PREECEVILLE — Seeding has not started in the East-Central crop region; cool temperatures and slow snow melt have kept fields too cold and wet. Producers have been busy prepping equipment while they wait for field conditions to improve and allow a full start to seeding. Producers feel good about the moisture levels in their fields and are confident it will be adequate for germination once seeding begins.
Small, scattered rainstorms resulted in four mm of rain in the Bethune area, three mm in the Semans areas and two mm in the Humboldt area. Producers would like to see the rain hold off until seeding has been finished.
Cropland topsoil moisture is rated as six per cent surplus, 62 per cent adequate, 31 per cent short and one per cent very short. Hay land and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as four per cent surplus, 55 per cent adequate, 31 per cent short and ten per cent very short. Runoff was rated as 14 per cent above normal, 64 per cent normal and 22 per cent below normal with some warmer weather the remaining snow will melt and hopefully help to fill dugouts, sloughs and creeks.
Pasture conditions are rated as ten per cent good, 22 per cent fair, 28 per cent poor and 40 per cent very poor. Rain and warm temperatures are needed to help pasture forages to grow.
Producers have been busy preparing for the upcoming season as they wait for fields to dry, livestock producers have started moving cows to pasture as they finish up calving and branding.
Provincial overview: seeding delayed
Cool temperatures and early spring snowstorms have delayed seeding for many producers across Saskatchewan. Currently, one per cent of the 2022 crop is now in the ground, well behind the five-year average (2017-2021) of five per cent. Once conditions are favourable, producers will be working very hard to get their fields seeded.
Very little precipitation was reported in the past week, which will allow fields to dry up enough for seeding to begin in regions where it was previously too wet. The most rain was reported in the Marengo area with 10 mm followed by the Marquis, Rockglen and Webb areas reporting five mm of rain. Although beneficial for pastures and hay land, farmers are hoping the rain will hold off until seeding can be completed.
Topsoil moisture for cropland, hay and pastureland is still less than ideal for proper seed germination and pasture growth. Cropland topsoil moisture is rated as five per cent surplus, 55 per cent adequate, 26 per cent short and 14 per cent very short. Hay and pastureland are rated as two per cent surplus, 52 per cent adequate, 29 per cent short and 17 per cent very short.
Spring runoff for the province has slightly improved compared to the runoff seen in 2021 and this has allowed dugouts, sloughs and other small water bodies to fill throughout many areas. Runoff was rated as five per cent above normal, 44 per cent average and 51 per cent below normal. This replenishment of water in dugouts is extremely important for livestock producers who have struggled with finding good quality water for their animals. Going into the warm summer months, timely rains will be needed to keep water quality and quantity at acceptable levels.
Livestock producers have also struggled to ration their available feed supplies through the winter until pastures are able to sustain grazing. Forage feed supplies are rated as 35 per cent adequate and 65 per cent inadequate, while feed grain supplies are rated as 55 per cent adequate and 45 per cent inadequate. Producers will need a good hay crop this year to replenish their feed supplies and ensure they have more than enough to feed their livestock next winter.
Pasture conditions across the province did not fare well throughout the drought of 2021 and they did not have the rain they needed in the fall for adequate regrowth before winter arrived, which has resulted in less than desirable pasture conditions to start the year. Pasture lands are rated as zero per cent excellent, 12 per cent good, 22 per cent fair, 37 per cent poor and 29 per cent very poor. Warm days with minimal wind are needed along with good rains to improve conditions and allow enough forage growth to support cattle throughout the summer.
There have been reports of winterkill on winter wheat, fall rye and other fall seeded crops; producers are busy assessing the damage and determining whether to reseed. The hardest-hit areas are in the southwest where snow cover was not adequate enough to protect the crop. Producers who are not able to seed are waiting for their fields to dry and preparing their equipment while others who can be in the field are spreading fertilizer and applying herbicides.