Thanksgiving Food: Manitoba Harvest Report

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Recent weather pressures (snow!) have slowed harvest in Manitoba.  The provincial crop report highlights the overall harvest progress, as well as region by region summaries.  As we get ready for Thanksgiving weekend we can choose to read this report in several ways; we can be thankful for all of the acres that are complete or we can be disheartened that those acres are not our acres.  In the big picture, we want all farmers to succeed in getting off their crops in good conditions. However, in light of your own operation, it can be of little comfort to know that others are done when you are still waiting to get your crops combined.  Thanksgiving can be a happy time, but also a time of stress if your harvest progress isn’t keeping up to your timelines or goals.

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In the midst of the planning and preparations - both for continued harvest or for Thanksgiving celebrations - be sure to remember these different positions and perspectives.  If your family gathering involves more than one farming operation, be sure to be sensitive to everyone’s harvest progress. It is important to celebrate each other’s successes and to commiserate together - and then make an action plan to help get things done.

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Here are the highlights - by the numbers - as we get ready to give thanks for the fruits of our labours this growing season.



Thanksgiving in Action

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Canadian Thanksgiving is fast-approaching. Many of us have just finished our harvest, either in the fields or gardens, or both.  This is a time when the cupboards and bins should be full. Yet, for many Canadian families this is not the case. Every day many Canadians live with food insecurity - this means that they are uncertain of having, or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all family members.


  • 2.19 million people in Canada aged 12 and older lived in food-insecure households (2011-12).

  • In Canada, the overall prevalence of food insecurity was higher in households with children (10.2%) than in households without children (7.6%).


https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrition-science-research/food-security/household-food-security-statistics-2011-2012.html#s4


We can help - this is a call to action.  This week, contact your local community food bank or food shelf and see what they need.  Ask if they accept donations of farm produce, if you have some to share. Or purchase the top three items on their wish list.  Or, give a monetary donation and use their partners to stretch the dollars even further. Or volunteer. Food-security issues cannot be solved in a single day or with a single action.  However, we each can make a huge difference for one family, so lets start there!


Thanksgiving is a time of celebration for those of us who are fortunate enough to be food-secure.  We celebrate many blessings, and often take our own big Thanksgiving meals for granted. This year, we encourage you to continue to celebrate with family and friends and good food - but we also put out this call to action.  Help others to be able to celebrate as well, by supporting your local food shelf.


Don’t know how to connect with your local food shelf? Connect with Farm Credit Canada! FCC Drive Away Hunger - runs through October 18, 2018. Click here to learn more

Record yields?

It’s always fun to learn something new, especially when it shows you good news!  This year, that meant looking at the farm data differently, and what a great year to choose.  While last year Deer Creek Farms had 100% hail damage, this year we are able to see what a great harvest looks like!

This is the farms first year using myJohnDeere and the JD Operations Center, but the data has been being collected since 2013 for seeding.  Yes, that means for 4 years, I was slacking off on helping to get this working!

But hopefully this makes up for it!  This year, my Dad handed me the data stick and said “go figure it out” after a brief visit to Green Valley Equipment in Morden, Manitoba.  With a 3 hour investment his field data is now uploaded and available for analysis.  He was particularly excited to look at his yield maps and how specific they were.  

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There is still plenty left to learn and explore, but for a 3 hour time investment seeing the extent of the information available and the impact it can have to farming operations it was time well spent!

If you would like to learn how to make Operations Center work on your farm message me, or e-mail me at karen@farmfemmes.com.  If there is enough interest we’ll look into doing a few clinics around the topic to help you get started!

Where is the Wheat?

If the wheat production forecast in the  September USDA-NASS Crop Production report holds through the US harvest which is nearly complete the wheat harvest this year will be the lowest in 44 years.  That is -15.5% when comparing to the 2016 US harvest.

It’s not a story of acres which remain unchanged at 38.1M acres, the yield is down to an average 38.3 bushels per acre which is 9 bushels per acre lower than 2016.  Using the closing data for 9/13 for spring wheat and some simple math of $6.40/bushel that’s $57.60/acre less this year than last.

So what’s that mean for profitability?  

Variable input costs - what does $57.60 mean?

~100% of your chemical cost could have been covered

50% of your land rent could have been covered

75% of your fertilizer bill could have been covered

I put together a quick Google Sheets spreadsheet to illustrate the profitability and breakeven point using the following data:

Price Per Bushel: $6.40

Fixed Per Acre Cost (Rent, Machinery etc.): $130

Variable Per Acre Cost (Seed, Fertilizer, Chemical): $125

Based on these inputs, profitability sits at the 41 bushel per acre point.  

If you’d like to use this simple calculator to do some “what if” scenarios using your own price per bushel, fixed and variable costs you can access it here.  We had fun inputting price per bushel of currently contracted wheat and taking a look at increased fixed cost per acre (new combine) to check out profitability.

If you have any questions using the calculator, comment below or e-mail me at karen@farmfemmes.com.