It’s the middle of October and there is a lot of harvest yet to do in the Prairie Provinces. Many farmers got off to an early start, progress was ahead of schedule, and then things ground to a halt. No one knows for sure, but back of the envelope estimates conservatively put the value of grain still left unharvested in the billions of dollars.
RealAgriculture’s Dale Leftwich visited with Radisson, Sask.-area farmer Corey Loessin as Loessin was moving around some grain, putting more grain in the dryer, and getting the combine ready for – hopefully – another shot at finishing off the harvest. They talked about harvest progress locally and places where farmers haven’t turned a wheel.
They also looked back to when Loessin’s dad bought the first dryer in the area, and now — 50 years later —what it takes to put a new one on the farm.
For areas around Radisson, just west of Saskatoon, Loessin estimates the crop is about 75 percent harvested, which is close the provincial average estimate of 78 percent. In the southern part of the grain belt, crops are lighter, they matured earlier, and harvest is further advanced.
Loessin had some early crop which let him start harvest while the weather was still good. “We started off with pulse crops and got those done ahead of the poor weather and some of the cereals, some of then wheat, was ready enough, but just barley, and so anything that was mid May, or a little bit later, just didn’t mature through that period, wasn’t ready through that period.”
In the northern part of the grain belt, crops seemed to quit maturing in mid-to-late August, and then the crop was hit with heavy snow. In many places this flattened the crop while it was still green.
In Loessin’s case they have had some snow, but not the kind of wet snow that flattens a crop. Even though they were in better shape than some, he says they looked at where they were at with harvest, and decided they had better get a new dryer. The first dryer that was on the farm was purchased by his dad in 1968. As tough as this fall is, Loessin points out that they have used the old dryer significantly about once in every five years since his dad purchased it.
This new installation was complicated but not completely unmanageable. Several different groups had to be involved with the authorization, set up, the approval of the site, and the certification of the equipment. Loessin says, “You’ve got to have an electrician lined up to do the wiring portion. You’ve got to have a gas fitter lined up to hook up either the propane or natural gas, whatever fuel source you are going to use, and you have to line up the gas inspector. This is in Saskatchewan, other provinces are probably different. And the gas inspector has to come at the same time as the dryer representative to go through all the various safety controls and show that they work, before you will get a permit to operate the dryer.”
There is a much bigger problem with used dryers. Any time a dryer leaves a land location it has to be re-inspected and re-certified. This can be expensive and sometimes bringing something up to CSA-approved status is simply not possible.
It has been a very difficult harvest, and this has led to some very difficult decisions. Farmers are just hoping that the tough harvest and the tough decisions will pay off.