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Barely begun

Few combines running due to wet conditions
The extremely wet weather this summer has created a late harvest, leaving summer field work that still needs to be done. This farmer was out cultivating a field just north of Muenster that was not planted this year on September 2.

With numbers for August summing up a cooler than normal month - the average daily temperature was 16C instead of the regular 22C - farmers in the Humboldt region are struggling with delayed crops and still wet fields.Environment Canada reported that much of the central and east central part of the province received over 100 millimetres more precipitation than normal in June, July, and August.According to farmers scattered around the Humboldt region, harvest is slow to get started and won't be done anytime soon.Arnold Boyko is a farmer near Watson and the reeve for the RM of Lakeside. He says a few farmers have started combining winter wheat and a little bit of barley, but most are swathing canola right now.He estimates that only around one per cent of the crop in the RM has been taken off the field. Boyko isn't worried about harvest himself. He didn't get anything seeded this spring because of the wet conditions.The ground is still wet enough that farmers are having trouble working their summerfallow, he noted."There's a lot (of summerfallow) that still needs to be done for the first time," he said. Boyko's land has had 27 inches of rain since April 7, with another inch last week.He's been farming since 1972 - almost 40 years - and can not remember another year that has been so wet."I can remember in 1954 - I was about 14 years old - when it was very, very wet," he said. "I remember in the fall, following my dad in the combine from one high spot to another in the field with the tractor."

Allan Baumann is the reeve for the RM of Three Lakes and farms near St. Benedict. He reports that some of the farmers in that RM have started combining barley, but most are swathing canola right now."If we had one month of really nice weather, it would be done by the end of September," Baumann said of harvest. "I sure hope it doesn't go into November like last year."There is next to nothing combined in the RM, not even the peas, which are usually the first crop off, he noted."On the west side of the RM, there's not even a measurable amount (of crop) taken off yet," Baumann said. He estimates that harvest is in about the same place as it was at this time last year, although there might be more crops swathed in 2010."It was late last year, too, but we had a couple of weeks of hot weather that brought it along," he said. While the harvest season sputters along, Baumann is not yet worried about getting his crop off."After last year's horrible fall, I bought a grain dryer, so instead of using it in November, I'll be using it in September," he said.The ground is still wet, but it has dried up some from the spring, Baumann noted.Calvin Michel is a councillor with the RM of LeRoy and farms around St. Gregor. He's swathed some canola and combined a few peas, but it's a slow process."If we got nice weather, we could swath everything, but the ground is still wet," he said. "You can't even take the semi on the field. You have to drive the combine to the truck every time."Michel estimates that harvest is about two weeks behind last year's at this point."If it got nice out, there would be a lot of peas coming off," he said. "We've got to get some nice weather."With harvest behind, the crops aren't in good shape either, Michel noted."There's a lot of disease in the barley and the wheat," he said. "And the canola never did establish properly."Overall, Michel doesn't have high hopes for this year's crop."We got half a crop in and it's about half a crop," he said. "A lot of crops were drowned out."Eugene Eggerman, who farms near Watson, is the reeve with the RM of Spalding. He says that swathing has started in the area and some combining has been done at the bottom of the RM, but it's going to be a challenge, because the fields are still wet."It's not as bad as at spraying time, but it won't be great," he said.As well, the canola crop looks poor to average. The barley also looks average, Eggerman said. The wheat has the most potential right now to be a good crop, he added.RM of St. Peter reeve Danny Breker, who also farms near Watson, reported eight-tenths of an inch of rain on August 31, which just added to the slow harvest.Some swathing has been done in his area, but not any combining, he said."You can't swath wheat or barley because it will sprout on the ground," he explained.The crops aren't looking very good in that RM either."I compare it to the old Clint Eastwood movie - 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'," he said. "The hills are quite good, but the slopes and the low spots aren't any good. There's more drowned out than I anticipated."Farmers in the RM of St. Peter need at least three weeks of nice weather to get harvest back on track, he said."And everybody can stop praying for rain," he smiled.Bruce Elke, reeve of the RM of Prairie Rose, farms near Jansen and says that some combining of barley and wheat has been done, but he estimates less than five per cent of the crop has been taken off so far."We are behind last year," he said. "We probably had about 15 per cent combined (at this time) last year."The yield so far is average to a bit below average, he reported, but with fusarium head blight, a disease that affects quality and end use, reported in the wheat still standing, Elke's not sure how big an impact that will have on crop quality.The crop is also behind in maturity by at least one to two weeks, he noted."If we have a September like last year, it would help a lot. We need a nice October, too," Elke said. "It's going to be a dragged out harvest."

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