Or in our case: faith like a canola seed. Because canola seeds are so small, we have to have faith that those tiny little seeds will find moisture, germinate, and be able to grow into a huge plant. The seeds have all been planted for the 2014 growing season, a lot of the crops are emerging beautifully out of the dark soil and spraying has begun to control the weeds to give our crops the best chance to grow. When it comes down to it, really it’s not up to us how our crops grow this year. Sure, it’s about good planning and good management and thinking ahead as much as you can, but every dark cloud coming in from the west, which is where the majority of our storms come from, we keep a watchful eye on. We pay more attention to the weather forecast than we do to most current events or sports scores.
As my father-in-law stated for an interview for an article in The Globe & Mail:
“We try to control what we can control, but you have to do your best with what God and nature throw at you.”
With all of the disgust and negativity towards modern agriculture practices, I have to wonder if the naysayers gamble with their livelihood like we do? We rely 100% on God and nature to make a profit off of our crops in farming. If there’s no rain in a drought year, our crops won’t grow and yield like they can which means a drastic loss of income for farming families, as well as many people in the community that are indirectly connected. If there’s too much rain like with storms and hail damage—our crops can be wiped out in as little in 5 minutes, with as much as 100% damage just like the storms that just went through Nebraska. We are subject to disease and insects that can invade our crops like three years ago when a disease called sclerotenia did to our canola and ergot in our wheat which can affect the grade and price we get for it.
The last two years after our canola crops had been swathed into straight rows for harvesting, extremely forceful winds of up to 100 km/hour came threw and blew our canola swaths all over the place. The wind not only blew the canola out of their uniformed swaths, but it shattered the canola pods (which is where the seeds grow on the plant) spreading canola seeds all over making it impossible to harvest all that we could have. Jay estimates that we had damage to about 2000 acres over two years. Just to put that into perspective: that’s about 2000 acres at 20 bushels of canola per acre loss average, which adds up to approximately 40 000 bushels of canola lost. Last year the price was $13 per bushel which is a loss of $520 000 in canola because of two 15 minute wind blasts a few days before harvest. It is devastating to see a year of planning be destroyed when the crop is a matter of hours away from harvest. Jay also says one of the most heart-wrenching things about farming is checking on a crop one day, admiring how amazing it is growing, and then the very next day (or even a few hours later) having that crop flattened and destroyed by the weather.
So before you’re quick to judge a grain farmer for their practices, just take a moment to think if your job and livelihood was all a gamble too. What if you didn’t get the paycheck you were hoping for because it rained too much or too little? Or if the temperature dipped below 0 degrees for one hour too long? We walk a very fine line between success and failure sometimes and weather is the biggest is factor we can’t control. We plant our crops and do maintenance work, but the rest isn’t up to us. Like my husband always says: luck is when preparation and hard work meets opportunity. It takes a lot of luck and a lot of faith to farm!