Winter wheat crops thriving in Alberta

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Winter wheat crops are thriving across Alberta, contrasting multiple reports of challenges in the eastern Prairies.

On May 27, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives reported that reseeding of winter wheat is occurring throughout the province due to poor plant stands. On May 30, the Saskatchewan government reported that some winter wheat fields in southeastern Saskatchewan are being reseeded due to high levels of winterkill.

Harry Brook, a crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development said, “We have not heard any reports of winter wheat being ripped up. There are no real issues at the moment.”

Alberta received rain following seeding last fall, compared to areas farther east. Southern Alberta received moderate rain in early October, allowing crops sufficient moisture for emergence and establishment. The majority of the winter wheat is grown in southern Alberta.

Conditions remained good over the winter and spring, Brook said, adding, “We had really good snow cover, so we had good germination in the spring.”

The favourable weather has continued for the southern Albertan growing areas, Lukas Matejovsky, a crop statistician with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development said.

“The recent rainy weather was very helpful for southern and central regions that were becoming dry,” said Matejovsky.

He added that he had not heard of any reports of problems with winter cereal crops.

In the eastern Prairies the deep snow pack, combined with the cool weather in March and April, slowed spring development of winter wheat. Concerns had been raised that the slow-growing winter cereals may be heading later in the season increasing the risk of fusarium.

“Albertan winter wheat may be a little delayed, but not significantly,” said Brook. “At the moment the situation is cautiously optimistic.”

While winter wheat crops are generally in excellent condition in Alberta, the acreage sown in the province was far less than in the East. Only 10 per cent of Prairie winter wheat was sown in Alberta last fall, below the recent average of 20 per cent.

On April 24, 2013 Statistics Canada estimated the amount of winter wheat acres seeded in the fall of 2012 that remained after winterkill losses were factored in as 110,000 acres in Alberta, 370,000 in Saskatchewan and 595,000 in Manitoba.

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