Mixed conditions presenting different challenges for Saskatchewan farmers


Depending on where you are in the province, a mixed bag in terms of weather has left farmers struggling with different challenges this season.

Crop extension specialist Shannon Friesen says many growers in the eastern part of the province are struggling with excess moisture, while the reasons in the southwest and midwest are linked to conditions of drought.

“We have a good chunk of the crop that has actually turned yellow due to excess moisture and is actually sitting in standing water.” said Friesen. “We also have some drought stress in the western part of the province due to, of course, a lack of moisture.”

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Friesen says the recent rainfall has been helpful in getting the crops going, but is also hoping for some warmth so the process can be speeded up.

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The Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture says many crops are behind their normal stage of development for this time of year, adding that the warm weather would help crops move forward and wet fields dry out .

Friesen says that for areas requiring the opposite, it’s probably already too late.

“We have growers in these drier areas where some of the crops have advanced prematurely and are drying out prematurely.” said Friesen. “So some of that rain is actually not going to benefit.”

Friesen says there are fields, however, where this rain will not only help crops, but also pastures.

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Cropland topsoil moisture is rated as 9% excess, 71% adequate, 18% insufficient, and 2% very insufficient. Hay and pasture topsoil moisture is rated at eight percent excess, 66 percent adequate, 22 percent short, and four percent very short.

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The ministry says recent rainfall will improve hay crops, but estimated yields will continue to be below average.

In recent years, the province has mostly experienced drought conditions. Friesen says farmers’ optimism is growing.

“We’ve had a lot thrown at us over the last couple of years, but for the most part this year there’s just a bit more, I guess, optimism there. As long as we can grow things things should really pick up for us. said Friesen.

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The majority of crop damage this week was due to localized flooding, high winds, extremely dry soil conditions, hail and leaf spot diseases. Farmers are also trying to combat the damage caused by increasing populations of grasshoppers, as well as ground squirrels causing damage to crops.

Growers are currently focusing on the application of fungicides and insecticides, pest scouting, fixing material and haymaking.

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