Early and widespread concerns over a cool and belated spring seeding season have mostly been forgotten in Saskatchewan, although farmers in some areas are still struggling to get their crops seeded between a maze of expanding potholes and recurring spring showers.
As of early June, producers across much of the province were on pace to finish spring seeding within a normal timeframe, said provincial crop specialist Grant McLean with Saskatchewan Agriculture.
But wet conditions persist in some areas and many farms in southern Saskatchewan could be forced to set aside more acres than expected for summerfallow or winter wheat production.
“As a whole, we’re doing quite well when you consider where we were three weeks ago,” McLean said late last week.
“We’re certainly not as far advanced as we were last year but we’re pretty close.”
With some farmers finished and others still pushing ahead, the province’s grain and oilseed producers now have differing opinions about what type of weather would be most beneficial for the province’s 2013 crop.
In areas where spring seeding is mostly complete, producers would welcome a rain.
But elsewhere, sunshine and drying winds are needed.
In areas north of Prince Albert, northwest of Saskatoon and southeast of Regina, wet conditions persist and recurring showers over the past two weeks have hampered seeding progress.
And in northwestern Saskatchewan — an area that covers tens of thousands of square kilometres — it is estimated that seven percent of the region’s total acreage will go unseeded due to excess moisture.
Further south, in a large area that stretches east and west along Saskatchewan’s border with Montana and North Dakota, conditions are variable and seeding has been delayed by recurring rains.
“The wettest spots, I think, are right along the U.S. border in southeastern Saskatchewan and also in the Regina Plains,” McLean said.
“There are certainly pockets … where they have had wet conditions for the past couple of years and it continues to be a challenge for them to get into those fields in a timely manner, but as a whole, I think most producers in the province are quite pleased with the progress they’ve made.”
According to Saskatchewan Agriculture’s most recent crop report issued May 30, many areas along the Saskatchewan-U.S. border had received 50 millimetres of rain since April 1 while others had received 100 mm or more.
In some areas south of Yorkton, 100 to 150 mm of rain have been recorded over the last two months.
Wayne Amos, owner of Big Dog Seeds near Oxbow, Sask, said seeding progress and moisture conditions are highly variable in his area, depending on rainfall amounts and local drainage conditions.
“It’s variable but yes, we are quite wet,” Amos said late last month.
“Our intention at this point is to complete our seeding but that’s going to be subject to weather,” he added.
“If we get (any more rain) it’s certainly going to be a big setback.”
Amos said producers in some parts of southeastern Saskatchewan are beginning to reassess their spring seeding plans.
Many farmers have yet to take delivery of certified seed orders and demand for seed oats is increasing.
Supplies of certified seed oats are tight in the southeast, he added.
Elsewhere, farmers have reconsidered their earlier seeding plans and are now gearing up for an increase in winter wheat acreage.
Amos is still unsure how much winter wheat he will be planting.
“Any acres that don’t go in … we’ll certainly plan on putting those acres, or at least some of those acres, into winter wheat but at this point we don’t even want to go there,” he said.
“Right now, we just want to try and remain optimistic and our intention is to get all of our acres in but we will reach a point here, based on the calendar, where people will have to consider their options.”