The Southwest Booster
Harvest underway as heat accelerates crop ripening
Harvest operations in some portions of the Southwest got underway in late July, but much lower crop yields are anticipated according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Crop Report for the period of July 20 to 26.
The extended combination of little moisture, winds and summer heat has lowered yield expectations.
“The majority of crops in the Southwest region are in very poor-to-fair condition. The region did not receive rain at crucial times during the growing season and that has left the crops thin and stunted, making many fields only good to be harvested as cattle feed,” the report issued on July 29 stated. “Crop yield is expected to be much lower than average.”
“More rainfall will be needed soon to support crop and pasture development for next year. It is too late for this year’s crop to be saved by a timely rain,” the report added.
An indication of crop quality was reflected in haying operations which are nearly wrapped up. A full 80 per cent of hay crop has been baled or put into silage, with an additional 10 per cent cut and waiting to be baled. Hay quality is rated as 28 per cent good, 28 per cent fair and 44 per cent poor, and individual yields are far lower than the regional and provincial averages.
At the end of July, topsoil moisture conditions were rated as 68 per cent very short, 30 per cent short, and only two per cent adequate. Similarly, hay and pasture land topsoil moisture is rated as 78 per cent very short, 20 per cent short, and two per cent adequate.
Some Southwest producers have already begun to harvest pulse crops such as lentils.
Province wide, the hot and dry weather during June and July has had a significant impact on the 2021 harvest outlook.
“The prolonged drought conditions have rapidly deteriorated crop conditions and a majority of crops are rated as poor to fair. All crops are well ahead of their normal developmental stages for this time of year and many are ripe enough to begin harvest. Some producers have started harvesting, while others are still assessing yields and determining if cutting and baling is the better option,” the province wide report noted.
“Strong winds, drought stress, hail, heat and grasshoppers took their toll on crops this past week. There is little producers can do at this point in the season to address these environmental factors out of their control.”
Producers are reminded that in response to the feed shortage this year, Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation is doubling the Low Yield Appraisal threshold values for customers who salvage their cereal or pulse crops as feed, without negatively impacting future individual coverage.
Customers are asked to contact their local SCIC office before they graze, bale or silage any damaged crops to discuss their options. Additionally, the Government of Saskatchewan is making changes to temporarily increase the maximum funding a livestock producer can receive from the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program (FRWIP) for dugouts, wells and pipelines for agricultural use. This change will be in effect for the April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, time period. The maximum rebate for livestock producers during this time period will increase from $50,000 to $150,000. The first $50,000 will be based on a 50-50 costshare and the remaining $100,000 will be on a 70-30 government-producer cost-share. Producers can contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 for more information. We would like to also remind producers that the Farm Stress Line is available for support if you need it. It is a confidential service, available 24-hours-a-day, sevendays-a-week, toll-free at 1-800-667-4442. Calls are answered by Mobile Crisis Services Regina, a non-profit, community-based agency and there is no call display.