By Jamie Dirom, staff writer [July 16, 1998]
If the good weather holds out, local farmers are confident they’ll actually be able to get the crops off their field this year. Not only that, they may even be able to harvest earlier than usual.
This week’s rain is just what most farmers needed for their crops, which were getting too dry in the hot June sun. “It’s timely for us,” says Ross Ravelli, a local grain farmer. “We’re not going to have a bumper crop this year, but certainly, if we hadn’t gotten something in the next few days, it would sure cause some serious problems.”
Ravelli says the rain that came this week will likely be all farmers need to hold them until it’s time to harvest. “Because the crop is in such an advanced stage, it just needs the moisture now to fill the heads,” he says. “We’ve got about an inch now, and I think that’s just about perfect.”
Because of the mild winter, and the small amount of snow on farmers’ fields, crops started growing about three weeks earlier than usual this year.
Ravelli says he expects to be out in the fields as early as the beginning of August. “I think we’ll be in full swing by the middle of August, and we’ll start to see some crop off then,” he says.
Garry Scott, a farmer in the Rolla area, says the outlook is positive on the farm. “It’s sure shaping up to be a real good year out here,” he says. “We had a couple of inches of rain at the end of June, and that was just in the nick of time,” Scott says. “Now we had another inch of rain here now, we had some heat here and the crops are ahead of schedule.
Scott says he expects the harvest to come a few weeks early this year. “I’m just really pleased after we had a couple of tough years here,” he says.
The crops this year should be average, or possibly better than average, say Scott and Ravelli. “September is usually a wet month, so whatever we get off in August is usually a high quality, premium product,” Ravelli says. “We should be able to capture some premium prices, as well.”
Jarvis Taylor, manager of the South Peace Seed Cleaning Co-op, says the rain is good news for grain growers, but it might not be good for all farmers. “Some of the hay crops have only got 40 per cent of last year,” Taylor says. Although hay farmers had to struggle last year to get their hay in the last couple of years, and the quality was not the best, they got a reasonable yield. But generally, it’s going quite well for the farmers, Taylor says. “Financially, these guys will be in better shape than they were a year ago,” he says. “But over the past two years, a lot of these guys haven’t had a paycheque.”
Ravelli and Scott say Mother Nature is usually pretty predictable in August, which is typically a hot and sunny month, and they expect the same this year. Taylor says things will likely go okay for the farmers, who are due after a couple of bad years. But one bad touch of weather is all it takes to give a farmer major headaches. “Hail would be our biggest fear,” he said. “That could clean you out… it just chops (the crops) all up.”
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News with the permission of the publisher. All rights remain with the Peace River Block News