Watching the skies and the thermometer in the Peace

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The crop report for the Peace region is generally favourable, but weather conditions now and later are giving growers plenty of anxiety. Alberta Agriculture market specialist David Wong said frequent rains and showers are slowing up haying operations and the fescue harvest in northwestern Alberta.

“We’ve been on a hail watch as well as watching out for the five-letter F word: Frost,” Wong said in early August. “Right now, we are hoping for hot weather to help maturity.” He said producers certainly don’t need any more moisture. “Rain continues to be hit or miss, with heavy local showers throughout the Peace,” he said.

Producers are looking for bumper crops, if everything goes well. “Crops are looking terrific,” Wong said. The July 30 provincial crop report showed crop conditions at 89 per cent and “good to excellent” compared to the five-year average of 66 per cent for this time period. Wong said soil moisture conditions (81.5 per cent) are excellent, with just under two per cent reported as excessive.

“Haying operations are all over the map,” he said. “Some guys are finished while others waited and have just cut their hay. “Many fields have been rained on and swaths turned.” Still, Wong said yields are very good at well over two tons per acre. The average here is about 1.6. “Many pastures are being hayed as pasture yields are very good to sustain the animals on the other pastures,” he said.

Canola was finishing flowering and needed three weeks for seeds to set. “There’s lots of pods there and the crops look very good,” said Wong. Peace region wheat was in the late-milk stage and looked promising, he said. “We just need the heat to ripen the crop, let the later tillers catch up, avoid frost, and hopefully get a good grade.”

Wong said many producers utilized fungicides this year in canola due to the moisture causing disease buildup in some areas; dry conditions inviting bugs. “Our winter wheat is late but with the good moisture it has continued to grow,” he said, adding some fields could be ready within the week.

Peace region fescue harvest had commenced in early August and Wong said initial reports indicated an average crop. “Second-year fields do not look good for yield,” he added. Overall, Wong said, “we’re not looking at harvest starting in general until early September.”

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