Merlis Wiebe and Daryl Bueckert unload and stack the first truckload of hay that arrived in Saskatchewan last week as part of Hay West. The hay was received at Wiebe’s farm near Osler, Sask., Sept. 10 as part of an effort to deliver hay from Ontario to drought-affected farmers in Saskatchewan. | William DeKay photo

Eastern hay arrives in the West

A light sprinkle of rain fell as the first two truckloads of alfalfa-timothy hay from Ontario arrived at Merlis Wiebe’s farm northeast of Osler, Sask., on Sept. 10. They are part of Hay West, a new program from Mennonite Disaster Service to help drought-affected farmers in Saskatchewan. The initiative is a repeat of 2012 Hay […] Read more

Daryl Beswitherick, program manager for national inspection standards with the Canadian Grain Commission, estimates 60 to 70 percent of  the prairie crop was still in the field  during the late-season downpour. | Twitter/@wxamorilla7 photo

Recent rain threatens grain quality

Western Canadian farmers can’t catch a break this year. It is bad enough that a severe lack of moisture in June and July decimated yields. Now there are mounting concerns that the rains that finally arrived in the last half of August are causing quality damage. “It is concerning for sure,” said Daryl Beswitherick, program […] Read more

A cattle analyst thinks the herd reduction due to drought may not be as bad as many first feared. | Jeannette Greaves photo

Recent rain may keep cows at home

Increased confidence since moisture fell last month is expected to prompt more producers to avoid selling off their herds

The psychological boost from recent rainfall after the prairie drought could keep some cattle from going to market. Canfax manager and senior market analyst Brian Perillat told the Canadian Beef Industry Conference last week that predicting what will happen based on weather is always tricky, but anecdotally it seems that cattle producers will hold on […] Read more

“We thank both levels of government for recognizing the severity of  the disaster and enacting AgriRecovery (the disaster payment program),” said Tyler Fulton as he stood  beside Manitoba ag minister, Ralph Eichler, with the striding Golden Boy high over their left shoulders atop the legislature. | Twitter/@EdWhiteMarkets photo

AgriRecovery an example of how governments can work together

It was heartening to see signs of governments helping farmers in crisis. “This bit of help from the government, it’ll be a godsend for the beekeepers that just don’t have the cash,” said beekeeper Paul Gregory, who farms bees and forage seed in Manitoba’s drought-beset Interlake region, as provincial/federal safety net cash was made available […] Read more

Money from the federal-provincial safety net program will help pay for feed and for moving animals to feed sources through the Livestock Feed and Transportation Drought Assistance program and the Livestock Transportation Drought Assistance program.
 | Twitter/@Fearless13Z photo

Manitoba producers welcome AgriRecovery

Program, which was announced last week, is designed to help cattle producers and beekeepers access feed this winter

Manitoba producers say that without emergency cash from AgriRecovery, more farmers would be forced to sell cows and buy expensive replacement beehives. “Producers need to be securing that winter feed,” said Tyler Fulton, president of Manitoba Beef Producers, as the program’s details were announced outside the provincial legislature last week. “This AgriRecovery program should help […] Read more

Many prairie potato growers have a good crop in the field, but need frost and excessive rain to stay away until it can be harvested. | File photo

Heat leaves prairie potato growers on edge

Producers across Western Canada are optimistic they can still produce a good crop this fall if the weather co-operates

It’s been a reversal of fortunes for Canada’s potato growers this year as last year’s dry season in the East moves west. However, with help from Mother Nature, western growers might still be able to get good yields. “The crop looks decent,” said Chad Berry, president of the Keystone Potato Producers Association. “We just need […] Read more

LEFT: The Taber, Alta., district growing project for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank harvested 115 acres of spring wheat Aug. 31. It was the 25th year of growing projects for  participating Taber-area farmers. Organizer Jeremy Wind is hoping this year’s event will raise at least $100,000. Proceeds are used by the CFB to assuage hunger in countries  where help is needed. Wind estimated the irrigated crop would yield 80 to 85 bushels per acre, slightly lower than usual due to hot, dry conditions this summer. Local farmers  brought 10 combines to the site, along with trucks and grain carts. RIGHT: Ed Hendricks of Taber, Alta., observes harvest activity. Though he said he spent many hours in  combines during his farming career, his son has since taken over the farm and now he takes pleasure in watching the process. | Barb Glen photos

Growing project gets jump on Mother Nature

Organizers had to scramble to stay ahead of the rain as they prepared to harvest barley for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Months had passed in southern Alberta with no rain. Growing projects for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank throughout the region saw the crops ripen early amid relentless heat and smoky skies. But as luck would have it, rain was in the forecast on the very day the Coaldale-Lethbridge project planned to harvest its 180 acres of […] Read more

The Whole Buncher creates straw piles during harvest, which provide cattle feed during the colder  months and soil moisture retention. | AJ Manufacturing Inc. photo

Innovation may help use cereal crops as feed

Whole Buncher collects straw and chaff at the back of the combine and leaves piles of the residue in the field for later use

An Alberta farmer’s innovations to an implement first developed nearly 20 years ago may be able to set up ranchers for a better 2022 as feed supplies continue to run tight this year. Larry Woolliams, AJ Manufacturing owner, says improvements to his company’s Whole Buncher will make it easier to use cereal crops as a […] Read more

Low run-off levels in southern Alberta combined with increased irrigation demands upstream have affected inflows and drawn down water levels at Lake Diefenbaker, which normally peak in July. | Brian Cross photo

Lake Diefenbaker water levels drop this year

Projected daily outflows are above the minimum that is required but well below the historical median outflow for August

Outflows from Lake Diefenbaker — southern Saskatchewan’s largest and most important surface water reservoir — will remain at levels well below normal as the province copes with extremely dry conditions and low run-off levels. However, officials with Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency (WSA) say water levels at Lake Diefenbaker are within the normal operating range and […] Read more

It’s unclear how the AgriRecovery program will help sectors such as bison, but producers are skeptical. | File photo

Slaughter delays complicate drought

Minor livestock species such as bison and elk face long wait times that can be harder to manage during a feed shortage

Feed shortage problems facing cattle ranchers in Western Canada are shared by those raising other livestock. However, the troubles for those raising bison, elk and sheep are far from consistent. “We just don’t have a well-developed infrastructure in Canada,” said Les Kroeger, Canadian Bison Association chair. “We’re hearing of wait times of up to a […] Read more