Farmers in southeast say crops looking better than expected

Photo by Kevin Weedmark. A farmer swathing canola north of Moosomin.

Sierra D’Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator

Farmers in southeast Saskatchewan have started harvesting and say this year’s crops are coming in better than anticipated. 

Murray Bruce, who farms near Moosomin, said he started harvesting on Aug. 21.

“We’ve gotten 1,200 acres done. So far the yield is looking quite encouraging,” said Bruce.

“It kind of makes you wonder where it came from considering how dry this year’s summer was, because we didn’t get any rain this summer. 

“There must have been lots of reserve moisture in the ground to get the bushels that we’re getting. It’s quite encouraging what the yields are looking like.”

Bruce said the biggest challenge he faced during this year’s season was lack of moisture.

“We’re expecting the crops to be on average, like a good average crop,” he said.

“It will depend on mother nature when we finish harvest, on how long this kind of weather lasts. It would be nice to be done by the middle of September.”

Farmers in the Moosomin area say yield looks encouraging

Wendy Schatz Leeds, Agronomy Lead of Sharpe’s Crop Services in Moosomin, said farmers in the Moosomin area have begun harvest.

“We’re just starting harvest. There isn’t a ton of crop off yet, they’re not quite dried down yet,” said Schatz Leeds.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re reaching physiological maturity and some producers have created a phase for dry down. We’re now just getting to that point where they would be ready to harvest.

“Some of the malt barley has come off, I think producers are happy so far with the malt barley yields. Peas also yielded okay, considering the year. We’re just getting into wheat, and it will be a few weeks before canola is ready.”

Due to communities in the southeast area of the province receiving no rainfall throughout the month of July, Schatz Leeds said the final outcome for all crops will depend on the weather conditions in the next few weeks.

“It will be a wait and see to see how things look. The plants developed really well considering we had minimal rainfall,” said Schatz Leeds.

“We had really healthy plants for the most part. We’ll just have to see how everything sets seed. 

“There was a point when they were setting seed for both canola and wheat, when it was warm out and they don’t like that, but I think there was also cool periods. We cooled off at night.

“I think for the most part we should be okay with our development.”

She spoke about the different challenges she thinks farmers faced during this season.

“I don’t know if there was a big challenge, I think we had a fairly nice year, aside from the fact that we could’ve used maybe one rainfall at the end of June and beginning of July,” Schatz Leeds said.

“But again, you have to be careful what you wish for because sometimes we get these big dumps during that time of the year, and you end up drowning acres and it’s not to our benefit.

“I think that would’ve been the only thing, if we had just maybe a nice little shower at the end of June and beginning of July, more widespread. There was some showers going through, but not widespread. Certain areas got a little more than others in rainfall, but we’re still way below average.

“To me, I believe we’re seeing some weed resistance show up. As an agronomist, like myself, we’ll have to work with producers to learn how to control specifically kochia. 

“I believe I saw quite a bit resistance in kochia this spring, we’re going to have to work as a group, the agronomist and the farmer, to figure out a solution on how we’re going to deal with that.”

Although the Moosomin area faced below average rain during July and August, Schatz Leeds said the spring weather gave farmers a good start to the season. 

“We were well below normal, we were 20 per cent of normal rainfall. We were definitely below normal in moisture coming from the sky, but we did have really good soil moisture going into the spring so that helped us.”

The majority of farmers should be finished harvesting by the end of September, said Schatz Leeds.

“I would think we should be wrapped up easily by mid-to-end of September, end of September for sure because we probably have about three weeks of harvest left,” she said.

“Also, if we can all hope for fall moisture to help with spring, and thinking about fall applications for chemicals, to think about weed resistance and talk to an agronomist, like myself, to figure out the best solution for it.”

Tim McCarthy, a farmer north of Fleming, started harvesting last week after the few days of rain passed through.

Based on this year’s weather conditions, McCarthy was asked what he thinks the outcome will be for this year’s crops.

“I think they’re going to be better than we think. We had some good soil moisture here and the crops did pretty good, I think there’s possibly some better yield than we think, but time will tell,” said McCarthy.

The biggest challenge McCarthy faced this year was the weather conditions.  

“The weather being dry was a challenge, as far as getting the work done, things went pretty smooth. We’re just one or two rains short of it being a perfect year I think,” he said.

“The moisture conditions were pretty good up until the hot spell in July, but essentially I think we’re going to be pleasantly surprised. I’ll know more in a couple of weeks.”

Crop conditions looking average, says Esterhazy farmer

Kevin Hruska, who farms in the Esterhazy, Gerald, Lagenburg, and Bredenbury areas, said he started harvesting on Aug. 20.

“We went out and did a sample, we’re just sort of assembling the crew and we’ll be starting after this rain event is going on,” said Hruska.

“We have a good-poor crop. The way the year was we’re not going to complain. All of our friends out west are in worse shape.”

Hruska said he noticed more areas across the farm were drier than others, due to a lack of rainfall.

“We had a really dry long spot without rain. We could have sure used one good rain in the middle of a six-week drought,” he said.

“We had a few good rains off the start, we have one area that the clouds parted and missed us the whole year. It was variable to some extent, there was never a general rain, we relied on showers and the showers were sporadic so they zig-zagged all over the place.

“Typically showers cover the land like a screen saver does on your computer, where it runs around until it finally covers the whole screen, but unfortunately the one spot didn’t have enough time to get there.”

Like most farmers, Hruska said the biggest challenge for this year’s season was the dry weather conditions. 

“The seeding went well, the summer wasn’t too hot, really the biggest challenge was praying for rain,” Hruska said.

“In all honesty that was the thing that concerned us all year. We kept saying, could we get a rain, could we get rain, gosh if we could only get a rain. It would predict a 60 to 70 per cent chance of rain, and we would get just five drops. 

“That would’ve been the biggest challenge. Prices are reasonable, holding costs was a challenge. 

“Machinery costs have just gone berserk, just crazy. When Covid caught us machinery never became available and when we came out from the other end of Covid, now it’s double in price.”

Hruska said he expects to finish harvest by the beginning of October.  

“I would think we’ll go okay until the first week of October by the time we get done, but if I can speak for other farmers, a lot of other people will be done by September this year,” said Hruska.

“There’s going to be a handful of small farmers who are going to be done in August. 

“We’re going until October because we had later crops. Some that had later rain on it, we straight cut canola, it had to be sprayed off it was nowhere near ready, we had some damaged and delayed stuff, and it’s going to drag us out.

“I think them later crops would’ve caught these last two rains which is actually going to be better. Also, we’re large farmers, we do put a lot of acres onto one combine.”