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Making investments

From the CEO’s desk

Rachel Telford, Managing Editor

As we wait for the end of winter and the start

of the spring planting season, we use this month’s

edition to take a look at some of the current

research being done and how it may eventually

impact the way you select your crop varieties

and manage your fields.

In our cover story we look at the Western bean

cutworm and the different ways this pest is

entering fields each year and how understanding

its biology will enable farmers to better control

their populations and mitigate crop damage.

We’ve also included an update on Fusarium

research being done at the University of Guelph

(page 10). The goal is to develop a new

winter wheat variety with better resistance

to this disease.

Weather is always the unpredictable element

in any crop year. Research such as that being

done by Dr. Hugh Earl into the drought tolerance

of soybeans aims to take away some of the

problems associated with needing the right

weather at the right time (page 12).

We also take a look at another type of research

being done — that into the mental health of

farmers. We follow up on a study being conducted

at the University of Guelph that will eventually

lead to the development of a better support

program targeted to meet the specific challenges

of those in agriculture (page 28).

Next month, our issue will focus on crop

management as we plan for the growing

season ahead. •

Letter from the Editor


Barry Senft, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario


Comments or suggestions about the Ontario

Grain Farmer? Contact me,




and new seed varieties have helped farmers

increase their yields in recent years. We

are now growing more grain on less land

than ever before. That’s a positive for our

industry given the challenges we face with

sprawling urban areas and a booming global

population. Grain Farmers of Ontario’s

investment in research that resulted in

practical on-farm applications helped

achieve these advancements. We are

continuing to invest in new research and

we are working to increase the knowledge

transfer to farmers so that they can benefit

from the results.

But we also need to see practical results

in other areas. Now more than ever, we

need to develop newmarkets and new uses

for the grain we produce. Demographics

are changing around the world, along with

this so are the demands of the consumer.

While some of these demands may be

challenging, a great many of these demands

present great opportunities for Ontario,

especially with the large focus on wanting

to support locally produced food items. In

a report done by the BDC, they found that

97% of Canadian consumers decide to buy

local to support the local economy, 87%

also believe it is better for the environment.

You may have heard me say before (a

number of times) we are fortunate to be

in a province of 13 million consumers and

have access within 800 kilometres of 135

million consumers.

There is not just demand domestically

though, with the increase in income levels

seen around the world, new export

opportunities continue to develop. With

Ontario’s reputation of producing high

quality, traceable products we are well

positioned to meet these new demands.

One of the ways in which Grain Farmers

of Ontario works to meet these market

demands is through the Grains Innovation

Fund. Working with companies and

organizations the program is designed to

support new markets, expand the use and

demand for Ontario grains, promote Ontario

grains as the best choice, identity preserve

varieties for novel uses, and/or increase

the value (premiums) of Ontario grains.

Since 2010, the fund has provided more

than a million dollars to more than 40

projects with these goals in mind.

The Board of Directors and the Market

Development Committee recently approved

the investment of $150,000 into five new

projects which cover corn, wheat, corn

stover, and wheat straw.

Past projects have included support for

the development of new products that

utilize Ontario soybeans, helping a local

food processor transition to more Ontario-

sourced wheat, and investigating the use

of corn stover within the bio-economy.

Like research, results from these

investments aren’t always immediate.

However, in the long-term they will pay off

and ensure we have strong, diversified

markets for Ontario grains that maximize

returns for our farmer-members.