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Producers at standstill with wet weather, frost concerns

Wet conditions in the southeast have caused harvest operations to come to a standstill, with concerns for late-seeded crops being affected by a forecast of frost.

Wet conditions in the southeast have caused harvest operations to come to a standstill, with concerns for late-seeded crops being affected by a forecast of frost. With only 22 per cent of the crop currently combined, and an additional 37 per cent swathed, producers are "considerably behind the five-year average for harvest operations," said Elaine Moats, crops specialist for the Weyburn area.

"It is a frustrating time for producers, because they are having such a difficult time getting crops out of the field," added Moats. "The expensive equipment that producers use for harvest time are not designed for the wet conditions that we currently see in the fields, and several producers have to handle this equipment getting stuck."

"It is impossible to do anything, because we can't move in the fields," said Russell Leguee, a Weyburn-area producer. "We can't get the trucks in, or our combines. In my 34 years of farming, I have never seen it like this before."

"It has been so wet, that we haven't been able to combine at all during the month of September," said Kyle Schurko, a producer from the Griffin area. "It has just been raining almost everyday, and the calendar is slipping away from us. The excess moisture makes it a fight for everyone to get their trucks in the field, and it has been tough."

With many producers having to seed later in the year, their biggest concern is the forecast for frost. "There is a lot of concern in the area for the later-seeded crops, because there are green crops still out there that would get hit hard," said Wayne Vilcu, Halbrite producer.

Harvest conditions have been wet before for producers, which makes the situation even more frustrating. "For the last three years, we have had wet conditions during harvest time, and it draws out the whole process," said Leguee. "There is only so much one can do while they're waiting for the weather to improve, especially when getting the crop in is the main priority for the farmers."

Crop yields have also been difficult to assess, because of the excess moisture received earlier in the spring. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture weekly crop report has indicated the following average yields for the southeast region: winter wheat 49 bu/ac; spring wheat 34 bu/ac; durum 31 bu/ac; oats 63 bu/ac; barley 52 bu/ac; fall rye 42 bu/ac; triticale 45 bu/ac; flax 21 bu/ac; canola 29 bu/ac; mustard 900 lb/ac; lentils 1,300 lb/ac; peas 32 bu/ac; canary seed 1,200 lb/ac; and chickpeas 1,300 lb/ac.

Producers are hopeful that if a frost does hit the area, that it will at least have a long-term effect on the weather conditions. "It is still too early to think that a frost would mean an early end to the harvest production," said Moats. "There still could be a lot of time for producers to get the crop off. When we are dealing with the forecast, producers are hoping a hard freeze will settle down the weather conditions."

Moats noted that during last year's harvest, because of the wet conditions in September and August, producers were not able to get their crops off until November, when warm weather finally arrived. This year, producers believe that they will receive the warm weather they need and are hoping they don't have to wait until November.

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