Cooking the End of the First Cut

FTLComm - Tisdale - Monday, July 22, 2002

After the delay from the cold spring, the Tisdale Alfalfa Dehydration plant has been cooking up the first cut turning out a string of loaded hopper cars ready for export.

When the weather looked like it was going to reduce this year's crop, the plant was able to advise its customers of what it would be able to produce this year and so far they are meeting their target. Almost all of this year's crop is presold and will be going to export markets.

This last week of rain has really been a blessing to the alfalfa growers as it is clear now a second cut will get under way in about three weeks time. The field crews are at the end of the first cut and should wrap up this week. They will then move into some green feed fields where

this year's cereal crops that are no longer viable for grain production will be cut and dehydrated by the plant.

Today's field work is taking place about fifteen miles South of Tisdale where six swathers and three harvesters are processing the crop.

As this is the end of the first cycle this is a good crop and right where these photographs were taken the crop is a reasonable and of excellent quality.

Two shifts of field workers are on the job working twelve hour shifts. This crew has

been cutting and loading since seven this morning and will be here until seven tonight when the next shift takes over.

A support team of three were in the field this morning as they do on the spot maintenance and repair as needed.

Last night a new truck broke down and this morning it was being towed into the shops from the field.

Despite the long hours their are few accidents as the equipment is all designed to shut down

when an operator leaves the seat.

This close up (above) shows the alfalfa in bloom and is a good example of the rich protein feed that comes from this concentrated crop.

The German made harvesters sweep along the fields at about nine miles an hour with the Mack "B" trains moving along side catching the crop as it is picked up from the swath that, in this case, was only laid down minutes ago.

These harvesting machines are among the most expensive pieces of equipment per unit used in modern agriculture.

Last summer there were only three hundred bales or so processed by the dehydration plant as the market for baled feed has definitely inflated the prices so that baled alfalfa and hay is being sold this year for $190 a ton. At this price it is not expected that the dehydration plant will have bales this year as most of the baled product will be shipped to Alberta where farm subsidies will provide cattle producers with the cash to buy whatever feed they can obtain.

But for this year, the Tisdale Alfalfa Dehydration plant is making do and like everyone else, hoping for a good crop next year.