Saskatchewan Agriculture estimates 99 percent of the provincial crop has been combined, with only small amounts of flax, oats, soybean and canola remaining unharvested heading into winter.
While not ideal, that number looks pretty good based on conditions at Thanksgiving. At that time, 78 percent of the Saskatchewan crop had been combined, including only 44 percent in the northwest.
“We had many concerns and issues with the very wet conditions and snow in some fields,” says Shannon Friesen, a Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture crops extension specialist. “Fortunately, the weather did a complete turnaround. We had a couple of weeks of warm, dry and windy weather.”
Crops combined in August and early September have above average quality, while those harvested in October trended lower with sprouting and bleaching in cereals, as well as green seed and frost damage in some later-seeded canola.
Red spring wheat quality is better than the late harvest in 2016. The main reason is fewer disease issues, such as fusarium head blight and ergot.
“Only about 10 percent of the 2016 crop graded number one, while this year it is 46 percent” says Friesen. “It’s not tremendously high, but it is certainly better than what we saw two years ago.”
Later-seeded canola crops in the northwest did not reach full maturity. Some downgrading is expected due to frost and high green seed count. Seventy-nine percent of canola is forecast to grade number one, 14 percent number two, four percent number three and three percent in the sample grade.
Aeration bins and grain dryers have been in continuous operation on many farms for well over a month.
Crop yields were above normal in northern areas, close to normal in most central areas, and below normal over southwest and west-central regions due to drier conditions.
The average provincial canola yield was 38 bushels an acre. It ranged from highs of 46 bushels/acre in the northwest and 43 bushels/acre in the northeast to only 28 bushels/acre in the very dry southwest. Canola yields in the central areas were slightly below average at 37 bushels/acre.
The average Canada Western Hard Red Spring Wheat yield is pegged at 43 bushels an acre. The highest is the northeast at 49 bushels; central areas were 41 bushels and the southwest had an average yield of only 30 bushels an acre due to much drier conditions.
Precipitation in September and early October improved topsoil moisture conditions. Heading into winter, cropland topsoil moisture is rated as five percent surplus, 64 percent adequate, 24 percent short and seven percent very short. Hay land and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as two percent surplus, 52 percent adequate, 36 percent short and 10 percent very short.
Significant moisture will be needed this winter and early next spring to replenish dry subsoil moisture, following back-to-back dry years over most southern and central regions.
Average hay yields on dry land are reported as 1.0 ton per acre (alfalfa and alfalfa/brome), 0.9 ton per acre for other tame hay, 0.7 ton per acre for wild hay and 1.7 tons per acre for greenfeed. Hay quality is rate as one percent excellent, 85 percent good, 13 percent fair and one percent poor.
Most livestock producers have adequate feed supplies, but shortages are possible in drier areas if there is a long, cold winter.
Click on the following link to see the entire 2018 Saskatchewan Agriculture crop report. It includes detailed regional summaries, rainfall totals, as well as colour precipitation and topsoil moisture maps. http://publications.gov.sk.ca/documents/20/109295-Crop%20Report%20for%20the%20Period%20October%2030%20to%20November%205%202018%20-%20complete.pdf