If you’ve lived out west for any length of time, one of the things you’ve probably noticed is that farmers are pretty good at taking advantage of any opportunity they have to get their crop in the ground early. Around the clock seeding, multiple drills in fields and rotating shifts in the tractors are just some of the ways farmers across the prairies deal with the challenges of a cool, wet planting season like this one. But those cool, wet temperatures don’t just affect a farmers ability to get in and out of the field. In some cases they control what they plant, when they plant it and the health of what they plant.
Sometimes plan A just doesn’t work out given the conditions available. Sometimes we’re on to plan C before you know it. A farmer can move from canola to wheat to barley quickly, and as evidenced by the past two planting seasons, it’s something farmers have to be prepared for. That preparing may mean frequent and varied germ testing across multiple crops when it looks like switching cropping plans may happen. It also means that when and if a farmer gets into the field, seeding is done as precisely as possible to maximize plants per square foot. In these conditions farmers have to give themselves every advantage.
Ken Panchuk is the Provincial Soil Specialist with the Crops Branch of Saskatchewan Agriculture. He’s seen his share of challenging conditions in the past few years. I talked with him about some of the issues farmers will have to address this year. This includes ensuring seed quality even at the last minute and ensuring seed safety.
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