Disease prevention has helped Alta. crop development

Increased disease prevention by Alberta farmers has yield outlooks looking above-average for some of the province’s biggest crops, according to provincial crop specialist Neil Whatley.

“Wheat and canola crops around the province are pretty much good-to-excellent in condition and receiving favourable growing conditions,” said Whatley, who’s based at the provincial Ag-Info Centre in Stettler.

“I would say yields will be better than last year, because we haven’t had the aster yellows problem. We’ve had more fungicide applied at the appropriate times for both crops.”

Field peas are in very good shape, he said, and have also benefited from timely spraying earlier in the growing season.

“There’s some disease, but there were control measures taken. Flowers are fully podded now and some have slight colour change, so we’re not swathing yet, but we’re close.”

That’s not to say there aren’t any disease or pest concerns for crops, but they aren’t as great as the 2012-13 season, Whatley said.

Soil moisture levels vary throughout the province.

“Soil moisture conditions are tapering off in the south where there hasn’t been as much rain,” Whatley said. “They’re getting a bit low in the northeast, but they’ve had timely rains recently. The northwest and Peace regions have the best soil moisture conditions of all regions.”

Weather damage has been confined to very localized areas. “When it does hail, there’s some serious damage,” Whatley said.

“There are no frost concerns either. Not worried about that right now, because we can’t predict that.”

— Brandon Logan writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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