A wheat field almost ready for harvest just north of Rocanville.

Harvest in full swing for local farmers

August 24, 2015 8:08 am
Julia Dima

Local farmers are beginning the 2015 harvest, with some already finished their early crops, and some desiccating now, and hoping to combine in coming days. Most people are expecting an average harvest.

“Overall, it looks like an average harvest for us, which, considering the cold start, is okay,” says Kristjan Hebert. Hebert farms near Fairlight, and last week, was around 15 per cent completed his harvest.

Hebert had spring wheat, canola, and barley. Last week, around two thirds of the barley was finished, and canola was swathed. He says he is happy with the overall quality of the crops.

“Everything up until now was in really good shape—the later stuff will not be quite as good but it’s still okay. The canola is what I would call average—we swathed all day yesterday, and it will be another week or so before we combine it,” he says.

The previous few years have been tough on farmers with excessive moisture, late springs, and floods delaying harvest, so many local farmers feel that the harvest is slightly earlier than usual. Hebert says that historically, this is a normal year, but compared to the last few years, he is early. “I would say what we would call normal would be swathing our barley on August 15 or 16, and combining it on the 20th, so I would say we are a week or so earlier than normal,” he says.

He’s hoping to wrap up harvest in mid-September.

Kyran Foy, who farms north of Hebert in the Moosomin area agrees, saying that given recent years, his harvest is early.

“Each year is different, it’s early compared to last year, but I remember lots of years combining and even finishing in August and early September. So it’s early compared to last year, but probably about right,” Foy says.

Foy started harvest last week, and was about 10 per cent completed last week, and was working on harvesting spring wheat, which he says has a similar yield to last year’s harvest, about 50 bushels per acre.

Though the canola has only been swathed, Foy is estimating it will be average. After a late frost in early June, Foy did reseed much of his canola. He says that what wasn’t reseeded is looking average.

“It fared not too bad—we would have reseeded it all if we didn’t think it was going to fare well,” Foy says. “The crop will be fairly decent, prices are what concern me.”

For those who did not secure contracts for crops in the spring, harvest spot pricing is low.

“With barley, lots of guys locked in a good price at $6 early on, and now it’s around $5.75. Wheat is not good, it’s around $6 on average, and canola always falls down a bit this time of year, but it’s still around $11,” says Trent Brister at Richardson Pioneer in Whitewood.

So far, at the elevator, Brister says they are seeing barley and winter wheat. The barley is mostly malt, and on average, is yielding around 80 bushels per acre.

Brister says there was very little winter wheat brought in, but it was grading at 2, which is high quality for winter wheat, and yielded around 60 to 65 bushels per acre.

The spring wheat that has been brought in is grading 1 with high protein, and yielding 45 to 50 bushels per acre. Rye crops did well, Brister says, yielding around 70 bushels per acre, and the peas that have come in were averaging 30 bushels per acre. Canola has not arrived at the elevator yet, but Brister estimates it will be an average crop.

“If it does 35 to 40 bushels per acre, I think guys will be pretty happy considering what it went through in the spring,” he says. “With the canola, it will be a challenge when to swath—the guys that reseeded with the frost, some have two stages of canola, so it will be a challenge to try and get the canola done at the right time. We just need weather to co-operate now.”

Near Moosomin, canola is expected to be average. At Parrish and Heimbecker, Jeff Vanrobaeys says that they have not seen canola at the elevator yet, but should in the next few weeks, as most farmers were swathing last week.

“I think that if we have good weather this week, most guys will get started this week. A lot of stuff just isn’t ready yet, the cool spring we had and the late frost probably delayed things a little bit, but it’s the middle of August and we’re not late by any means, we’re earlier than last year, and I think we’re close to getting going, but it’s not quite widespread yet,” he says. “I think for the most part, the canola looks decent, guys are starting to swath it now—some likely suffered from too much heat at flowering, but all things considered, I think the canola looks decent.”

John Van Eaton near Maryfield was swathing canola last week, and says he is happy with how it recovered after getting hit with frost. He did not reseed any acres.

“I think it’s going to be above average—not a record, but it looks pretty good,” he says.

Winter wheat fared a little worse for Van Eaton, who says that it was seeded too late.

“I think the biggest challenge was that is was so wet last fall, and we were late getting it seeded because of that, so in reality, we weren’t expecting a record yield, and it was okay, but that’s all—the yield was about 60 bushels per acre,” he says.

Like others, Van Eaton thinks harvest is early considering recent harvests, but not on a long-term average.

“This is certainly early for the last five or six years, but everyone is looking forward to being finished harvest in September instead of November—harvest will likely be wrapped up in mid to late September,” he says. “I think overall, this will be a slightly above average harvest for our area.”

Like Van Eaton, Dwayne Wolf near Wapella also saw a poorer winter wheat crop than other years, due to late seeding. He did seed 600 acres that he says look average to below average. However, other crops fared well. Despite being a bit damp, Wolf aerated his barley, and says it was excellent quality and yield. His soybeans are the top crop this year.

“The soybeans are looking excellent, they are over three feet high which is abnormal for this part of the province, but we’ve had really good corn and soybean weather most of the season—the right amount of heat and moisture, good subsoil moisture,” he says.

Some canola has been swathed, and Wolf is estimating by the end of this week, spring wheat will be ready to be harvested. He says he is ahead of schedule on harvest by around 10 days.

Further south near Redvers, Dustin Toms says he has had an early start, and is happy with what he is seeing on the fields.

“This will be a good harvest, I think. I am happy with everything here so far except commodity prices, but that is common this time of year—it’s a matter of waiting it out. In the last five years, it’s a super early harvest, but in the last 30 years, I would say it’s an average start time,” Toms says.

He began his harvest around two weeks ago, combining his 1,100 acres of barley. There were a few low spots that were drowned out, as the southern part of the region had more moisture than other areas, but Toms says he could not have asked for more, with a high quality malt and 80 bushels per acre.

Next, Toms is desiccating the canola and wheat, and hopes to be harvesting that in coming weeks. He estimates both crops will be average.

“The way we started out this spring, I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he says. “We are now waiting on the crop, and doing swathing and desiccating—we are on top of things out here.”

Other farmers are still in the desiccation and swathing stages, and have not started pulling crops off the field.

Neil Weatherald, who farms near Wawota, estimates it will be around a week until he begins combining.

“There is no delay—this isn’t late, it’s basically normal. It’s about right, we usually don’t start before September, so it’s going to be close to that, and we might get going earlier than that, in the last week of August,” he says.

Near Rocanville, Darryl Williamson is still waiting on his crops to mature—when the early June frost hit the region, communities to the north of Moosomin received more frost, and Williamson was forced to reseed all his canola. He says the canola is not mature, but is looking to be good quality. He believes he will be swathing in early September. His wheat, he believes, will be mature in the next week.

“This is a little bit earlier than last year. We are about a week or 10 days earlier than last year, and the last couple of years as well,” he says.

Like others, Williamson is expecting a good to average harvest.

Rains early last week delayed some of the harvest, but clear skies are forecasted for the week, and harvest should be picking up everywhere in the next two weeks.