and jobs.

 richard.crewe@imagewireless.ca

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