Flaman Rentals Blog

Saskatchewan Harvest 2017: A 48-year career farmer talks draught, agriculture technology, and facing the inevitable tough times

Posted by Amy Rederburg Nov 09, 2017

Harvest 2017 was a tough year for many Saskatchewan farmers.
 
Doug Jones of Whitby Farms was one of Saskatchewan's first to wrap up harvest 2017. He says it's thanks to a prototype loaner combine -- one of two sent for field testing in Western Canada -- on top of the two he runs every other year. And a family team that works together year round.
 
The Flaman Agriculture team caught up with Doug while he had a few fleeting moments of free time on his hands. We talked about what effect this years' terrible drought conditions had on his farm, agriculture technology that matters for harvest 2017, and his advice for young farmers facing a tough climate for growth. All before he left for the field to help one of his neighbours finish their harvest.
 
What does Whitby Farms do?
 
Whitby Farms manages around 11 acres of land and grows a variety of grain, cereal, and bean crops; raises cattle and trains quarter horses; offers grain hauling services; and much more in the country surrounding the Great Sandhills at Lucky Lake, about 150 kilometres south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
 
The family-owned Whitby Farms stays busy all year round. While Doug’s brother does seeding, his nephew sprays, his son-in-law manages cattle, and his daughter trains quarter horses. They have one hired man who's been with them for 10 years. After a decade of service you could say their hired man has become as close as family. In case you’re wondering, Doug refers to himself as “the gopher” of the operation.
 
We asked, "Who runs the combine at harvest?"
 
Doug jokingly replied, "That's the easiest job in the world! [With the automations these days,] mowing your lawn is way more complicated."
 
He likes that today's combines automatically update as conditions change, so you don't have to manually reset when something goes wrong. He thinks of driving a combine as the perfect job for a multitasker.
 
Harvest 2017 wisdom from a 48-year farming career.
 
Doug's been farming since 1969. And he says, "I never changed my mind once."
 
He recalls taking the leap just before the start of one of the worst periods in farming history, the farm crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, when anyone who started farming "went broke". This was due to a combination of bad economy, dried up foreign markets, and high debt resulting in thousands losing their farms.
 
But Doug was stubborn about his dream to become a farmer and raise cattle. He says it's the only thing he's ever wanted to do.
   
How did drought conditions in Saskatchewan affect Whitby Farms for Harvest 2017?
 
The lack of rain and the heat did a number on his crops, along with many other farmers around the prairies. Doug says his crops are located in the lowest rainfall RM in the province of Saskatchewan. And they didn't get a lot of rain last year, which means soil moisture was low this year. He admits they've had better looking crops in previous years.
 
Their lentils performed the worst and canola would have been a disaster without support from an agrologist.
 
He says, "When I started out farming, [this years' canola harvest] would have been less than 10 bushels in the acre." They got 20 this year, but they're used to an average of 50.
 
Despite a lackluster harvest due to the low moisture and extreme heat drought conditions, Doug remains positive. He thinks the new varieties of canola are "amazing" and credits their performance to scientific advancements in the seed.
 
But there was an upside. Whitby Farms came out with perfect quality lentils and durum over a string of three consecutive years with salvage value. Doug improved the crops’ success by implementing an irrigation system that uses water from nearby Lake Diefenbaker and a preventative spraying process.
 
He’s not the only one that’s happy with his yield given the dry conditions. CBC News reported that other Saskatchewan farmers were surprised at the quality of Harvest 2017.
 
The drought conditions affected the Whitby Farms livestock, too. Doug and his son-in-law had to dig one of the farm's springs out twice to get the water moving again. Their quick thinking likely saved the cattle and horses from heat stroke, unlike another unfortunate case that killed 200 cattle.
 
How do you stick with it during tough times like Saskatchewan Harvest 2017?
 
Doug declares, "Young farmers aren't used to the tough years!"
 
Since the farm crisis, Doug has noticed that the cycle has a way of repeating itself. He cautions many farmers face a similar fate without proper planning. 
 
"Work as hard as you can! It's going to stay dry. You'll hardly see a field that hasn't been affected by drought."
 
He adds, "[We farmers] are at the whim of markets and weather. [Have a plan in place] if your wage is cut in half."
 
Doug reminds young farmers to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, so you'll always stay ahead. The young farmers who have a lot of faith and prepare for hard times in advance can give themselves stability in tough years.
 
Doug’s final words of wisdom for Saskatchewan Harvest 2017:


"If you focus on it and stick with it through tough times, you'll make it out alright. You have to bear down. Take risks and buy some land."
 
Doug Jones is a long-time customer of Flaman Agriculture in Saskatchewan, most recently purchasing a set of new grain bins and monitoring and a longer auger to reach taller grain bins.
 
Like learning about hard-working people, community roots, and new ag solutions? Subscribe to the Flaman Agriculture blog HERE. You’ll be the first to hear about the latest insights from the team!
 
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Posted in Farm related news | Tagged with Saskatchewan Harvest 2017 grain bins wheatheart auger grain monitoring | More articles by Amy Rederburg


Prepare for that great crop - storage and cleaning

Posted by Eric Anderson Jun 28, 2016

With everybody forecasting a great crop, are you prepared to harvest it? 

Are the combine(s) fast enough? Are there enough trucks ready to move the grain to a bin or bagging area?  Maybe the ground is wet, so is a grain cart ready to move the grain off the field towards a truck, bin, or bagging area?  Is the bagger ready with enough bags? Are the transfers, augers or conveyors able to quickly unload the grain and move it, which allows for the combine to keep moving without having to wait for unloading?

And once it's off, if you didn’t catch the fusarium with spraying, well it’s not too late.  You can use (1) a gravity table to separate the lighter infected kernels – the current best option for farmers, (2) a colour sorter/separator to pull then visually infected kernels – maybe not as good as a gravity table, or (3) a BoMill which is best used by end-users such as food processing facilities.”

Flaman Grain Cleaning and handling has all you need to get the crop into the bank.



 
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Posted in Crop reports | Tagged with crop report auger conveyor grain handling | More articles by Eric Anderson


Is everybody ready for a potentially record setting crop?

Posted by Eric Anderson Jun 23, 2016

The potential for this year's crop to be a record setting event has been confirmed by the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS).  In a recent press release, APAS issued notice to rail companies to be prepared for what could be a large crop this year.  You can see their actual press release here.

APAS said it's anyone’s guess whether it will reach the record-setting levels farmers experienced in 2013 (38.4 million tonnes, according to Statistics Canada), but either way, APAS president Norm Hall wants rail companies to be ready.  “If you remember three years ago when we had the potential of a huge crop, and turned out to be the largest crop on record, the railroads used the excuse that oh, we didn’t know this was coming, we weren’t prepared for it,” explained Hall in an interview with News Talk Radio.

So, APAS is asking the railroads to be ready to handle the grain - but they are the end of the system - the system begins with farmers?

Are farmers ready to harvest the crop within the small window of opportunity presented by crop development and the weather.

Are the combine(s) fast enough? Are there enough trucks ready to move the grain to a bin or bagging area?  Maybe the ground is wet, so is a grain cart ready to move the grain off the field towards a truck, bin, or bagging area?  Is the bagger ready with enough bags? Are the transfers, augers or conveyors able to quickly unload the grain and move it, which allows for the combine to keep moving without having to wait for unloading?

And after moving the grain by rail, are the ports and ships ready?

APAS has put rail on notice, but what about the rest of the system?




 
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Posted in Crop reports | Tagged with harvest augers carts bins bagger | More articles by Eric Anderson


Getting ready for spring

Posted by Eric Anderson Feb 29, 2016

We saw geese and blue birds this weekend - I guess spring is coming early.  And it doesn't look like flooding will be an issue - well unless we get a big dump of snow - and we may even be able to reclaim some land from the sloughs that grew over the past few years.  So it's time to get into the spring activities list and Flaman has a lot of good used equipment to fix everything.

We have 13 discs, 2 heavy harrows, and 2 rock diggers to reclaim that lost land.

We also have augers ranging from 8" to 13", from swing to stick, to well, you name it.  We have 18 used augers on hand, all in good working condition.  See http://www.flaman.com/clearance/listings.php?subCategoryID=30

You can see a full list of our used equipment ad featured products at http://www.flaman.com/clearance/.
 
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Posted in Product Information | Tagged with discs augers rock diggers heavy harrows | More articles by Eric Anderson


Choosing Between an Auger and Conveyor

Posted by Mark Flaman Jul 25, 2013

There are a lot of reasons why you should choose a conveyor over an auger or vice versa, but I'll make it a little easier for you to figure out exactly which product will best suit you.

One of the biggest factors in someone purchasing brand new for the first time will be the cost. Conveyors are quite a bit more expensive than augers, but tend to last two to three times longer overall than an auger. The flighting on an auger would have to be replaced before it has put through one million bushels, where we've seen the belting on a conveyor last three to four million bushels.  

You can also get away with a shorter auger for the size of bin you're loading into, as the unloading angle is a lot higher on an auger, versus having the grain fall back down the conveyor belt once it reaches a certain angle. The motor on a conveyor is positioned higher up on top of its tube, to avoid the interaction with chaff, and requires less horsepower than an auger. 

The last big thing that you may be concerned about is what kinds of commodities compliment the auger or conveyor. A conveyor will be more gentle and avoid cracking on pulse crops such as peas and lentils, but canola and other oil seeds are not recommended because the oil deteriorates the belt and gets gummed inside the conveyor. Augers, however, love oil seeds, as they almost lubricate the machine, leading to a much longer auger lifespan. 

Now that you've got all your information, give us a call for some pricing or check out our selections of augers here and conveyors here.

This handy infographic can help you decide whether an auger or a conveyor is best suited for your operation.

Choosing between an auger and a conveyor

 Download this infographic

 


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Posted in Product Information | Tagged with choosing auger conveyor agriculture bushels | More articles by Mark Flaman