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President’s Report (PCN Fall 2013) OCT 21 2013 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Richard Krikke, APG President

A farmer’s work is never done, and that seems doubly so as we enter another busy season of meetings, tradeshows, and other events that will help us make important growing decisions for next year. And while these events – including Alberta Pulse Growers’ zone meetings – are important, we learned a few lessons over the summer here at APG that can be applied to next year’s growing season and beyond.

1. You can’t count on the weather.

Mother Nature made it pretty clear we were in for a wild summer in late June with the catastrophic flooding of High River and Calgary. The pulse and special crops industries were all set to meet in Calgary at the end of June for the annual Canadian Special Crops Association conference, but a year of planning could not have prepared the organizing committee for a hundred-year flood in the host city. Then, throughout July, hail ravaged crops across the province, including in my area near Barrhead, where some farms saw 100 per cent hail damage. Few things are more disappointing than putting your time and energy into a crop only to have it hailed out. No, you can’t count on the weather – or any of the many other things that are outside your control – but you can plan as best as is possible, salvage what you can if things go wrong, and hope next time goes better.

2. You need to know your markets.

As farmers, we always seem to be at the mercy of our markets. We grow what the markets want us to grow, and we sell when the markets are giving us the best price for our products (or at least we try to.) But as we’ve learned in recent years, knowing our market means more than knowing what to sell and when. How we produce our crops can sometimes mean the difference between an open market and a closed one. Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for desiccants and harvest management tools is a prime example of that. To help clarify the international limits for our growers, the provincial pulse grower groups worked together over the summer to produce a grower advisory that shows market considerations for desiccants and harvest management tools for some of our major trade partners. This chart can be found on our website at under the News, Events, and Publications section.

3. You’re only as good as your worst tool.

On a farm, a tool can be anything that helps you get the job done: your machinery, your chemicals, your farmhands, your knowledge, and your skills. That’s why we sent our staff – even our administrative staff – to crop walks across Alberta this summer. Everywhere they went, they had a chance to learn more about the crops we’re supporting and connect with the growers who are producing them. And that’s also why we invest in research. The more we know – the more production tools we have in our tool box – the better able we are to get the job done. Minister Ritz’s announcement of the federal government’s $15 million investment in pulse research will go a long way toward helping us give growers the tools they need to produce high-quality pulses for many years to come.

Now these things may seem like common sense to the average farmer, but we think it’s useful advice all the same. And when we see you out at our zone meetings this winter or chat with you at one of the tradeshows we’ll be at, we’ll remind you of another useful piece of advice: many hands make light work, and we can always use a few more hands in our zones, advising us on the direction we should be heading to best help our growers.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a Zone Advisor or Commissioner, get in touch with Member Relations Coordinator Sydney Vos at 780-986-9398 or