Harvest development in Saskatchewan this year has been slow and varies by area as some regions are too dry and others too wet.
According to the province’s latest crop report from June 21-27, the drought conditions at the beginning of the season in the west and the excessive humidity in the east are the main factors behind the slow harvest development.
“We have seen most of the heavy rains fall in the south-east, parts of the east-central and then of course the northern regions where these heavy rains have occurred are affected by minor to severe flooding. And with it a lot of hail. So there’s a bit of crop damage along with that knockdown. And then of course there are still many, many places in the West that are very dry, particularly in the Southwest,” said Matt Struthers, crop advisory expert at the Department of Agriculture.
Although it has rained in certain areas of the province over the past week, more rainfall is still needed in many regions. Flooding and drowning of crops occurred in a short period of time in some areas due to the high amounts of rain. Growers in these regions are hoping the water will seep in quickly and have minimal impact on crops.
“Plants don’t like to grow when their feet are wet. If they are in the water for a long time, there is not much growth. It’s quite harmful to them, so it lags behind them a bit. Hopefully things dry up there in the east and the harvest can pick up where it started and get through July,” Struthers said.
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In the west, where conditions remain dry, rain was welcomed for farmland and pastures, although it delayed the start of the hay season for some producers.
“Looking west we started very dry and then the western regions got some moisture in the last few weeks, the crop there is looking much better than before. You know, they’ve recovered quite a bit. So this is very promising. I should mention that there are still very dry areas and these regions and these crops are suffering,” he said.
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The Spiritwood range received 86mm, the Broadview range 76mm, the Lipton range 70mm, the Kerrobert range 31mm and the Cabri range 23mm. Many areas in the southwest received only one to five millimeters and crops in these areas are beginning to show signs of severe drought stress.
“I remember when it used to rain and everyone got rain, but now it just seems like there are very small cluster clouds and they’re very localized. And that’s why we’re seeing heavy rains in some areas and other areas are still bone dry,” Struthers said.
According to the report, most crops in the province are in fair to good condition. In the province, 76 percent of fall crops, 58 percent of spring crops, 46 percent of oilseeds and 69 percent of legumes are in their normal seasonal development stage.
According to the report, most of last week’s crop damage was due to heat, dry winds, drought, insects, ground squirrels, flooding and hail.
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Struthers added that extreme weather conditions are sure to damage crops. It is detrimental in many ways, as extreme hail, storms, tornadoes, etc. can rip, destroy or flatten the crop.
“Unfortunately, farmers have to just sit back and hope that their fields will be missed by these storms and they’ll get through the season with minimal damage,” Struthers said.
Insects can also play a large role in crop damage across the province. “We see it almost every year with flea beetles depending on and, you know, treatments and other treatments that are put on these canola plants,” Struthers said. “Bugs are a pretty big theme this year, certainly for some producers. Locusts were a huge highlight last year and it looks like they’re on the rise again this year.”
Thanks to the drought periods of recent years, ground squirrels are also out and about.
With the recent rains, the west is looking worse than the east as the west is still very dry. Growth in the West was delayed early in the season due to drought; In many areas, the hay harvest has not yet reached an acceptable level for a cut to be made.
Rain delayed haymaking in the east, although crops in the region appear to be in much better shape, having had sufficient moisture early in the season to allow for recovery and growth.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8959853/saskatchewan-farmers-struggling-wet-dry-conditions/ Saskatchewan farmers struggling with too wet or too dry conditions: current crop report