Agri-retailers and producers enjoyed sun, fun and festival activities on Tuesday, all the while gaining valuable knowledge about innovations, industry trends and best practices in canola farming.

CanolaPALOOZA attendees take in the Nutrient Management station.

The Canola Council of Canada and the Manitoba Canola Growers Association joined forces to host CanolaPALOOZA in Manitoba on Tuesday, June 21st, offering attendees interactive displays, games and a barbeque feast alongside a wide variety of canola-specific information.

CanolaPALOOZA was first hosted last year in Lacombe, AB, and was so well-received that organizers decided to expand the concept to Manitoba in 2016.

“Last year in Lacombe went really well,” said Jay Whetter, editor of the Canola Council’s magazine Canola Digest. “Today’s event (hosted in Portage la Prairie, MB) is sold out, and so far we’ve got over 400 registrations for the second Lacombe event next week.”

Whetter credits part of the success of CanolaPALOOZA to its interactive, memorable activities. “We try to deliver an agronomy message in a fun way so it’s memorable,” he said.

Jay Whetter (left) and Mario Tenuta square off at the Soil Pit .

“For example, I was over at the crop fertility station, where they were talking about soil types, fertilizer rates and moisture-holding capacity. I got to wrestle Mario Tenuta from the University of Manitoba on a table filled with mud. And I won!”

History of Canola showed the plant's background.

The different CanolaPALOOZA stations, such as Nutrient Management, Beneficial Insects, the History of Canola, Sprayer Technology, Soil Pits and Keeping It Clean, used carnival-themed games and puzzles to entertain while providing key lessons in canola production and protection.

The Disease Management station used a dart-throwing game to symbolize the hit-and-miss nature of relying on only one disease management tactic to control disease in canola crops.

“Players choose a disease out of a grab bag, and then they get one dart for every control measure they want to use,” said Paula Halabicki, technical service specialist for BASF Canada and one of the Disease Management station hosts.

Players try their luck at Disease Management darts.

“If they hit a balloon with the dart, then the disease was controlled on their farm – but for the most part, you’re not going to hit a balloon with just one dart. The game illustrates that you need multiple darts – or multiple management strategies – to get diseases under control.”

For agri-retailers with diverse areas of expertise and interest, CanolaPALOOZA also offered an informal, open-ended structure to the day’s activities – allowing each individual to focus on the topics of the most importance to their operations.

Pollinators take the spotlight at the Beneficial Insects station.

“Whether you’re selling fertilizer, equipment or seed, this is like a one-stop-shop to ask all the questions you can think of,” said Whetter. “And you’re not forced to go from station to station or follow a schedule – you can linger at one station all day if you want. So if you feel like you’re short on, say, insect management and haven’t had the time to speak with an entomologist, you can visit that station and pick up tons of information.”

“Often in agri-retail, there isn’t always time to get out into the fields. This event is a great opportunity to do that, and learn about the background behind everything you’re selling.”

Retailers in attendance agreed that CanolaPALOOZA provided a great environment to glean valuable information from a wide array of experts.

Paula Halabicki points out clubroot symptoms.

“Events like this are all about the people who are teaching these topics,” said Brett Jenson, regional sales manager at Agri-Trend. “They’ve got some great people from across the prairies hosting these stations – they’re definitely top of their class.”

“I’m just taking in as much information as I can. It’s so much better to learn this in person than to read it in a book somewhere.”

This year’s Alberta CanolaPALOOZA is happening on June 28 in Lacombe. The event is currently sold out but a wait list is available. Click here for more information.

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