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Little relief from dry conditions except for a small portion of the northern grainbelt

Dec 28, 2023

Harvest is starting early in the driest parts of the province.

The Saskatchewan Agriculture weekly crop report says combines are becoming a regular sight in the southwest. Just under three per cent has been combined with another three per cent straight cut. Some producers are planning to use failed grain crops for feed. Seventy-seven per cent of pastures in the southwest are either in poor or very poor condition.

Crops are also ripening quickly in the west-central region with some lentils harvested. Only 10 percent of cropland in the west-central region has adequate topsoil moisture, 49 per cent is short and 41 per cent very short. Hay and pasture topsoil is even more limited with just four per cent adequate, 41 per cent short and 55 per cent very short. The volunteer crop report at Smiley recorded 43 millimetres of rain last week—-but most other parts of the west-central region only had a trace.

In the east-central region—producers are testing grain moisture levels to gauge when to start combining. Little rain fell in east-central last week with Lumsden having the most at 6 millimetres. Hay and pasture land in east-central has adequate topsoil moisture, 48 percent is short and 44 percent is very short.

The news improves as we move to the northern grainbelt. In the northeast, growers are watching crop staging and expect to start the harvest in the next week or shortly after. The Prince Albert area had 53 millimetres or two inches of rain last week. Six per cent of the pastures in the northeast are in good condition, 58 per cent are fair, 34 per cent poor and two per cent very poor. There have been reports of insect pressure. Haying and silaging are in the final stages.

Parts of the northwest also received significant rain last week with the Shellbrook and Big River areas receiving 47 millimetres. Unfortunately, other parts of the northwest had less. Meadow Lake had 27 millimetres, Duck Lake 19 millimetres while others were in the 5-to-10-millimetre range. Only 11 per cent of pastures in the northwest are in good condition,–34 percent fair—46 percent poor and nine percent are very poor. Crop damage was caused by dry conditions as well as insect damage—grasshoppers and lygus bugs.