CanolaPALOOZA in Lacombe, AB

On June 28th, SaskCanola Board Director, Bernie McClean attended CanolaPALOOZA in Lacombe, Alberta. Read Bernie's blog below for more information about his experience and learnings from the day.

I've attended a few field days since graduating from the Crop Technology course in Vermillion, Alberta, but none that are meant to keep you as engaged as the second annual CanolaPALOOZA event did. Everything from a canola family feud style event during lunch in the covered tent to a small demonstration of a Bednar seed drill, imported from the Czech Republic.

The day was a little unsettled as far as weather, but with small tents at each plot plus a big tent set up for lunch, it was easy to duck in and out of the rain. You think this would be a problem, but it wasn't. I found myself meeting and visiting with growers from the Lacombe area, some of which had moved from Holland, industry people such as Western Canadian agronomists, and even the oilseed and dry bean specialists from Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture. There were also agriculture leaders like Dr. Keith Downey, Murray Hartman, and Phil Thomas to name a few. What an incredible opportunity to ask some questions.

By all attempts, I tried to get to every plot but ultimately that proved to be a difficult task - too many people to visit with! Some of the sites that I did visit were:

  • Keep It Clean and Cleavers Control
    • CCC Agronomy Specialist, Ian Epp, talked about cleaver control options and Brian Innes, CCC's VP of Government Relations, discussed pesticide residue requirements.
  • Sprayer Tech
    • Tom Wolf and Brian Caldwell talked about sprayer nozzle performance. The demonstrations included water sensitive paper, Tom as the sprayer with his hand-held spraying system. With group involvement, we were able to see how spray droplets reach into the canopy of canola. He also had a simple, bubble machine to demonstrate the effect of wind and varying boom heights. Such simple tools to demonstrate what we deal with as producers every day. I forgot to request a unicycle performance, did you know Tom rides one?
  • Nutrient Management
    • CCC agronomy specialist, Warren Ward, and I talked about seed placed phosphate levels and the effect of moisture when it comes to seed placement. The Lacombe site looked good at the time, but I kind of got the feeling that it may be a fairly forgiving site. Warren had shown me some pictures of the site in Portage la Prairie in Manitoba; it was negatively affected by a rate of phos as low as 15 lbs/ac of actual phosphate. This just shows how soil conditions can really affect what we are doing here.
  • Stand Establishment
    • Murray Hartman emphasized the importance of establishing a stand that can handle some early stress, as well as, the effect of thousand kernel weight and the huge difference it can have on seeding rates.
  • Harvest Management
    • CCC Agronomy Specialists, Angela Brackenreed, and PAMI's Applied Ag Services Project Manager, Nathan Gregg, addressed anything you could fire at them about harvesting.
  • Assessing Hail Damage
    • This was kind of cool, they had made a hail simulator out of an old plot sprayer which was simply a multiple ball and chain setup, mounted to a horizontal rotating drum. The damage was done and assessments were made.

These are just some off the top of my head, but other plots included: Insect Management, Brassica Triangle (canola's closest relatives and breeding to improve canola), Weed Management, Disease Management, Canola History (from production to end use), Tips for Good Agronomy Photos, and Canola Seed Production.

If that was not enough to entertain attendees, they were able to get some older equipment from the past, along with some brand new equipment, such as the Bednar seed drill, to remind us all how our systems have changed and progressed.

Jay Whetter, CCC Communications Manager, hosted the CanolaPALOOZA family feud. Fun was had by all and Jay did a great job. As well, there was a midway style event hosted by sponsors and other crop commissions. The different activities were busy all day. I took part in the Axe Throw event, as Alberta Canola Director, John Guelly, was apparently some kind of self-proclaimed axe throwing champion. Ummm, not sure what happened to the champ that day (sorry John), as our SaskCanola Board Chairman, Terry Youzwa, held his own in some friendly competition.

There is way too much for me to try and cover in this blog, so to sum it up, this was a great event if you are looking for a fun and entertaining way to gain some knowledge, network with other farmers, and meet some of the dedicated professionals we have in our industry. For a simple way to learn more about this past year's events, go to Twitter and search #canolapalooza16 to see what others have accounted.

This event is not just about the learning, but the networking too, because the networking turns into "lifelong learning" with great friends and acquaintances. A shout out to all of the organizers, great event and I look forward to it in the future!

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SaskCanola Directors, Terry Youzwa, (blue golf t-shirt) and Bernie McClean (black zip-up) at the Harvest Management tent - CanolaPALOOZA 2016 in Lacombe, AB.