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2024 Planting update

2024 Planting update

#plant24 with Farmer John

What crops are you growing in 2024?

- A rotation of barley, wheat, canola, peas and now rye

What varieties of barley are you growing and why?

- This year we are growing Churchill and AB Dram. Churchill is a newer variety that has great specs for farming, malting and all-malt brewing. AB Dram is new for us and is a non-gn variety. Non-GN is something distillers have been telling us they want and we’re excited to be able to deliver.

What are the benefits of rye? 

- Rye is a crop that is seeded in the fall, we have a short growing season so it can really be a challenge to get this in the ground in the fall after we take the previous crop off and before the first hard frost. However, if we do get it seeded and off to a good start it will have a head start on everything in the spring. With this head start it does a good job of out-competing weeds and will end up as one of the first crops that is ready for harvest.

What are farmers worried about currently? (global markets, commodity prices, drought, disease)

- Recent rains have reduced farmers' stress levels around drought conditions and have crops off to a great start (although timely rains throughout the growing season will still be needed). So the number one thing the farmers I’m speaking to are worried about are current grain prices. Prices have been falling from fall 2023 to now, so farmers are expecting to make less revenue on this year’s crop. 

What diseases are you worried about and what are you doing to reduce the risk?

- When it comes to the crops that get used in the malt house, fusarium is always top of mind. We select varieties that offer stronger resistance to fusarium. We also rotate our crops to help break the cycle of disease.

After the pressure and challenges that come with seeding are over, what do you do to restore yourself?

-That’s a tough question and something I’m still learning how to do. I always think there is too much to do, like getting ready for spraying, cleaning up and servicing equipment. I probably would be more productive if I did take a couple days off from the farm to recharge. I do try to look for jobs that are less physical and jobs that I like doing like scouting fields to check germination and plant populations, and checking the seeding depth. I also lean on my wife Susie and her encouragement to take time to get away for a golf game in the afternoon or a meal with the whole family.

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