BC Corn Hybrid Trials Yield Results

For farmers and ranchers in BC, choosing the best performing corn varieties for silage can be a challenge.

Global seed companies develop hundreds of new hybrids every year, phasing out old varieties every four to seven years.  New varieties, with better weed control and water retention, can have higher yields.

Almost 30,000 acres of fodder corn are grown in BC every year, with an estimated value of $20 million.

“Over the last 20 years, dry matter target yields in corn silage have increased from five to seven tonnes per acre,” states Ted Osborne, semi-retired general manager at Coldstream Ranch in Coldstream, BC. “But because new corn hybrids cost more, the only way producers can ensure they will truly benefit from the new technology is to do local testing.”

With partial funding from IAF, the Pacific Field Corn Association undertook a project to evaluate silage corn hybrids for BC dairy and beef farmers.   From 2009 to 2011, field trials of new hybrids were conducted on three different farm sites in both coastal and interior regions of BC.

The research provided comprehensive data on yield, dry matter, grain and lodging percentages (results are posted on the Farmwest website: http://www.farmwest.com/variety_testing).

Having access to this data is highly valuable to producers, whose needs vary from farm to farm.  Some may need a higher yield, while others need more energy content.  Abbotsford dairy farmer Mike Dykshoorn was one of the volunteer hosts for the field trials.

“I was extremely pleased with both the research methods and the results,” states Dykshoorn.  “Over 40 different varieties were grown at this site and tested for the different attributes.  I found the data very useful to determine the type of corn that would be best for my cows.”

With the list of hundreds of hybrids narrowed to ones that are best suited to BC conditions, BC farmers and ranchers will continue to benefit from the technological advances of corn hybrids.

Funding: $29,969 provided through former federal adaptation programming. (A0586)

Let Your Eco-Conscience Be Your Guide

When it comes to environmental sustainability, being a good steward can be a win-win situation.

An industry that positions itself as a leader in eco-friendliness can also gain a strategic marketing advantage, given the increasing trend of conscientious consumerism.

For the BC wine industry, the Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP) is helping to gain this advantage.

The SWP represents an industry-wide commitment to improving the environmental performance of BC wine from vineyard to cellar.

By developing resources like sustainable practice guidebooks and self-assessments, the program is already helping vineyard owners reduce their ecological footprint and improve profits.

With help from IAF, the BC Wine Grape Council is now focusing its efforts on helping wineries by piloting the guidebook and assessment with industry members.

The Council is also working to make the program more accessible by offering on-line delivery of these resources. Using the on-line self-assessment, operators will be able to determine their current level of sustainability, identify areas that require improvement and develop an action plan.

Both the BC wine industry and wine enthusiasts can look forward to premium quality products that support environmental integrity – now that’s worth toasting!

Funding: $28,680 allocated through the former federal-provincial Safety Nets framework and the Agriculture Environment Wildlife Fund. (A0636)