Saturday, 12 August 2017 05:41

Heat wave has had adverse effects on southwest

Written by  Andrea Carol
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Steve Riegel and son Hudson of Swift Current get some fishing done in the Swift Current Creek by the black bridge just South of Swift Current. Steve Riegel and son Hudson of Swift Current get some fishing done in the Swift Current Creek by the black bridge just South of Swift Current. Andrea Carol

Saskatoon berry pie lovers may be going without this year. Scorching temperatures and little to no precipitation has put a dent in the harvest of the province’s famous berry.

Sun-baked Saskatoon crops took a huge hit leaving skimpy left overs for pie lovers. It’s a disaster of epic proportions for the Thanksgiving table this year.  If you are a Saskatoon lover, Mom’s a la minute Saskatoon berry pie may not be on the menu.
Over the past few weeks, Saskatchewan residents braved record temperatures and dangerously dry conditions. The arid conditions rudely reminded us that we still live in the Palliser Triangle. 
With a reputation as the sunniest province in Canada (approximately 2206 hours per year) and the leader in cereal crop production in the country, the southwest has experienced its driest July in 130 years.
July’s hot temperatures threatened livestock, crops and parks. Environment Canada is predicting over the next 30 years, the number of extremely hot days in a year is expected to more than double in some parts of Canada. This will without a doubt have an impact on producers.
The high air temperature and lack of rain, adversely affects plant growth in crops and yield declines are expected across the province.
“The high temps experienced this summer has certainly impacted yields. The year started off pretty good with good moisture to get crops germinated,” explained Gerry Bourgeois who is not only a Swift Current-area farmer but who handles agriculture -related clients for Scotiabank. “Winds and high temperatures in May and June caused crops to use much of the reserve moisture in the ground. High temperatures in July limited the length of flowering on all crops which will subsequently reduce yield. The only thing that salvaged a crop was the excellent reserve moisture in the ground from the significant rain last year.
 “Unfortunately, every last drop of water has been sucked out of the ground. We will need significant rain this fall or next spring to replenish the moisture profile. If next year is like this year, crops won't survive as there will be no sub soil moisture in the ground.”
Cattle producers were challenged with compromised water quality due to the arid conditions. Water is the nutrient required most by cattle and they can tolerate poor water quality better than humans, but if concentrations of specific compounds found in water are high enough, cattle can be affected.
A producer near Shamrock, Sask. experienced devastation when poor water quality and heat were responsible for the death of 200 cattle earlier this summer.
Cattle aren’t the only one’s suffering as the water in rivers and lakes can become too warm and cannot sustain life.
Warm water holds less dissolved oxygen than cold water, so in times of high temperatures, fish can have a hard time getting enough oxygen.
There have been reports of fish kills in the province due to the high temperatures.
Sloughs and dugouts have evaporated as well and the reports from Saskatchewan Agriculture (please see Page 16) indicate dry conditions especially in the southwest.
With Saskatchewan having 44% of Canada’s total cultivated farmland, Mom’s Thanksgiving pie isn’t the only thing to take a hit this year. Unfortunately for most producers, the rain came too late.  Harvest is underway and Thanksgiving will still come, but unfortunately may come without  the Saskatoon pie.

Read 627 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 August 2017 11:43

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