Recent History – 2002
September 13, 2002
By Mark Nielsen,Daily News Staff
B.C. Grain Producers president Jim Smolik is expressing some cautious optimism as harvest-time begins for farmers in the province’s bread basket.
Smolik said Thursday that farmers have just begun taking barley, Polish canola and field peas, “but it’s just in the early stages.”
Thanks to a cold, snowy May, farmers were forced to seed three weeks later than usual, but that has not translated into as long a delay in the start of the harvest.
“We’re a little bit later than normal, but maybe not as late as we expected when we were seeding this spring,” he said.
In terms of quality, Smolik said it’s a little too early to really tell, but it looks like the canola will gain the top grade, while so far barley is at number one feed with no malt-quality barley yet.
For the most part, farmers are keeping an eye on the sky.
“Once the grain reaches maturity, it will start to deteriorate. It hasn’t reached that mature state and once it gets there, if we getting some bad weather, like rain, that can hurt the quality too.”
Along with the weather, the grain handlers lockout is causing some uncertainty. Some of the concern on that front was alleviated Wednesday when management won an injunction against the pickets at Prince Rupert Terminal.
“We’re happy to see that they’re not going to have all ports close and that there’s a chance of moving grain,” he said. “It’s just depends on the companies and the wheat board and where they feel they can market that grain through.
“If they feel that Vancouver is a better choice, then possibly the elevators will fill up and that’s going to certainly be a bit of a deterrent as far as moving grain off the field and into the elevators and getting some of that cash flow going for producers.”
So far, it looks like the farmers in the North Peace are winning out in terms of quality. Producers north of the Peace River had more favourable rains while dry conditions in the south pushed the crop on a bit.
“They’ve probably got a little bit better than an average crop,” Smolik said of producers in the Fort St. John area. “And in the South Peace area it’s spotty. There are areas that probably have better than average crop but I guess overall, it’s probably going to be average or a little bit less than average in some spots.”
For those able to get their product grown and off to market, prices look strong, supported by a drought that has not only hit the Canadian prairies but has spread down into the U.S. Even Australia is lacking moisture. With the supply down, prices are up for those able to get their crops off the field.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s supply and demand,” Smolik said.