According to the last crop report of the season for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, it was an overall good year for the southeast.
With good precipitation and no long periods of extreme heat, the crop in the region was able to thrive and yield above average for most producers. Early season rains delayed seeding for much of the region and producers were worried that this would lead to a late harvest. While the start of harvest was slightly delayed, dry conditions in the fall allowed producers to get the crop in the bin quickly. Producers would like to see it rain as the soils are drying out quickly and it has been almost two months since the region saw a significant rain event.
The region saw a large improvement in crop yields due to early spring rains as well as timely rains during the crucial seed filling stage. Most crops are estimated to be yielding above their 10-year averages. Some producers, however, state that their crop looked far better than it yielded. Yield was slightly impacted by pressure from gophers, grasshoppers, wind and disease. Overall producers are happy with their yields and would like to see similar results at the end of the 2023 season.
Crop quality in the region was good overall, with the majority of crops falling within the top two grades. Some cereal crops were downgraded due to a higher occurrence of ergot which is likely a result of precipitation the region saw during the flowering stage of the crop.
The southeast still holds the highest ratings for topsoil moisture but it is quickly drying out and producers would like to see even a small rain shower before the ground freezes. Along with rain the region will need heavy snowfall over the winter to ensure dugouts and sloughs fill with spring runoff to allow cattle access to good water once they are turned out to pasture. Cropland topsoil moisture is rated as one per cent surplus, 41 per cent adequate, 49 per cent short and nine per cent very short. Hay and pasture land topsoil moisture is rated as one per cent surplus, 30 per cent adequate, 52 per cent short and 17 per cent very short.
Hay yields greatly improved in the region as the hay crop was able to get an early start to growth due to spring rains and almost weekly rains in June. Regionally, average hay yields on dry land are reported (in tons per acre) as: alfalfa 2; alfalfa/brome 2.1; other tame hay 1.75; wild hay 1.5 and greenfeed 3. An increased hay yield has allowed many producers replenish their depleted feed inventories which is huge relief on them and their livestock.
A large majority of livestock producers indicate they either have a surplus or adequate level of hay, straw, greenfeed and feed grain as winter approaches. This is very good news for livestock producers since they had to use up most of their feed supplies last winter after a poor hay crop in 2021. Hay and straw bales are now being moved home along with the last of the cattle still out on pasture.
Due to almost no rainfall since early August, many producers did not seed winter cereals this fall as they were worried about poor germination and emergence. As a result, winter wheat acres are estimated to fall 23 per cent while fall rye is slated to fall 12 per cent.
Farmers are busy cleaning up fields, hauling grain and bales, harrowing fields with heavy crop residues, picking rocks and bringing the last of their cattle home for the winter.
-Source: Government of Saskatchewan