MONKTON, ONTARIO The Harvest for Hunger was everything the organizers hoped for as a fundraiser for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. In addition 160 acres of cash crops were harvested in record time but not quite in the target time the organizers had set for themselves.
Farmers in the Monkton area of Ontario have set a world record time for harvesting 160 acres of standing soybeans in 11 minutes and 43.59 seconds. They put 115 combines, each valued somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000, into the soybean field and harvested an estimated 8,000 bushels for the fundraising auction that followed.
“The success of the auction, a beautiful day and a crowd of more than 3,000 has made up for any disappointment at not meeting our target time of 10 minutes.” Randy Drenth, chair of the organizing committee said after the event.
Committee members estimate that total funds raised is closer to $250,000 than the target $200,000 for famine relief. All of the inputs to grow the soybean crop and of the ingredients for the lunch available to spectators were donated by local businesses. The lunch was available for a donation to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
The auction started with record setting prices. The first winning bid for one bushel sold to the public was $1,000. As auctioneers often do, the crowd was asked if others wanted a bushel at that price. Almost 20 bushels were taken up.
The first two large lots of 1600 bushels each were taken up by the grain trade at $36 per bushel — well above market price.
More precise numbers will be available once the final weight of the soybeans is known.
“This is a world record in its own right,” Elbert van Donkersgoed, a spokesperson for the Harvest for Hunger Committee, said after the event. The farmers are a little disappointed that their pace was a little off the time set by Manitoba farmers in swathed wheat last year.”
That pace was 11 minutes, 8 seconds.
“Every farmer will tell you that organizing a speed harvest in standing soybeans was much more challenging than in swathed wheat.” van Donkersgoed said. “The Manitoba attempt included cutting and windrowing the grain in the days before the harvest. This allowed combines to line up beside each other with ample space between them. In standing grain, combines have to cut overlapping swaths and be behind each other in a staggered pattern.”
When asked why the thoroughly planned event did not meet the 10 minute target the answer was the typical challenges that farmers face every day: equipment break down and equipment jams.
“At least two of the combines plugged up and another two had equipment failure,” van Donkersgoed said. “The combines that had no trouble completing their swath did so in less than the target 10 minutes but a number were needed to turn around and cut part of a swath for those that were out of the race.
The public can increase support for this hunger relief effort by ‘donating a bushel’ — $20 on the website of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of Canadian Christian churches and church-based agencies working to end hunger in developing countries.
The harvest has been extensively documented. There were two fixed wing aircraft and three helicopters over the site. There were cameras on four skyjacks, on combines and in the field on utility vehicles. Early results can be seen at https://harvest4hunger.wordpress.com/.
Elbert van Donkersgoed, 519-763-2589 or Harvest4Hunger@terracoeur.ca