Neil Whatley Quote

Moisture little concern for seeding in central Alberta

All of the talk about the snow and rain dumping itself on Alberta recently and its impact on farmers is just that — talk.

All of the talk about the snow and rain dumping itself on Alberta recently and its impact on farmers is just that talk.

Neil Whatley, a crop information specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, explained no one in the agricultural sector is worrying about the latest weather.

“The farmers are not panicking. They can’t move, so it’s hard to say if seeding will be delayed,” he said.

“Out of the last 10 springs, there has been five or six of those that have not been average years. And yet, in each of those years there was a bumper crop. So, there really is no need to start worrying yet.”

Whatley did acknowledge this past winter saw lower than normal precipitation in the Bashaw, Ponoka and Stettler areas, but that the moisture received throughout April has helped restore some of those levels.

“Historically, on average, central and northern regions still have snow well into April with frozen or very wet soil,” he added.

“So not getting out into the fields right now is not unusual. And, most of the standing water will likely recede into the soil once it thaws.”

However, what makes spring of 2017 different than average is the amount of farmers that still have crops laying in fields from the fall harvest.

“This spring really is abnormal because of the crops that had to be over-wintered,” Whatley stated.

“It is a grave situation for those farmers who were unable to get their crops off during the dry periods in February and early March. Now, they have to wait until it’s dry enough for machinery.”

One other issue he noted was the challenges facing farmers with crops still in the field, who will have to find ways at controlling weeds and crops like canola that have split and will grow among the new crop.


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