Jerusalem artichokes and empress trees – new crops with potential

Though they are barely at the starting gate in Ontario, both show promise if market demand for biofuels continues to grow. But both also need processors to get them off the ground



Larry Whetstone’s business is selling inulin, a type of sugar derived from chicory crops in Europe, but he’d rather be selling inulin produced from Jerusalem artichoke crops in North America.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 36: The case of the disappearing nitrogen


Whenever you plant soybeans no-till into first-time soybean ground, there’s a high probability that nodulation will not take place. That’s a message that agronomist Paul Sullivan preaches every spring.

It certainly was a key point for Kelvin, an Ottawa area grower who converted a long-time hay and pasture farm to soybeans in the spring of 2011. In his conversations with Kelvin, Sullivan emphasized the need for scouting first-time soybean fields in early July and checking the roots for nodulation.


Five of the row units on Karl’s six-row planter had developed an inch and a half gap between the gauge wheel and the frame. This loose assembly allowed dirt to get into these gaps and caused the gauge wheels to lift on five of the units during planting.

Pioneer Hi-Bred agronomist Scott Fife explains that the lifting motion caused the five affected row units to have a different planting depth than the row unit that worked properly.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 35: What happened to Nevin’s soybean seed?


When Nevin moved to Canada in the fall of 2010, DeKalb field agronomist Sean Cochrane was happy to lend a helping hand.

Nevin had farmed in Europe and the committed no-tiller was eager to continue the practice on the four farms he had bought in the Pontiac region on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river. But, as Nevin quickly discovered, setting up a farming operation on such short notice presents challenges. And 2011 spring planting conditions – some of the worst in recent memory – didn’t help.

Ontario’s herb growers share a small but valuable niche market

Though exact figures are hard to come by, one estimate is that it is between $10 and $20 million. And research is ongoing to enlarge it


Connie Kehler, the executive director of the Saskatoon-based Canadian Herb, Spice and Natural Health Product Coalition, can take you on a tour of the entire country and tell you the strengths of each province.

A refuge calculator tool to help you choose your corn hybrid

Log on to the Better Farming website and you’ll find a link to a handy tool, which will help you comply with refuge requirements when planting Bt corn varieties


Choose your Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn hybrid with care. And don’t forget to match it up with the right amount of refuge hybrid if one is required. That’s one piece of advice crop experts stress and there’s a new tool to help you do that.

CROP SCENE INVESTIGATION – 34: What happened to Karl’s corn planter?


With the challenging planting conditions of spring 2011, Pioneer Hi-Bred agronomist Scott Fife knew it would only be a matter of time before he received his first call from a grower asking him for help with some strange happenings in a newly planted field.

Fife’s first call to investigate came in late June from Karl, a Glengarry County farmer, who was trying to understand why his corn field featured an odd pattern – five short rows followed by one taller, knee-high row – that was repeated across the entire field.


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