Thursday, 30 May 2013 06:46

Rain in southwest Alberta came at the right time...sort of

Written by  Garrett Simmons —Southern Alberta Newspapers
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There’s never a perfect time for rain. That said, the precipitation which began to fall in the Lethbridge area last Thursday came at a time when seeding operations were almost 100-per-cent wrapped up, and southern Alberta soil desperately needed a boost in moisture content.

 “Most of the region would have been fairly dry,  said Doon Pauly, an agronomy research scientist at the Lethbridge Research Centre.  “We had some plots up in Vauxhall and they were very dry. 
Pauly added that region was one of the first to get going this spring with seeding operations, while others were not so lucky. He highlighted the Enchant area as one place in particular that experienced a normal schedule.
 “They have dry, sandier land, and they were going in April when everyone else around Lethbridge was at a dead stop. 
Most other southern Alberta producers faced delays, as crops went into the ground an average of a week to 10 days late this year, hampered by late snow in the Magrath area and south of Bow Island, and rain in other regions.
 “We got off to a slower-than-normal start, but I would suspect the only crops remaining to be seeded are by design,  said Pauly, who added some dry beans are going into the ground right now.  “Your traditional field crops are virtually complete. 
The late start could have proved disasterous if not for ideal conditions which greeted farmers soon after.
 “Seeding progressed rapidly by the long weekend,  said Pauly.  “By the middle of the month, we would have been back to normal. 
Just how normal things continue to be becomes the question now. Crops in the ground later than usual can recover quickly, he added, especially if southern Alberta’s traditional heat units greet the region.
 “A lot depends on the growing season. The heat accumulation throughout the growing season can more than make up for the late start. We don’t want blazing heat, but if we have seasonal temperatures or slightly above seasonal temperatures in June, we probably won’t see many effects from this late season. 
The June heat will make or break many crops, according to Pauly, who pointed out two in particular which will require a boost in te coming weeks.
 “With canola and peas, who want them in early so when the heat of July hits, they’re past that sensitive stage. Field peas, commercial canola and hybrid canola, if they start flowering and we get 35-degree weather, that’s not good. 

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