Moisture leads to cropland bounty, but rotting concerns as wet delays harvesting

Although there was concern about dry conditions at the outset of the 2016 farming season, continual moisture, and even excess of it...

Although there was concern about dry conditions at the outset of the 2016 farming season, continual moisture, and even excess of it throughout the summer, has resulted in good crops according to the County of Stettler’s Agricultural Service Board (ASB).

“Crop conditions more locally are very good with moisture above normal,” said ASB director Quinton Beaumont. “Crops are starting to lodge and rot underneath, but over all (are) in good shape.”

According to Beaumont, hay lands are receiving great amounts of moisture as well, meaning producers are having a tough time getting anything baled as moisture conditions continue to keep swaths damp or wet.

“There have been a few people saying they are having black swaths in their fields,” said Beaumont. “A black field is a sign of rotting forage, so you are far better off to not bale the black forage because of mold issues.”

Beaumont explained that horses are impacted the most by moldy hay and that can lead to respiratory and digestive problems like colic or heaves.

“Cattle aren’t as sensitive to moldy hay, but certain molds can result in mycotic abortions or aspergillosis,” added Beaumont. “Moldy hay also puts ranchers at risk, with mold spores causing ‘farmer’s lung,’ which results in the fungus growing in the lung tissue if it has been inhaled.”

Beaumont recommends that feeding moldy hay should be minimized as much as possible to the more sensitive animals like horses and pregnant cows.

ASB monitoring county borders closely for flowering rush

Despite the thankful absence of flowering rush in the county, ASB is keeping a close watch on the county borders because it has been found in the Red Deer River, west of the county.

“We are actively surveying the waterways in our county looking for all types of invasive plants, including flowering rush,” said Beaumont.

Flowering rush is easiest to identify when in flower, reaching about three feet in height.

Each umbrella-shaped cluster has whitish pink pedals, with green stems that resemble bulrushes.

“Flowering rush is very difficult to identify, as it closely resembles many native plants, especially common bulrush,” added Beaumont. “Its extensive root system can break into new plants if disturbed, spreading quickly to new areas.”

Beaumont said that control methods for flowering rush if found are to hand cut the flowers and remove from the water.

Once removed, the plant tops must be dried down to stop growth.

“The best time to do this work is before June,” Beaumont explained. “If heads are cut before June, there is more chance of removing the seeds before they are viable.”