Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:46

Long winter making farming community in southwest Sask. wait

Written by  Jessi Gowan
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With winter stretching out into spring, snowfalls and colder temperatures are creating some challenges for local producers.

The calving season has already begun, and producers are putting in extra hours to manage their livestock.
“It’s a lot more miserable for producers, and for the calves, too,” admitted Bob Springer, regional livestock specialist with the Saskatchewan Agriculture office in Swift Current.
“Especially with all this moisture, the calves are getting wet and then getting too cold at night during these cold overnight lows.”
The cold weather has also inhibited the drying out of pasture areas, so producers have been unable to turn their calves out to pasture.
With nothing yet to eat this year, producers are forced to continue feeding their livestock.
“It was a long winter for feeding to begin with, and now we’ve got to do it for an extra few weeks,” Springer said.
“It does increase costs for producers, and since a lot of the hay from last year wasn’t very good quality — it will probably result in thinner livestock.”
Springer added once the weather gets back to normal, producers should see their livestock adding weight again.
He admitted it has been a number of years since producers have seen a spring this late, especially in this area.
“Normally, when we see calves in April, it’s nice out and easy to manage,” he said. “It’s nice to see the moisture, but it would be much nicer to enjoy a warm rain.”
While it’s not unusual for local farmers to begin seeding in April, Regional Crops Specialist Shannon Chant explained that due to the variable moisture situation throughout the southwest, farmers have been slightly delayed.
“It is possible there may be some farmers seeding already, but we are in a better situation than some other parts of the province,” she said.
“Some areas are saying their producers may not be able to start seeding until June, and while this isn’t ideal, we could definitely be in worse shape.”
Delayed seeding and cold weather can be a bit of a concern for farmers, since the crop’s maturity will come much later than normal — when fall frost becomes an issue.
Chant explained some producers may be making changes to their seeding plans, finding crops that will work better with the weather.
“I don’t think it’s time to panic yet, but if we get another couple storms or more snow to slow us down, I’d be more concerned,” she said.
“However, anytime you are starting late, things get a lot more stressful.”

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