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Guenther: Seeding in home stretch for dry NW Saskatchewan

Farm and pastureland east of Mervin, Sask. Seeding is nearing completion in northwest Saskatchewan, but lack of rain means topsoil conditions have deteriorated. (Lisa Guenther photo)

Seeding is drawing to a close in northwestern Saskatchewan, largely due to warm, dry weather this month.

On average, seeding in the northwest was over half done early in the week, according to the latest Saskatchewan Crop Report. Provincially, farmers are 51 per cent done, putting them miles ahead of the five-year average of 28 per cent.

Dave Shepherd, location manager for AgriTeam at Glaslyn, put seeding at 60 to 70 per cent complete in his area.

“If you look at last year, we’re probably a week ahead anyway,” Shepherd said.

West of Glaslyn, farmers are even further along. Ian Weber, sales manager for Warrington AgroDynamic at Mervin, estimated peas, canola, and wheat acres were 90 per cent complete in his area. Greenfeed and oats will be seeded later, he added.

That dry weather comes with a cost. Rain fell in most parts of the province last week, but the northwest received the least. Duck Lake won the northwest’s rain lottery, collecting a paltry 10 mm. Since April 1, Meadow Lake has seen the most rain in the region, at 20 mm total.

As a result, topsoil moisture conditions are deteriorating in the northwest, the crop report notes. Pea stubble, knolls, and lighter land are getting dry, and will need rain for some crops to germinate, Weber said.

But both Shepherd and Weber remain fairly optimistic about the growing season.

“We still have some good subsoil moisture in the fields,” said Shepherd.

Both said farmers should focus on what they need to do to get the crop off to a good start. That means burning off weeds so they don’t rob moisture, and optimizing fertility.

“If I was planting a crop myself, I would be looking at forward-pricing some of the production,” Shepherd added.

Weber also suggested farmers plan to take some time off after the busy seeding season.

And while everyone would welcome rain, there’s no point in panicking, Weber added.

“We have never lost a crop in the middle of May yet.”

The latest Saskatchewan Crop Report is available online.

Lisa Guenther is a field editor for Grainews and Country Guide at Livelong, Sask. Follow her at @LtoG on Twitter.

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