Regular farmers, the five-year rule, farm shows, and the next big crop — a LIVE! Q&A with John Kowalchuk


John Kowalchuk is just a #regularfarmer from Rumsey, Alberta. He’s also a regular guest on RealAg Radio’s Farmer Rapid Fire segment, because John loves to farm and loves to talk about farming.

That makes John a great guest for RealAg LIVE! In this episode, Shaun Haney asks John about what crops he’s trialing, what crop is off the list, and what he’s going to do without farm shows all winter. (Summary is below player)

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  • Shaun is broadcasting from his kitchen. These things happen.
  • Kowalchuk is all about grain! No livestock on his farm.
  • Six different crops grown in 2020: red lentils and fabas were an experiment this year
  • Both did OK, but it’s a five year assessment. One year isn’t enough.
  • Fabas were a surprise hit — bertha armyworm was an issue, but the crop still fell within spec and is headed for human consumption. Pretty cool. Booked more in for next year.
  • Soybeans — none this year. Gave the crop a five year chance, and moved on. Needs a variety that will grow well in his area that matures earlier
  • There are famous people in Alberta, you guys. Mostly because of hockey.
  • Biggest limit for soybeans? Late season moisture was the big kicker…as in, there wasn’t any. 2016 was his best year, when soybeans averaged 35 that year, and that would have been enough to keep going, but just didn’t get there most years.
  • Hi Trish!
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things, but limit your risk. Don’t go all in on a new crop
  • Kowalchuk Farms is basically a one man show, with some help from his kids and friends. Starting to push 2,000 acres as a single operator, which might be the limit.
  • Make cab barley a thing!
  • What about social media? What role does it play for you? Try and be positive, but there’s definitely some of those who want to derail positive outlooks. (He is @KowalchukFarms on Twitter)
  • Just have to get out there. Even on Tik Tok!
  • Tells us about #RegularFarmer
  • What about the Alberta move to farmer-driven research? Thoughts?
  • Biggest challenges as a one-person team? 15 miles from one end of the farm to the other. Logistics are the toughest and most time consuming
  • Social media is a big part of social circle during busy season. You can get in your own head. Social interactions shake you loose and keeps the day moving. Isolation is a tough part of solo farming.
  • Combine cab syndrome: how do you navigate the huge “to do” list that you make for yourself? And manage expectations.
  • Balance matters — not just for you, but for your family, too
  • What about farm show season? Embrace the Zooms, and LIVEs and things, but online isn’t the same.
  • The “having a beer and watching a hockey game in the evening” feeling of a farm show is what makes it so worthwhile. So online is tough when there isn’t really much social
  • How do you decide what to outsource vs do yourself? Fixing stuff — he likes doing it! Marketing he hires out. Agronomy he’s looking into some help, too. Fixing equipment means saving the service call, but also means you can buy older equipment
  • Next crop? Field corn!

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RealAg LIVE! (view all)Season 1 (2020) Episode 38

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