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Prairie harvest behind schedule

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

September 28, 2010 — After a challenging year for crops across the Prairies, farmers are taking advantage of the warm conditions while they can. One lentil farmer says he's had quite the struggle this year.

A look at the impressive rainfall in the Prairies
A look at the impressive rainfall in the Prairies

It's been a very slow, frustrating and tedious harvest, says Grant McLean with Saskatchewan's Ministry of Agriculture. And the delay in production is all thanks to the persistent and drenching rain during the spring and summer months.

Prairie farmers have faced near impossible planting conditions this year. In Saskatoon for example, 290 mm of rain fell throughout the summer. The average rainfall amount is 184 mm. Both Regina and Winnipeg also saw above average rainfall amounts, which left fields too saturated to get in to.

If the wet and soggy conditions weren't already bad enough, an early frost gave farmers yet another barrier to contend with. The cooler temperatures not only lead to a loss in crop yield, it limits the time spent in the field for production.

There's a concern that the quality and quantity won't be high enough for human consumption.

We're really worried that we'll never get our harvest complete and that most certainly would be a disaster, says Greg Marshall, president of the Agricultural Association of Saskatchewan.

Temperatures of -2C or lower is what's considered a 'killing frost'
Temperatures of -2C or lower is what's considered a 'killing frost'

Right now, only 18 percent of the crop is complete. Normally at this time of year more than half would already be in the bin.

We're looking for a turn around in the weather so that we can advance this crop and get 2010 behind us, says McLean.

And a turn around in weather has finally arrived.

High pressure is dominating the region and farmers have been taking advantage of the dry, sunny and even record breaking warmth over the past few days. It looks like the mild conditions will stick around for the rest of the week giving farmers the much needed time they've been looking for.

For more forecast details in your area, click on the Canadian cities index. You can also tune into The Weather Network on TV, where your long range forecast comes up at :06 and :36 past each hour.

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