Recent History – 1999
Aug. 26, 1999
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
A less than banner year is expected as farmers begin harvesting crops from Peace fields.
Dawson Creek farmer Brian Haddow said it looks like he won’t be recovering the costs in his investment this year, but holds out a slim reason for optimism.
“Thankfully last year was good and I get tired of hearing myself complaining all the time and whining about it because as a farmer you never know what kind of year you’ve had until it’s basically over,” he said.
“You’ve got an idea but maybe the price goes down and you don’t get what you expect so you kind of have relatively low expectations until it’s all sold.”
And Ross Ravelli, another farmer from Dawson Creek, is also expecting a less than average year. “Last year was a good crop, the only problem last year was hail,” he said. “And I’ve heard guys from Dawson Creek to Rolla, and they’re all suffering a bit.”
But there is still plenty of time yet before the crops are off the field. Most have only begun to swath the canola, while barley and wheat are still to come.
Haddow said his canola is not as tall as it should be and on the sparse side as he anticipates 15 to 20 bushels per acre.
“Twenty is below average,” he said. “Compared to last year, it’s less than half, and last year was quite a good year, and the prices are down quite a bit too.”
Ravelli said the canola this year is a mixed bag.
“The earlier stuff looked better and the later is a little thinner and not as good,” he said. “From what I’ve seen in my fields, it’s just slightly below average to not much better.”
As for the wheat, Haddow said it would have been better if the rain we received recently came a little earlier in the summer.
“If we get much more rain, the quality will go down,” he said. “The weight will still be there but the quality will go down from a one to a two or a three.”
Nevertheless, he expects that wheat growers will get a yield of 35-40 bushels per acre. “That’s a little bit below average for the better producers, but not too far below,” he said.
Barley, meanwhile, is on the short side, said Ravelli, because of a lack of rain at the outset.
“It’s later seeded, it’s not as drought tolerant as wheat is, and because we seeded it later, it didn’t have much moisture afterwards, so it didn’t have a very good start,” he said. “it’s about 18-inches tall.”
The hay crop also looks weak, said Lee Bowd from the Ministry of Agriculture office in Dawson Creek.
“We’ve seen a few yields that are about half of normal, but so far that’s in a relatively small area, in Dawson Creek, Tomslake,” he said. “Beyond that we suspect the yields will be better, but we don’t know yet how much because anybody who has measured hasn’t finished yet.”
A banner growing season last year should have helped alleviate the situation, said Haddow, but farmers are still recuperating from poor crops in 1996 and 1997.
“Last year was an incredible year compared to 1999 and you look back again a bit further and ‘96 and ‘97 were terrible and ‘98 helped to alleviate them but ‘99 sure didn’t do anything, and we’re still complaining,” he said. “It’s either too hot or too cold or too dry or too wet or something.”