With this year’s harvest winding down, I can’t help but reflect over a season that has resulted in both one of the earliest combining seasons I have ever seen, and also one that has seemingly dragged on forever. Early seeding and hot weather in August and September has ripened off plants and allowed producers to get most crops in the bin.
Like many producers however, we haven’t finished the late crops yet, so the harvest isn’t quite over. Fields of corn, soybeans and in our case, buckwheat, still dot the countryside. While some winter wheat has been direct seeded, in many cases farmers are hoping for rain so they can work in this year’s stubble.
Overall I have to say we have had a good season. Early crops in the escarpment area yielded from average to above average with the exception of some aster yellows-infested canola. Wheat yields have been erratic depending on where the rainstorms hit, but prices are as good as we’ve ever seen for this time of year.
It has been a year of both smiles and disappointments. Ample fields of straw had producers expecting more than they harvested in some cases, but with the heat and minimal rain in most areas, it was really a miracle we pulled off the yields we did. Heat, insects, disease, high winds, frost, drought in some cases and excess moisture in others, this crop saw it all.
The speed of this year’s harvest also had me thinking about safety. With everyone in a rush and trying to work long hours, mistakes happen. I no longer place a ladder beside a grain bin without a rope at the top to tie it securely to the bin. Being rescued off the top of a bin by the local fuel truck driver once was enough for me.
When your only choices are to slide down a running auger or jump from the roof, you know there are not going to be any happy endings. Additionally, it keeps the ladder from being blown over and taking out the back window on the tractor.
I have also stumbled on a new technology by accident. One day I was killing time in a discount store while my wife was shopping and noticed the solar yard lights on sale. These were fixed to short plastic spears that allowed you to stick them in the ground around a garden or patio. At the time, I bought three, thinking I would light up the doorway near the house and two sheds.
As we got into the harvest, I began to notice all the poorly lighted areas we stumble through all the time on our way to the light switch. I put one of the lights at the back of the tractor, so the PTO was lit up even before I got to the tractor, or after I dismounted. I put one near the base of the auger where I was backing up, and one near the bin door where you know you will be constantly wanting to check. Like the watched pot, they never fill at the rate you want.
The moral here is that a few extra lights around that are not dependent on the PTO tractor or the truck running, will make the job site a whole lot safer. In hindsight, I only wish that I had bought brighter ones instead of the $7 ones on sale. Even more light would have been better.
For those areas of the province where they are fighting wet, late crops and mud, you have my sympathies. I do know what it is like. For those that are done and their bins are full, don’t spend it all in one dealership.
For those of us that still have a few excuses to drag the combine out of the shed, make sure we continue to make this a safe harvest season.
Selling this crop is an experience you won’t want to miss.