Saskatchewan

More than half of Sask. crop in the bin, says province

"We finished [harvest] earlier this week, and it was considerably better than last year," said Barry Reisner.

More rain than last year, but still less than normally expected: Sask. farmer

Wheat is spit out the back of combine harvester.
Some Saskatchewan producers have had a better year than last, but there's still plenty of room for crop improvement. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

The drought last summer created a lot of challenges for farmers and ranchers in Saskatchewan.

For Barry Reisner, it was hard to see his efforts going down the drain, as he said in 2021.

However, one year later, things are looking up at his farm in southern Saskatchewan near the village of Limerick. 

"We finished [harvest] earlier this week, and it was considerably better than last year," said Reisner.

"We did have more rain this year, but still not as much as we normally would expect."

As of Monday, farmers have harvested 64 per cent of the crop in Saskatchewan compared to the five-year average of 57 per cent at this time of year, according to the province's most recent crop report.

During the previous reporting period from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, the province was only at 42 per cent.

Thanks to ideal conditions, producers were able to make a lot of progress in the past week across Saskatchewan, especially farmers in the southern part of the province. Some have already been able to wrap up their harvest season.

In the southwest region, 93 per cent of the crop is in the bin, while farmers in the west central area have combined 80 per cent, the crop report says.

So far, producers across Saskatchewan have combined:

  • 95 per cent of lentils and field peas.
  • 90 per cent of durum. 
  • 72 per cent of barley.
  • 68 per cent of spring wheat.
  • 39 per cent of canola.
  • 23 per cent of flax.

Despite the improvement, there is still a long way to go, Reisner said.

"We're probably 25 per cent below average this year, which is a huge step up from a failure," he said.

Reisner said it's a similar story for other farmers in his area but some had an average crop this year, or better.

In his 50 years of farming, Reisner says he has learned to accept the bad with the good.

"When things don't work out the way you plan, it's somewhat discouraging," he said.

"At the beginning of the year, you don't know if it's going to be a year with a lot of rain or a year with not much rain. You just have to do your best."

Cropland topsoil moisture conditions in Saskatchewan as of Sept. 12, 2022. Most of the province received very little to no rainfall from Sept. 6 to 12, according to the provincial crop report. (Government of Saskatchewan)

After several weeks of little rainfall, wind and hot weather, the soil is drying out across the province, according to the crop report.

Statistics Canada says many areas of the Prairies have received consistent precipitation since June, but not the southwestern and central parts of Saskatchewan.

Reisner said he's hoping for some good soaking rainfalls before the winter to get moisture into the soil for next year.

A better year for Sask. rancher

Around 300 kilometres northeast of Reisner's farm, Levi Hull is busy taking care of his farm and making silage.

"It's been no breaks," said the rancher from Willowbrook, more than 20 kilometres west of Yorkton.

 "We haven't had rain up until two days ago actually for probably close to a month… So it's been every day just go, go, go."

The drought last year was tough for the cattle producer and his family in east-central Saskatchewan. 

Levi Hull stands in his field in Willowbrook in east central Saskatchewan. After a slow start to the harvesting season, producers in the east central region of the province now have 46 per cent of the crop in the bin, according to the most recent crop report. (Submitted by Levi Hull)

Just hauling water to the animals was a full time job, said Hull. But this year the family didn't have to do that.

"We've got a lot of people in the province actually that are still dealing with the drought," he said.

"Maybe not as bad as last year but feed production is very variable across the province."

Hull and his family also run around 2,000 acres of grain land for feed production.

So far, the family has finished up their barley and oat silage and is now waiting for the beginning of October to start chopping their corn.

Hull said his farm ended up with a very good crop this year.

"It definitely takes a little bit of weight off the shoulders," he said.

"There's some people that are looking to get cows fed or feeders fed for the winter, and with the feed supplies that we've been putting up here this summer and this fall, we are looking forward to being able to help some of those people out."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa Kliem

Journalist

Theresa Kliem is a journalist with CBC Saskatoon. She is an immigrant to Canada and loves telling stories about people in Saskatchewan. Email theresa.kliem@cbc.ca.

With files from Bonnie Allen

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