The golden grain fields have taken on a shade of grey. “It’s all going to be feed now, I’m afraid,” says Rod Fisher, from Westlock Terminals. It seems such a shame – what little wheat came off before it started raining September 5th was mostly a No. 1.
I rubbed some of Loren’s hard red spring wheat out in my hand yesterday. The result wasn’t encouraging – dull yellowish colour, some shrivelling, etc. No, it won’t make No.1 anymore. It’s the same story over much of western Canada.
Loren Koch (that’s the farmer I combine for) is getting a roller mill in. He plans to combine his barley as high moisture, roll it and bag it. The barley was planned for cattle feed anyway. He’s also planning to bag high moisture grain as it comes off the combine. It’s easier to put through the dryer later, in the winter, he thinks. Dealing with the grain dryer, which is slow, and combining at the same time is too much of a hassle.
At least he has options. That’s one of the benefits of using a grain bagger. The air tight storage in special grain bags means fungi and insects can’t survive, so grain can safely be bagged at high moisture rates. Bagging first and drying later means the extra cost of the bags (aprox 7 cents/bushel), but it gets you started faster and keeps you going longer in the fields, and this year that could turn out to be the deciding factor.
“We me nid cha mache wa me wot, mue me mache wa me cha!” (Swiss for: If you can’t do what you want, do what you can!) Ernst Spengler said that, kneeling in my garden digging potatoes during a lengthy period of rain during harvest. Ernst and his wife Ruth came to spend September with us a few years ago. He had long dreamed of helping with harvest in Canada. It was a September like this one, more rain clouds than sun. When they left we only had half the harvest off.
Farmers are doing what they can. Some are setting up grain dryers that haven’t been used for a few years. One neighbour is taking out fence lines on land he recently purchased. Machinery is getting repaired, grain bins swept out, yard work done that’s been put off for months. Every cloud – even a persistent rain cloud, has a silver lining.
We’d give that silver lining up at a moment’s notice for the gold of sun though.