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Saskatchewan's tough harvest season

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

October 4, 2010 — A summer filled with heavy rain and below-seasonal temperatures made it a challenging harvest season in the Prairies. Now, farmers are taking advantage of the recent warm, dry conditions while they can.

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.

Farmers are taking advantage of the warm, drier weather
Farmers are taking advantage of the warm, drier weather

As of late September, 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.

The province has been sitting under ridge in the jet stream this week. As a result, temperatures have been soaring into the high twenties and the sun has been shining. For some, this recent blast of warm weather may be too little too late, but farmers will be doing whatever they can to get the season back on track.

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.

With files from Lyndsay Morrison

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