Director Profile: Robert Weisgerber (PCN Fall 2014) SEP 25 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.
Robert Weisgerber, APG Director for Zone 1
Research is One of the Backbones of APG
Robert Weisgerber lives near Schuler, AB. He was re-elected for a second three-year term as an APG Director in January representing Zone 1.
Pulse Crop News: Please tell us about your family and your farm.
Robert Weisgerber: I am the third generation, farming the family farm in the Schuler, AB area for the last 25 years on my own. I was single and farming the land on my own until I met Angie a few years ago. We are engaged and set to marry next summer. I seed just over 4,000 acres in a year between rented and owned land in the area.
PCN: What has been your experience with growing pulse crops?
RW: I started growing lentils in the mid- ’90s. I grew large greens prior to growing peas in the late ’90s. I have been growing peas and lentils ever since. They seem to work well for our drier climates. I have tried chickpeas once, but they didn’t fare so well for this area. I also have tried other varieties such as soybeans.
PCN: What percentage of your crop is made up of pulses this year?
RW: Somewhere around 1,000 acres goes into pulses every year.
PCN: What are you growing this year?
RW: For pulses, I have yellow peas and some red lentils. Other than that, I have seeded canola and wheat.
PCN: What tips or tricks have you learned growing pulses that you could share with new growers?
RW: You need to be thinking ahead to harvesting. Ensuring you have your land properly rolled after it has been seeded. By rolling the field it will make for an easier harvest as you never know if they will be on the ground or not. Also, when you’re harvesting, you have to think of seeding for the next year because you have to get through your stubble to seed into it again. Sometimes you cut your stubble pretty tall which seems like a good idea at the time, but it might make it pretty tough to seed into next year.
PCN: What advice would you share with producers thinking about growing pulses?
RW: It’s a good thing in rotation. They’re a relatively low input crop and it gives you a rotation option. I would recommend that new producers also attend field days and crop walks that APG hosts as it’s a good place to get information for your area.
PCN: What sparked your interest in APG?
RW: I got a phone call from someone who was on the commission at the time. He wanted off and asked me if I would be interested in sitting on the board. Then I went from the zone to the provincial board. It’s another opportunity to try something different as I have always been on different boards and committees in the past. It’s been fun and educational.
PCN: APG directors sit on various committees. Why did you choose to chair the Research Committee?
RW: When I came on as a director, I was appointed to the Research Committee. I’ve stayed there since and ultimately became the Chair. Research is something that I’m fairly interested in and it’s important to me. It is one of the backbones – you have to market it and you have to sell it. That’s another vital side of what we do as far as the commission goes. Part of the research is producing test plots so people are able to view them.
PCN: Is there an issue that is particularly important to you?
RW: It’s a matter of getting people out there to grow pulses and making it profitable. Whether it’s an agronomic issue or some other kind of issue that we can help out with as a board in terms of research. It all helps make farming more profitable. I’m also concerned about environmental issues and how the public perceives farming these days. I’m interested in how we can improve that image.
PCN: What is the biggest issue facing your farm this year?
RW: Agronomically, we hit a pretty major drought, which researchers are looking at ways to develop drought resistance varieties. The other one is cash – prices are down. Transport is also an issue but there is lots being done on that one.
PCN: What has been the biggest benefit of your involvement on the APG board?
RW: It’s a networking thing. I’ve met interesting people from the north to the south, and even to the east with Pulse Canada. It’s getting a broader perspective than what you’re seeing out your window with you and your neighbours. By being on the board you get more info and different perspectives.
PCN: Why would you recommend that pulse producers attend the November zone meetings?
RW: By coming to the zone meetings they get the opportunity to see what we’re doing with their check-off dollars, meet their zone representatives and directors, ask questions, and give us direction. We’re a handful of people as a board, so the more people we can get input from, the better we can serve producers.
Thank you, Robert. We are looking forward to continuing to benefit from your contributions to the board.