GFM Network News


Stem-mining weevils have been successful at stopping the spread of Canada thistle, but the weevils are in short supply.

Supply can’t meet demand for thistle-munching weevils

Stem-mining weevils love Canada thistle but getting enough of the bugs has been a challenge for forage association

Canada thistle is a huge problem in ranchers’ fields — but unfortunately, demand for one of the solutions has outstripped supply. West Central Forage Association has been selling stem-mining weevils since about 2014 but recently its supplier in Montana has had production problems and been unable to fill its orders. “The last couple of years, […] Read more

Distinct markings give adult gall flies a rather striking appearance, while their larvae are anything but attractive. But they can do serious damage to a Canada thistle.

Tiny warriors get nasty on Canada thistle

Stem gall flies love to feed on — and breed in — the much-loathed and fast-spreading invasive weed

The West Central Forage Association has another biocontrol that can help you win the war against Canada thistle. The proud warriors are called stem gall flies and they’re available for sale. “The gall flies act on a different portion of the Canada thistle than the weevils do,” said Rachael Nay, conservation agriculture and extension program […] Read more


Feeding low-quality forage can cause all sorts of issues so it pays to have it tested, say experts.

Put your forage to the test – and money in your bank account

High-quality forage will save the cost of supplementing, and avoid costly calf losses

Letting cattle ‘pick and choose’ what they want to eat is no substitute for feed testing. The quality of forage needs to be matched to the animal’s needs — and those nutrition requirements are going to change throughout the year. And that’s why you should test your forages, say experts and groups such as the […] Read more

The stem-mining weevil larvae live up to their name, burrowing down the length of Canada thistles and feeding on their leaves after becoming adults.

There’s a reason why stem-mining weevils are the priciest livestock in Alberta

The insects are mowing down Canada thistle across the province, and attracting lots of eager buyers

Tens of thousands of weevils have been pouring into Alberta from Montana — and producers are clamouring for more. “It’s a biological control and it’s been going great,” said Rachael Nay, conservation agriculture extension co-ordinator with the West-Central Forage Association. The association began the project to import stem-mining weevils four years ago as a way […] Read more


Tom Thompson and father Ron took their operation to a new level after Tom had a lightbulb moment during a presentation on intensive grazing in 2003.

The award is nice, but the payoff even better for rancher

The winner of ABP’s Environmental Stewardship Award grows more grass 
and captures more rain by working with nature


Everything changed for Tom Thompson of Winding Creek Ranch when he attended the West Central Forage Association’s AGM in 2003. That was when the Mayerthorpe-area rancher learned about grazing principles that led to him winning Alberta Beef Producers’ 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award. “Kit Pharo (an American rancher who spoke at the meeting) was the one […] Read more

Barring serious rainfall soon, custom grazer Dale Engstrom warns, producers may need to make tough decisions about destocking.

‘Baby’ those pastures in a drought year

Grazers hit hard by last year’s drought could be in for another difficult year. “Hopefully this is not setting up to be a 2002 year, but it certainly looks and feels like that,” said Ed Bork, a rangeland ecology and management researcher at the University of Alberta. “That can change in the matter of a […] Read more


Silage varieties for Alberta cattle producers

This year’s version of Silage Varieties for Alberta is now available. Under the umbrella of the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta, eight applied research groups performed forage testing of various varieties at 12 locations throughout the province. This was the sixth year of tests. “Varieties of barley, oats, triticale and peas commonly used […] Read more