----Harvest 2000

FTLComm - Wakaw -September 14, 2000
The harvest of 2000 is nearly over with outstanding weather this week combining is in its final stages. The picture above and the 360 degree panorama below were taken mid way between Melfort and Wakaw with two combines working on each side of the highway it seemed that this scene best described the steady progress being made to take in this year's crop.

The QuickTime VR panorama below requires that your computer have the QuickTime software installed and that can be downloaded free. However the scene above is a composite image showing a portion of the scene below.
The Westerly flow of air for the past few days has been cool but has been dry and this has permitted the crops to be in excellent condition for harvesting in this part of Saskatchewan. Reports from the area East of Regina indicate that recent rain there has seriously damaged the quality of this year's wheat and barley crops. However, farmers in this area are reporting excellent quality and high yields.

The crop being harvested in these night pictures is just West of Goose Hunting Creek, West of the St. Brieux turn off West of Melfort and above left we can see the combine pickup as it straight combines a field of barley. In the distance two other combines are working their way through the same field under a remarkable harvest moon.

As I was taking these pictures Kelly, a truck driver picking up grain from this operation came over and talked to me about the process. He said that this crop was running at seventy-five bushels to the acre as shown by the onboard telemetry in the combines. The crop is expected to go as malting barley and had been treated with Tilt.

Beside the big tandem axle truck Kelly was driving there was another similar one in the
same field and a semi, all needed to haul away the excellent crop being harvested. It was 10:00 PM when these pictures were
taken and Kelly said they
would not be going all night but would shut down in a little while as Barley does tend to get tough even in these dry conditions.

As we watched the process Kelly told me that the wheat they harvested earlier in the day had been coming off the field at fifty-five bushels to the acre and was excellent
quality. In the picture above right and below left it is Kelly's truck that is taking on a hopper of barley. (In these pictures you can see the difference between the digital camera images and the video images below.)

From Melfort to Saskatoon work in the fields was progressing steadily as these areas are somewhat behind the Tisdale area which has all but finished taking in this year's crops. I noticed that so many fields had multiple combines working in them and it is possible that farmers are working together to get the last fields harvested. Just West of where these pictures were taken three combines crossed the highway obviously working together. However, when I asked Kelly if this field included more than one farm operation he explained that these three combines were all part of one farm.

As we drive our vehicles up to the gas pumps we keep finding the price steadily rising. 73.9 in Tisdale yesterday and 75.9 in Saskatoon. These prices are having a serious affect on agriculture. The concentration of independent truckers in Tisdale are seriously smarting over the increase in cost to their operation as most of them are working with fixed contracts to the grain companies and these increases are coming out of an already slim margin.

But the cost crunches also affecting the work going on in the field as these massive combines consume a considerable amount of fuel as they work almost around the clock, the fuel being used by a farm operation like this one amounts to several hundred dollars per day and to run these three combines is costing $200 more per day this year than last due to the rise in fuel prices.

Though this is an outstanding crop and all along this highway are piles of wheat in the fields from more outstanding crops, the US department of agriculture announced yesterday that wheat on hand at this time is the lowest it has ever been. Apparently the forces of a market economy based on supply and demand are not in effect. With the lowest stocks of wheat in history market analysts are unable to explain the lowest prices for the commodity in history. Some suggest that the over abundance of corn may be causing the problem for wheat while others suggest that it is the information capabilities of this era that permit the grain companies to know where the product is and how they can get it to market, thus reducing the need for ample reserves. Still other experts believe that it is the result of the Ukraine, Russia and China not entering the market and buying large blocks of wheat that was the practice in the past.

To make things even more confusing the drought in Kansas and Texas is serious and is expected to drastically reduce the production of winter wheat in the United States next spring. Keep in mind that Kansas produces more wheat than all of Canada, yet even this is not causing the price of wheat to rise.

The failure of supply and demand to affect the market is disconcerting and could undermine the whole concept of the so-called free market economy.

But onward goes the harvest and on the right above a stream of trucks head down the highway loaded with bails and grain.