Crops in the Prince Albert area held on fairly well this year despite heavy rainfall and humidity, according to a provincial agriculture expert.
Provincial crops specialist Daphne Cruise of the Agriculture Knowledge Centre said that while there are some exceptions, crops near P.A. are currently seeing average to above-average yields for this point in the year.
“When you look into July for the P.A. area, you guys did receive a significant amount of rain,” Cruise said.
“I think what we were seeing from the effect of that was a lot of flooding, especially in the low-lying areas, and some of those areas in the crops never really did recover very well. So I think there’s a little bit of crop damage and yield loss that way.”
“But since then,” she added, “things have dried up a little bit up until the last couple of weeks with these rain events that we’ve been having in the region, and then harvest has progressed quite well … Right now things are looking a lot better.”
Flooding in certain areas did have some impact on canola crops, which are particularly vulnerable to high moisture levels. But for the northeast region of Saskatchewan as a whole, canola output is still averaging around 35 bushels per acre.
Many livestock producers reported a negative impact from the moisture on their hay crops. The Ministry of Agriculture encourages farmers to perform hay tests to ensure their animals are properly prepared for winter.
While area producers could still see general quality issues such as bleaching or sprouting affect their crops, Cruise said that crop conditions or quality have been fairly good up to this point.
One of the factors that may have saved this year’s crop was a spite of favourable weather in August and September.
“At the end of July, most of the province was behind normal when it came to crop development,” Cruise said. “We still had canola crops flowering at the end of July, and typically most of them are done at that point.
“So the heat came in August and that’s exactly what we needed to get where we are right now.”
Despite disease concerns during the crucial summer months, the majority of crops avoided such a fate.
Bertha armyworm, however, did cause harm in some areas.
“I think when it came to disease, it was a fairly good year and producers didn’t have a lot to worry about throughout the province, and that was included in the P.A. region,” Cruise said.
“But bertha armyworm … was causing quite a bit of crop damage, especially when we went more towards the east of Prince Albert into Tisdale and Nipawin areas.
“There were producers that were taking control measures to control the bertha armyworm, and in some cases did dip into their yield, depending on when they were able to get the control measure in the crop or not.”
If Prince Albert experienced challenges with high moisture during this year’s growing season, much of the province has experienced similar weather in recent weeks.
Right now things are looking a lot better. Daphne Cruise
Producers in northern regions have made substantial progress on harvesting, but Cruise said they would require favourable weather over the next two weeks at least for that progress to continue.
“It looks like we have at least 70 per cent of the crop in the bin, in some cases even more in the region,” she said. “But we do need some dry weather here to continue.
“Some producers who are waiting on some crops to dry down are doing some fall weed control operations, and of course getting ready for any kind of storage issues that they may have with the higher yielding crops -- monitoring grain bins and monitoring grain bags as well to make sure whatever they put in the bin is staying in condition.”
Saskatchewan Agriculture’s Weekly Crop Report for Sept. 24-30 noted that significant rainfall last week slowed harvest progress in most areas of the province.
Fifteen per cent of the 2013 crop is now swathed or ready to straight-cut. The five-year average (2008-2012) for this point in the year is 74 per cent combined and 18 per cent swathed or ready to straight-cut.
Harvest progress is most advanced in the west-central region, where 95 per cent of the crop is combined. By comparison, 74 per cent is combined in the northeast including P.A., 72 per cent is combined in the southeast, 85 per cent in the southwest, 68 per cent in the east-central region and 88 per cent in the northwest.
Rainfall across Saskatchewan last week ranged from none to 81 millimetres. Many areas received more than 35 mm of rain, while heavy precipitation was reported in the northeastern, southwestern and east-central regions.
However, some areas in the southeastern, southwestern and east-central regions have been experiencing rain delays for the last two weeks.
Province-wide, topsoil moisture on cropland is reported as five per cent surplus, 65 per cent adequate, 19 per cent short and 11 per cent very short. Topsoil moisture on hay and pasture land is rated as two per cent surplus, 63 per cent adequate, 24 per cent short and 11 per cent very short.
Pasture conditions are rated as nine per cent excellent, 43 per cent good, 29 per cent fair, 16 per cent poor and three per cent very poor.
Rain and strong winds caused the majority of crop damage. The rains have resulted in bleaching and sprouting of some cereal crops, while wind caused shattering losses in swathed canola and rice crops.
Producers are now busy combining, hauling bales and finishing fall weed control.