‘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

"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

(Stock image)
Virtual mental health network now available to Albertans

Platform offers safe, anonymous, peer-to-peer supports with a global community

Karin Phibbs
Karin Phibbs has landed Stettler’s Female Citizen of the Year award

Phibbs has shown a dedicated commitment to sharing her skills and time within a number of causes over the years

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier tests negative for COVID-19 but will isolate for a week

Kenney said he will isolate until Oct. 29 and, in the meantime, work from home

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Most Read