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Harvest progresses in Saskatchewan, SaskPower urges caution around power lines

Saskatchewan Agriculture says four per cent of the 2020 crop is harvested as SaskPower urges farmers to exercise caution around overhead power lines. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File

Warm temperatures are causing crops to rapidly develop and ripen, Saskatchewan Agriculture reported Thursday as farmers continue to make progress on the harvest.

Four per cent of the crop is combined, slightly behind the five-year average of five per cent for this time of year, according to the weekly crop report.

Another six per cent of the crop is swathed or ready to straight-cut. The five-year average for this time of year is eight per cent.

Read more: Saskatchewan crops destroyed due to hail, heat hurts chances at regrowth — CCHA

The southwest region is furthest ahead with the harvest, with 11 per cent of the crop combined.

Five per cent of the crop in the southeast, two per cent in the central regions and less than one per cent in the northern regions is combined.

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Sixty-two per cent of fall rye, 37 per cent of winter wheat, 22 per cent of field peas, 19 per cent of lentils and six per cent of barley is in the bin, and three per cent of canola has been swathed or is ready to straight-cut.

Sask Ag said there are reports of premature ripening of crops due to the heat, which has also caused some crop damage.

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The heat and lack of rain in the past week caused moisture conditions to decline in many parts of the growing regions.

Cropland topsoil moisture is rated 44 per cent adequate, 39 per cent short and 17 per cent very short.

Hay and pasture land topsoil moisture are rated 33 per cent adequate, 42 per cent short and 25 per cent very short.

Along with the heat, wind, lack of moisture, wildlife and insects caused the majority of crop damage in the past week, along with localized hail damage.

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Harvest safety

SaskPower is urging producers to exercise caution when moving equipment.

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There have been over 200 incidents involving farm equipment and machinery contacting power lines and poles so far this year and SaskPower said there is typically an increase during harvest.

“We’re reporting roughly 30 fewer incidents involving farm equipment from this time last year — which is encouraging — but that’s still too many incidents,” said Kevin Schwing, director of safety at SaskPower.

“We still need to remind everyone to be extremely careful when operating equipment near power lines, and to get home safe at the end of the day.”

SaskPower said there were 81 incidents during the 2019 harvest and 327 overall during the year, causing $635,000 in damage. No deaths or injuries were reported.

There are a number of steps farmers should take to stay safe during harvest, officials said.

These include having a plan in place before moving equipment, making sure machinery is at its lowest possible level before moving and using a spotter.

Other tips include getting proper rest, drinking plenty of water and taking breaks throughout the day.

SaskPower said that if farm equipment comes into contact with a power line, people should stay in their cab and contact 306-310-2220 or 911.

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