Over two million acres of crops from last year remain in the ground throughout Saskatchewan, and there could be more, says the president of Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.
“As spring goes on and warm weather continues, there’ll be more acres available every day where snow is gone or disappearing and producers will be able to go out there,” said Todd Lewis.
Lewis, who farms in Gray, Sask., said it’s very unusual to have this many crops still in the ground. He said it has farmers across the province asking: “Is it a late fall harvest or an early spring harvest?”
Aside from the weather, other factors have affected last year’s crops, Lewis said. Recent rail blockades across the country have put Saskatchewan producers behind in their shipping. Trade disputes also played a role when China had stopped buying Canadian canola in March of last year.
“When politics and food start to mix, it never turns out very well,” Lewis said. “There are customers in China that want our products, and there are producers who want to sell it to them.”
Farmers faced another setback in November of last year when CN went through a work disruption.
“It’s been a difficult shipping season,” Lewis said. “We only really got March left. Once April comes it’ll be seeding time, so it’s not a great situation.”
But he sees an upside.
“It’s not a good news story but it’s awfully nice to get out there so early before March and get some things cleaned off. It will make it that much easier for seeding in the spring,” Lewis said.
Lewis believes that a portion of the crops can still be salvageable, but in cases where they’re not, he’s hopeful farmers will be compensated through crop insurance programs.
“There are cornfields with 50 or 60 whitetail deer living in them all winter. So there’s not much corn left but hopefully those producers will see some compensation because of the wildlife damage,” Lewis said.
“It’s important coverage and speaks to how important these programs are. In the good times, you don’t think about it much, but in the bad times that’s when you need the insurance.”