Central Alberta farmers are off to a slower-than-normal start to this year’s growing season.
As of May 16, seeding progress is below the five-year average in the province’s central region, according to the latest Alberta Crop Report, which was released late last week.
Overall, seeding is eight percent behind the five-year average at 52 per cent complete. But the mix of moisture and heat has aided germination, with emergence at 13 per cent and two per cent ahead of the five-year average.
“Rainfall was reported around the region, even delaying seeding for a few days in certain areas. However, surface soil moisture conditions fell from last week 10 per cent to 44 per cent poor to fair and 56 per cent good to excellent,” the Alberta crop report states.
Pasture growth conditions (tame hay in brackets) in the central region are rated highest in the province at 62 (60) per cent good to excellent and only 38 (40) per cent poor to fair.
Hot and dry weather with the occasional light shower continued to provide relatively good conditions for seeding progress and allowed early emergence across the province.
So far in the season, 55 per cent of all crops have been seeded, which is only three per cent behind the five-year average and five per cent behind the 10-year average. Over the past week, seeding progress for major crops advanced 31 per cent.
Regionally, seeding progress is ahead of the five-year average in the north west and the peace region, but below average in the south and central regions. Progress is on par with the five-year average in the north east. Among regions, the north east reported the most major crop progress over the past week with 36 per cent, followed by the Central, South, North West, and Peace Regions with 30, 29, 29, and 28 per cent, respectively.
Provincially, emergence is at 15 per cent, and three per cent ahead of the five-year average.
“Adequate and timely rains are still needed to ensure plant growth for crops, as well as for tame hay and pasture,” said the Alberta Crop Report.
There has been limited precipitation across the province as a whole, while warm temperatures have reduced soil moisture reserves greatly as relative to the long term normal.
Last week, the south was the only region that experienced improved soil moisture conditions. Meanwhile, conditions for other regions decreased by 8-14 per cent. Provincially, soil moisture conditions (sub-surface moisture conditions in brackets) are rated as 17 (18) per cent poor, 34 (36) per cent fair, 45 (43) per cent good, 4 (3) per cent excellent and 0 (0) per cent excessive.