Foodgrains harvest breaks record

Canola harvested from a site west of Bentley has shattered records for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank project at Lacombe, which is one of four in Central Alberta.

Canola harvested from a site west of Bentley has shattered records for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank project at Lacombe, which is one of four in Central Alberta.

The weather was great, the yields were high and prices were strong, bringing a cash sale of $98,553 for the canola collected from a 154-acre field on Saturday, Lacombe volunteer Doug Maas said on Monday.

That’s a huge leap from the previous record set in 2009, when the Lacombe crop sold for about $63,000, said Maas.

Helping in the field were 14 combines from 12 farms and one Hutterite colony, three Super-B grain trucks from Visions Truck Lines as well as another from a local farm.

About 250 onlookers came to have lunch and watch the crop come off at 54 bushels per acre.

It took about an hour and a half to combine the field and ship the canola off to Viterra, where it was graded at No. 1 and sold for $11.79 a bushel.

By the time donations have been collected and bills paid, he expects the crop will net $100,000, to be forwarded after Christmas to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank headquarters in Winnipeg.

The Canadian International Development Agency matches project donations at four to one, said Maas, bringing the total value of the Lacombe project to $500,000.

The project aims to reducing hunger and helping people feed themselves in developing nations.

This was the first year in that field for the Lacombe group, which has typically moved its project around. Given the success of this year’s crop, Maas is hopeful the family who provided the land will be able to provide that field or another close by for the 2012 crop.

Harvest didn’t got quite as well for the Ponoka project, which has been farming the same 170-acre field, located between Ponoka and Morningside, for the last 14 years.

Organizers chose to grow a feed-grade wheat this year since its last crop had been canola, which is normally grown only once in every four years at any particular site.

Yields were low and the crop was coming off a bit tough when the combines first went into the field on Friday morning, said volunteer Larry Henderson.

Most of the grain has been sold to Viterra with a portion going to local poultry producers.

Henderson said they expected a yield of 70 bushels to the acre but it worked out to be just under 40, in part because section of the crop were drowned in heavy rainfalls this spring.

“That’s just the way it is. There were about 40 acres in the field that were really poor because we got too much water.”

About 100 people came to watch seven combines bring in the crop. While the weather was good, the numbers were down because the harvest was done on a work day rather than on the weekend, said Henderson.

Between sale of the grain and straw, deductions for costs and help with donations, he expects that Ponoka’s 2011 harvest will send about $38,000 to Winnipeg, topped up with cash donations including about $2,000 received while the harvest was underway.

Over the 14 years since it was started, the Ponoka project has shipped $641,000 in cash receipts to Winnipeg.

Further west, the Eckville project harvested 8,000 bushels of spring wheat off of a 106-acre field at the corner of Hwys 11 and 766, netting about 75 bushels per acre.

However, it’s difficult to say how much money has been raised because the grain is being sold through the Canadian Wheat Board.

Half the crop has been shipped and the balance will likely go in January, when volunteers will have a better idea how much they have raised after the bills are paid, said Hopper. He estimated that the value of the crop will run at about $5 per bushel, minus roughly $20,0000 in expenses.

While the crop was good, there were fewer people involved and thus less was received in cash donations, most likely because there are fewer people in the area, he said.

The Eckville project drew five or six combines and about 25 people out to watch on the day the crop was taken.

Representatives from the Rocky Mountain House project could not be reached to comment on their 2011 crop.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate

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