May 30, 2019 by Lee Hart

Some days the news ain’t great

Well it is not exactly the weather forecast Prairie farmers were hoping to hear, but AccuWeather is predicting a hot, dry summer across most of Western Canada.

Actually the west side of Alberta will be hot, dry and smoky and the rest of the prairies will just be hot and dry, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Drought conditions may expand across the Canadian Prairies throughout the spring as a dry and mild weather pattern takes hold across the region, says the report.

“There are already pockets of moderate to severe drought across the region, including in Regina and Winnipeg, according to the Canadian Drought Monitor.

These areas of drought could expand throughout the spring.

“I do not see any indications that we are headed toward a wet spring in this region,” Anderson said.

“Based on our forecast, we anticipate worsening drought for southern Saskatchewan and expanding into southern Alberta as the spring progresses,” he says.

This could add even more stress to farmers across Saskatchewan that have been coping with drought conditions since 2017.

And then there is the pig thing

Remember those Wild Boards that seemed like a really good farm diversification opportunity a few years ago. Well according to a University of Saskatchewan researcher the opportunity has turned into a monster.

While there are no doubt still some responsible Wild Board producers out there, many of these very adaptable and prolific hogs either escaped or were turned loose by operators, and as numbers increase their aggression and destructive behaviour pose a real problem.

“There are numerous problems associated with these animals once they’re introduced onto our landscape,” Ruth Aschim, a researcher with the University of Saskatchewan, told CTV’s Your Morning this week.

The CTV report goes on to say, Wild pigs were originally introduced in hopes of diversifying Canadian livestock production. But, after mating with domestic pigs, many of the hybrid pigs escaped from their pens or were intentionally set free.

To make matter trickier, wild pigs are highly adaptive. They are hardy enough to survive Canadian winters burrowed in snowy “pigloos” and, as voracious omnivores, often spend summers feasting on anything they can find, including insects, reptiles and farmers’ crops.

These days wild pigs cover a range of over 777,000 square kilometres in Canada. Researchers say their territory has grown by an average of 88,000 square kilometres per year over the last decade.

The report mapped wild pig territory by using tracking collars, mounting cameras on trails and researching confirmed sightings. Researchers found that Saskatchewan is home to the country’s largest population of the swine, with smaller populations spread across every province except those in Atlantic Canada.

On an international scale, wild pigs have the largest global range of any non-domesticated terrestrial mammal, researchers said.

The reason for the rapid spread has a lot to do with their mating patterns. Wild pigs give birth to an average of six pigs a litter, and can give birth three times each year. Piglets become sexually mature as early as fourth months of age.

Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]

 

 

 

Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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