'If we break even, I'll be happy': Lower yields for some Sask. producers this harvest season

The Ministry of Agriculture’s latest report shows 36 per cent of the province’s crop in the bin — well above the five-year average of 22 per cent.

“It certainly feels like it's a record year,” said crops extension specialist Matt Struthers.

“I keep meaning to look and see if any other year, maybe there's a year like 50 years ago where they harvested this quickly.”

The reason for the record, Stuthers says, is because there wasn’t much of a crop to begin with.

“Just the drought we had, crops are ready to go a lot earlier than normal and  they’re very thin, very thin crops in a lot of parts of the province, so producers can just rip through and get them off,” he said.

Just east of Saskatoon, Blair Cummins already has more than half of his crop in the bin.

“Everything just matured way quicker than normal,” he said.

“Normally we're pretty happy if we have the pulses off, and maybe the barley by the end of August, and here we are with most of the barley off, all the pulses, and darn near all the wheat off by the end of August.”

Cummins says this is the worst yield he’s seen in 20 years, and projects he’ll make about a third of what he did last year.

“If we break even, I'll be happy,” he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture says supply and demand has seen prices on some crops increase — beneficial to the few farmers in the province who were able to enjoy relatively normal years.

“The one thing with prices is you can lock into a contract and the price might jump up, but you're locked in at eight dollars [a bushel] and it might jump to 20,” he said.

“There's also a few issues this year with producers just not having the yield to get to that threshold for their contracts, so it's quite a challenging year.”

A poor growing season means crop residue will be at a minimum, leaving topsoil vulnerable to wind erosion, which could lead to less moisture retention.

After harvest is completed, producers will be looking for more moisture before the snow falls.

“(The) long range forecast is for us to have a couple weeks of pretty good harvest weather here coming up, and if we get the crop off then it can rain the whole month of October,” said Cummins. 

“Wouldn't bother me at all.”

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