Westlock crop update

How quickly the cereal fields change colour. They hardly head out, a sea of waving green heads and then the fields start to show shades of yellow. Some barley fields are already ripening off.

I see farmers making silage out of barley originally designated for the combine. We had some heavy hail go through the area some weeks back. There’s been a lot of green regrowth since. There’s plenty of second growth too in fields where the drought left crops thin.

Dennis Primeau mows a crop of first year alfalfa with volunteer blooming canola. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Dennis Primeau mows a crop of first year alfalfa with volunteer blooming canola. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

The different levels of crop maturity are going to make for some difficult decisions come harvest time. Do you put more money into desiccating a crop that’s already much smaller? With this year’s crazy weather patterns many fear an early frost.

Loren Koch and Tim Kubinec both think there’s only half a crop out there. I think they’re comparing the crop to the last two bumper years we’ve had. Other farmers think we may be surprised at what’s there when it comes to harvest.

The rains we’ve received since early July have turned pastures green again, even though they’re still too bare. Most cattle farmers feel they’re going to make it through the summer somehow. There have been some decent hay fields after all especially where there was alfalfa.

Dennis Primeau was cutting an interesting silage mix last night – it looked like a blooming field of canola underseeded to alfalfa. Dennis told me the canola was entirely volunteer. “It (the canola) came a bit heavier, I ended up with more than I thought,” he says. He always seeds his alfalfa straight, which usually gives him a good cut the first year. Normally the alfalfa is 18 inches when he cuts it. This year, with the late rains, it’s only a foot high. He rolls it into silage bales.

Reint Boelman's sunflowers decorated his son Neil's wedding last Saturday. The rest will be harvested as bird seed. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Reint Boelman's sunflowers decorated his son Neil's wedding last Saturday. The rest will be harvested as bird seed. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Reint Boelman has a beautiful field of sunflowers near his house. They started the sunflower fields a few years ago to decorate for their son Reint’s wedding. They’ve grown them every since. This year they used about 600 blooms for their son Neil’s wedding last Saturday.

The sunflower seeds are used on the farm and mixed into the feed ration for the dairy cows. “They really like it. When you are combining they come and lick your coveralls,” Reint’s wife Meike says. “It seems to be better for production and reproduction.”

I’m sick of saskatoons – I was wrong about supply not keeping up with demand (at least in our area). Robert phoned the Neerlandia coop about windows and Bert, their salesman, asked him first off, “Can you use saskatoons? I’ve got so many…” It’s almost like zucchini! How did those blooms make it past those May and June frosts??

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