By Emily Jaycox
For the Independent
As planting season approaches the experts at the Ag Info Centre give local farmers the information about pests, soil conditions and current market prices they need to start off the 2019 growing season.
Ted Nibourg, farm management specialist, tells the current market prices for the three major crops across central Alberta: barley, wheat and canola.
As of March 12, barley is $247 to $255 a tonne, wheat is $240 to $252 per tonne and canola is about $440 a tonne, or $10 a bushel, according to Nibourg.
In the first week after the China embargo on Canadian canola, the price has already dropped.
It was $441 a tonne last week, and now it is $440, according to Nirbourg, who predicts the price for canola will continue a gradual decline if the trade situation doesn’t improve.
The current wheat price is “on the low side” says Nibourg, but is “strengthening up.”
Barley prices are fairly strong right now because of a feed and forage shortage, says Nibourg.
The ag industry may see an increase in barley acres seeded as the contribution margin may prove to be better, he says.
Neil Whatley, crop specialist for Ag Info Centre, recommends producers do a soil fertility test at a reputable laboratory every year.
Non-pulse crops such as wheat and canola require synthetic nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization and a test will allow farmers to fertilize the right amounts.
This can be done once the frost is out of the ground in spring, or before freeze up in fall.
Proper phosphorus fertilization allows faster emergence and better root growth.
Nitrogen is important for biomass and optimal yield and provides wheat with a higher protein content.
Pests that could be an issue for growers in Settler County this growing season are the Pea leaf weevil (PLW) and the bertha armyworm.
PLW feeds on legume species such as peas and fababeans.
Whatley suggests an insecticidal seed treatment, which is more effective than post-emergence spraying.
“The research is pretty solid that this seed treatment gives much better control.”
There could be some outbreaks of Bertha armyworm in Alberta in the 2019 growing season.
The worm is most late July, early August, when canola crops are in the pod fill stage.
To combat the bertha armyworm, seed early and plant early maturing canola varieties.
Others potential pests are flea beetles and aphids.
Whatley predicts that disease will not be serious initially in the 2019 growing season, as 2018’s growing season was dry.
If there is a lot of rain in May and June, that could spawn some fungal diseases.
Whatley says this March snowfall is perfect for prepping the ground for planting.
“That’s pretty valuable for seeding into moisture.”