‘A lot of positives:’ Western farmers wrap up harvest early, look to improved prices

‘With the quality of the crop, we’re going to have a pretty good marketing year ahead of us’

EDMONTON — A long, lingering fall across much of the Prairies is putting crops in the bin early this year, allowing farmers to take advantage of improving prices.

“We’ll be having Thanksgiving supper at the house this year instead of out in the field, so that’s always nice,” said Todd Lewis, who farms more than 4,000 hectares near Regina.

Lewis has more to be thankful for than a comfortable seat at a good meal. After a couple of tough years with late rains and early snows, 2020’s warm, dry autumn has put him and his fellow farmers in a sweet spot — a decent, above-average crop safely in the bin with high ratings for quality and prices looking up.

“It has been pretty positive,” Lewis said. “With the quality of the crop, we’re going to have a pretty good marketing year ahead of us.”

Everything in farming varies from place to place. But Statistics Canada says that on the whole, this has been a good year in agriculture.

Overall wheat yields are forecast to be up about six per cent to about 34 million tonnes. Canola, Canada’s second-largest crop, is expected to come in just under the five-year average at 19 million tonnes.

Yields of other important crops such as barley, oats, lentils and corn are all forecast to rise this year.

And while many farmers at this time last year still had crops in the field — some shrouded under unseasonal snow — 2020 harvests are finishing early.

In Manitoba, about 80 per cent of grains and oilseeds have been taken in. About 90 per cent of Saskatchewan’s crop has been combined, well ahead of the five-year average of 67 per cent for this time of year.

It’s the same in Alberta, where more than two-thirds of the harvest is complete, up from the five-year average of less than half.

And much of that crop is grading high, which will fetch better prices from buyers.

“The crop does appear to be fairly high-quality,” said Dane Froese of Manitoba Agriculture, who said most of his province’s harvest will be graded No 1 or 2.

“It’s very good quality,” said Lewis. He said his lentils and durum — a type of wheat used for pasta — are graded No. 2 and all his canola will be top grade.

Prices vary from place to place and change over time, so it’s hard to fix how much cash farmers will have after they truck their crops to the terminal, but things are looking good right now.

“I’m seeing a lot of positives,” said J.P. Gervais of the Farm Credit Corp. in Saskatchewan.

Canola prices are edging back up, with futures prices up about 10 per cent recently due to strong Chinese demand for oilseeds.

“Wheat has been a bit of a mixed performance, but now it’s moving up above the five-year average, said Gervais.

“Futures contracts in the U.S. are higher than they were a year ago, two years ago. I think it’s a very positive picture right now.”

Lewis is just happy to be doing something else this month other than harvesting.

“In the last 10 years, it’s been more than normal that we’re still combining after Oct. 21,” he said.

“This is pretty unusual.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

2020 Ponoka business awards
Ponoka chamber 2020 Business Award winners

The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce 2020 Business Awards were held… Continue reading

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owner found

Father and son found miniature horse while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

(Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ponoka FCSS’ Empty Bowls sells out

For the first time ever, Ponoka Family and Community Support Services’ (FCSS’s)… Continue reading

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Marissa Cunnington. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
NARCHC year end horse show photos and results

The Northern Alberta Reined Cow Horse Club (NARCHC) held its futurity, derby… Continue reading

Most Read