Recent History – 2002
November 1, 2002
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
A touch-and-go harvest created plenty of anxiety, but local farmers are feeling generally optimistic as they press to get the last of their crops off before winter sets in.
“You don’t count your money until the grain is in the bin and we fought it the whole way through,” said Ross Ravelli who had just 40 acres left to take off on Thursday morning.
A lingering winter meant that farmers started seeding about three weeks later than usual this spring. Crops were also slow to mature, and just as farmers were getting ready to hit the fields a spate of bad weather — rain, frost and even some hail — delayed the harvest.
“During harvest, where we would be spending a lot of time doing something, we would be just standing there looking and waiting,” Ravelli said.
Garry Scott finished clearing all his fields by 4 a.m. Thursday after resorting to the drastic measure of combining at night to take advantage of the freezing temperature.
“Things turn pretty crispy when they’re froze and that’s we needed to combine it and we’re running it through a grain drier,” he said.
Only about 20 per cent of the crop was harvested going into October, but a week to 10 days of fairly good weather mid-way through the month gave farmers the break they needed.
If anything, the adversity made for another typical year in the Peace.
“We harvested in October and we do that in a lot of years, and we get snow and we get rain and we use our grain dryers,” Scott said.
“It was different and yet it was the same.”
Although an estimated 85-90 per cent has been harvested, Scott suspects that some farmers will have to leave crop out over the winter which is unusual in the Peace.
Ravelli was generally pleased with the quality. Both his canola and his malt barley appeared to be in good condition while the frost reduced the wheat yield to feed grade.
But thanks to the drought that’s consumed the Prairies, the U.S. and even Australia, supply is low and prices are up. Ravelli is looking forward to one of the more profitable years farmers have experienced in some time. Likewise, Scott said that the extra cost of getting the harvest off should be made back and then some.
“They’re going to be rewarded in the end,” he said.
The next challenge will be to get the grain to market. Although the grain handling dispute means that only the Prince Rupert Terminal is open on the west coast, Louis Dreyfus’ Peace region manager Wayne Sharp said the product is moving smoothly.
“We haven’t had too many problems moving feed wheat or feed barley or the canola between the three stations,” he said of the company’s operations in Dawson Creek, Rycroft and Falher.