Best seeding conditions in a long time say farmers in southeast Saskatchewan

Ryan Kiedrowski/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/The World-Spectator Spring seeding on the Hebert farm in the Fairlight area of southeast Saskatchewan.

Ryan Kiedrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The World-Spectator

With an early start and some timely rains, most farmers in the southeast region are finished seeding.

“We got going on about April 28, which was just a touch early for us,” reported Kevin Hruska, who farms in the Gerald area. “We get started in April maybe one out of seven years. We’re actually going to finish tomorrow, so that’s a little ahead of schedule. We have finished about four times on the May long weekend, so it’s not totally unusual.”

He noted a few minor rain delays, but nothing that seemed to create a drastic setback.

“We had about four rain delays, however, we’re not wet,” Hruska said. “We’ve had good rains—half-inch rains, one one-inch rain. When it rains, it seems wet, and the second the sun comes out and it gets windy, it seems dry. We better take this rain when we get it, when they’re nice rains like that.”

Hruska estimated last week that the majority of his neighbours were in the 50 to 60 per cent complete range.

“Beautiful seeding conditions, the best ever seeding conditions right now we’ve seen in a long time,” Hruska said. “I think that’s the case for a lot of people around us.

“I hope the rains keep coming because we need a few good rains in July or we don’t have moisture to carry us through the year; that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “Our soil isn’t like that.”

A little further south down Rocanville way, Rylar Hutchinson offered the same report—noting a few hiccups to this seeding season, but nothing major.

“Things are going smoothly” he said. “Few showers to shut a guy down for a day or so but it’s soaking in good. Myself, I’m about three quarters done. Couple more days of nice weather I’ll have things wrapped up!”

Out in Maryfield, John Van Eaton explained the key to avoiding costly down time. When asked if he experienced any hiccups this seeding season, his reply was a hearty “not when you have John Deere tractors!”

“We got going the last couple of days of April, so that’s early traditionally for us, but things have actually moved along fairly well,” Van Eaton explained. “There’s always time for it to change, we don’t want to brag too much until we’re done because there’s usually karma involved in that.”

He noted that the beginning of the seeding adventure this year was almost dry, but has transitioned to more on the wet side.

“The last rain we had there, or a couple of rains ago, was about a two days slow rain; it was the first in a while,” he said. “It seems like we get all our rain in thunderstorms, but it was nice to see a gentle two-day rain.”

Over in the Atwater/Stockholm area, Blake Duchek says he’s ahead of the game this year.

“It’s been going actually fairly good,” he said. “Compared to last year, we’re ahead of schedule. I don’t think we finished until May 31 or June 1 last year.”

With fingers crossed that heavy rains hold off for just a few days, Duchek estimated being finished this week.

“Probably five or six days earlier than last year,” he said. “We’re about 80 per cent done. Four more days and we should be done.”

Things are moving so quickly that Duchek is noticing seeded crops breaching the topsoil in a matter of a few days—a more than welcome sight.

“The crop is all coming up quick, soil conditions are great and the moisture levels are great,” he said. “Some of the wheat was up in five days. Some years, we’ve seeded when it’s been cold and it takes you three weeks to seed, and you’re finished seeding and you’re first stuff isn’t up.”

He did note one frustrating incident that slowed things, an unexpected cost to boot. A tire on the back of an air seeder cart incurred sidewall damage, and of course they are not readily available compared to those on a car or truck.

“There’s only two of that size in existence in Canada,” Duchek explained. “One place was $20,000 for the tire, and another place was $9,500 for the same tire! I thought the supply chain for parts was getting better, but there’s still some items that aren’t back to normal availability.”

He ended up limping along with the tire for a week, and wonders if the parts supply chain will ever fully return to normal.

“The smaller common stuff I’d say is back to normal, but when you get these bigger ticket items, like a tire or something, machine specific, the inventory still isn’t back up there. I don’t know if it will ever get back to where it was.”

Circling back to Moosomin, Jeff Warkentin with Hebert Grain Ventures was pleased to report being totally finished seeding.

“We just wrapped up at about three in the morning last night—we’re done!” he said. “We seeded for about 21 actual days, give or take, and we started on April 23. The weather was favourable this year, that allowed us to get going at more of a normal timeframe.”

The return to more a more typical start to the season was quite welcome.

“The last couple of years were abnormal where we had a later start, but I’d say this is a more normal timeframe,” Warkentin said. “It’s always good if we can get going that last week of April. Soil conditions were good and we’ve certainly got a good start.”

Even the novelty of seeding over the May long weekend was warmly welcomed, as one last blast of snow is not an uncommon sight for Victoria Day.

“You kind of bank on bad weather for May Long,” Warkentin said with a laugh.

Next up will be spraying, something that Warkentin and others noted could be underway within the next two weeks.

“We got to pick up the shrapnel after seeding and we’ll be into herbicides here probably in 10 days,” Warkentin said.

Producers throughout the southeast and southwest have been the furthest along with seeding progress, with hopes still fresh that the growing season will be just as favourable. 

“Producers are busy seeding while watching their early seeded crops begin to emerge,” noted a recent Saskatchewan Agriculture crop report. “Many are applying pre-seed herbicide products as the recent rainfall and heat has allowed weeds to emerge ahead of seeding. Cattle are being moved out to greening pastures and branding has started.”