Farmers hoping no ‘harvest from hell’ repeat this year

September snow and plummeting temperatures hampered harvest in 2019

The “harvest from hell” is how Olds-area grain farmer Jeff Nielsen described the 2019 season.

This year — so far, so good. But all farmers know not do any pre-hatch chicken counting.

“Snow is always the wild card. You just don’t know. It could happen,” said Nielsen, who farms barley, wheat and canola southeast of Olds.

“That cold front that came through last weekend. There was snow to the west.”

Last fall, snow fell in mid-September and temperatures plummeted, which when added to a cool, wet summer, delayed crop maturity and many farmers had to leave crops unharvested.

“One was enough. We need to have a decent fall and get the crop off,” he said. “We’re seeing a pickup in the grain markets and that’s a positive.”

Farmers have fingers crossed that the weather will hold long enough to bring in what has been a pretty decent harvest for many.

Nielsen said many crops are about a week late. For many producers, it was a challenging spring, because they still had to harvest leftover crops from last year.

“Because I got hit by hail, I’m going to have some below-average crops. But overall, I think there will be average crops.

“There are exceptional crops in some places, and in the hail belt, you see the potential that could have been.”

Clearwater County beef producer and farmer Tim Hoven said it was a “tough spring” in that area.

“I’m not sure of the number of unseeded acres, but it’s not insignificant.”

July’s balmy weather was welcomed by hay farmers.

Combining has just begun, but Hoven expects production will be down a little because of the wet spring.

“I know there’s going to be some drowned-out areas, more than most people would like,” he said.

“But I’ve also been farming long enough to know that you never know what’s going to happen until it’s in your bin.”

Hoven, who is Clearwater County reeve, runs Eckville-area Hoven Farms and raises grass-finished organic beef along with some grain farming.

Delburne-area beef producer and farmer Jim Wood said the crops look good in his area.

“We’ve had plenty of moisture this year. I don’t think we could have asked for more, and we probably had a few spots that were probably even drowned out.

“But no complaints there, because that means the rest is going to yield well.”

Wood said canola swathing is well underway in most places.

“And we’re seeing lots of cereals coming down now and we’re seeing some combines out in the fields,” said Wood, mayor of Red Deer County.

“I think we’re on track this year, probably a little better than we have seen for the last few as far as process at this time.

“We’ve had a few years that have been kind of trying years. And we’re looking forward to a nice fall this year. That would be really good for our farmers, and I’m including myself.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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