After a summer of parched earth, rain has returned to the southeast corner of Saskatchewan.

Although it decided to fall during the harvest season, it hasn't seemed to slow the process down all that much.

"By and large, the harvest is finished, except for soybeans, a little bit of standing flax and a little bit of straight cut canola. Any of the traditional crops are essentially complete," shared Edgar Hammermeister, a producer in the Alameda area.

He noted that they have had a decent amount of rain, and the ground is now starting to show for it.

"The soil was so dry that it just soaked the first rains up. Had we had a lot of sunshine, we would have been resuming harvest in no time at all, if we had anything ready to go. With the second rain and the cool temperatures, however, the soil is staying moist to the surface, and we've had a number of evenings where there's been fog or a really light mist as we transition from night into day. That's kept everything wet on top."

Hammermeister added that that moisture has slowed the crop dry-down, at least from a soybean perspective. However, with sunshine in the forecast he expects combines to be in the field right away once again.

As for the yields, he observed that they were often higher than expected, although those expectations were relative to the conditions of the summer.

"It's a real compliment to the synergy of a number of factors. For 20 years, farmers have been doing zero-till practices in our region, and that has been improving the soil. That was huge. We've been improving farming techniques, we've been much better at crop nutrition and using fertilizers, we're also putting more effort into protecting the crop from any kind of stress, disease or insects. The varieties have also improved greatly."

"All things combined made for a generally satisfying harvest. There is certainly a gradient from west of Estevan to the Manitoba border, but still, for a lot of guys there was more there than what they were expecting," he said.

Looking ahead at the next few weeks, Hammermeister expressed the sentiments of southeastern producers such as himself.

"For those who have remaining crop, obviously we want some sunshine and some dryer weather just to get things finished out. After that, I think everybody would be pretty happy to have some bouts of slow, gentle rains to start the recharge."

He concluded by stating that understanding the soil, and the economics of the farm and the crops is important in many ways.

"We need to be good stewards of the products that we use, not only for our own satisfaction but also to let our city cousins know that we're doing our best job farming, and at the same time taking care of the environment."

It's also that time of year when producers begin to look ahead at the next season. Those who have all the crops in the bin are occupying themselves with working the land, harrowing and working ruts out. Some will be applying some herbicide, and others will be initiating their crop planning and soil sampling.

 

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