Moisture In Alberta Varied, Crops Still Behind

Moisture levels in Alberta continue to vary widely, with some areas in dire need of rainfall while moisture in other regions is adequate.

According to Neil Whatley, crop specialist with the Alberta Ag Info Centre, central and southern Alberta have good moisture levels while areas north and northeast of Edmonton are on the dry side. The main region of concern in the province, in terms of moisture, is the Peace River district, especially the western section.

“I was just in the Peace last week and rainfall now is just not going to do it. The heads are forming and they’re so few and small. Whether it’s pods on peas or canola, or heads on wheat, they’re much smaller than normal,” he said.

Crop development provincially is generally still a week to two weeks behind normal. Most canola fields are in the podding stage but some late seeded plants have just finished the flowering stage, Whatley said. Wheat, for the most part, is in the soft dough stage while barley is still green and is heading.

Right now the province needs warm weather in order to catch up on crop development, he said.

Harvesting of both winter wheat and fall rye is underway while other crops will not be combined for another few weeks.

As for haying operations, the first cut is complete, Whatley said. A second hay cut is only expected by a few producers.

In the past week, lygus bugs in canola fields have become a concern but farmers are being very aggressive with spraying with such high prices on the line this year, Whatley said. Whereas in years past the threshold for lygus bugs has been 15 bugs per 10 sweeps, this summer the threshold is 1 in 10 sweeps, he said.

Some farmers in Alberta are starting to worry about the potential of early frosts.

Places like Lethbridge and Medicine Hat typically stay frost-free until September 23 and 19 respectively, Whatley said.

“In a place like Lacombe, however, we’re looking at September 8 and for Claresholm, just south of Calgary, September 9. Everything should be mature by then but it’s getting to the risky point for the later crops,” he continued.

In the current week, temperatures in and around Calgary and Edmonton are forecast to be very warm through to Saturday followed by light showers on Sunday and Monday.

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