Warm temperatures have helped speed crop development across the southeast during the past week; however, there is some concern that the heat will cause crop stress during the flowering and filling stages according to Saskatchewan Agriculture’s weekly Crop Report for July 3-9.
“Crops are developing rapidly with the heat and there is not a great deal of visible signs of stress yet,” said Brad Eggum, a Halbrite-Midale area farmer.
“The crops are finding we’ve got good reserve moisture, but we’re definitely going to be looking for some moisture soon,” he added. Hot weather can stress crops but the amount of stress the crop endures depends on a few variables.
“If the crop has a good fertility package, is healthy, and has moisture in the soil that the roots can draw on it, then it’s got a much better ability to survive the heat with less damage,” said Elaine Moats, crop specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture.
With the recent wet seasons, including last year’s flood, reserve moisture beneath the topsoil continues to help crops fight heat stress.
“Because the water table is so high there was moisture right up to the soil surface; certainly there is some drying on the surface, but generally there is moisture below,” said Moats.
Topsoil moisture conditions on cropland are rated as 11 per cent surplus, 78 per cent adequate and 11 per cent short. Hay land and pasture moisture is rated as six per cent surplus, 69 per cent adequate, 24 per cent short and one per cent very short. In crop districts 1B and 2A, cropland topsoil moisture is rated as 24 and 17 per cent surplus respectively.
Some areas in the region experienced thunderstorms that dropped large amounts of rain while the Weyburn area received 15 millimetres. Livestock producers have 62 per cent of the hay crop cut and 35 per cent baled or turned into silage. Hay quality is rated as 18 per cent excellent, 68 per cent good and 14 per cent fair. Reports of alfalfa weevil damage reducing hay yields, particularly in pure stands, are common.
“It’s pretty well wide-spread throughout the area; the newer stands seemed to escape some of the damage but for the most part every field participated to some degree,” said Eggum, who started cutting his alfalfa earlier than usual, haying as soon as the problem became apparent.
Moats said that many producers were disappointed in this year’s hay yield for a few reasons. Extensive damage by the alfalfa weevil was compounded by flood damage. “As people started cutting their hay this year they found there was more damage from flooding than what they expected to see,” said Moats.
For producers who had problems with alfalfa weevils, Moats said the problem can’t adequately be addressed this season and farmers should hold off treating until next spring.
“Once the crop has been cut and bailed, there is not much that can be done about alfalfa weevil until next spring, at which time people will want to monitor their alfalfa fields for the larvae. If larvae are present then, consider spraying the crop fairly early next spring, but at this point there really is not much people can do,” she said.
Waiting until next spring will ensure producers get the most bang for their pest control buck, allowing natural parasites a chance to control the weevil population and giving producers an idea of where adult weevils have lain their eggs.
There have also been reports of wheat midge in the eastern portion of the southeast. “With this heat, the way the cereal crops are advancing people might want to check their wheat crop if it’s in a stage that might be susceptible to wheat midge, but I’m not sure we’ll see much in the way of midge populations in this area,” she said. Producers should check crops for midge from when the boot starts to slip and until it is three-quarters headed.
Other crop damage is attributed to flooding, hail and disease. There are a few reports of aphids starting to show up in peas and lentils, and diamondback moth larvae in canola. Bertha armyworm moth counts are reported to be high in some areas
Across the province, warm and dry weather has allowed for significant haying progress over the past week. Saskatchewan livestock producers have 44 per cent of the 2012 hay crop cut and 20 per cent baled or put into silage while 92 per cent of the hay crop is rated as good to excellent in quality.
Eighty per cent of the fall cereals, 62 per cent of the spring cereals, 57 per cent of the oilseeds and 70 per cent of the pulses are at their normal stage of development for this time of year. Most crops are in fair to excellent condition.
High temperatures throughout the province have resulted in thunderstorms in some areas producing strong winds, hail and varying amounts of precipitation. Disease, flooding, hail and wind are causing the majority of crop damage.
Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation customers should take note of some important dates. The deadline to meet and maintain minimum summerfallow coverage requirements for green manure crops was July 11 in the brown and dark brown soil zones, and July 25th in the black and grey soil zones. Under the Organic Reseeding Benefit, July 15 was the deadline to reseed.