By Ryan McCracken
Alberta Newspaper Group
A week’s worth of wet weather may have kept Hatters holed up indoors, but it’s done wonders for local farmers.
With a few dozen millimetres of rainfall over the past week, Steve Miller with Erwin Schlenker Farms says crops are getting the boost they need to thrive after an arid seeding season.
“It was probably one of the driest years I’ve seen seeding,” said Miller. “I would imagine, probably in a few days, you’ll see a lot of stuff come out of the ground, because there was quite a bit that was seeded right into dry dirt and just sitting there waiting for this nice rain we had. Now everything should germinate and come out real nice.”
Miller added the past few years have featured particularly dry conditions for seeding, which can force farmers to rely on a big bout of rain to help get things started.
“A lot of years we seed in prime conditions where you’re seeding into moisture, but the last couple of years it’s been, you put the seed right into the dry ground and you’re hoping for rain,” he said. “We do have some irrigation where you can control that and get the water on to germinate it, but with a lot of the dry land, you’re just hoping for Mother Nature to leave you a nice present to get that all started.”
Seeding coming along well
Seeding was about 80 per cent complete in southern Alberta before widespread rain set into the region this week, according to the most recent Alberta crop report, published on Friday.
All major crops were at that level across the entire Medicine Hat, Foremost, Lethbridge and Strathmore region at the May 19 reporting cut-off – up from 47 per cent last week and slightly above the five-year average.
Planting across the province was less advanced at 62 per cent, but the effort gained steam and conditions allowed overwintered crops in the north to be harvested.
One quarter of crops have emerged in the south, where pasture and tame hay acres are considered in generally good condition.
Seeding is three-quarters complete in areas of southwest Saskatchewan closest to Medicine Hat, that province’s latest crop report states.
Field reports from Leader, Consul and Maple Creek up to May 18 show as much as 85 per cent of this season’s crop is in the ground there, with some emergence after dry weather to start the week.
Acres for canola and most pulse and bean crops nearing completion and durum, barley, and spring wheat are considered about 70 per cent done.
Across Saskatchewan planting hit the halfway mark on May 18, which is right on schedule with the five-year average for progress.
— with files from Collin Gallant, Medicine Hat News