East-central Sask. farmers fight water issues at harvest

CANORA, Sask. — Spinning tires; deep ruts; water splashing up through the crops.

Swathing has been an adventure for farmers in east-central Saskatchewan, where most of the region is still reporting adequate to surplus moisture.

Last week’s crop report rated topsoil moisture at 86 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus on cropland, with similar conditions on hay and pasture.

In crop district 5A, which includes Yorkton, Raymore and Cupar areas, 19 percent of cropland has excess moisture.

Some fields in an area east of Canora through to Rhein still haven’t recovered from a downpour of about 120 millimetres one early August night, followed by another 60 mm a few days later.

“It was like a flood in the spring time,” said Darcy Korol, who farms near Donwell.

Farmers are reporting water splashing up as they swath and many have sunk their swathers in mud.

Korol said he got stuck cutting canola and combining is going to be a challenge.

“The last few days it’s changed quite a bit,” he said after last week’s warm, windy weather, but the ground is still saturated.

Three quarter-sections of barley on flat, wet land pose a particular problem for him.

“Just when you think you’re on land where it’s dry, you’re not,” he said.

He had just begun harvesting last week and said he expects he will get to most of the crop.

“The only loss is going to be where it’s too wet to get in, but in about a month, we should be able to go back,” he said.

Near Spy Hill, Myles Thorpe said field conditions are variable there too.

“Some fields you’re driving through water and some are dry,” he said while swathing Sept. 2.

He has already combined some peas, barley and wheat and said yields are good.

“It’s not an excellent crop by any means,” he said. “OK is a pretty good term.”

He said crops in his area are likely to be average and far from the near record yields that people are talking about.

“I don’t know anybody who’s getting blow-out yields,” Thorpe said.

He added that canola likely won’t yield better than other crops because too much was drowned out early in the season. Fusarium will be a factor in wheat quality, he said.

Lyndon Hicks, the province’s regional crops specialist in Yorkton, said after a good start to the growing season the smaller, intense storms began and didn’t let up, leading to the wet pockets throughout the east-central region.

“The rains were timely until the tap turned on and got a little stuck,” he said.

He agrees yields won’t break records, but he also said the crop is far from a writeoff despite strong wind, rain and hail. Some farmers got damaging hail three or four times on the same fields, he said.

Pulse crops have suffered with the late rains and harvesting some crops will be difficult due to lodging.

Still, he said most farmers aren’t too worried yet because it’s still early.

“There’s so much canola in that area,” he added. “Nobody’s too disappointed until the canola is poor.”

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