'It's been a real battle': wet and cool harvest sees surge in grain drying
The loud hum of a grain dryer will be a familiar noise over the next couple of months at Don Williams’ farmyard near Lanigan, Sask.
Williams’ continuous batch grain dryer has been busy drying 7,000 bushels of tough grain each day.
“It’s using about $700 a day of propane and it will be running right until Christmas time, or when it gets to below -20 C,” Williams said.
Williams estimated he’ll dry upwards of 350,000 bushels of this year’s crop.
“Last year, we dried a fair bit but that was 70,000 bushels. That was quite a bit, I thought, but this year’s going to be quite a bit more.”
Williams said he has harvested 70 per cent of his 9,300 acres.
“It’s been a real battle,” Williams said. “We never got started until the first week of September. Sept. 9 came along and we got rained out and there hasn’t been a whole bunch of good harvest weather ever since.”
“We do have lots of dryers running in the central parts of the province, as well as in the south. It’s really a provincial issue for us at the moment, but most of the drying is coming from the central and north parts of the province,” said Shannon Friesen, a crops extension specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture.
Friesen said many producers have invested in dryers from previous years, especially in the northern regions.
Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) said the wet harvest is causing record-high demands for propane for grain drying, making it impossible to keep up.
“It’s really backed up our propane industry, right from the supply at terminals and gas plants, right through to the end customer,” FCL’s propane director Keith Morin said.
“That stress that we’re feeling, certainly, is just trying to keep up with the demand. We’re doing our best, but it’s very difficult to react to these kinds of peak demands that are just not expected,” Morin said.
Williams said he hasn’t had a propane problem through his supplier yet, but he said that’s not the case for others in the area.
“Several of my neighbours have dryers that they haven’t used for six or seven years, and they’ve been phoning for propane and they’ve been told (there’s a) three-week to a month wait for propane,” Williams said.