Crop Districts 6B – Hanley, Outlook, Loreburn, Saskatoon and Arelee areas;
Crop District 7A – Rosetown, Kindersley, Eston, Major;
Crop District 7B - Kerrobert, Macklin, Wilkie and Biggar areas
For the Period October 10 to 16, 2023
The extremely dry conditions continued this year in the west-central region. Many producers watched as their early seeded crops matured and were harvested well ahead of normal timelines. Producers in the region were pleasantly surprised with the yields they were able to achieve this year with such limited soil moisture. With the combines having been put away for a few weeks now, producers in the area are happy to put 2023 behind them and are hoping for a better 2024.
The limited moisture greatly hindered crop production this year. Crop yields in the west-central are well below the provincial averages for the year, and also below the 10-year averages for the province. While yields are hindered, quality still remains high for harvested grain, and the majority of crops are being marketed in the top-quality category, while others are in the second category for quality. Crop down grading is mostly due to drought conditions taking its toll during kernel establishment and insect damage.
Producers are desperately hoping for rain this fall before the ground freezes, a wet winter, and a slow thaw next spring to keep the moisture in the soil and not running off. The west-central received the least rain in the province this year, with rainfall ranging from 111 to 257 mm in the region. Topsoil moisture is limited in the region, with 11 per cent of cropland having adequate moisture, 57 per cent short, and 33 per cent very short. Hay and pastures are equally limited; four per cent have adequate moisture, 52 per cent are short, and 44 per cent are very short.
Livestock producers are closely evaluating their feed supplies for this winter, and while some feel as though they will have enough for the winter, a third of producers in the region are facing shortages. While generally of good quality, hay yields in the region were impacted by the drought; alfalfa yielded 0.70 tons per acre, brome/alfalfa yielded 0.72 tons per acre, and greenfeed yielded 1.07 tons per acre. Irrigated land yielded better overall, with alfalfa yielding 2.20 tons per acre and brome/ alfalfa yielding 2.20 tons per acre. Silage yielded 4.20 tons per acre. Producers are increasing their winter wheat and fall rye acres this year in the hopes of producing more feed next year.
Farmers are busy hauling bales, picking rocks, harrowing and conducting other miscellaneous farm chores.