Breaking new ground: Innovation enables expansion

by Melanie Epp

If the sweet potato had originated in Canada, it might have been more tolerant to our colder temperatures. But it didn’t.

Instead, it hails from the tropics, where warmer temperatures and longer seasons mean that its jacket is thin and easily damaged by the Canadian cold. Here at home, farmers have adopted shorter season varieties with great success. But the very nature of the sweet potato, along with the fact that it’s chronically underdressed, makes harvesting the crop a constant challenge. No one knows this better than the largest sweet potato producing family in Canada, the Van Berlos who grow under the company name Berlo’s Best Sweet Potatoes.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

The Van Berlos – Peter Sr., Peter Jr. (29), and Nick (26) – grow sweet potatoes, ginseng and tobacco on 1,500 acres of land near Simcoe, Ont. Their farm wasn’t always this big, though. For them, expansion, particularly in sweet potatoes, couldn’t have happened until they found a better way to harvest the crop. Continue reading

Remember safety practices when farm equipment rubber hits the road

Guest blog by Larry Davis, Board Member, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)

Slow-moving farm equipment on roadways can present significant challenges for both motorists and farmers, particularly at this time of year. As Ontario farmers rush to bring in the harvest in good weather conditions, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) encourages farmers to review road safety practices.

While farm equipment is permitted on roadways at all times of year, it is a more common sight during the busy harvest season. Motorists who are unaccustomed to encountering farm equipment on the road are often unprepared to safely follow slow-moving tractors towing large, specialized pieces of equipment such as combines and grain wagons.

The OFA reminds farmers there are specific rules farm equipment operators are required to follow to keep our roads safe. For example, drivers must be at least 16 years of age and all farm equipment drivers should practice a “no riders policy.” Farm vehicles must yield half the roadway to oncoming traffic, they must be properly lit, and operators must signal turns. Farm vehicles should be driven on the travelled portion of the road, because road shoulders may not support the weight of farm equipment. And remember tractors and farm equipment still follow the rules of the road, and that means no cell phones while driving.

It’s always good practice to keep your lights on when travelling roadways – especially around dawn and dusk. And every tractor, combine or towed implement must display a slow moving vehicle sign to warn motorists that the vehicle will not reach highway speeds. But with proper signage comes some hefty rules: equipment displaying a slow moving vehicle sign is limited to a maximum speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour. Equipment often requires operators to travel at lower speeds because wide turns and heavy loads make it difficult to stop quickly or turn easily on roadways.

Let’s put farm safety first this harvest season. The OFA encourages everyone – farmers and motorists – to consider road safety practices when farm equipment travels on roadways. On behalf of the OFA, we wish farmers a safe and profitable harvest season.

Fall on the farm

By Patricia Grotenhuis

Fall is a great time to be on the farm.  The smells, the colours and the activity of harvest and preparing the seed bed for the winter make every day different.

After months of work, it is finally time to harvest the crops, and the animals born during the winter and spring months are either ready to be sold, or are strong and hardy for winter.  Everyone waits expectantly for that first frost, signalling the end of the growing season and the start of harvest. 

It also serves as a friendly reminder from Mother Nature to begin readying barns for winter.  While winter is a time of expectation, spring is a time of promise, and summer is a time of anticipation, fall is when everything comes together on the farm, culminating into the time of gratification.  Finally, there is a chance for realization of all of those goals formed during winter and spring months.  Continue reading

Fall season on the farm

 By Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Fall is a great time to be on the farm.  The smells, the colours and the activity of harvest and preparing the seed bed for the winter make every day different. 

After months of work, it is finally time to harvest the crops. The animals born during the winter and spring months are also either ready to be sold, or are strong and hardy for winter.  Everyone waits expectantly for that first frost (now past) that signals the end of the growing season and the start of harvest.  It also serves as a friendly reminder from Mother Nature to begin readying barns for winter.  Continue reading