Harvest season continues throughout Ponoka area

The dust has yet to settle. And that’s not good news for the farming community.

By Dale Cory

The dust has yet to settle. And that’s not good news for the farming community.

It’s a Sunday afternoon in the middle of the Thanksgiving long weekend, and a drive along any road in central Alberta quickly produces the sight of a combine travelling across a field, grain dust spewing out the back of a machine worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

One year ago, most, if not all farmers had their wheat, oats, barley and canola in the bins, and bales hauled in. They were allowed to enjoy a true Thanksgiving, considering the most important work of the season – the part that allows for survival on the farm — had been completed. Grain in the bins means money in the bank. Well, eventually.

But this is the fall of 2010, during which unwanted and untimely rain, along with an early frost, have set back by weeks the task of getting crops off the field. And what’s been harvested so far may not be top quality seed, which brings the price down, and the task of paying for those expensive combines even tougher.

A few miles north of Ponoka lies the Winter farm, where, during the Thanksgiving weekend, Dale was making the final trip up and down the field of swathing his barley crop, while, across the quarter-section, his 86-year-old father, Ed, could be found combining barley that had already been on the ground for a sufficient time to dry.

“We’ve got about 260 acres left out of about 850 acres we seeded. This is the last field of barley, then we’ve got a field of canola to finish,” says Dale Winter, showing obvious relief because he could put the swather away for another season.

“This barley field is probably doing 100 bushels per acre, which is pretty good. But the quality isn’t that good. This is supposed to be malt barley, but I don’t think it’s going to make it. The yield just isn’t there. That frost we had when it fell to minus 10 really hurt. I know a lot of wheat is coming off as feed wheat as well.”

As for his canola, Winter has combined about 260 acres so far. It was running at around 50 bushels an acre. Unfortunately, some of his Round-up canola has a high green count.

“And it isn’t just us,” he says. “A lot of guys are having trouble with green count.”

Immature canola seed naturally contains a high level of chlorophyll, the green pigment that allows plants to photosynthesize, or turn the sun’s energy into biomass. Fully and properly matured canola has no chlorophyll.

All that means the canola has not matured properly, knocking it down a few grades, which lowers the yield, and the price the farmer will receive.

Everyone knows Alberta failed to experience much of a summer. Winter blames the lack of sunshine this year for poor quality yields.

“You’ve got to have heat to go along with the moisture. We had about 22 inches of rain. You go down by Joffre down there and my cousin had 28 inches of rain.

His yield is just the pits. He told me, ‘If you complain about your yields, I’m going to come and kick your butt.’” says Winter with a laugh. “Yet, you go north of the city, up by Smokey Lake and West Lake, and they have beautiful crops there.” So, how many days will it take the Winters to finish combining?

“We should be done by the end of the week of nothing breaks down,” says Dale, emphasizing, “If nothing breaks down.”

Just Posted

Ponoka’s Ronnie Racing wins Hot August Night

About 15,000 people filled the Castrol Raceway stands at the motorsports complex

Ponoka County residents divided on farmland uses

There were about 150 people at the county’s meeting related to reducing confined feeding operations.

Ponoka County slows changes to CFO plans

Residents speak their concerns over the potential of changing areas allowing CFOs

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth this year

Ponoka Traffic Unit investigate scooter incident

A motorcyclist appears to have lost control of her Suzuki scooter on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Vintage vehicle subject of RCMP search

Two Hills RCMP seek to identify owner of recovered 1940’s vehicle

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Publication ban lifted on details about Fredericton shooting that killed 4

Judge lifts publication ban on court documents related to the Fredericton shooting

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault on the job

Toronto photographer says he was attacked while covering a protest

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

Most Read