Crop conditions look good in Southern Alberta
Over the months of May and June, precipitation has been at least near normal in most areas including the northern part of the Peace Region, which was consistently dry for previous years. A large area covering the western half of the Central Region, most parts of the North West Region, eastern parts of the North East Region and the south and east of the Peace Region have been very wet, receiving at least 200 mm of rain over the past 60 days. Within this area, there are some extremely wet pockets that have received more than 200 mm of precipitation, which has been almost twice the normal amount in those areas. Over the last crop report week (week of June 17 – 23), most areas in the Southern, Central, North East and Peace Regions remained relatively dry, while the western parts of the province, the south eastern parts of the Peace and some parts of the North East Region received at least 10-15 mm of rain.
Provincially, 79 per cent of crops are now rated in good or excellent condition, above the 5-year average of 70 per cent and the 10-year average of 74 per cent (See Table 1). Regionally, warmer temperatures and less precipitation benefited the North East and North West Regions, improving crop conditions by one and eight per cent, respectively. Crop growing conditions in the Southern and Peace Regions dropped by five per cent and remained almost unchanged in the Central. Compared to the regional 5-year averages, crop conditions are better than normal in all regions, except for the North West. Crop development is slightly behind normal in all areas, but with warmer temperatures they can catch up. Source: AF/AFSC Crop Reporting Survey Across those areas that have received above normal precipitation since snow melt, soil moisture reserves are above average through many areas but are variable across the province (See the map on the next page). Soil moisture levels through the western half of the province are estimated to contain at least 120 mm of water, available for plant growth, with some extremely wet areas within the zone, while it is drier across the southern and eastern parts of the Southern, Central and North East Regions, with only 20-40 mm of plant available moisture. Provincial surface soil moisture (sub-surface soil moisture ratings shown in brackets) was rated at 1 (2) per cent poor, 8 (9) per cent fair, 45 (46) per cent good and 38 (34) per cent excellent, with 8 (9) per cent excessive (see Table 2). Regionally, excessive surface soil moisture ratings are reported at 7 per cent in the North East, 47 per cent in the North West and 15 per cent in the Peace Region.
Regional Assessments: Region One: Southern (Strathmore, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Foremost) - Over the past week, precipitation has been mostly from thundershowers, maintaining soil moisture levels in some areas, followed by several days of heat, contributing to crop growth. Overall, growing conditions are good and crops are growing well, due to higher temperatures and longer days. Hail damaged crops from 10 days ago are mostly recovering. - About two thirds of crops in the region are rated as in good condition with another 15 per cent rated as excellent. Most spring seeded cereals are at the stem elongation stage of development, slightly behind normal.
- Surface and sub-surface soil moisture reserves declined slightly by three and one per cent respectively, from a week ago. Subsurface soil moisture is rated at 3 per cent poor, 17 per cent fair, 63 per cent good and 17 per cent excellent. - Pastures look good and thin spots from previous poor springs are filling. Pasture growing conditions (tame hay shown in parentheses) are reported as 12 (9) per cent fair, 73 (71) per cent good and 15 (20) per cent excellent. Region Two: Central (Rimbey, Airdrie, Coronation, Oyen)
- Most parts of the region have had good weather over the past week and crops are developing nicely. Spraying is about to finish, with some later seeded canola fields are getting sprayed for flea beetles.
- About 85 per cent of major crops in the region are rated as in good condition with another 10 per cent rated as excellent. Most spring seeded cereals are in the middle of the tillering stage of development, slightly behind normal.
- Surface soil moisture reserves improved slightly by one per cent from a week ago, while sub-surface soil moisture remained unchanged. Subsurface soil moisture is rated at 4 per cent poor, 12 per cent fair, 68 per cent good and 16 per cent excellent.