Western Canadian farmers are struggling to finish their latest harvest in several years, with 10 per cent of the spring wheat crop lying in fields too wet to combine, a Canadian Wheat Board official said Oct. 20.
The wet, cold October has been a cruel ending to an unpredictable growing season, especially for farmers in northern farm regions of Saskatchewan.
But overall, the Western Canada grain-growing belt is reaping an average-sized wheat crop with better-than-average quality, said Bruce Burnett, the CWB’s director of weather and market analysis. The region’s harvest may be the latest in five years, Burnett said, adding that completion rates vary widely.
Five per cent of the durum crop and eight per cent of barley are still in the field, Burnett said. At least 20 per cent of the overall canola crop and roughly 40 per cent of the oat crop in Saskatchewan are unharvested.
Farmers need a two-week stretch of dry weather to dry out wheat enough to combine it, Burnett said. That must come before Western Canada’s first lasting snowfall, which typically arrives in late October or early November. That lengthy dry stretch looks unlikely, with weather patterns suggesting precipitation every three to four days, Burnett said.
“It doesn’t look like we’ll get all of the crop in this year,” he said. The wheat and barley in the fields is already lower quality to feed grade and leaving it over winter leaves it vulnerable to wildlife eating it. A tenth of the spring wheat crop amounts to 1.5 million to 1.6 million tonnes still in the field, not likely enough to make a major impact on Minneapolis Grain Exchange futures in a year of big global production, Burnett said.