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Rain and cool weather delaying Saskatchewan harvest

Monday, September 9th 2019, 4:26 pm - The harvest is well behind the 5-year average for this time of year, reports the Ministry of Agriculture.

Pixabay - tractor File photo/Pixabay

Harvest is underway but it's slow going for many farmers in Saskatchewan.

The Ministry of Agriculture reports that as of Sept. 2, 11 per cent of the crop was in the bin but that's well behind the five-year average of 28 per cent for this time of the year.

Kris Mayerle farms near Tisdale, about 135 kilometres southeast of Prince Albert.

He said that while his crops are looking good, they aren't maturing as fast as they usually do because the last couple of weeks have been rainy and cool.

Mayerle estimated they're usually 25 per cent done by this time of year but said that this year they've barely started. He has wheat, barley, oats, peas, canola, hemp, and fava beans in the ground.

"Now we're just looking for some sun and some heat so I could finish getting them ripened up so we can get in the field and do some harvesting," he told Saskatchewan Weekend.

TRADE ISSUES A 'HUGE RED FLAG'

Another issue that's top of mind for Mayerle and other farmers is the market. He says trade issues have severely impacted farms.

"We've seen almost $2 a bushel come out of the canola market in the last eight months."

Exports to India have dropped off and China had been picking up the slack but now China isn't taking as many peas either, he said.

"That is a huge red flag for our businesses because it takes a lot of dollars out of the farm economy."

Farmer Lee Moats agreed that the trade issues are affecting business. Moats farms near Riceton, about 49 kilometres south of Regina.

He said canola and lentils have been his most important crops the last few years but the prices are down on both of those due to trade issues.

"It is pretty unsettling all of the different trade disputes, all of the non-tariff trade barriers that are kind of rearing their head seemingly at the same time," Moats said.

"It puts us in a very risky position and really drives home the need to have a lot of work on diversifying our markets so that we have alternatives to some of the big purchasers — China, India and so on."

WARM WEATHER NEEDED TO FINISH HARVEST

Trade issues aside, harvest is going well for Moats. He said he's lucky to have his lentils harvested already. Across the province, 39 per cent of lentils are in the bin, according to the crop report.

Moats said they would normally be planting winter wheat right now but they have to get the canola out of the ground first and that has been delayed due to the rain.

"Rain at harvest time isn't a good thing and of course we're sitting here wishfully thinking that this rain would have come back in May and June when it could have done some real good for us," Moats said.

He said the yields have been good despite the dry spring, which was a bit surprising.

Now Moats and many other farmers across the province are hoping for warm temperatures in September and October to get the harvest finished.

This article was written for the CBC by Ashleigh Mattern.

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