Seeding set to begin across southeast

May 2, 2024, 4:50 pm
Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A crop being seeded north of Moosomin in 2022.

The last time we reached out to area farmers, the general consensus was they anticipated starting seeding by late April/early May. Well, that time has come, and it looks like those prognostications have come to fruition.

“We’re thinking about starting up Monday, if it doesn’t rain. We’re getting ready right now,” said Gerald-area farmer, Kevin Hruska. “We don’t like to start until we can keep going. We’re kind of like a flywheel when we get it spinning—it’s hard to get up to speed, so once we get there we want to stay there. But if it stays nice like this the rest of the week, you’ll see the anxious people going next week for sure!”

Getting equipment in the field this early is not unheard of, but certainly a rare occurrence. With one eye on the long-term forecast and the other on the rain gauge out on the fence line, the thought that there’s still plenty of opportunity for a spring storm to ruin those best-laid plans weighs heavy on all producers.

“We don’t get to start in April very many times, maybe one in every seven or 10 years we maybe start in April,” Hruska remarked. “Those snows like we had a couple of weeks ago sometimes are two feet, and then that pushes you right into May. If we get a big downpour or snow this week, it will push us into May like normal. Usually we try to start the first Monday in May, this year we’ll be starting the last Monday of April, and we would be a week early if that happens.”

Out Rocanville way, Rylar Hutchinson isn’t planning to be one of those early birds as conditions he’s seeing are just not conducive yet.

“Haven’t started in our area yet, haven’t seen anyone out,” he said, adding that night time lows are still below zero. “We had an inch rain fall a week ago now, so that’s pushed things back, but still early.”

As for the area around Moosomin, Trevor Green is confident many producers will become active soon.

“I think lots of guys are thinking about it probably in the next seven to 10 days for sure,” he said. “Some guys are planting some peas really early, because it doesn’t matter with those things. Definitely in the next 10 days, I think we’ll see some wheat and barley start going in, but right now, I would imagine it’s probably just peas that are going in if anything.”

However, one only needs to try pounding a fencepost in the ground to discover the frost line is still stubbornly hanging on in some areas.

“The soil temperatures may be there to start on some stuff, but how much are you going to miss when all these little potholes and whatnot are still full of water,” said Green, who’s planning on seeding green feed for his cattle in about three weeks. “There’s still a bit of frost in the ground.

“We lost quite a bit in that wind and stuff we were having, but we got a little snow since then and a few showers here and there, so I think we’re back up to not too bad.”

Above all, it’s still a gamble with nature, and Green recalls a drastic event in the recent past that popped up on his social media. Most folks will recall the nasty storm that hit this time of year back in 2022.

“We don’t need to see that ever again,” Green said. “There were guys that lost 50, 60, 100 calves, and then a fight with the government—it was a fight to try and get some type of ad hoc disaster assistance program. That’s the thing with the livestock, there is no production insurance.”

Crops Extension Specialist Meghan Rosso added that the early start is something taking place broadly across the province.

“I’ve definitely heard a few reports of producers starting across the province. I’ve heard a lot of anticipation that many will be starting seeding within the next couple of weeks in the majority of areas,” she said. “The recent snow and rainfall definitely will help improve moisture conditions within the field. That being said, we’re coming off of some dry conditions from the fall and last year. So in many areas throughout the province, we’re still requiring some more moisture to improve those conditions heading into the growing season.”

Rosso also added that a long-time tool for keeping tabs on conditions throughout the growing season is about to launch once again.

“The provincial crop report in the past has been released early to mid-May, so watch for that in the upcoming weeks,” Rosso said. “The crop report uses local producer reports from across the province throughout the growing season, so it gives a great indicator of current on-farm conditions throughout the province.”

What’s going in the ground
Most producers seem to be sticking to consistent, tried and true crops seen throughout the area for generations.

“I imagine we’ll see lots of canola, lots of wheat and a little bit of peas around,” said Green. “More guys talking about corn now, too—I think there’s some guys growing some grain corn around here too, which seems to be growing every year.”

Hruska noted he’s set on equal parts canola and wheat—a safe bet likely to pay off no matter what the weather could bring.

“We have sowed beans, we sowed peas, and we know how to do it, but we’ve just done enough so that we know how to do it in case we have to,” he explained. “We kind of don’t like to stick with that rotation. A lot of people do that now, to be honest with you, around here.”

Green echoed those sentiments on the elusive search for that perfect tertiary crop to complement a rotation.

“The biggest thing is everybody’s looking for that third crop,” he said, adding that oats are too bulky while barley is too volatile. “But nobody really has the Cinderella story for that third crop.”