Every spring farmers plant their crops and wait. Through the dry June's and July's and into the hot August's we wait. Farmer's need to have patience as the fruits of their labor take a while to mature. But then as the wheat turns gold and the barley starts to bend the excitement builds into my favorite time of the year.

   Growing up in farming you live through it every fall. I have many stories and memories of my family working hard to get the crop off. Many times things don't go as planned. One year my dad and brother and I were taking wheat off north of Rumsey and a hail storm came through and we had to turn the combines away from the storm so the windows wouldn't break and the whole crop was wiped out.Then the first year I bought the north land off my dad I had a great wheat crop coming and the day I was going to swath it I got hailed out. But there are also so many good memories. When I was quite young my dad needed help moving the 3 ton from one corner…

My Rumsey Soybean Presentation

I was asked to do a presentation for some local growers this winter. I presented this slide show and was very nervous to begin with as it was my first time ever doing anything like this but it did get easier as it went on when people started asking questions. I thought I would share this here so that others could see it and help me add important information or correct me if I've misspoken. This is just my own personal experience and I am in no way claiming to be an expert.

Slide 1: Growing soybeans in Central Alberta
  Hello everyone, I think I know most of you but my name is John Kowalchuk and I farm by Rumsey. If at any time you have a question please feel free to ask. Hopefully we will also have time at the end to go through any other questions as well. This is the first time I’ve talked about growing soybeans with more than 1 or 2 people at a time so bear with me

Slide 2: background
  First maybe a little background of what got me thinking of growing soybeans back 5 years ago.  …

Meeting in the Middle: Canada's Ag Day 2017

I've been invited to a night of food and discussions in Olds Alberta. The idea is to bring farmers and consumers together on February 16th, 2017. 150 people from all walks of life and with very differing backgrounds were asked to attend. We will be at a table together experiencing a meal made from some of our products and encouraged to start a dialogue about agriculture. I'm expecting some hard questions that evening and so that I feel better prepared I thought I'd go through some of the ones that I think may come up. So here's a few of the questions I would ask.

What made you want to be a farmer?

  This should be an easy one but to better understand the kind of person your talking to it's an important question. I grew up in the country 4 miles from the nearest small town.  My days as a child were spent out in the yard pretending to drive tractors or helping my dad with the cattle. I would ride to the field with my dad or brother and watch how things ran and oft…

An Alberta Malt barley story: A tradition started by my father

I grow a few different crops on my farm. But none bring more joy to more people than Malt Barley! My dad started growing Harrington in the 80's and had limited success getting it accepted for malt but I remember when he did it was a big deal. We would go years with our malt going for feed at half the price but he never gave up. Then about 15 yrs ago I started to grow some different varieties and our luck changed. I started with Merit  and it was a great variety that Anheuser Busch in the U.S. liked for their specialty beers and I grew it for 10 years before it was phased out. Then Meredith that was phased out 2 years ago then on to Metcalfe and now I grow all Copeland.
  Growing malt barley is a bit tricky and a bit stressful. The factors that the malt processors take into consideration are :Germination :Chit :Protein :Plump and Moisture. If any one of these isn't in the right specs there is a good chance it will be rejected.

  Germination is the percent of the barley seed …

My year as an Alberta Pulse Director

Ever since I started growing yellow peas 16 yrs ago I entertained the thought of getting involved in the Alberta Pulse Growers in some way. If you don't know what a pulse is here is a definition from Pulse Canada's website: Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fibre, and are low in fat. Like their cousins in the legume family, pulses are nitrogen-fixing crops that improve the environmental sustainability of annual cropping systems. In Alberta Soybeans also fall under APG as well. I enjoyed growing a new crop like Peas and Soybeans with such potential to change the way we farm by adding another plant type to the rotation. I really wanted to share my experiences with other Alberta farmers and help promote this great "tool" in our fight to help with short rotations.
   I had stopped by the A…

An open letter to our friends in the city: The challenges of #Harvest16

Dear Urban friends,

   I am writing this after a very challenging harvest for many farmers. The year started out like many others with fair seeding conditions. The ground had adequate moisture and most farmers in my area had their seed in the ground earlier than normal. The growing season saw an abundance of rain as you probably noticed in the cities and large towns you live in. This helped to make the crops grow but also delayed maturity. By mid August it was looking like most canola would not be swathed till mid to late September which is about 2-3 weeks later than normal. The peas were maturing but were flooded out in places and cereals didn't want to turn from green to golden brown due to cool nights and wet soil.   September weather was unsettled allowing for small windows of opportunity to get some peas and cereals in the bin. These harvest days consisted of getting up early in the morning and preparing equipment for the day. This included greasing combines and fueling them …

Rumsey Soybeans Year 2: 2016 growing season

2015 was my first attempt at growing Soybeans and I had kept my expectations low going in but felt that the potential was there to add a great crop to the rotation. At the end of the growing season I was happy to see that I'd harvest my first soybean crop. The yields and returns were all right but not to the point where I could say they were competitive with my other crops. My goal in year 2 was to find varieties that will offer yields that make it a crop I can put in the rotation and feel confident I can see a decent return. So I went into year 2 with a little more knowledge and hopes for more timely rains. I purchased a new drill going into 2016 moving to a 46' from a 33', with the addition of some new land to seed I felt I needed it to get the crop in the ground in a timely manner. It is still 10" spacing and 3" Dutch low draft openers. I like this setup as it is simple and does a good job in most soil types. Having some heavy clay soils means some openers a…