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May 27

#Plant15: Seeding ahead of the curve in Alberta

Posted on May 27 By: Patrick Whynot

With June just around the corner, farmers across the province are reporting similar results for the planting season. They are ahead of schedule, and planting more barley.

While Mother Nature has shown some ups and downs to kick off the season, the consensus so far is that Alberta farmers are well positioned for a fruitful crop year.

Farms in the southern Alberta regions began seeding as early as the beginning of April.

“Our first field was seeded April 10, which is earlier than the last few years,” said Alberta Barley region one delegate Brian Witdouck.

Reports of an early seeding start have been echoed across the province.

Contrary to his conventional May 5 starting point, Alberta Barley’s vice chair Jason Lenz (who hails from the Bentley area) began seeding April 30 and expects spraying to be in full swing in three weeks.

“We were halted by a minor storm but seeding is finished, ahead of normal schedule, and the majority of farmers are wrapped up in central Alberta,” said Lenz.

Though the temperature has permitted early seeding, there has been somewhat of a dry spell here in Alberta. However, northern Alberta farmer and Alberta Barley region four delegate Charlie Leskiw noted this may not be a bad thing for barley.

“Here in St. Paul, the surface is dry making some guys worried about canola germinating evenly. Canola seeds shallow, as a result when we have dry sells, the top inch or so dries out then there’s no moisture in layer for germination,” said Leskiw. “Barley is seeded deeper so there is usually no germination issue.”

As Lenz explained, there are several factors that point to an increase in barley acres.

“More guys are putting barley acres in to capitalize on a shortage of malt barley in the market,” Lenz said. “Barley has also shown to work really well in the rotation. To mitigate likelihood of disease from the old canola/wheat, canola/wheat rotation, barley is now also being grown as an effective resistance measure.”

While seeding is ahead of schedule, farmers across the province have one shared wish for June: rain, and lots of it.

“Moisture has been an issue, so our land was fully irrigated,” said Witdouck.

For farmers in the north, where irrigation is normally unneeded, they are praying for some rain.

“The land is very dry and we would love some rain. Despite these conditions, in our neck of the woods, seeding is about a week ahead of normal,” added Leskiw.

Looking ahead to the growing season, only time will tell if Mother Nature cooperates and gives farmers what they need, rain or shine.

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