Dry days put harvest ahead of schedule, but farmers hoping for rain
Kurt Fiechter may be done this year’s harvest but he’s still stuck waiting for rain, just as he has been doing all summer.
“It’s good, always feels good to be done. It’s kind of disappointing in the yields. But really with the rain we had, it wasn’t unexpected,” he said.
The grain farmer from the Ceylon area received very little rain this year on his farm, which led to low yields and sparse crops. Some, like canola and durum, did better than expected.
Fiechter started combining a month ago, finishing last Friday. In years past he wouldn’t usually start harvesting until the start of September, and not finish until the end of September or start of October.
According to the provincial crop report released Thursday, 65 per cent of the provincial crop is harvested, which is well ahead of the five-year average of 40 per cent.
“Things have been going fairly well. Most of that, of course, is due to that very long stretch of warm and dry weather,” said Shannon Friesen, acting crop management specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture in Moose Jaw.
Harvest is most advanced in the southwestern region, where 86 per cent of the crop is now combined. The southeastern region has 76 per cent combined, the west central region 66 per cent and the east central region 57 per cent. The northeastern region has 37 per cent combined, while the northwestern region has 35 per cent combined.
The southern portion of the province was hardest-hit this summer, receiving hardly any rain. Farther north there were reports of rain throughout the summer and localized flooding, but the last month has been pretty dry throughout the whole province.
“Rain really hasn’t happened ... (farther north) either over the last month or two. So things are a bit better in terms of soil moisture, but certainly they could also use a good rain heading into winter,” Friesen said.
Heading into the autumn, rain is needed to replenish the soil, both for seeding next spring and for fall seeding of winter crops.
Fiechter himself doesn’t usually seed winter crops, but the lack of rain is holding him back from doing fall spraying.
“Rain would have been perfect. Then a guy would have just went and sprayed, did some fall spraying with the weeds coming. And now there’s really a lot of indecision because there’s really not much coming,” he said.
As well, Fiechter said if it doesn’t rain he may have to rethink his spring seeding plans.
“I guess time will tell if a guy is even able to seed. Because we’re desperately dry; it’s just bone-dry here,” he said.
According to the crop report, lack of moisture continued to cause crop damage this week, while strong winds blew swaths around and shelled-out standing crops. There have been many reports of combine and grass fires due to the dry conditions.
I guess time will tell if a guy is even able to seed. Because we’re desperately dry; it’s just bone-dry here.