Widespread Anticipation for Yield and Quality at Harvest
Four days and 1,600 km later in Southwest Saskatchewan, here are my observations from the field.
Many crops are behind where they typically are this time of year. Most farmers were delayed this spring, only getting to the fields the last few days of April or the first week of May. A lot of lentil crops are in full bloom and have just started setting pods. Lentil yields are still in question since they are flowering and there hasn’t been any real heat to force pod setting. In contrast, in the past two years, there have been at least a few fields where I could have done an accurate pod count.
Many canola crops are still vibrant yellow and cereal crops that I stopped to count were shedding the last of their flowers. There has been a lack of hot days in the area to spur on growth and force crops to shed their flowers and set seed.
Durum head with flowers still attached on July 23, 2020
Lentil field with lots of flowers and very few pods on July 22, 2020
Farmers in southwestern Saskatchewan adhere to a stricter rotation than they did just five years ago. The market sent out very strong price signals in durum and lentils before seeding. In 2015, I would have expected to see almost nothing else except these two crops. This year, durum is the prevalent cereal, however, barley crops were not hard to come across. If you perch on a hill and look around, a quarter of the fields you see will be yellow, indicating oilseeds. There are several lentil fields, however, pea crops dot the landscape as well. But 2016 is still fresh in everyone's mind when fusarium downgraded durum and aphanomyces and other diseases devastated pulse crops. This area is now much more mindful of rotation.
Canola field still in bloom on July 23, 2020
Pockets of Dryness
As per usual, there are pockets of dryness around southwestern Saskatchewan. You can find dry pockets around Gull Lake, Eastend, Frontier, and Val Marie. They aren't very big and have had some moisture so there is a crop – the question is how big? Some areas such as Ponteix, Admiral, and Gravelbourg look good now and will need some more moisture to finish off the crop.
All in all, the yield potential for durum, lentils, canola, and peas is good to great. The only question left to answer for harvest is what’s the grain yield and quality?
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