Author (#31): June 2009 Archives
Prairie moisture 30 day.pdfAs if farmers and ranchers didn’t know it by looking out the window, this prairie soil moisture map from Agriculture Canada tells a pretty graphic story about how dry it is and where, across Western Canada.
This map is as of June 21 so things can change, although I don’t think they have improved considerably. In God’s country, which is the greater Calgary-area the grass is green, but you don’t have to go far in most directions to find drought conditions.
I was talking this week with farmer Charles Schmidt at Chinook, in eastern Alberta near the Saskatchewan border, and wheat and barley are hanging in, but about 2,000 acres of mustard is already toast. Charles figures the soil freeze dried leaving those little seeds little chance of germinating – and they didn’t.
Calgary weather forecasts late last week talked about two or three days of rain ‘ if you have any gardening to get done, get it done Friday because it is going to be cold and wet over most of Alberta’. Charles says they were grateful for a half inch of rain at his farm, but it really isn’t enough to bring the crop home. Mind you, not far away some people reported 1.5 inches of rain over the same period, so it can be variable.
And as it turned out here in Calgary, I didn’t have to stop gardening. It never did rain.
Further north in the St. Paul area, which is east of Edmonton toward the Saskatchewan border, Stan Harder reports some cattle are on pasture, but a pasture that would have lasted two weeks last year, is now only lasting a couple days.
Stan says some were talking about taking cattle to auction and one auctionmart said don’t bother - no one is buying.
As you look at this map, it is almost surprising to see some green in southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan and then another good area in the central part of Saskatchewan from Weyburn up to Prince Albert and Meadow Lake. Those are obviously the areas where the Christians live.
There isn’t much to say other than the variability in agriculture never ceases to amaze me. Some years prices are good and crops are poor, then we can have near record crop yields and prices on the other end of the scale. At other times cattle and hog prices are decent but feed costs are through the roof. And then there are years when it isn’t worth the trucking costs to send them to market. And then of course there are some years when everything goes to hell.
About the only silver lining I can see at the moment, and it is very narrow, but if you are growing durum wheat this year and it grows, likely protein levels will be high.
But it is only June 24th today….there is still time for it to start raining and bring some improvement to spirit if nothing else.
For more maps and other information on weather and soil moisture conditions here are some websites to check out.
Ag Canada PFRA - http://www.agr.gc.ca/pfra/drought/
Alberta Agriculture - http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/acis10819
Saskatchewan Agriculture - http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/crprpt090618
Manitoba Agriculture: http://tgs.gov.mb.ca/climate/
The Calgary Stampede made me a great lunch yesterday, so I need to remind readers that the greatest outdoor show on earth is coming up July 3 to 12. While officials promise the event will be bigger and better than ever, I’m just hoping my favorite mini-doughnut stand is in the same location as always so I don’t have to waste a lot of energy looking for it.
They have some great entertainment lined up during the show – some I’ve even heard of – including Reba McIntyre, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and George Strait – and plenty of free shows with performers such as Terri Clark, Joe Diffie, George Fox, Emerson Drive, Johnny Reid and many more less familiar to me.
On the agricultural side, they don’t have the big livestock shows like they use too, but there is a multi-breed beef cattle display in the Stampede barns, which is a good warm up for the World Angus Forum July 13 to 16 being held at Spruce Meadows on the south side of Calgary.
The Dundee Wealth Heavy Horse Show will be running July 3 to 5 with some events accompanied by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. That should be neat. The 30th World Blacksmith Competition runs July 1 to 5; there is a major sheep showcase with different events running through out the 10 days. The
All Canadian Sheep Classic features 50 breeders with 325 head of sheep, which will be competing July 9 to 13.
The popular cutting horse competition runs July 7 to 9; the United Farmers of Alberta Steer Classic runs during the show and there is a vintage tractor show and pull July 4 and 5th.
Agrium is again sponsoring the Ag-tivity In The City, which showcases many aspects of crop and livestock production geared for an urban audience.
And of course, the world famous rodeo goes every afternoon and the chuck wagons run every evening, followed by the grandstand show.
After doing all that, take a break with a corn dog and fries and then be prepared to drop a million bucks on the midway. Come on, the kids are worth it.
Mike Holmes, Canada’s TV celebrity handyman is the grand marshal for the parade, which kicks off the whole event Friday morning July 3.
For details on the whole event go to their website at www.caglarystampede.com
Alberta beef producers interested in some advice on how to manage cattle and pastures in light of the cool, dry growing conditions should attend one of the six upcoming information meetings being held around the province.
Starting next Tuesday, June 16, evening meetings will be held in the following locations;
June 16, Claresholm Community Centre
June 17, Hanna Legion Hall
June 18, Ponoka Moose Hall
June 22, Drayton Valley – Buck Creek Community Hall
June 23, Westlock Inn
June 24, St. Paul Senior Citizens Hall.
All meetings begin at 7 p.m. and will feature speakers and resource people from Alberta Financial Services Corporation on topics such as lending, Agri Stability, and crop insurance.
As well Alberta Agriculture will have specialists on hand to talk about the Alberta Drought Risk Management Plan, pasture management, cattle feeding, salvaging annual crops for feed, tax deferral, and forecasting and outlook on prices.
Alberta pork producer Arnold Van Ginkel of Rocky Mountain House had to make the tough decision, in the last few days, to cull the entire 2,500-head herd of hogs in his barns, as the only way to eradicate the H1N1 virus, as well as the perception that meat from the hogs in his operation posed a risk to consumers and human health.
Van Ginkel’s hog operation was placed under quarantine in May after it was found the virus had been introduced to animals in his barns by a contractor who had recently visited Mexico.
The science is clear that you can’t get the H1N1 virus from eating any type of pork, but that didn’t convince meat processors who wouldn’t buy his hogs. They likely faced the same concerns about consumer perception, and didn’t want to jeopardize their markets, regardless how safe the meat was.
The full text of a release from Alberta Pork concerning the cull can be found on their website at: www.albertapork.com and click on the link to H1N1 virus updates.
Van Ginkel, who moved to Canada from Holland to start a new life, is now taking time to consider his options. He has applied to the federal government for compensation under the AgriRecovery and AgriStability programs, but it will be interesting to see how effective those programs are.
It can only be hoped that this drastic, but no doubt necessary move, closes this unfortunate chapter, making it possible for him to rebuild his business and a life for him and his family.