Frost threat likely to keep farmers away from early seeding

Double-digit temperatures forecast for the next few days might cause some farmers to look longingly at their tractors, but the threat of frost should keep them out of the fields for another few weeks.

Double-digit temperatures forecast for the next few days might cause some farmers to look longingly at their tractors, but the threat of frost should keep them out of the fields for another few weeks.

“The snow is gone or is moving off very quickly but I don’t think in Central Alberta people get too excited in the first week of April thinking about seeding yet,” said Mark Cutts, a Stettler-based crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

Typically, he said, the bulk of seeding in this region occurs in the first two to three weeks of May. But there are always opportunists eager to get a jump on the growing season if conditions seem right.

“If we had a stretch of really nice warm weather, and soil conditions were appropriate and not too wet, and soil temperatures were in the range we’re looking for, yeah I guess you might see some guys out there poking around a little earlier than normal,” said Cutts.

And that could produce a bit of a domino effect.

“All it takes is one guy to get out, and then everyone follows.”

Moisture conditions appear favourable through much of Central Alberta, said Cutts, with crops likely to get off to a good start.

“What happens the rest of the growing season will depend on when and how much precipitation we get during that growing season,” said Cutts.

Crops don’t appear to be facing any unusual threats at this point, he added, although that could change as the year progresses.

“Growing season conditions for both insect pests and diseases kind of dictate what we end up with for those types of issues.”

As for cropping choices, Cutts expects to see a lot of yellow in Central Alberta again this year.

“I suspect canola will still be a popular choice.”

But faba bean acres appear to be growing, he noted, pointing out that pulse crops can help break up the typical canola-wheat rotation that leaves fields more vulnerable to crop-specific diseases.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com