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Pulse weekly outlook: Good start despite dry conditions

CNS Canada — Dry soil conditions persist across many areas of Western Canada but the outlook for pulse crops seems fairly promising in one specialist’s view.

“For the pulses, seeding has been going fairly well,” said Daphne Cruise, crops extension specialist with Saskatchewan’s provincial Agriculture Knowledge Centre in Moose Jaw. “A lot of the pulses are in already.”

Many of Saskatchewan’s chickpea, lentil and pea crops are in the southern half of the province, but some of its traditional pulse areas are starting to shift.

“A few years ago more pea acres were going up in the north and I think I’ve heard about a few more chickpea acres moving north as well,” she said.

According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan grew the lion’s share of Canada’s pulse crops last year and is predicted to plant the most this year. Just under 280,000 acres of chickpeas, 3.6 million acres of lentils and 2.2 million acres of dry peas are expected to be planted in 2018.

Soil conditions remain a concern for farmers in the south. Little rain fell in 2017 and much of southern Saskatchewan saw little snow until late winter, when two or three blizzards blanketed the area.

“So I think the subsoil moisture is decent at this point. It’s just that the topsoil is drying out, especially in the top inch or two,” Cruise said.

She suspects pulse seeding in southern Saskatchewan will wrap up in the next couple of weeks. Rains will be needed soon after that to allow plants to establish.

“If the pulse crops can get a foothold and get those root systems going, then I think they’ll do decent,” she said.

The dry conditions also lower the chance of disease.

As for other dangers, the pea leaf weevil is one pest Cruise and her counterparts plan to track closely.

Over the past few years, it has been spreading eastward through the province up to the Manitoba border, and north of the Trans-Canada Highway.

“That’s one insect to look out for,” she said. “Seed treatment definitely helps in dealing with those adults and larvae feeding on the nodules and into the upper portions of the plant above ground.”

Fortunately, grasshoppers seem to be at a lower population for the time being, according to Cruise.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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