Moisture putting a damper on harvest

By Brady Lang
October 9, 2018 - 5:00pm

Mother Nature hasn’t been on the farmer’s side this harvest.

According to last week’s crop report, 73 per cent of the crop is now in the bin provincially, which is just behind the five year average of 78 per cent for this time of year. In the northwestern region, the crop report shows that 33 per cent is off the fields.

David Acaster, who farms 18 miles northeast of North Battleford, told battlefordsNOW what he’s been dealing with so far this harvest season.

“The last six weeks has been progressing slowly,” he said. “It almost gets dry enough to start getting things done, and then another shot of moisture. The last couple shots of moisture were snow, rather than rain, which has added issues. We were fortunate that most of our crop, we didn’t get the real heavy snow a couple weeks ago. Our crops were still standing relatively well.”

Over the weekend, the Battlefords region saw up to 18 centimetres of snow in some parts, and 12 centimetres in North Battleford. The snowfall was just another road block as time begins to run short for farmers in the region.

“We had finally taken off some dry grain the afternoon before for the first time in weeks,” Acaster said when talking about the weekend snowfall. “Now, were back to square one again. We still have just under 1,000 acres of crop left to take off. Most of what we have taken off so far has been tough or damp, so it’s going to have to be dried, so it’s really slowed things down.”

Acaster grows the standard grains, in wheat, canola, barley and peas, in addition to also having a cow, calf, beef operation. With the harvest pushing back much of the duties in focus, he said everything is running together and pushing back his added operations as well.

“It’s made it tough to try and get straw bailed for winter,” he said. “We still have a few acres of green feed swathes that have been laying down for over a month now, because it hasn’t got dry enough to start bailing. It’s time that we’d like to be bringing our cattle back home, and until these last few days we finally got a few more fields combined here, you were running up against the fact that you didn’t have clear fields ready so they could start running on stubble fields. They’ve been stuck on summer pasture a little longer than ideal, having to supplement feed already on pasture to keep them happy. Everything is running together, you can’t get one thing finished so you can focus on the next thing you need to do.”

Acaster estimates they are around two-thirds done their grain crop, which is above the average for the region. With the weather not cooperating however, it’s getting tougher and tougher to get through the harvest months.

“We need a couple weeks of average or above average temperatures to get a lot done,” he said. “You get to the middle of October to the end of October, normal temperatures aren’t that warm anymore. You have to start hoping for above average temperatures, especially with some snow on the ground to get rid of. It’s definitely going to be pushing everything down to the wire again, trying to beat winter.”

As harvest progresses, Acaster will continue to get as much off as he possibly can. He did stress the fact they are farther along than others he’s heard of, but at this point, it’s not in his hands.

“Were not the only ones in this boat,” he said. “Some are in a lot worse situations than us where they had the heavier snow earlier on. I guess misery loves company, everyone just hang in there. All we can do is hope that Mother Nature can cooperate with us.”

 

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Twitter: @BradyLangCJNB

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