Back in Canada…crop report!

This is me on the JD9600 two years ago - I didn't have time yesterday to take pictures!

Instead of writing stories and canning pears and prunes in Switzerland, I am chasing my brother across a Canadian pea field. I’m operating the John Deere 9600 combine and Fred is on the swather ahead of me. The first born, as the Zambians would call me, and the last born (Fred) are harvesting the crop on the home farm in Cecil Lake, B.C., which Fred took over from my parents some years ago.

My mother had a massive stroke a week ago, and I returned to Canada early to be with her. It feels good to run the combine, do something productive, something ‘normal’ during this time of family crisis. I ran the same combine for Loren Koch in Westlock for three harvest seasons, so am quite at home on the machine.

It’s not the pea crop Fred hoped for. It’s taking too long to fill that combine hopper. The Peace Country (area of northern British Columbia around the Peace River) started out with good spring moisture. But since June, there have been only spotty and erratic rains. Fred will be lucky if he has more than 25 bushels per acre. He thinks the field is a case for crop insurance. The peas are grading No.3 human consumption. So at least the price will be decent – No. 1 would make over Cdn$8.00/bushel.

The barley did a little better, averaging 50 bushels per acre. That’s not a good crop either. Fred is a dairy farmer, so this is part of his feed supply. For him it is more important to get a good silage crop though, which he did, profiting from the early summer rains. Those that waited to make hay until later in the summer found that the grasshoppers were beating them to it. I’ve heard plenty of complaints about the damage grasshoppers are doing this year. They are definitely adding a lot of extra protein to the grain tank!

Robert landed in Edmonton on Saturday, and is helping our neighbour Iman Koeman again. There, in Westlock, the harvest is just beginning. There’s been some early harvesting of peas and barley, and swathing of canola is starting in earnest. Iman started combining barley yesterday.

Westlock area had great weather and there are prospects of bumper crops. They had lots of rain, so the fungicide companies did well too. The high grain prices make this a great year to have bumper crop. It’s too bad we know that high prices always mean someone is suffering – this time mainly the USA with their extremely dry weather, and some of Europe.

In Westlock, the canola price is Cdn$13.35/bu ($588.50/tonne); feed wheat is $6.80/bushel ($250/tonne); feed barley is $4.42/bushel ($203/tonne).

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