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West-Central Crop Report: Rain is needed or seeds will blow away

Saskatchewan Agriculture's Crop Report for the period May 3 to 9
praying for rain hoping for rain
The Crop Report for the West-Central Saskatchewan region covers Crop Districts 6B – Hanley, Outlook, Loreburn, Saskatoon and Arelee areas; Crop District 7A – Rosetown, Kindersley, Eston, Major; Crop District 7B - Kerrobert, Macklin, Unity, Wilkie and Biggar areas.

WEST-CENTRAL SASKATCHEWAN CROP REGION — Seeding is advancing quickly due to very dry conditions and warm weather. 20 per cent of the crop is in the ground, well ahead of the five-year average (2017-2021) of 13 per cent. Mostly cereals and pulses have been seeded so far with some producers beginning to seed canola. There have been reports of shortages of pulse inoculants across the region which may lead to delayed seeding or poor crop establishment. Soil conditions are extremely dry in the region and producers are concerned their seed could blow away in the wind or not germinate. Rain is needed in the region.

Little rain was reported for the region over the past week, the Outlook area received the most with 18 mm reported, followed by the Hanley and Eyebrow areas with 12 mm. Most of the region received one to two mm of rain which will do very little to improve their moisture conditions. Producers need to be careful while conducting field activities in dry conditions due to the high chance of grass fires being caused by sparking or hot equipment.

Topsoil moisture conditions are very poor in the region and producers are hoping for widespread rain. Cropland topsoil moisture is rated as 20 per cent adequate, 51 per cent short and 29 per cent very short. Hay and pastureland are rated as 13 per cent adequate, 56 per cent short and 31 per cent very short. Some pastures in the region are not growing fast enough and some producers predict they won’t be useable until June if rain is not received soon. Dugouts through the region experienced poor recharge and water quality is already a concern to livestock producers.

Producers who can, have started moving their herds to pastures as feed supplies begin to dwindle. Producers are busy spraying pre-seed herbicide and picking rocks to prep fields for seeding.

Provincial Overview: Slow progress

Seeding progress is still slower than average but more producers were able to get out over the past week. Provincially, 14 per cent of crops are now seeded, up from one per cent last week and behind the five-year average (2017-2021) of 23 per cent. Crops that were seeded over the past two weeks should be emerging if moisture conditions are favourable. In areas of the southwest and west-central regions where conditions are very dry, germination could be uneven.

The southwest region has 34 per cent of their crop seeded, followed by 20 per cent in the west-central, seven per cent in the southeast, five per cent in the northwest, three per cent in the east-central and one per cent in the northeast. Many fields in the eastern half of the province are still too wet to allow producers to seed, full-scale seeding is still a week away in some parts of the province.

Various amounts of precipitation were received across the province; this rain is needed badly in some areas that are too dry for proper germination. However, it will likely lead to longer delays in areas of the eastern regions where moisture is already high. The most rain reported was in the Pelly area with 49 mm, followed by 46 mm in the Bienfait area. The Shaunavon area received 26 mm and the Hazenmore area received 18 mm, which is good to see in the southwest since much of the crop is already in the ground and moisture has been limited in the region.

Due to widespread precipitation across the province, topsoil moisture has slightly improved from last week's report. Cropland topsoil moisture is rated as six per cent surplus, 58 per cent adequate, 26 per cent short and 10 per cent very short. Hay and pastureland moisture is rated as two per cent surplus, 56 per cent adequate, 29 per cent short and 13 per cent very short. This increase in moisture will help pastures grow rapidly.

Many livestock producers have reported that the recent rain helped fill their dugouts and they feel confident that, for the time-being, water quality shouldn't be an issue. However, producers in the southwest and west-central have concerns about water levels and are making plans to haul water if conditions do not improve. Heavy rains throughout the summer will be needed to ensure that water availability does not become a widespread concern.

Producers continue working in their fields seeding, harrowing, rock-picking and rolling. When the weather allows, producers are spraying and seeding. Producers are reminded to be safe during their field activities and when transporting equipment across or alongside roadways. When working in extremely dry areas, especially pastures, ensure sparks or any other fire starter is controlled and a water source is available.