As farmers in north-western Saskatchewan gear up for harvest, it looks like they may have a monster crop on their hands.
The latest Saskatchewan Agriculture crop report notes that estimated yields are above the 10-year average across all crops, and the northwest is no exception.
“Early pea yields are exceptional,” said Ian Weber, sales manager with Warrington AgroDynamic of Mervin. The estimated average pea yield for the northwest is 43 bushels per acre, according to the latest crop report.
Farmers in Weber’s area have had a bit of luck with the weather this year. The area has missed most of the “massive rains” that fell on farmland just south, Weber said. In fact, over the last couple of weeks, farmers in the area have needed every rain they got, he added.
About 35 kilometres to the east, Geoff Schick was feeling optimistic about what’s in the field, too.
“For the most part everything looks pretty good,” said Schick, assistant location manager for AgriTeam in Glaslyn. “There’s the odd field where there was a wreck, but you have that every year.”
Recent rains had delayed harvest a little in the Glaslyn area, but Schick said farmers had been harvesting peas. They were also starting on canola, he added.
Weber said farmers had been combining peas in the Mervin-Turtleford area as well, and some canola was swathed. A lot of the canola is a week away from being swathed, he said.
Sclerotinia had started showing up in canola over the last week or so, Weber said. “There are some fields that have minor sclerotinia, and then some are pretty severe.”
Farmers who applied a treatment “are pretty happy they did,” Weber added.
Both Schick and Weber noted bertha armyworms were present in a few fields–Weber said they had sprayed about two hundred acres–but they weren’t widespread. Aster yellows are also popping up in canola fields, but neither thought the infections would cause much of a yield loss.
Wheat growers had seen some disease, Schick said, but fungicide applications were effective, he added.
As farmers start swathing canola, they should be mindful of timing, Weber said. “Just make sure the canola’s in stage. You’re better off to be a bit behind than to push it.”
Gauging the crop’s ripeness by eyeballing the pod colour is not a great method. Each variety is a little different, Weber said. “Some will look riper than they are and some will look green but there’ll be colour change. So you really have to get out there and scout it.”
If farmers are unsure about whether canola is ready to swatch, they should call in help, such as an agronomist, Weber said.
“You can lose a lot of yield if you jump the gun and swath too early.”