Weather puts a damper on crops

Cold, dry weather has put a chill on field crops and pastures that need a significant boost to get growing in time to beat the first frost this fall.

Cold, dry weather has put a chill on field crops and pastures that need a significant boost to get growing in time to beat the first frost this fall.

“If we get frost on the 16th of August like we did last year, we’re toast,” says Elna Edgar, partner in a mixed farm near Innisfail.

All of the Edgars’ crops are up, but late frost has nipped at the canola, the pastures still aren’t ready for cattle and the asparagus has struggled against cold nights, Edgar said on Friday.

Normally, the Edgars would put their cows and calves out on pasture on the May long weekend.

Because it has been cold and dry, the grass is not growing near as well as it should.

The canola will bush out and yield well provided there is no more frost, but an early frost would knock it down for good, she said.

Like the rest of the region, she and her husband, Doug, are looking for at least five centimetres of rain followed by a lot of sunshine — as long as all of the rain doesn’t come over the space of 20 minutes.

Farmers around Lacombe got a bit of moisture Friday morning, but some of it came in the form of snow, which is not welcome when new crops are just getting started, said Mark Cutts, crop specialist at the Alberta Ag Info Centre in Stettler.

“Throughout the entire province, there’s a definite need for some moisture,” said Cutts.

“Seeding might have been done in a relatively timely manner. It’s just that soils are cold and cool, dry conditions extended emergent conditions on a lot of crops.”

Delayed germination and slow growth means those crops are already behind where they should be at this stage of the growing season.

Frost damage has affected canola crops, so canola growers are watching their crops quite closely and a number of them have already re-seeded those fields to barley, said Cutts.

“These crops haven’t been very kind to some of the crops that have emerged.”

He is trying to convince them to hold off for a few more days, stating that the surviving plants can still produce a significant yield once they get going.

“The two things were are definitely needed would be some nice rain, followed by normal temperatures for this time of year — not snow in the morning.”

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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