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Producers continue to do fall field work in the region; very little fall weed control and fertilizer applications have also been carried out due to dry soil conditions. Producers are working up low areas, soil sampling, hauling grain and taking stock of their crop input needs for next year. Livestock producers are still sourcing feed since there was a very poor hay crop in much of the region; some were lucky enough to bale what little straw there was from their grain farming neighbours but overall it was not enough to maintain current herd sizes.
Crop yields in the region varied significantly depending on the amount of rainfall and heat stress received during the latter half of the season, but overall, they were estimated to be well below average. Heat blasting that occurred in July severely affected canola and some pulse crops resulting in greatly reduced yields for some producers. The majority of crops are falling within the top two grades due to limited fall moisture during harvest and limited disease issues.
Producers are hoping for soil moisture levels to replenish in the region; with limited rainfall for most of the season the region is reported to have the lowest rating of topsoil moisture in the province. Dry conditions resulted in fire risks and reduction of dugout and slough water levels. Heading into winter, cropland topsoil moisture is rated as two per cent adequate, 34 per cent short and 64 per cent very short. Hay and pasture land topsoil moisture is rated as two per cent adequate, 27 per cent short and 71 per cent very short.
Average hay yields on dry land are reported (in tons per acre) as: alfalfa 0.42; alfalfa/brome 0.38; other tame hay 0.32; wild hay 0.45; and greenfeed 0.60. On irrigated land hay yields (in tons per acre) are estimated as: alfalfa 1.75; alfalfa/brome 1.75; other tame hay 1.5; wild hay 1.23; and greenfeed 1.30.
At this time, most livestock producers have indicated that they will have inadequate hay, straw, greenfeed and feed grain heading into winter with many producers unsure how they will stretch their feed supplies without reducing their herd sizes.
The number of acres seeded to winter cereals this year was below average due to dry field conditions this fall. Much of the region had adequate time post-harvest for seeding but there were concerns that the crops would not germinate and establish in time for winter.
Producers are busy hauling bales, picking rocks, harrowing and cleaning up fields. Cattle are being moved off the last of the community pastures and brought closer to home where they can be fed and watered, livestock producers are actively trying to source water for their animals.