Field Day 2013: Vonda, Saskatchewan

Following the Barrhead field day, Organic Alberta teamed-up with OCIA chapter 5 to host a field day at Marc Loiselle’s farm in Vonda. Marc grows heritage wheats and participates actively on his own research projects, as well as collaborating with others like the University of Sakatchewan and Organic Alberta. He has given a much better description of how the field day went than I could have done, so I’ve copied his letter below.
Hello OCIA chapter members and others that were here last Thursday Aug 8th for the afternoon session of the Field day plus great Chef Jenni catered supper!
…and all others that were unable to attend…but maybe interested in some info.At the field day and afterwards we’ve had inquiries about farming and gardening by the moon and so for your interest see attached a revised document I originally prepared for OCIA Chapter 3 & 5 members in spring 2010. It highlights the activities you can do to take advantage of the moon cycles/phases, ie: ideal cultivation dates and fall seeding for the rest of this year. Note that for cultivating to kill unwanted plant growth (weeds), the most ideal timing is within the 4th quarter in the sign of Leo.We had a nice cool day for the tour and it went well. Thank you to all who participated.
Short recap: we had a couple speakers here, Anne Kirk from Univ of Manitoba speaking about the Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) projects that she and Martin Ens are spearheading. One project is with wheat cultivars and the other with oats. We choose to go with oats as an adjunct to the other larger 10 acre variety trial plots we’re doing too (Triactor and CDC Dancer varieties) as part of an Organic Alberta initiative headed by David Hobson, Regional Coordinator (Prairies) for The Bauta Family Initiative on Seed Security.
The breeder oat program is in it’s first of 3 years so nothing much to report on yet. Participants in the oat research were given a list of 22 cultivars to chose 3 from, then plant the 3 populations in ~1 metre x 20 metre plot sizes. Ours is heavily infested with wild oats so we’ll be harvesting by cutting by hand the required number of pannicles then shipping them back to the U of M. We have 8 check varieties in short single row 100 cm long plots and they are: Furlong, Morgan, Triple Crown, CDC Dancer, HiFi, Jordan, Stainless, and Pinnacle. One of the guest speakers  explained to us how Morgan is very susceptible to rust (especially in proximity to the river because of a buckthorn shrub tree host plant that grows wild there) and our small plot of Morgan is definitely the worse for rust.
We have some leaf rust on our 2 old wheat plots, Rouge de Bordeaux and Galician Spring. We’ve been trying to bulk up on these 2 varieties for several years now. Rouge is a longer maturity with heading starting about a full week later than the Galician. Galician appears to be quite similar to the Red Fife we’re growing and should have good potential as larger field crop. Both of these old landrace varieties can be grown as spring and winter wheat, just like Red Fife and Marquis which are being successfully grown from our seed as winter wheat in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Oregon and California.As for the interrow cultivation, the University of Saskatchewan plots didn’t turn out well as the main windows of opportunity to do the tillage were eclipsed by all that abundant rain in mid June to 6th of July, but the small tractor and the Schmotzer implement were here to look at and research technician Lena Syrovy spoke mostly about the objectives and challenges only as this is the first year of such trials and so no concrete data yet.
The U of S Plant Sciences dept has been doing organic research here for many years now, and a couple years ago we had research by the SPARC (Swift Current Ag Can) on mycorizzae fungi colonization and effect on soil and wheat. We have been using the Myke Pro seed inoculant product for a few years now, and used it on most all of our Red Fife and peas this year.

I’m also attaching a few photos of the small plots taken Aug 13th:
1) overview (looking north) at small plot trials with Galician Spring landrace wheat in front
2) Galician Spring heads
3) Rouge de Bordeaux heads
4) Marc standing in 5.5 foot tall stand of Rouge
5) overview of 8 oat check varieties row, with 2 of the 3 breeder oat plots in background and Rouge wheat to left.
6) leaf rust on Morgan oat check plot. Of all the oat plots, including our larger field scale Triactor, CDC Dancer and CDC Orrin, the most rust was on Morgan which was anticipated by Dennis Galbraith of Richardson Grains (formerly of Viterra and Can-Oat).
7) Schmotzer interrow cultivator

If you’d like I can send a few other photos of our Marquis and Red Fife wheat crops and more of that interrow cultivator. Hopefully we’ll get more yield than past few years. Too much rain and wheat midge especially has not been good… however quality has been very good.

For those that were here for the field day, note that we have disced down the 13 acre field of peas that had too healthy a competition by wild yellow mustard.
Also our latest addition to livestock was a heifer calf 3 days ago to Luna. We named her Soleil (Sun).

All the best with rest of your summer and upcoming harvest!


This entry was posted in Agroecology Research, Field Day, Grain Producers, Plant Varieties, Tools, Variety Trials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s