PODCAST: Resilience in the Rain: Big Lessons That Sam 'of the North' Coutu learned in 2023
14 Mar 2422m 57s

After a challenging 2023 growing season marked by excessive moisture that put his crops to the test, Quebec farmer, Sam Coutu, sits down with host Damian Mason to share the valuable lessons he's learned. From discovering the financial wisdom behind a 36,000 corn seeding rate to recognizing the pitfalls of over-applying nitrogen and the importance of timing in crop management, this episode is packed with practical advice and strategies for farmers aiming for a successful and less stressful 2024. Whether you're a fellow farmer navigating the whims of the weather or an enthusiast curious about the intricacies of modern farming, this discussion offers a blend of personal experience, technical insight, and forward-looking optimism. Tune in to gain perspective on how resilience, adaptation, and informed decision-making can turn a year of challenges into a season of growth and learning.



This episode is presented by CLAAS

00:00 What lessons did Sam Qq take from 2023 that he can apply to a better 2024? 00:05 And more importantly, what of those takeaways can you apply to your farming operation for more success in the year 2024? 00:12 That's what we're talking about with Sam of the North in this edition of extreme Ag Cutting the Curve. 00:17 Welcome to Extreme ags Cutting the Curve podcast, where real farmers share real insights and real results to help you improve your farming operation. 00:26 This episode of Cutting the Curve is brought to you by cloth where machines aren't just made, they're made for more 00:33 with a wide range of tractors, combines, forger and hay tools. Cloths is a family business just as driven, demanding, 00:40 and dedicated as yours. Go to cloth.com and start cutting your curve with their cutting edge equipment. 00:46 And now here's your host, Damien Mason. Hey there. Welcome to another fantastic episode of Extreme Edge Cutting Curve. 00:53 We've got Sam of the north, my buddy Sam Chu. And um, I try to always say it as best I can. Let's face it, I'm not French, but I do what I can and uh, 01:02 and Sam and I talked in the fall, summer and fall, and he was going through some pretty rough patches. Uh, he farms the in Quebec, just north of the St. 01:13 Lawrence River, I think, and he can tell you a little bit better, but only 2% of the entire province, Quebec, 01:19 and it's a huge province, is agricultural. He farms part of that. What about 1600, 1800 acres last year? 01:26 Uh, yeah, 1600. 1600 acres. And he had um, what a season's worth of rain in like a three week timeframe or something. 01:36 So you ha oh yeah, you got, you got, you got Snockered, uh, last year. That's an American term or maybe it's not, 01:43 but uh, it's a Damian term. So anyway, you got snockered. What'd you learn? How'd you get through it? How did 23 end up 01:48 and what are your takeaways for 24? Also, I wanna hear about your trials. Uh, corn was take a, a big it on, 01:57 on the lower ground by the river where the ground are flats. Yeah. And 'cause like here, it's, it's kind of a, 02:07 I would not say a big terraces, big terraces, but you get the step like let's say four miles from the river. 02:19 So we get all the rains from up there that are coming in the ditches. Yes. And our ditches are full. 02:26 Yes. So it's, it's flooded some and so our tie lines are not working well. So we got problems on those, those ground. 02:37 But on those fields were the lower fields. Yep. But the highest When you said your corn took a hit. 02:46 Yep. Because you know, there's probably somebody in Nebraska listening to this and they're like, I didn't know they grew corn up in Quebec. 02:52 What's the, what's But you got good ground, you got some good, uh, stuff you farm is, oh, and you also get a little bit of that seasonal 02:59 because of the, the temperature off of the water I think are, are you, aren't you in that zone? Um, temperature of the water. 03:08 I thought there was like a thermo climb or something because of where you are in southern Quebec. Uh, there, there's a big difference between the north 03:18 and the south of the St. Lawrence River. Yes. Because just around here we plant 85 to eight to 88 day corn and you go an hour 03:30 and a half south and they will grow a hundred day corn. Okay. Yeah. So what's a good, what's a good corn yield for you? 03:40 Um, not, not last year, but what's a good cornea? Uh, well I can get 2 15, 2 20. That's, that's pretty good. 03:49 Yeah. And so what did you end up with with this freakish amount of rain and the rains came in June. 03:55 Yeah, the end of June. It just never stop. Yeah. So the corn was at B six about when it sets the hes Yep. 04:06 And, uh, my average this year, I got like 150 bushel acre average, but I got fields where I, 04:16 I still get two hundreds. Okay. But the lowest, the lowest, the lower ground, lower fields, they just smashed my average. 04:27 Yeah. Anything you could have changed? Uh, yeah, more, uh, that's, that's a big deal. But they are supposed at the end of 24 to clean the ditches 04:39 'cause it's a government thing. Mm-Hmm. So when the ditches will be clean, it'll will be easier to drain those fields. 04:48 But around here leveled the leveling, the fields, it's pretty huge also. 'cause fields are long Yeah. Are not squared. 04:58 They are long and narrow. So getting rid of the surface water here is really important. Okay. So drainage, which is a little bit on you, 05:10 but also you can't control getting, uh, you know, The problem is those lower ground are rented ground and the landlord don't want isn't in his eighties. 05:22 Yeah. And he don't, feels like he really needs to invest the money. Right. So that's a battle, uh, 05:30 on this side. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, alright, so what else? Tell me some other takeaways. First off, you can't control the rains you got, 05:39 didn't you get like, honestly like 20 plus inches of rain just in a few weeks timeframe? Uh, locally here it's more than 36. 05:47 More than 36 inches in about a month time, I would say two months. Yeah. 05:53 Okay. So what about, what other takeaways, what other things did you learn and, and that you might be able to, uh, prepare 06:00 for better in the future? Uh, what will be huge is to have a plan B on the equipment machinery wise. 06:07 Okay. Because this year I got like planter, I refurbished, it was a 60 feet later, 24 row 30. And uh, I did a lot of job on it, 06:22 but the only thing I didn't work on was the fertilizer pump. And I lost four days. Right. 06:28 Just there fixing the pump and finding the problem on the pump. It was mechanically drive. 06:36 So we have to go to the field to find a problem. Yeah. So I lost like four days just there. And this year I, 06:47 I changed the pump setup on it will be hydraulically driven pumps for my two by two and my, okay, so 06:55 Mechanically driven, mechanically driven fertilizer pump versus hydraulically driven and you lost four days. 07:01 Would it have mattered with the weather that you had? Maybe It still would've, right. Main thing is it cost you four days regardless. 07:07 Yeah. Because I, during this four days, I plant like 260 acres and I could have easily done 800 mm-Hmm. 07:16 So that, that's, that's huge. Just there. And at the same time, I got my four wheel drive tractor, my big articulated tractor that prepared the ground, 07:25 that two injectors went bad and it did an overall on that in the wintertime and the injectors 07:35 that descend in the wintertime, they were bad. So we lost the tractor for three weeks and I got, uh, f five days 07:47 that I cannot find any tractor to pull my ice speed disc. So that's, that's what was really, 07:54 really challenging in the spring. So I just changed my tractor setup. I, for the tractors, I went with newer ones. 08:06 My planter, I don't care, it's older ones, but I can refurbish them. But four tractors, I need newer technology. 08:14 They're, they're not new. What I, I'm going with, they're not new, but they are, they have warranty uhhuh 08:22 and, uh, if the dealership, if I have a breakdown, they send one back right away. So, All right. So we, we 08:30 learned about, uh, about do the best you can on drainage. We learned about then, um, your planter having it so 08:39 that you're not breaking down and something that is, is upgraded on the fertility, on the, I'm sorry, on the fertilizer application, 08:44 mechanical versus hydraulic and then machinery changes. Did you buy more tractors or you just changed to more 08:52 technologically advanced tractors? Nope, I got five tractors last year and I will have four next year. Okay. 09:00 You'll have one less, but you're gonna do more with four than you did with five because you've got Yep, they're better. 09:07 Yeah. And they were like in the 8,000 hour and more, so now I'm going with tractors that will be less than a thousand hours. 09:16 You upgrade to newer stuff that can accomplish more and, and with less, with less units. 09:22 Yep. Got it. Alright. You did some trials, uh, in 2023, which again, with the 36 inches of rain in a eight week period, uh, can, 09:31 can kind of mess things up. What did you trial? What did you learn? I want to hear about that before I do. 09:37 Yeah, I tried. Say, and before we do, we gotta take a little teeny commercial break right here and talk about Nature's Nature's one 09:43 of our business partners here at Extreme Ag, our buddy Tommy Roach and all the great people over there at Nature's Nature's 09:48 just focused on providing sustainable farming solutions and helping you maintain crop genetic potential for today and well as future generations. 09:57 Uh, featuring high quality liquid fertilizers powered by Nature's Bio. K you can target specific periods 10:03 of influence in your crops. You know, we talk a lot about that. The guys talk about putting out fertility 10:08 exactly when it's needed. You're dribbling it on in a spoonfeeding manner. You're not being wasteful, 10:13 you're being very judicious in this way, which is important when you've got such high crop input prices and low commodity prices. 10:20 This is a perfect year, 2024 to get real, real smart and real efficient about your fertility. You can do that with products from natures targeting 10:29 specific periods of influence. You can mitigate plant stress, enhance crop yield, and boost your farms. 10:33 ROI go to natures.com. N-A-C-H-U-R-S natures.com. All right. You did some trials. Tell me about 'em. So I try, uh, population trials from, 10:48 uh, webinars last year that KS and Swanson put up. And uh, I said, yeah, I will give it a try 'cause right here you go. 10:58 And it, it told you you plan 35, 30 6,000 and that's the way to go. So I decided to go down 11:07 and I went down to 30,000. I took one field, I did 30, 33 and 36 talking About corn. We're talking about, 11:18 we're talking about corn planting here. Yes, yes. On corn. Yep. And You do your corn, you do your corn in traditional 11:23 30 30, 30 Inches, 30 Rows. Yes. Yeah. So I take a field, uh, plus 50 acre, I go with four different varieties 11:38 from 88 to 93 day corn. So I drive four and I went from 30 to 33 to 36. So tell me the trial results you did 30,000, 33,000, 11:50 36,000 seed uh, populations on your corn. Yeah. You also buried it by, by maturities. Yeah. So what was, what was your finding? 12:00 So it'll really depend on variety. It has to flex. If it don't flex, uh, you have to go higher population to, to obtain higher yields. 12:14 So I obtained two bushel more at 30 than 36 on my 93 day corn. But with my 90 day corn that flexes a little bit less, 12:31 the 36 population was still $13 more per acre than at 30. Even with the, You talking about cost or on or on yield? 12:44 Yeah, on, on the, on the income. Okay. So I, I I calculated what it cost more. You see that 36 than 30, so it was like a seven 12:58 social gain, but when you offset the cost of the seed on this variety, the 36 was still better money than 30. Okay. 13:08 Alright. So yeah, you're spending more money on seed, but you're also getting it out on, on the yield. So you, you are gonna, what's your, 13:14 what's your then what's your decision for 2024? Whatcha gonna do? Uh, I will go now for these two varieties. 13:22 I know all the work, I will have to do more trials, but it will be for next year on other varieties. So I think we should do that. 13:33 You take the varieties you, you work with and you, you play with the population because we in, in Canada, we don't, 13:44 I don't know, we don't have the knowledge of our variety. Like in the US they have it, 13:50 the seed dealers in the US I feels like they know more their, their varieties and they can, this one, you, you plan this, 14:01 this population will be better than this. But here they don't have that knowledge of the right, the variety, but the variety change. 14:10 So often it's, it's hard to keep track of it also. Got it. Did you do any other trials, Sam, besides population? 14:18 Um, I got a feel on the end management I put less nitrogen and that was because of the rain. 14:31 But when I plant, I put the end bacteria fixing and fixing bacteria. Yes. So I ended up, uh, 14:42 at one 40 unit one 40 pound under a 40 pound of nitrogen. Yes. And on, I got two fields. 14:52 One was sandier than the other one. Uh, the sandier one was even with the enx bacteria, it's at one 40 15:04 with all the rain we get was still not enough. Yeah. And the other one, which was more the CC was heavier like 15. 15:16 So it's it's still yielded like two 10 Yeah. At one 40. So that's something I'm going to dig deeper. 15:27 Okay. So do you, okay, so the answer there is in Sandy, in lighter soils, low CEC 140 pounds isn't enough. Or, 15:36 Or maybe isn't enough when you have 30 sixes. I was gonna say, or may maybe you, if you, maybe there's no such thing as putting enough nitrogen in a, 15:45 a light soil when you're gonna have be bombarded with that much precipitation. And maybe it wouldn't have mattered. 15:50 Maybe you could have put out none and gotten the same. I don't know. Yeah. If, if it was a normal year of precipitation, 15:57 1 40, 1 40 would've been enough. But the ground just cannot retain it. Got it. It's so sandy up there. Yeah. 16:07 Okay. So what about on the, on the other one, on the heavier soil, um, where you had big yield, even despite all that, what's that telling you do, do you, 16:18 do you maybe have more nitrogen there than you even need? Could you cut back on that? 16:23 Um, if I can get two 10 from one 40, uh, that tells me maybe we are putting way too much at other places. Yeah. 16:37 Yeah. That's what, so that's what the, that's what the answer's going to be. So you're gonna adjust, you gonna adjust it in 24, 16:42 you're gonna, you're gonna start varying your nitrogen. Kelly Garrett's big fan of variable rate nitrogen. Yeah. Uh, I don't know if I got all it takes to do it 16:53 variable this year, but we're, we're getting, we're getting there. Yeah. Yeah. So in the offing is gonna be variable rate. 17:02 All right. Machinery changes, uh, changes your planter, you changed out your tractors population trials. You discovered that, uh, 17:09 36,000 is still the population probably for you for corn to get your maximum return on investment. 17:15 And then, uh, nitrogen, you're not quite, you're not quite mechanically set up to do variable rate nitrogen application, 17:22 but you're gonna start dabbling in, in, Uh, mechanically Yes. It's the knowledge to do it locally. 17:31 It's, it's kinda hard to, to to have someone who will do the, the, the, the the application maps. Yeah. That's the, the artist here to give. 17:45 Interesting. So you could do it, it's just that maybe you aren't Yeah, the tech, the tech, the text there it is, uh, it's the, the knowledge. 17:53 No, I, uh, where to start, uh, what to, uh, based on, based on what I will lower or Yeah. 18:07 Higher. Yeah. Is it gonna be just on soil type? Is it gonna be also the lay of the land? Yeah. There's a few things there. 18:14 That's, that, that's, that's what is missing to get started. Is this one of your objectives for 2024 Sam? 18:21 Uh, yeah. Surely what would the result I see in those two fields, it's there, it, there's huge money to be saved 18:29 On nitrogen. Yeah. And then there and, and, and Yes, there is. That's interesting. All right. 18:34 Any other takeaways from 2023 to apply to 2024? I got, I got the machine. I said we have, we have to, 18:44 our ground has to be top-notch, you know, drainage wise, fertility wise, uh, pH we have 18:52 to be as next year it could be a drought. So it has to be really flexible on both side when you have to deal with too much water or not enough. 19:03 Right. Yeah. And, and so, well the, the point is some of that you said you can't control 19:10 because you're not the stuff you own you can control. But the stuff that's landlord owned Yeah. It's, it's 19:16 a little bit harder. Got it. But we were getting there slowly. Good. All right. Anything else 19:22 to send me out the door on 2023? Was a big learning year, a big challenging year for you? Uh, yep. With the, the, the precipitation 19:28 You had and the, the, the point, the point I discovered beans was still good. I ended up at 68 bushel. 19:35 So beans was still really good for the year 68. So I can control more easily, more easily my beans than my corn. 19:45 Like I feels like. Yeah. And another takeaway, when the timing is not there, don't invest in a product. 19:56 'cause I did some treatments at R three that should have been done at R one and my beans or R two and it's just money that I won't, I didn't see the ROI 20:08 That's a big one right there. And you missed your window. Not through any fault of your own, but 20:14 because of the weather. And so what, Yeah, we worked 10 days that we couldn't get in the field. So the timing was in between those 10 days. 20:25 And I said, I'm gonna give it a try. I can send it or I'm gonna send it, but I might have sent it too hard. 20:34 Yeah. You pulled, you pulled the temple and the, and the Chad, uh, hashtag send it, but you sent it 10 days too late, or a week too late 20:43 because you missed your window because of the weather. And your, your big takeaway there is if it, if you know that it's, if it's, if you know it's been told to, 20:52 you put it on at R one and you put it on at R three, you, you might just be blowing money out the door. Yeah, 20:58 Don't do it. That's a big one right there. So you, uh, you, you're not, you're not afraid to send it, but send it when it's the right time to send it. Yeah, 21:06 Exactly. Got it. I think we're gonna leave it there. That's a big one. So we talked about, uh, machinery changes, population trials, and, 21:13 and there are things from that drainage, nitrogen rates. He's gonna start dabbling in variable rates. 21:18 And, uh, knowing, knowing that you can't sending it when it's past its prime, uh, it's uh, it's like, like feeding a dead person. 21:25 It ain't gonna work. So anyway, his name is Sam Chu. He's awesome. And, uh, more great stuff at Extreme Ag Farm. Share this with somebody that can benefit from it. 21:35 What did you learn in 2023 that you're gonna apply to 2024? That's one of the cool things about extreme ag. 21:40 Always upping the game. These guys are always saying, you know what, I don't wanna rest of my laurels. 21:45 I did this wrong last year. I'm going to learn from it. I wondered about this. So I started dabbling with trials, you know, from nitrogen, uh, 21:52 and then vari variable rates, nitrogen, uh, trials to then also seed in population trials. So that's what's cool about this. 21:59 And I hope you've got something that you're gonna try in 2024 and you've got some takeaways in 2023. 22:05 Remember, you can become a member of XT Extreme Ag for seven $50 a year, and you'll get access to even more information, question, 22:12 answer format, so that you can go a little deeper on topics as well as the trial data. 22:16 So share this with somebody. Go and check out the library. There's an absolute library of stuff, hundreds of videos 22:23 that you can learn from Extreme Ag Farm all free for the taking. Unless you wanna take it to the next level 22:27 and become a member, you can do that too. Till next time, thanks for being here. He's Sam. I'm Damien. This is extreme ag cutting. The, have a 22:33 Good one. That's a wrap for this episode of Cutting the Curve. Make sure to check out Extreme Ag Farm 22:38 for more great content to help you squeeze more profit out of your farming operation. 22:43 Cutting the curve is brought to you by cloth where machines aren't just made, they're made for more. Visit cloth.com 22:50 and start cutting your curve with cutting edge equipment.