By Tim Kalinowski
Due to hot, dry weather and little moisture, crops will likely be entering the finishing stages earlier than usual this year, says Alberta Agriculture and Forestry crop specialist Mark Cutts.
“We are not expecting a bumper crop, but it’s hard to say sometimes. Farmers can be pleasantly surprised when they go into the field and combine. But anytime your crops are under stress from high temperatures and a lack of moisture, you would expect to see an impact on yield, for sure.”
Cutts says even irrigated crops are challenged when temperatures soar as they have done the past month, and stay hot for an extended period of time.
“It’s a challenge to keep enough water in irrigated fields when you have so many days in row of such hot temperatures,” he confirms. “There is an advantage to having irrigation, but the management of that irrigation water has to be very good when you have these types of conditions.”
Some crops do thrive under hotter conditions, says Cutts.
“Something like a corn crop, which enjoys warm temperatures, could certainly benefit in terms of growth. But again, it’s a big plant and it will go through lots of moisture at the same time. However, if you are growing corn under irrigation, and you are able to keep the moisture in the soil, with these warm, hot days, that can definitely benefit a corn crop.”
Shallow-rooted crops, on the other hand, will definitely see the greatest downgrade in terms of development and quality. Late seeded crops could also be severely impacted, he says.
“Any crop which is shallow-rooted would be heavily impacted. And when you have warm temperatures, with any crops that are flowering, you can have the risk of flower blast. That certainly has an impact on yield at the end of the season.”
Cutts acknowledges any moisture received now would likely do little for most farmers in southern Alberta.
“Depending on where your crop is in its development a little moisture might help out a bit in certain areas,” states Cutts. “With the crops nearing maturity there is obviously less of an impact.
“Hot conditions do make disease less of an issue,” he adds. “If there is any silver lining here, that would probably be it. But you can manage around disease, so getting moisture at the right time would have been the preferred way to go for most producers.”