Prairie moisture 30 day.pdfAs if farmers and ranchers didn’t know it by looking out the
window, this prairie soil moisture map from Agriculture Canada tells a pretty
graphic story about how dry it is and where, across Western Canada.
This map is as of June 21 so things can change, although I
don’t think they have improved considerably. In God’s country, which is the
greater Calgary-area the grass is green, but you don’t have to go far in most
directions to find drought conditions.
I was talking this week with farmer Charles Schmidt at
Chinook, in eastern Alberta near the Saskatchewan border, and wheat and barley
are hanging in, but about 2,000 acres of mustard is already toast. Charles
figures the soil freeze dried leaving those little seeds little chance of
germinating – and they didn’t.
Calgary weather forecasts late last week talked about two or
three days of rain ‘ if you have any gardening to get done, get it done Friday
because it is going to be cold and wet over most of Alberta’. Charles says they
were grateful for a half inch of rain at his farm, but it really isn’t enough
to bring the crop home. Mind you,
not far away some people reported 1.5 inches of rain over the same period, so
it can be variable.
And as it turned out here in Calgary, I didn’t have to stop
gardening. It never did rain.
Further north in the St. Paul area, which is east of
Edmonton toward the Saskatchewan border, Stan Harder reports some cattle are on
pasture, but a pasture that would have lasted two weeks last year, is now only
lasting a couple days.
Stan says some were talking about taking cattle to auction
and one auctionmart said don’t bother – no one is buying.
As you look at this map, it is almost surprising to see some
green in southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan and then another good
area in the central part of Saskatchewan from Weyburn up to Prince Albert and
Meadow Lake. Those are obviously the areas where the Christians live.
There isn’t much to say other than the variability in
agriculture never ceases to amaze me. Some years prices are good and crops are
poor, then we can have near record crop yields and prices on the other end of
the scale. At other times cattle and hog prices are decent but feed costs are
through the roof. And then there are years when it isn’t worth the trucking
costs to send them to market. And then of course there are some years when
everything goes to hell.
About the only silver lining I can see at the moment, and it
is very narrow, but if you are growing durum wheat this year and it grows,
likely protein levels will be high.
But it is only June 24th today….there is still
time for it to start raining and bring some improvement to spirit if nothing
For more maps and other information on weather and soil
moisture conditions here are some websites to check out.
Ag Canada PFRA
Alberta Agriculture – http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/acis10819
Saskatchewan Agriculture – http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/crprpt090618
Manitoba Agriculture: http://tgs.gov.mb.ca/climate/
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