Sunday November 23, 2014

Crops lost after storm pelts area with hail, strong winds


A massive storm system swept through southeast Saskatchewan on Saturday and hit some farmers hard, while others were barely scathed.

Terry Johnston, in Kisbey, saw “quite a bit” of hail and storm damage. They lost 3,000 acres to hail damage as well as some damaged shingles.

Herb Axten was at home in Minton when the storm, which pelted the area with hail larger than toonies, and caused wide spread spotty damage to his crop. There were also reports of a tornado in the Minton area.

“I don’t know how you’d have seen it. For a half hour or so you couldn’t see across the yard,” said Axten of the amount of hail and rain coming down.

Axten lost 500 acres to hail damage, mostly from his durum crop, but all his buildings and other property came out unscathed. He said the hail damage was spotty throughout the whole area and that some producers were hit hard while somebody just down the road barely lost anything.

“It could have been worse,” said Axten and added that he hasn’t heard of anything too horrible at coffee row. “You usually get a good rundown of what’s happened at coffee row.”

“It’s a fabulous crop,” he said. “It’s one of the best years. There’s no shortage of moisture.” Axten, who has travelled to Montana and all across the Canadian prairies, said the conditions have been fantastic this year and that there is no weed or pest problem to speak of in his fields of durum, peas, canola, flax, legumes, and one field of peas and canola together that survived the storm are all doing well.

“We were very fortunate,” said Russ Leguee, who farms near Fillmore. Other than some wind and rain, the storm completely bypassed the Leguee farm.

“The crops are looking good,” said Leguee of his wheat, durum, canola, yellow peas and soy beans. As of Monday, Leguee had finished spraying for weeds and was spraying for disease and pests. He said the wheat midge and grasshoppers were bad in places, but not horrible.

“It hasn’t been extremely hot for too many days in a row. I’m pretty happy with the weather so far,” said Leguee on Monday morning, when more storms were predicted later that afternoon.

“It’s a lot cooler today,” said Leguee saying conditions weren’t ripe for another round of strong hail storms. His biggest concern is continuing to mature the crop so that it will be ready for harvest before the first frost of fall.

John Van Staveren farms northeast of Creelman and said the storm didn’t hit them very hard either.

“The crops are doing okay. They really progressed a lot in the last few weeks,” said Van Staveren. “We’ve had our share of moisture.”

About 10 per cent of his fields were flooded at one point and he lost some of his crop to excessive moisture, but things have improved. The hot weather that swept across the prairies in recent weeks has helped dry out fields and provided some much needed heat.

Van Staveren is growing canola, spring wheat, durum, and soy and hasn’t noticed any major threats, though there has been some disease and pests crop up. He finished spraying for weeds last week and is currently spraying for disease and expects to be done in the next seven to 10 days.

The Ministry of Agriculture reports livestock producers have 15 per cent of the hay crop cut and 10 per cent baled or put into silage as of Thursday.  Hay quality at this time is rated as 25 per cent excellent, 67 per cent good and eight per cent fair.  Pasture conditions are rated as 44 per cent excellent, 53 per cent good and three per cent fair. Availability of livestock water is reported to be adequate throughout the region.

Cropland topsoil moisture was rated as 27 per cent surplus, 70 per cent adequate and three per cent short.  Hay land and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as 14 per cent surplus, 81 per cent adequate and 5 per cent short.  Almost all areas in the southeast received some rain this week. The Redvers area has received the greatest amount of precipitation since April 1 (351 mm).

The majority of crop damage reported between July 1 and July 8 was from localized flooding, whereas some areas report that rain would be needed to help crops mature. Hail and wind damage to crops was also reported in some areas. Crop damage from insects such as wheat midge, flea beetles, alfalfa weevil, cutworms and grasshoppers; and from diseases such as cereal leaf diseases, sclerotinia, fusarium head blight and ascochyta blight were reported.

As of Thursday, the ministry reported that crops are growing and farmers are busy spraying for insects and diseases.


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