Heat blast threatens yields on drought-stressed chickpeas

WINNIPEG – Temperatures as high as 38 C were recorded in the Western Prairies over the weekend, and with that heat comes questions about crop impact.

As far as pulses go, lentils and peas are far enough along that the recent heat-wave is unlikely to affect them from a yield perspective, according to Carl Potts of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

“But on chickpeas it could have more of an effect,” he said. “They typically are harvested a bit later.”

Most of the province’s chickpeas are located in the southern portion of the province, where dryness has been an issue for much of the summer.

“There have been pockets of rain going through but very, very dry conditions, particularly in the southern part of the province over the past month and a half,” he said.

According to a crop extension specialist with the Saskatchewan government, any chickpeas that were still flowering would likely have seen some damage.

“We may also have some shrunken kernels on any seeds that weren’t quite ripe enough,” Shannon Friesen explained. “It’s tough to say until we harvest.”

Spot showers would be welcome on many crops, she said, but any sustained rains at this point would be more harmful than helpful.

“We could have quality issues,” she said. “Bleaching, straining, sprouting, it could rot a bit.”

Friesen added hail damage had also been felt in some fields as well.

“Overall I think the harvest will be average to below average for most producers,” she said.

This summer’s weather occurred at a sensitive time for chickpea farmers as they planted their largest chickpea crop in more than a decade.

Acreage in 2018 was pegged at roughly 469,000 acres, which far exceeded last year’s crop of just 160,000.

According to Friesen, the weather just didn’t cooperate at key times.

“Nothing really lined up well for us in parts of the south.”

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