Farmers rush to finish late harvest

© Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald One of the Blocka brothers whizzes past on a combine, on the Olympia Farm lands just southwest of Prince Albert.

With terrible weather in October, this year’s harvest was set back by weeks. Now farmers are struggling to get up a crop that’s already taken a serious quality downgrade.

On Monday, Don Blocka was combining until midnight. He was up at 6:30 the next day, drying his canola and servicing his machines. Then he headed back to the fields. He figures he’ll go until midnight again, if not later.

“This time of the year, you go as hard as you can,” he said. “You catch up later on sleep.”

But this year is worse than most. The bad October weather – first snowy, then mushy – kept his combines off the fields for weeks. By the time things turned around, he still had 1,800 acres to harvest – and God knows how long to do it.

“It’s kind of a race against the clock,” he said. “I don’t want to say you’re at your wits’ end, but sometimes it feels like it.”

Since then, Don has made progress. He and his brother Leonard have combined about 800 acres over the past few weeks. But he still thinks his farm is going to take a loss on this year’s crop. Some areas are still too wet to get up, and most of his canola needs to be dried before it can go to market.

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