Sunny skies yield gloomy crop report

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June 9, 2015 8:15 AM

Based on the Saskatchewan crop report for May 26 to June 1, not everyone is enjoying Lloydminster’s almost-daily dose of sunny skies.

“For the most part we’re still doing OK,” said Saskatchewan Agriculture regional crops specialist Shannon Friesen. “But if we don’t get rain in the next couple of weeks, things could quickly become more difficult for us.”

It was a strenuous final week of May for producers in Northwestern Saskatchewan, who are still awaiting significant rainfall.

While certain plants can withstand dry conditions for a longer period of time because of their reliance on subsoil moisture, Friesen says that others are in more pressing need of rain.

“In some cases, such as canola, some of the crop may not be germinating because it is sitting in, basically, dust,” Friesen said.

And to make matters worse, Friesen says that producers now have to deal with damages to some crops, as the recent stark drop in temperatures overnight have led to many plants being hit by frost.

“In canola’s case as well, it is also quite vulnerable to frost, which we have had move through several times in the last couple of weeks. There’s been extensive damage to that throughout the province. Some crops have recovered, some have not.”

Frost presents a serious hazard to plants, she says, as it can burst a plant’s cells. In many instances, the cells are unable to make a full recovery, thus damaging the crop permanently.

Furthermore, Friesen says that flea beetles have damaged some crops as well.

“That’s mostly because those crops haven’t been able to fully germinate and emerge as quickly as they normally would,” she said.

“They become more vulnerable to things for a longer period of time.”

Still, the larger issue facing producers is the lack of rain. Friesen says that a healthy amount of moisture is never more important to crops than it is around this time of the season.

“The longer you go without moisture, the longer that crop is not able to fully develop and yield what it normally would,” she said. “Having dry conditions now when crops need moisture to get up and to get growing is more detrimental than not having moisture, say in August, as the crop is actually drying down.”

On the bright side, though, continued dry conditions have allowed farmers to approach seeding completion, with 97 per cent of the crop now in the ground. That figure marks a nine per cent increase over the previous week and is 24 per cent higher than the five-year average for this time of year from 2010 to 2014.

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