With the weekly crop report from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture reporting that harvest in the southeast is now at 35 per cent complete, we spoke with a local producer of peas, wheat, canola, oats, and barley.

Norm McFadden, Reeve for the R.M. of Weyburn, said with it being so dry in recent weeks, some had wondered if the R.M. was going to place a fire ban. 

"We kept getting the odd little shower, and there hasn't been any major fires in the area, and with harvest in full swing now, you always worry about combine fires or whatever but it's been a quiet summer," commented McFadden, who is a producer of  

Wildfires are always a risk, but, McFadden noted that, in today's world, a lot of farmers have water tanks set up on trailers.

"I think the R.M., overall, as far a farmers go, are pretty well equipped for fighting fires, for most farmers that are out in the field, the only downside is when you do have a fire in the field it's usually windy, so it’s not a good mix."

He said seeding got started later this spring than usual, "just because we had that snow in late April, which was a blessing. That got us to where we are today for sure."

Crops in the Yorkton area, he observed recently, have a long way to go before they'll be ready for harvest. 

"This is my favorite time of year, is harvest. It is what it is. I mean, Mother Nature controls it all, so we're just along for the ride."

Times have changed when it comes to farming, and McFadden should know, as his family has been on the same land since 1898.

"I can’t help but think that out of 125 years, there have been some pretty horrible crops, and my grandparents, and great grandparents, and my dad, just kept forging on, and we’ll keep forging on, too," he shared. "Over the years there are times when you think about just packing it in, but then you see how many years the farm has been in the family, and I can't be the one to let it go all of you through some of the lean years, too." 

While the farmhouse has changed, with the original house having three bedrooms and 10 children in the family, farming itself has changed quite significantly.

McFadden said summer fallow is a thing of the past, mainly thanks to canola crops.

"It's all continuous crop, but you still rotate types of crops between cereals and pulses and oil seeds now," he explained. "Back in the day, most guys were half and half, or half was summer fallow and the other half was wheat or barley, basically. They didn’t have all the other crops we have today, like peas and lentils or canola."

"If it wasn't for canola, which was basically developed in the province of Saskatchewan years ago, that’s what made farming what is today, really, the canola market," McFadden said. "To able to do with the oil and the by-product after crushing, that’s what saved a lot of us over the years."

He said the by-product of canola mainly goes toward animal feed.

While the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture reported wind and grasshoppers as the main cause of crop damage in recent weeks, McFadden said gophers are quite destructive to fields.

"I have a pasture that I'm going to have to break up, because the gophers have been so bad, and I mean it’s an old pasture, too, but I mean you can’t hardly walk across it without stepping in a gopher hole every couple feet, so a person can roll an ankle pretty easily, and damage to the ground and damage to the crop."

In fact, the R.M. of Weyburn still offers a bounty of $0.50 per gopher tail.

"We haven’t had a whole pile of tails turned in, but I do hear people that are out hunting gophers. The bounty, more or less, reminded people that they can still go out and shoot gophers, and not necessarily doing it for the money."

He said gopher hunting is also good training for parents to teach their kids how to shoot properly and safely.

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