Saskatchewan farmers now hold the world record for the most combines harvesting on a single field at the same time.
Harvest For Kids, organizers of the record setting event, set out to beat the record of 208 combines set in Ireland last July.
It prepared 249 swaths on a 200 acre oat field 25 kilometres north of Saskatoon. By the time the siren sounded for the combines to begin, not only did every swath have a combine lined up on it, there were even a couple extra combines.
It marks the fourth time the record has been passed between Irish and Canadian farmers: In 2010 at Winkler, Man., 200 combines took to one field; in Ireland in 2009, 175 combines were recorded in one field, and in 2006, an event in Westlock, Alta., unofficially broke the previous record with 100 combines.
The co-ordinator of the Saskatchewan event, Wendell Andres, said he was thrilled.
“It’s more than a little bit of a rivalry,” he said. “What they did in Ireland was actually a really good thing and we don’t want to take that away from them, but we wanted to show them that Saskatchewan farmers can do it also.”
Shawn Fisher, sales manager of Moody’s Equipment, a New Holland dealer in Saskatoon that brought 16 combines to the event, said an estimated $50 to $75 million worth of machinery took to the field for the event.
However, it wasn’t only the big and expensive combines that interested the spectators.
“You actually see the bigger part of the crowd is over in the part of the field with the old-time threshing and old combines — that’s where the interest is,” Fisher said.
The 1957 Cockshutt 428 Deluxe, which hasn’t missed a harvest since it was new, was among the older combines that many spectators watched. Its owner, Jack Klassen, a 62-year-old organic farmer from north of Shell Lake, Sask., started running the machine when he was nine years old.
“I think a lot of farmers had one of them at one time, and so a lot of folks came up and wanted to sit on it and tell stories,” Klassen said.
“I was a little bit concerned about the swath. I was supposed to have a 15-foot swath and I ended up getting a 25-foot swath, which is a really big load for the machine. I went really slowly. I certainly wasn’t done first, but I did get the job done.”
In the mile long line of 187 combines sitting side by side on the east end of the field were two Case 80-10 machines owned and driven by Dennis and Joyce Goetz from Radisson, Sask.
The couple still had about three days of combine work to complete their own harvest, but they decided to set that aside so they could come help their neighbours at the event.
“At first we were only going to bring one of them, but then we thought, ‘no, we’ll bring both of them …’ That’s how people in Saskatchewan do it — you help out however you can, especially if you’re helping kids.”
Dwane Sekundiak of Saskatoon watched the combines with his daughter and grandchildren, and called it a once in a lifetime event.
“Farmers in Saskatchewan are like the Rider fans — they just love it,” he said.
“I’d sooner hook a baler behind a tractor and drive around a field than pull a trailer to the southern states. That’s a vacation to me.”
Christian country band High Valley proved a popular attraction. Brad Rempel, one of the three brothers that make up the band, said combining is nothing new to the family from La Crete, Alta.
“The whole province of Saskatchewan is known for farming, and this has proven it today that they have taken this seriously and want to be the world record holders,” he said.
The Harvest for Kids event was originally going to be held on a 300 acre oat field owned by Chad Doerksen. However, 500 millimetres of rain fell on the crop through the summer, Doerksen said, so they were forced to move the event to Brent Baerg’s farm.
Harvest For Kids raises money for Children’s Camps International by taking the proceeds of a crop, which is produced with donations of land, inputs, machinery, and work by sponsors.
Children’s Camps International is a non-profit organization that supports children camping programs in the developing world.
Wendell Andres, the regional director of Children’s Camp International in Saskatchewan, said since the program began in 2003 it has helped more than 900,000 children to go to camp.
”Our focus is to empower churches in other countries to use camp as a tool for evangelism,” Andres said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to give them hope, where there isn’t necessarily a lot of hope.”