Snow brings harvest to standstill in Saskatchewan, southern Alberta

This photo was taken by Caroline Stewart in Cumberland House, Sask. Caroline Stewart / Viewer Submitted

Fields are saturated, combines have come to a halt and harvest is at a standstill across Saskatchewan and in southern Alberta because of snow.

Murray Taks farms near Crossfield, Alta., northeast of Calgary, and said he recently got about five to 7.5 centimetres of snow, which came after rain.

He hasn’t been out in the field for at least 10 days, he said, and even then it was only for a couple of hours.

“We’re way behind. I think last year, on today, we were just finishing up,” Taks said Tuesday.

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Taks added that he got half of about 2,400 hectares of crop off — mostly wheat and barley, but his canola is still out and it’s wet.

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Some neighbours aren’t even that far along, he said.

“I just got a bad feeling that a lot of crop in this area is going to lay out. I’ve never seen so much crop at this time of year either standing or, there’s places you go by, there hasn’t even been a combine in some fields,” said Taks, who has farmed for 45 years.

“I don’t know how it’s going to all turn about really, unless we get a real weather change.”

But Taks said the long range forecast is not good and that’s what concerns him most right now.

The Alberta government crop report said that, as of Oct. 4, harvest was up to 69 per cent complete “before wet weather again enveloped the province.”

A similar situation has sprouted in neighbouring Saskatchewan.

Daphne Cruise, a crop specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture, said farmers have not been able to get into their fields for about a week because of rain that turned to snow. And it’ll likely take another week or more before they can go back.

“So that puts us into probably the end of October before, I think, most of our guys are going to be back in the field, if the weather co-operates,” Cruise said.

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Saskatchewan Agriculture reports that 80 per cent of crops had been combined as of Oct. 3, down from the five-year average of 86 per cent.

Cruise said it’s not a first to harvest late into fall. About 20 per cent of crops was still in the fields on Nov. 1, 2009.

“A lot of that did get combined,” she said. “It’s not under ideal conditions, of course, and a lot of that grain got taken off tough and damp, but it did get taken off.”

Arlynn Kurtz, a director with Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, was helping a neighbour combine in the Stockholm area, north of Whitewood, until about a week ago. He said that since then “there hasn’t been a wheel that has turned.”

Kurtz said he’s still optimistic.

“I still think there’s a good chance, but the weather has to change drastically,” he said.

“If we have two weeks of cloudy, overcast with some snow showers or rain showers for another two weeks, then it is going to become very doubtful.”

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