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White on white

A proliferation of grain bags has appeared in prairie fields this year. It’s a temporary and relatively economical form of grain storage that is increasing in popularity.

As I write this, snow is falling in Saskatoon and about an inch is in the forecast. It falls outside my office window and will also soon be covering all those spiffy white grain bags that are stuffed with bounty from this year’s harvest.

The connection between grain bags and snow may be a dangerous one, according to one reader who called me earlier this week. She fears that once snow largely obscures these grain bags, as it is certain to do at some point this winter, the bags will present a hazard to snowmobilers. White on white isn’t easy to distinguish and at night, the potential hazard is multiplied.

Some grain bags bear the repetitive stamp of the manufacturer’s logo, but these designs are usually quite small. I assume grain bags are white to best protect their contents via heat reflection. My caller wondered if some other, more obvious colour might be possible, and we are looking into it. I suspect colour choices are limited since the first goal is to protect the bag contents. Winter visibility is likely not a huge priority for manufacturers.

Still, I think the caller has a valid concern. I don’t care to imagine a swift night-time snowmobile ride across an open field, interrupted by collision with a snow-covered, nearly invisible but extremely solid grain bag. Such an encounter could be disastrous for the snowmobile and its rider. It wouldn’t do much for the bag and its contents, either.

Location of these bags is something for snowmobilers to think about this winter. Of course, those who sled on their own land know the location of the bags. Those who ask permission to ride on someone else’s land would hopefully be informed about the presence of such bags. Those who choose to ride on fields without permission carry the biggest risk.

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