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


Fertilizer prices to drop a bit more - time to buy a big bin and fill it

Posted by Eric Anderson Jun 29, 2016

Fertilizer prices will likely decline in the short-term then grow in the long term.  So ‘yes,’ buying a big bin now and filling it makes sense.

First of all, what proof of a price decline is there?  The downtrend is highlighted by a recent potash sale to India by Belarus (one of the very few potash producers) at the lowest prices seen in over a decade; about a third less than last year’s level as global supplies of the crop nutrient exceed demand.

About the deal - one of India’s biggest fertilizer importers, Indian Potash Ltd. (IPL), will buy 700,000 tonnes of potash at $227 (U.S.) per tonne on a cost and freight (CFR) basis.

Belarus’ contract price is likely to become the benchmark for other suppliers to India, such as Russia’s Uralkali and North American trading group Canpotex Ltd., owned by Potash Corp, Mosaic, and Agrium.

For background see this story.

The underlying thing from this is, China usually sets the floor or lowest global price for potash with their purchasing, so given the bigger annual’ish China deal is still outstanding, prices will likely decline even further.

India and China, the world’s biggest fertilizer consumers, usually sign contracts earlier in the year. This year, deals were delayed as high stocks held by farmers meant there was no rush to agree a deal.

India’s deal is a rare instance of the country signing a potash supply contract with a major producer before China.  For more information, see this story.

But then, on the upside, Belarus and Uralkali (the Russians) are looking at working together again on potash marketing , thus ending the price war that has driven down the price of potash.  These two and Canpotex (PotashCorp, Agrium, and Mosaic) basically dominate the world potash market.

And, the major trend to drive fertilizer prices in the long term is that the world is adding about 1-million people per week to its population.  We need to feed this additional million per week from the same amount of farmland – so, fertilizer demand will grow.

Now, currently, crop prices are growing faster than fertilizer costs, so things do make sense to buy now.


To take advantage of the temporarily low fertilizer prices, a Meridian fertilizer bin is your best choice. 
 
 
 
 
 
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Posted in Ag news | Tagged with fertilizer meridian bin fertilizer prices | 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


Benefits of Buying a Meridian Bin

Posted by Flaman Jan 28, 2015

As an Ag Sales Representative for Flaman, it seems natural to launch my blog with something I have grown up with.  It’s something I truly have a passion for, and hopefully something that will give some insight into your decision making process when buying a Meridian bin.
 
I started my young career working for Meridian Manufacturing- then known as Wheatland Bins - in the welding shop pushing a broom, then I moved to the wash bay, and eventually to powder coating and finishing a completed bin.
 
Following that, my crew and I ventured out on our own building corrugated bins across Alberta.  Today when I discuss grain and fertilizer storage needs with prospective customers, I find I have a unique perspective both in smooth walled and corrugated bins as well as 8complete storage systems.
 
So what are the benefits of buying a Meridian Bin? Let’s begin with the question of choosing a smooth skin over a corrugated line.
 
Let’s face it, there are many corrugated bins to choose from; Twister, Westeel, Behlen, Gobal, the list goes on and on. The main line of thinking is that Meridian is the more expensive option, and choosing a corrugated line will save money. Although this may be true, the real savings with corrugated bins come when you get into much larger scale flat bottom bins. The small increase in price when moving to a Meridian can easily be offset when thinking about its benefits.
 
1)   Customer Service – Ready to use upon delivery
2)   Durability - All weather eco-friendly powder coat finish
3)   Resale – heavy duty no compromise quality that can be moved
4)   Value – inspected, exceeding industry standards
5)   Peace of Mind – saving time and money
 
Now that I have you thinking about Meridian Bins specifically- here are a few things to consider when purchasing the right bin for you.
 
1)   How much more storage you are hoping to gain?
Meridian carries a variety of sizes of smooth wall bins. From 6’ diameter feed bins all the way to 18’ diameter fertilizer and grain storage.
Typically for transportation purposes, a 16’ diameter bin is used and can get you up to 6000 bushels of storage.
2)   How long is your loading auger? This will determine your overall height of bin
If you’re not in the market to buy a new auger with your bin purchase, you will want to make sure your current one is up to the task. Below is a simple chart.
Grain Max
Multipurpose
Total Height
Auger Length
2300
1412
27’
46’
3000
1615
29’
51’
4000
1620
34’
61’
5000
1625
39’
71’
6000
1630
41’
71’
 
3)   What kind of product do you want to store?
If you are looking for an easy solution for grain storage only, the grain max series provides you with convenient no hang up storage. If you are wanting to have the option to store both fertilizer and grain, a multipurpose bin will suit your needs.
Liquid storage, as well as HD storage for cement or sand are also an option through the Meridian commercial division.
4)   What options can I bundle with my new bin?
Flaman can provide you with all the necessary options to go along with your new grain bin. Aeration fans, rockets, as well as temperature and moisture cables are great additions to protect your investment and give you peace of mind.
 
Beyond these advantages comes further benefits and savings. Consider the money you can save by purchasing a fertilizer bin this year.
 
If you are able to buy your Fertilizer- let’s take ammonia at *$570 in a low season in your new Meridian 1625 bin. Then in high season the price jumps to $670 per ton. You’re saving $100 per ton, and are able to take as much as 165 tonnes. $16,500. In exactly one purchase you have paid almost paid for your bin.
Later during harvest, you have the ability to store excess grain, throw in an aeration tube, even carefully control and maintain temperature throughout the storage season. The complete system all taken care of by your local provider, Flaman.
 

*http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/industry-markets-and-trade/statistics-and-market-information/by-product-sector/crops/crops-market-information-canadian-industry/market-outlook-report/canadian-farm-fuel-and-fertilizer-prices-and-expenses-july-2013/?id=1 


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Posted in Product Information | Tagged with Meridian bins Flaman ag sales customer service durability reasale | More articles by Flaman


Bin Sense: Secure Your Harvest

Posted by Flaman May 09, 2014

We all know, in order to prevent grain spoilage, you must keep it at the proper temperature and keep the moisture level low. Millions of dollars are lost every year due to grain spoilage. Intra Grain has a solution to this issue and it is called Bin Sense. Bin Sense monitors your grain 24/7 and, every hour, can wirelessly send you an update on the condition of your grain. This takes the guesswork and risk out of grain storage. Bin Sense not only monitors moisture levels but monitors grain levels as well within the bin so that if theft occurs, you will be notified.
 
The whole Bin Sense Monitoring system is easy to install and even easier to operate. It uses a magnetic mount at the top of your bin, which makes set up/removal simple. Each unit has been highly tested and does not require the use of a power source because it is entirely solar powered with a backup battery. No struggling with extension cords or generators.
 

On Intra Grain’s website, you are able to request a quote and read more about the products and technology. Check it out http://intragrain.com


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Posted in New Products | Tagged with bin sense intragrain grain monitoring wireless | More articles by Flaman


A Flaman Pro Grain Bagger? Yes Please!

Posted by Mark Flaman Aug 15, 2013

The reasons for purchasing a grain bagger are obvious. If you're still hung up on the decision, I'll try and make it a little easier for you.

There has been quite a large shift over the past few years with farmers not being able to store all of the grain they yield in bins due to a really great harvest, so we're stuck with this problem. We need more storage, the grain bins are full, and the bin crews can't get out to the yard or it is impossible to even acquire more bins. The simple solution? Chuck the commodity in a giant plastic bag where it is not affected by weather or moisture changes, right in the same field it was harvested from. With the cost of grain bags dropping (0.6c / bushel) it's becoming much more mainstream, and I think we can expect to see more and more bags in the field as time goes on.

There are a couple more main reasons for bagging. If you've got combines in different fields during a great year for harvest such as 2013, chances are you're going to be running trucks full time and putting wear on them just to keep up with the combines and getting the commodity into the bins. With a grain bagger, you can just drive over to the bagger in the same field with the grain cart or combine, unload into the bagger, and it'll sit there until you either have bin storage available to dry the grain, or until you'd like to haul it to the terminal. Remember that these grain bags don't fluctuate in moisture content, whatever you put in will come out the same way.

If bin storage space is an issue, we see a lot of our customers using grain rings with tarps, but they let in moisture and whatever grain is sitting on the ground is sure to spoil at some point. You can keep the grain in a bag for even two years, and be able to pull it out and haul it away.

All in all, the way we're farming changes every year, and bagging grain is something that is becoming extremely common. We carry the Flaman Pro Grain Bagger at all of our mainline locations, and the bags to go with them as well. Need the extractor to take the grain out? We sell those too, both new and refurbished. For more information and specifications of the Flaman Pro Grain Bagger, please visit www.Flaman.com.

 


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Posted in Product Information | Tagged with grain bagger grain bags bag bagger flaman flaman pro grain bagger agriculture grain storage alternative bin storage | More articles by Mark Flaman


Saskatchewan Harvest Report

Posted by Flaman Grain Cleaning Aug 22, 2011

Southern Saskatchewan 2011 harvest is under way! The combines are rolling through peas and lentils in most of the areas that I have seen. The crops are looking above average in most areas of the south, after a rainfall of 25 to 30 inches in the south last year it is not hard to compare the quality of this year’s crop. Pea acres seem to be down substantially this year compared to recent years, after seeing what the quality of the peas are this year, this may be a tough pill for some farmers to swallow especially if the price continues to rise. The lentil quality also looks very good this year, after the European’s declared no glyphosate on lentils I have seen a few more lentil acres being swathed this year. Canola is being swathed daily and more and more acres are down every day, the canola crop’s look very good in southern Saskatchewan this year, which is a different look this year due to the fact that you would not usually see so many canola acres in Southern Saskatchewan, But with last year’s chem.-fallow acres very high it set farmers up well for a large canola year. Wheat and durum are slowly behind in some spots I have seen; staging anywhere from seeing wheat being swathed to wheat that still needs 3-4 weeks frost free weather to avoid another feed wheat year. As long as we can keep that white combine away, I would say that the 2011 crop year will be a very successful year in most areas of the South that did not drown out in June.


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Posted in Division News | Tagged with saskatchewan harvest combine crops lentils peas southern | More articles by Flaman Grain Cleaning