Prairie drought ruins the harvest and encourages the sale of cattle


Weeks of sustained heat and slight humidity spoiled much of the prairie harvest and forced ranchers to sell cattle early due to inadequate feed. However, insurance and government assistance provide some relief, along with a long-term view of hope for the future.

Matt Strussers, a crop extension specialist at the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, said it was the driest year many farmers remember, but it is also a good year in some places.

He told the Epoch Times in Saskatchewan that “the central regions of the southwest and west-most of them had the least amount of rain throughout the season.” [but] Some parts of the southeastern part … have more rain than other areas and look very good. “

Many days of the 30-degree heat of the summer matured crops early in many of the prairie, but little was harvested in dry areas.

“Some fields may look really good in one area, and they have drought stress two miles away, so it’s raining this year is like lottery luck. And unfortunately, the vast majority of people didn’t rain, “said the Strucers.

He said the drought was terrible in Manitoba, but Alberta was doing better. “they [Manitoba] I was blowing the whistle long ago. Even at the beginning of the season, they said they wanted something bad. And parts of Alberta are definitely drier than usual. … It has the advantage of having a larger irrigation district than Saskatchewan. “

“The worst thing I can remember”

West of Mankota, Saskatchewan, the drought problem at Francis Cress has exacerbated. He said in an interview that 40% of his peas were destroyed and the yield per acre was reduced to 10-15 bushels.

“I have 600 acres of canola, but I don’t think I can go to 1 bushel acre because it started to bloom as the heat hit. [at the] I just cooked it in late June and early July, “Cres said of the effects of the drought.

“This is probably the worst thing I can remember. At least in the 80’s it was bad, but I didn’t have a $ 500,000 business loan. Don’t worry.”

Cress has 150 cows. He packed a canola that would otherwise be useless so that the cow could eat the stalks. He said he would not sell much of his herd more than usual, unlike many who were forced to sell this fall due to inadequate feed.

“We’re going to veil whatever comes out of the back of the combine. There’s a little carryover [of feed] Since last year, most people around here have almost no carryover from zero, so there are many people around them who are hurt or severely injured. I’ve heard that 50% of the cows are sold out, “he said.

“This year, instead of getting $ 1,200 for dry cows in the fall, you could get $ 400 or $ 500.”

Cress said the recent rain “really brightened things around here”, but it was too late to help the harvest.

“I remember it happening many times, but young people aged 30 and 35, or young people just starting out at the age of 25, have never seen this. They are bad. I feel sorry for those who don’t know what the year is, “he said.

“I have enough insurance to make things better this year, but without a lot of humidity this fall, next year looks really, really, really bad.”

“Hope for something better next year”

Farmers have cushions for now. In March Federal-Change to State The AgriStability program made more money available, made access to money easier, and better helped farmers in need due to lower yields and other challenges. In early August, changes were made to allow farmers to veil failed crops and still make claims, and to have access to more AgriStability. Intermediate benefits Before completing the program year.

Then, on August 10, the Saskatchewan state government was changed to the federal state government. Agri Recovery Program We will provide $ 297 million to support drought-affected cattle producers. This is equivalent to paying $ 200 per cow.

The program provides some comfort to Wayne Charteris, a farmer near Kerobert.

“We canceled about 1,000 acres of wheat and barley. We packed a bunch, and I’ve grazed some cows now …. I need a feed anyway, so that’s fine. It works, “Charteris said in an interview.

“For now, I have enough feed in these bales, but I’m still running out, so I’m definitely going to sell some cows.”

He easily sells about 10% of cows each year, but “probably 30% this year,” he added.[the price has] Last month it was depressed every day, but it’s a supply and demand issue. “

Last year, Charteris harvested 48 bushels per acre of sown canola, but this year’s harvest is far from “probably 7-8 bushels per acre.”

For his lentils, “Last year they turned 40. [bushels per acre] It’s been 15 this year, “he said. “I’m happy to have crop insurance.”

Charteris said his promising crop was “cooked” in the relentless heat of seven weeks, but still better than his experience in 2002. … It wasn’t enough to make a veil everywhere. “

“I just want something better next year,” said Charteris.

Lee Harding

Lee Harding is a Saskatchewan-based journalist and think tank researcher and contributor to The Epoch Times.