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Precipitation and cool temperatures delay seeding

A local seed grower reflects on grain farming this spring

Bob Bartel, owner and operator of Bartel Seeds located northwest of Sinclair offers certified seed such as wheat, barley, oats, flax, and also forage seeds.

“Our family has been involved with Pedigree seeds since 1983. My Dad, Edwin started the business in the late seventies and I live here, on the original site where my dad started.”

Bartel has watched as his seed costs have increased.

“The fees and pricing have definitely gone up, as far as growing pedigree seed,” Bartel says. “The rates, levies and royalties on new varieties are higher, which isn’t all bad either because it goes back into research for better varieties, which we’re hoping it does.”

It’s a cost that also affects the farmers. “We have to pass that on to the consumer, as the farmer has to pay for that, which makes seed costs higher.”

Bob and his son Blair now run the entire operation themselves, and they’re busy. “We are a seasonal operation but there doesn’t seem like there is much of a break because we do custom seed cleaning as well,” says Bob.

The seed grower’s busiest times of operation are usually from October to the end of April. “We have been going steady since the beginning of October and then when seeding normally starts in April into May, seed is moving out of here and farmers are coming to pick up.

“Since there’s only the two of us, we don’t make it a priority to deliver,” adds Bartel. “We have a semi of our own to bring in product that we resell and will do some of our own trucking, but mostly hire trucks for any long-distance hauls.”

The Bartels took advantage of the mid-teen temperatures the first week in May to clean peas, but due to the heavy rains and colder temperatures since then, things are kind of at a standstill.

“Farmers are coming to pick up seed somewhat, but I don’t think anything much will happen for another week or two.”

As ever, farmers are still optimistic, but Bartel notes that the late spring can put pressure on the growing season. He says that producers may decide to select early maturing varieties.