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Christmas canola harvest...

It's not every day you'll see a combine harvesting grain in December in North Dakota, let alone a week before Christmas. 

12/23/19 (Mon)

But Ben and Robin James took full advantage of a bright, sunny mid December day to finish up some canola acres they couldn’t get to earlier in the season.

The James’ decided to combine some remaining canola along a county road Wednesday for two reasons; to see what the seed looked like and to keep snow from drifting in through the winter in those areas that were extremely wet going into freeze up.

“It’s not so much for the bushels,” Ben James said. “We’re clipping it low enough that it should keep snow from building up over the winter.”

The way James explained it, the Wednesday’s harvesting was being done on the high ground and as you looked around, there were numerous ruts that were now frozen in place for the winter.  It was easy to see attempts nearly four months ago to harvest the same part of the field were unsuccessful because of the record amount of rain.

The Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, the official weather monitoring station for Kenmare, recorded just short of 10 inches of rain in the month of September. That’s nearly 30 percent of the average annual precipitation in just one month.

So it’s no wonder the James’ couldn’t get into the field until now.

And after hearing all the horror stories about the quality of grain that had been left out in the elements for so long, ironically, the canola they were getting in the hopper looked good, it was just incredibly wet.

Robin James pulled a handful out of the hopper and as she was looking at it, the seeds were sticking to her hand and easily balled up when she made a fist.

“We’re getting a couple of bushels,” Robin James said. “There isn’t much sprout damage at all.”

According to Ben James, the canola might have just been dumped on the ground because it had high moisture content. As they were combining, he wasn’t sure if that was going to happen or not.

The Northern Canola Growers Association in Bismarck didn’t respond to questions about the 2019 harvest. However, the Canadian Canola Growers Association indicated that 94 percent of the canola crop across southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan had been harvested.

But, the numbers were a bit skewed. Parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan sustained the same fate as their North Dakota brethren during the 2019 harvest.

However, fields in general had much better harvest conditions  and rates in 2019 than North Dakota producers were able to accomplish.

In combining Wednesday, however, Ben James was more concerned about what’s going to happen in 2020 than he was the December canola harvest.

He said the ground is already saturated and much more snow this winter is going to make it hard to get into the field in the spring, and that’s the high ground.

With that said, the James’ were cutting the canola as close to the ground as possible so the snow drifts across the field this winter and doesn’t get trapped... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!