2011 was a year of extremes for agriculture in the northwest part of Saskatchewan. We started the year with good snow cover and field conditions that were almost too wet. We had a dry May and June and then it started to rain. For people with crop in low lying areas or fields that has a high water table, the crop was impacted negatively. For the first time since I have been in Meadow Lake, we say whole fields with no crop to harvest because of extremely wet soil conditions. It kept raining till the beginning of August and it hasn’t rained any significant amount since. Because of the conditions in the spring, we had late crops in the fall and frost had an impact on many fields in the area. To end the year, it looks like we will have no snow for Christmas, a first for the years that I have lived in the area. Agriculture depends on weather to allow the crops grow. Individual producers were hit hard on fields that were prone to flooding. If you owned this type of land, the yield on your farm was down. Fields that were seeded into dry dirt did not start to grow until mid-June, so frost became a factor in this situation. Quality feed was hard to find in our area because the rain never quit till August. We had many issues with the weather in 2011 that made farming a challenge. With all these issues, we still had a decent year on average for producers in the area. Averages are tough to talk about because the differences between the high and the low production areas in a field were so extreme that every individual’s yield results are going to be different. In general, the cereal crops yielded well and the peas and canola yields were down because of the wet weather. No matter what crop that is in a producers bin, the dollars are good for the bushels that were grown. Crop prices are up compared to long term numbers, so we have a good return on the yield that is in the bin. On the fields where the yield was there, there was an excellent return on these acres. The cattlemen are starting to see prices get to a level where there is a profit for them. 2011 was a year that started with higher cattle prices. They were maintained through the whole season, so returns on the cattle in the area are up. This is after many years of low prices which resulted from BSE and its impacts on our export markets. This is the first year in many where there has been a decent return in the cattle business. For all our local producers, the best to you in the New Year. We will wait and see what challenges come our way and look at finding ways to produce more bushels to make the business more profitable. I look forward to working with you in 2012.
By Dave Cubbon, P Ag