Farm Facts and Furrows

By OMAFRA Ag Rep Brian Bell

Selecting crop varieties

Genetics, weather/environment and management are the three key factors that govern production potential of a crop. While we can hardly do much about aberrant weather (such as 80 mm or more rain pouring in a single day or no rain at all during peak crop water requirement stages), we can manage the other two factors to achieve maximum economic yields. Buying cheap seed rarely works! Select crop varieties best suited to your local agri-climatic conditions. While $250/MT seed of an old/prevalent variety may seem attractive to $800/MT seed of a new high yielding variety, it may not yield as much as the new variety. Remember, you aren’t spending $800/acre. Calculate the extra seed cost per acre from the new variety and compare it with likely extra yield. If the latter’s value exceeds extra seed cost, go for the new variety. New and better varieties are added each year of which producers can take advantage. However, don’t discard a time-tested variety that has been giving consistently high yield just for the sake of a new variety. Put some acres under the new variety for evaluation against the time-tested variety to decide upon extended cultivation of new variety next year(s). 

Selling directly to consumers

The Direct Farm Marketing Business Resources publication provides the following information resources for farmers who sell or wish to sell directly to consumers: six case studies of farmers who sell direct to the consumer through a variety of market channels (e.g. on-farm market, farmers’ markets, festivals and events etc.) explore key problems faced by the farmers and their successes and challenges in addressing these issues. Information sheets addressing the importance and uses of business intelligence and market research, business use of social media, product pricing issues and selecting the right marketing channel. Nine direct farm marketing best management practices are summarized from the case studies, interviews with farmers and other research. Example templates of log sheets that can be used to gather key information for business decisions. Resources found here: omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/directfarmmkt/index.html