The already dry weather conditions are causing concern for Leduc County’s most prevalent agricultural industries.
“Within Leduc County in the last month, given that we have had zero moisture, it is incredibly dry,” said director of agricultural services Garett Broadbent.
Reported within the county, approximately one month ago, even without the regular snowpack, Broadbent says the moisture conditions of the area were seasonally average. However, with the heat, wind and low humidity that changed drastically.
Even without the moisture some producers in the county are beginning to seed. “Essentially people are seeding into that first layer of soil,” said Broadbent.
“There’s very little moisture in that first inch,” he added. The moisture is needed to break the dormancy of the seed and germinate.
To help conserve what little moisture early spring has to offer — last year’s spring was also quite dry, as was the fall — many producers are turning to no tillage or reduced tilling practices. “Guys are truly considering burning it off with a herbicide and seeding directly,” said Broadbent.
While he says there are still some continuing with more conventional tilling methods there is a large difference between what was taking place in the county 10 to 20 years ago and what producers are doing now.
Cow/calf operations, other livestock managers and Leduc County’s dairy industry also could suffer from the lack of moisture. “We’re one of the top dairy producers in the country. I think we’re number four,” said Broadbent.
Livestock producers, for the most part, are still having to feed their animals and without moisture the pastures will not yield well this year. There will be no recovery after the first bout of grazing, says Broadbent.
Drought conditions are also a concern for those looking to produce forage for feed.
Popular crops across the county this year will be the established and traditional wheat, barley, and canola. However, Broadbent says some are beginning to diversify as opportunities and needs arise; this includes bean and pea crops. “In dry conditions beans do well.”
Corn for corn silage for the dairy producers is also popular, he added.
Plant diseases on the county’s radar are fusarium and clubroot in canola. He reminds producers to extend rotations and be careful of dirt movement from field to field as preventative strategies.
Leduc County is connected to the Alberta Government insect monitoring system. “Nothing is alarming right now. I don’t think we’re in too bad of shape.”