Wednesday, 17 August 2016 13:47

Markert Family pleased to represent Vulcan County

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The Markert Family were the BMO Farm Family winners representing Vulcan County at this year’s Calgary Stampede. The Markert Family were the BMO Farm Family winners representing Vulcan County at this year’s Calgary Stampede. Photo courtesy ShowChampions

It’s probably fair to say that when Ron Markert’s father Albert started the family in the pedigreed seed business in 1952, he didn’t really know what he was setting up for his descendants.

“I clean more drills, combines, augers, trucks and bins than anybody in the country,” Ron says. “We have to be sure there’s no contamination. As a seed-grower, you’re providing a high purity of seed.”
With roots in the Vulcan area going back to 1904, Ron and Louise Markert are the BMO Farm Family of the Year for Vulcan County.
Albert Markert had a small seed-cleaning plant on his farm and, at the time, all seed grain was bagged and stored in a Quonset. Ron received his first crop certificate in 1977 as he gradually assumed responsibility for the business. Markert Seeds Ltd. was incorporated in 1990.
In 1992, the seed-cleaning equipment was relocated north of Vulcan.
Crops are grown on 4,500 acres of land, some deeded and some leased. Pedigreed field peas, wheat and barley are the main seed crops while the other part of the rotation, canola, is a commercial crop.
The farm hasn’t grown seed canola in about 10 years, Ron says, because companies prefer irrigated land, with its more reliable return, to dryland farming. Faba beans and occasionally lentils or flax have been known to make an appearance as well.
Merely listing the type of crops grown is a bit misleading due to the many varieties of each type. Record-keeping is critical, because isolation to prevent contamination among varieties is the basis for the whole operation.
Ron says that, in addition to the constant cleaning of equipment, he sometimes goes through a pail of seed by hand searching for anything that shouldn’t be there.
“As a Registered Seed Establishment, we are authorized to process seed and attach a grade to it. We’re responsible for the grade on that seed.”
Regular outside audits are performed as a double-check.
Rather than no-till, Ron says the operation is ‘min-till.’
“We’ll put some kind of nitrogen on in the fall, harrow it and then we seed in the spring.”
GPS is also used, in fact, Ron says, “Having used it now, I couldn’t live without it — especially at night or if it’s dusty.”
Their community has provided both Markerts with many opportunities to volunteer.
“It just happens,” Ron says. “You just get involved. I guess you want to make sure you pass something along to the next generation.”
Ron has been a member of the Lions Club since 1990 and is a past president. He has also been very active in a number of professional organizations involving the seed industry.
His wife Louise is a past president of the Lionettes and has been involved with various youth groups such as 4-H, Sparks and Brownies as well as other local volunteer organizations.
“When they were growing up, we didn’t think we had one that would be interested in agriculture,” Ron says of the couple’s children. “All three of them are involved one way or another.”
Their son Lee and his wife Lindsay are actively involved in the farm and intend to move there in the near future.
“This time of year (spring time), I love watching the crop come up,” Ron says. “All those little green rows — maybe because it’s telling me I seeded right.”

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