An open letter to our friends in the city: The challenges of #Harvest16
Dear Urban friends,
I am writing this after a very challenging harvest for many farmers. The year started out like many others with fair seeding conditions. The ground had adequate moisture and most farmers in my area had their seed in the ground earlier than normal. The growing season saw an abundance of rain as you probably noticed in the cities and large towns you live in. This helped to make the crops grow but also delayed maturity. By mid August it was looking like most canola would not be swathed till mid to late September which is about 2-3 weeks later than normal. The peas were maturing but were flooded out in places and cereals didn't want to turn from green to golden brown due to cool nights and wet soil.
September weather was unsettled allowing for small windows of opportunity to get some peas and cereals in the bin. These harvest days consisted of getting up early in the morning and preparing equipment for the day. This included greasing combines and fueling them up, unloading trucks and setting up augers in grain bins. Also moving equipment from field to field testing grain to see where we can harvest next. Then once the afternoon sun warms the crop and dries it sufficiently we would harvest till the grain was too wet once again, sometimes working into the next day. In past years we were able to start combining by 10 in the morning but with the high humidity throughout this fall we wouldn't start till after lunch.
Everyone worked very hard to get as much crop off as they could in these gaps in the bad weather. Then toward the end of September the weather turned for the worse. A cold front came in and any rain or overnight dew might as well have been a downpour. At this time of year the days get shorter and the sun gets lower in the sky and it slows its drying power. We sat and watched day after day in October as it would almost get dry enough to go and a shower would come through once again to knock us back to square one. Very little harvest occurred in my area in this month and many started to whisper of the thought that we may not get any more of this crop off. The amount of grain left in the field by the end of October was staggering with many less than half done. We had done all we could with the little time we had to harvest but at this point it looked quite bleak.
Then November looked kindly on us. We received some much needed sunshine and a breeze. Many farmers purchased extra combines and once the grain was close (November dry) the crews started to work. Some long days were happily spent in the fields and a record amount of acres per day were taken off with farmers scrambling to beat the next turn in the weather. Some farmers across western Canada are still out there trying to complete harvest 16 and will be working in the cold of early winter to try and get the remaining crop off. Some may still have grain left in the spring to harvest before planting the 2017 crop. I write this letter in the hopes you take a moment and think what it would be like to be totally at the mercy of the weather. These men and women of agriculture have been on a roller coaster ride for the past few months with large amounts of their livelihood sitting out in the fields.
But farmers are a resilient bunch so we will plant our crops next spring of wheat for bread, Canola for cooking oil, Barley for beer plus all the other pulses, grains and oil seeds in the hopes of an easier year for all. So please continue to support Canadian farmers by purchasing these safe and healthy products that we grow and remember that we've battled mother nature and the "harvest from hell" to get them to your table.
Thanks for supporting Canadian agriculture and here's to next year!