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Tight Saskatchewan crop rotations could be problematic
Tight Saskatchewan crop rotations could be problematic

Gerry Hertz says farmers may be too invested in canola

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

Large canola yields in Saskatchewan are great but should come with a word of warning, according to Gerry Hertz, an agronomist and director with SaskCanola.

Canola production rose across Canada by nearly 9 per cent since last year, up to 21.3 million tonnes this year, according to Statistics Canada. The yield in Saskatchewan grew by nearly 5 per cent to 11.2 million tonnes.

And larger yields mean more chances of disease, Hertz said.

“We’re walking closer to a cliff,” he told the Regina Leader-Post yesterday. “Blackleg has been inching its way up and, if you’ve got the right kinds of conditions and tight rotations, sometimes a problem that’s lurking in the background might just rear its head.

“If you’re growing canola every year, you’re risking a lot of potential problems if something shows up,” he said. “(The canola crops) haven’t got burnt for a while, and they’re probably going to continue to do that.”

Producers are transitioning some acres to canola to make up for the declining prices of other crops, according to Florian Hagmann, a producer near Birch Hills, Sask.

He harvested more than 90 bushels per acre in some fields. Given the current canola market, that could add up to a nice profit for producers.

A tonne of crude canola oil can sell for almost $973, according to the Canola Council of Canada. Canola meal is selling at about $326 per tonne and canola seed is selling at approximately $579 per tonne.

And farmers need to make those tough decisions about inputs and operating costs, especially as they continue to increase.

“The crop income to the farmer didn’t change, but the cost of the machinery, the cost of the land, was really high,” Hagmann told the Regina Leader-Post. “The margin is getting tighter, so farmers are starting to farm every acre.”