Recent History – 2000
Sept. 22, 2000
Grain prices are falling. As of Sept. 19, the price of canola was down to $5.26 per bushel, barley was at $1.73 and oats were at $1.25 per bushel. “Everything is down, as the harvest progresses and new grains come on the market the prices generally drop,” said Kelly Kassian, Manager at Agricore. “It is not good.”
Ken Nickel, Provincial Cereal and Oilseed specialist for the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said farmers were looking at above average crops in yield and quality earlier in the season. “When prices are this low it is good to have the bins filled with good quality grain.”
The Sept. 1 snowstorm was devastating to many Peace Region producers. While some areas saw as much as six inches of snow, others suffered from driving rains and strong winds. With the flattening and lodging of crops, straight combining is not an option. Crops will now have to be swathed using pick up fingers prior to combining doubling or tripling harvest time and costs. “Producers will only be able to swath one way, against the grain,” said Kassian. “The swathing is very slow. Farmers are having to stop often to unclog the equipment, but at least they are getting out there.”
Nickel said that even with the additional equipment, it would be impossible to get the entire crop up and into the combine. “One producer had over 5000 acres of fescue to harvest when the snow hit.” New growth coming up through the swathes could make harvesting the crop impossible.
According to Kassian, pea crops in the Fort St John area were looking good earlier on but now the pods are splitting in the fields and sprouting. “Yields will be cut in half, it doesn’t look promising,” he said.
There has been a lot of rain, cool temperatures and hail in the area, and Nickel said we have been behind normal all through the season. “We still have crops ripening and we are running out of fall,” said Nickel.
Moisture is slowing down the harvest, but the cool temperatures are having a negative effect on crop quality.
“Some of the wheat has been frozen, it will drop to feed quality,” said Montney producer, Jim Collins. “There will be a great economic loss this year.”
Kassian said the first barley was in and it is tough, but he said once it is run through the dryer, it might be fairly decent.
“We haven’t had wheat brought in yet, hopefully we will get some two grade red wheat but I suspect most will be three grade,” said Kassian. The kernels bleach out and they are prone to mildew in these conditions.
“Producers really have to watch for sprouting too, it is so damp under the swathes,” added Kassian.
As for Canola none has been brought to the elevators yet and Kassian is waiting to assess the quality. “When frost hits canola, the kernels will stay green. Hopefully it will be okay, some farmers are saying that they haven’t been hit by the frost yet.”
But that may have changed with the -4 C frost Thursday morning.
Most producers are binning their grain rather than taking the time to bring it into the elevators.
“At this stage every day counts,” said Kassian. “It has been really difficult and frustrating,” said Collins. “I am just finishing, the grass seed harvest that should be done by August first.” Collins hasn’t started harvesting his canola or barley.
Still, it is too early to write the year off. “It is early enough that salvage will happen over the next six weeks,” said Nickel.
“For the past two years we have had open falls into October and November, maybe things will improve. We are definitely looking at harvesting in October.”