Gentle thaw welcome in Canada

Richard Crewe is an ex-pat farmer from Shropshire who, in partnership with his wife Jane, now grows 1500ha (3700 acres) of all combinable crops on undulating light land near Melville, East Central Saskatchewan, Canada

We have been having a cool, gentle thaw so far, which is good, as we have had less snow than usual.

There has been almost no water pooling in low spots and so far nothing running in our creek, which can be a 20ha lake in a rapid thaw.

April is farm sale month, with two or three dispersals a day, including Sundays if you are so inclined.

So far I have attended only one and only bought a few machinery spares.

We did our main buying straight off the dealer’s lot, trading our ageing Wilmar sprayer for a two-year-old Case Patriot 3310 with a 5000-litre tank and 30m Raven Auto Boom.

We needed a new set of flotation rims and tyres (retained by the previous owner), which added £5500.

It took a day to extract all the GPS, CB radio and weather equipment from the Wilmar and three days to fit it into the Patriot.

Now that we can get on to the land again, we plan to harrow last year’s wheat stubbles, which are going into Canola. This should break up the straw mat compacted by the snow before seeding, give us better straw flow through the drill and even seed coverage.

The USDA cropping report came out recently showing US farmers increasing soya beans by 18%, wheat up 6%, maize down 8% and oats down 9% to a record low acreage.

We had already planned to increase our oats area and after a solemn promise from our Federal ag minister that we will have a free market for barley by 1 August, we are changing 125ha of wheat to Legacy six-row barley, giving us more barley than wheat.

It won’t be long before wheat will be a niche market crop on the Canadian Prairies.

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