Harvest across the province is heading into the final stages, and that includes the Humboldt and Watrous areas. The provincial ag ministry reports about 62 percent of crops in the bin as of last Thursday. Checking the local scene, many farmers have completed their harvesting operations or are on the cusp of doing so, and for many in the region, it’s with positive results. 

Muenster area farmer Neil Gossner says it’s been clear sailing for much of the harvest season.  

“We had some challenges, but all harvest seasons are like that,” Gossner said, “Overall, we’re making progress. We’ve finished our cereals and now we’re into the canola. I’m very happy with the yield so far, and we’re in the fortunate position where bin space is the issue.” 

That’s the consensus for a good portion of the region where yields have driven demand for bins at local distributors and trucks are jockeying for position at area terminals. With bushels up, the demand and prices take a bit of a tumble, but it’s a necessary trade off with a solid production year.  

“I think the yields are surprising to a lot of people, and it’s a good surprise really,” said Crops Extension Specialist Ashley Kaminski with the Ministry of Agriculture. “From May to July, Humboldt and area received three inches but not much more than that.” 

However, some producers saw challenges when those early summer rains skirted their fields. Also, the relatively high humidity throughout the season led to dew moisture on the crops which created issues in some areas.  

“Definitely in pockets, there were some stress symptoms in the crop,” explained Kaminsky. “When I was out doing surveys in the morning, the fields were just sopping wet, and I think there were some surprises when people hit the field this fall as to how much disease there was in the field, especially in canola. Earlier on, it didn’t seem there was any merit to spray for fungicide, but there definitely was symptoms of sclerotinia, but overall, the yields are very good.” 

As for the moisture quotient this year, it all depended on where you were in the patchy rain belts in May through July. For his part, Gossner saw all the moisture he needed to produce a great harvest.  

“We got really lucky this year, that’s the only way to put it,” said Gossner. “The wheat crop is the best we’ve ever had on the farm.” 

Not so on some other acres, noted Kaminsky. 

“It’s one of those things where it’s who did you talk to and what end of the field got the rain. You talk to someone ten miles from you, and their yield can drop significantly. It’s so variable this year.” 

As harvest 2023 tracks to completion, yields should average out to normal or slightly above in the area. The southern part of the Humboldt area is largely finished up. Those farmers further to the north are closing in. The region has been fortunate, by and large, this year. You don’t have to travel too far to the south and west to see that conditions were less than favourable for this year’s producers. Crop damage and low yields have been widely reported in the provinces’ southwest due to drought conditions, grasshoppers and other factors.  

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