FarmLink’s Prairie tour gauges crop condition

Solo crop touring isn’t as fun and seems a little out of the norm compared to normal tour set-ups, but that’s just the situation that, like many companies, FarmLink Marketing found themselves in this year. All safety protocols were recently taken into consideration for a crop tour put on by FarmLink Marketing says Neil Townsend, who joins Shaun Haney for a summary of what they found across the prairies while on tour.

Relatively speaking, “the real spot that stands out with a big storyline is southern Alberta,” says Townsend. That’s the “garden of Eden” this year, since the drought seemed to finally break in the region.

East of Edmonton and the Peace River regions are not as good. It seems the further you go north in Alberta, the more variability there is, says Townsend. The lingering impact of crops that weren’t harvested from last year is really showing in the northern parts of Alberta. (story continues below player)

Moving east to Saskatchewan crops are looking good due to timely rains.

Southwestern Saskatchewan seems to have three dominant crops this year — durum, canola, and lentils. “Lentils across the prairies have a similar concern, that they maybe haven’t faced enough adversity in terms of a high heat to stop them from flowering and develop the pods,” says Townsend. Lentils, like other pulses, are indeterminate growers and highly efficient water users, so whatever water they get, they’ll use. In order to set seed and pod, they need stress, such as drought or heat.

Trending north in Saskatchewan, yields for cereals are very optimistic. Barley acres may not be as large as currently reported by Statistics Canada, says Townsend. Yield for oats is also optimistic, however, they’re going to need all the time they can get at the end of the year to reach their full potential — they may be two weeks behind in this part of the province.

As for Manitoba, the parts of the province that haven’t been washed out have lots of potential, cereal crops in particular. Townsend doesn’t predict an early harvest for much of the prairies, and that a frost risk will probably be a concern.

Crop estimation is one part art and one part science says Townsend. Crops like corn, wheat, oats, and barley are “countable”, whereas crops like peas and lentils are a bit less predictable. Canola seems to be the hardest crop to predict the yield for, the formulas seem to be inconsistent. “We take all counts with a bit of a grain of salt,” says Townsend. It’s important to recognize and avoid biases when counting or estimating yield, but it’s in our human nature to find the best spot of a field.




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