10 Years Ago…

Stratus Ag Research conducts an annual survey measuring the use of crop chemicals in a variety of crops. This past summer we surveyed a total of 1,373 wheat growers from across Western Canada, and we learned that the end of single-desk marketing is not the only thing that has changed for the western Canadian wheat grower in the last decade.

November 3, 2014

What were you doing in 2004?  Here is a brief snapshot of what was going on a decade ago…

  • Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook.
  • The final episode of “Friends” aired on May 6th.
  • George W. Bush was elected to his second term as President of the United States of America.
  • Stephen Harper wins the leadership of the newly created Conservative Party of Canada.

…And Horizon was the most widely used post-emergent grass herbicide brand in Western Canada.

What else has changed for the wheat farmer in Western Canada in the last 10 years?

Stratus Ag Research conducts an annual survey measuring the use of crop chemicals in a variety of crops.  This past summer we surveyed a total of 1,373 wheat growers from across Western Canada, and we learned that the end of single-desk marketing is not the only thing that has changed for the western Canadian wheat grower in the last decade.

More shredded wheat please 

The trend line depicted below shows that the average yield (bushels/acre) reported by Stats Can for wheat across the Prairie Provinces has steadily increased over the past decade. Western Canadian farmers are growing more wheat with fewer acres, and that is good news for those of you who love your morning bowl of cereal!

Increased investment to maximize yield potential

The last decade has also seen market dynamics swing in the favour of the farmer with prices for grains and oilseeds hitting all-time highs in recent years.  There is much debate about where the markets are headed, but what we have observed is that farmers have increased the amount they are spending on crop chemicals in wheat. 

In fact, if you compare 2004 to the latest release of data from Stratus Ag Research, you would see an almost 80% increase in crop chemical expenditures per seeded acre of wheat, from $21 in 2004 to $38 in 2014 (see orange line in chart).

Farmers are also getting more revenue from each acre of wheat (green line), but what is driving the increase in crop protection spending?  It may not be what you think!  On average, farmers are spending 17% more per treated acre on herbicides, but that is well below the Bank of Canada’s reported rate of inflation during the same time period.[1] 

What has changed is the dramatic increase in the use of seed treatments and fungicides.  In 2004, fungicides were used on only 10% of the total seeded acres in Western Canada; but by 2013 that number had grown to more than 70%.  Seed Treatment went from being applied on less than half of wheat acres in 2004 to over three-quarters in 2014.  So, farmers react to market conditions and when prices are strong they are willing to invest more per acre to reach maximum yield potential!

So, wheat yields are trending higher and revenue is substantially higher than 10 years ago.  Many factors may be contributing to this success, but one of those could be improved crop protection through the expanded use of fungicides and seed treatments.

And that, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story!

[1] http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/related/inflation-calculator/ 


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