In spite of the dry conditions that the province has been facing, the few downpours towards the end of May have improved the soil conditions considerably, according to Quinton Beaumont, director of Agricultural Service Board (ASB) at the County of Stettler.
“It was looking a lot like last year and although the drought word had not come up yet, it was looking pretty bad,” said Beaumont. “But the moisture over the past two weeks has vastly improved our conditions and we’re looking at actually getting a hay crop this year, with cattle producers turning their cows out on the pasture.”
Beaumont added “Although we are not out of the woods and will need more moisture in the coming weeks, but we’re looking alright for now.”
With seeding almost 95 per cent complete, according to Beaumont, there are a few who are finishing up the last few acres.
“But for the most part we are done and are into the spraying,” said Beaumont. “A lot of guys have started in-crop spraying, getting rid of the stuff they don’t want in their fields and most crops are up.
Last year’s grasshopper survey has not indicated an outbreak and the ASB have been doing Bertha armyworm counts weekly now and their counts are still at zero.
“We’re about two weeks out from starting our Diamondback Moth counts and we’ll keep the public updated as necessary,” said Beaumont. “If conditions change and we suspect or forecast an outbreak we will definitely let our farmers know.”
Jimsonweed absent in the county
Jimsonweed, also known as the Devil’s Trumpet, was found in 12 municipalities within Alberta last season, but luckily so far the County of Stettler has been exempt.
Beaumont said that jimsonweed is a toxic oil seed, which cannot be cleaned out of canola found in fields with Invigor L135 canola seed.
“The problem is that every part of the jimsonweed plant is toxic and you can’t clean it out of canola seed cause the seed is the same size as the canola seed,” added Beaumont. “CFIA has a Canada weed and seeds act, which does not allow any jimsonweed into Canada, but nonetheless the province now has it and we are asking for assistance, so if you spot or suspect Jimsonweed please do not touch it, and contact our Ag Services department to come deal with it.”
Beaumont added that the county is also in year four of their five-year Priority Area Weed Control (PAWC) plan.
“In our first control area that we were targeting in the County of Stettler, we are asking for cooperation in absinthe wormwood control,” said Beaumont. “Everyone who has been a participant in this program for the past four years is already aware.”
Absinthe wormwood was elevated to a ‘noxious weed’ in 2011.
The county adopted a Triple E approach to controlling this weed: 2012 – Educate, 2013 – Encourage (control) and 2014-2019 – Enforce.
The PAWC plan identified land in the first Control Area (Townships 35-17; 36-21; 38-17; 41-18 and Rochon Sands Estates), according to Beuamont.
“This land was inspected in 2014 and every quarter section found with absinthe wormwood within the Control Area received a weed notice from our ASB Board,” said Beaumont. “The weed notice enforced mandatory control of the acres infested with absinthe control, which means to inhibit growth or spread; or destroy the noxious weed.”
If there are any questions or concerns, please contact Quinton Beaumont at the County of Stettler.