‘You farmers are never happy, always complaining.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this from non-farming friends and family over the years. I don’t think we actually complain all the time; it’s just that there’s always something to worry about.
For most of the growing season in a big chunk of Western Canada, drought was the number one worry. Those dry conditions will have lasting ramifications, but with recent rains, new worries have arisen.
Many producers have a Cinderella crop — a crop where the timing was right and yield potential is looking far better than they could have ever hoped just a few weeks ago. Those same producers also have some ugly stepsister crops where things haven’t worked out so well.
On the Cinderella crops, producers in some cases are considering fungicide applications when that was not even remotely on the radar just a short time ago. They’re switching from drought being the number one worry to pondering whether they should spend tens of thousands of dollars on fungicide to potentially protect yield and quality.
Another worry is the lateness of crops that didn’t properly establish until the rains started. Will there be sufficient frost free days for them to mature?
For an outside observer this might certainly look like a farmer never being satisfied. Lack of rain was the worry and then it did rain and now the farmer still isn’t happy.
Besides crop disease and early frost, hail has become a worry. When week after week goes by without any rain and the crop is suffering, hailstorms aren’t top of mind. With the change in weather patterns, the high humidity has generated regular weather watches and warnings. Good conditions for selling hail insurance.
I applied glyphosate on a corn crop for a neighbouring cattle producer recently. Clouds were building in the south as I finished and I watched the clouds build after parking the sprayer at my place. Just a few drops fell, hardly enough to dampen the ground.
The next day, I learned that the corn field had received 1.5 inches (38 millimetres) of rain with hail. I toured by for a look and the corn was ragged quite badly from hailstones and the field had numerous new sloughs. A short distance down the road, the hail damage was even worse.
Streaks of heavy rain and hail are often localized — heavy damage in one field while fields a couple kilometres away are hardly touched. Non-farmers have a tough time fathoming that sort of risk and how it can grate on your nerves.
Until now, bin space for the upcoming harvest has been the furthest thing from my mind. But now even though there are some ugly stepsister crops, the maple peas are looking pretty good and the barley is looking reasonable. Plugging in some yield estimates and adding grain carryover, I could end up with a storage space problem.
That’s a good problem to have, but it’s something to worry about. Should I assume the harvest will be long and protracted and that I’ll be able to market some early harvested crops to make room? Should I sell more of the 2018 crop that I’ve been holding in hopes of a better price? Should I just bite the bullet and spend the money to acquire additional storage?
Of course, I could buy more bins only to end up with a hailstorm like my neighbour.