Farmer Focus Arable: Seth Pascoe sees temperatures slowly rise

I will timidly speculate that spring is in the process of arriving in Southern Alberta. For the past month or so, the daily temperatures have climbed as high as 19C with pleasant days of bright sunshine and little wind.

Most of the snow has retreated off the prairies and back to the confines of the mountains. The ground hasn’t quite thawed out yet; so the snow melt can’t drain away sufficiently and a few miniature lakes have appeared in some fields with low areas.

While the countryside isn’t quite green yet, it’s certainly nice to see the land again. I wandered across some of the winter wheat this week and was pleased to see that winter mortality is very low. There are some crop benefits to being buried under a 15cm cushion of snow for four months. However, I was rather less pleased to see an abundance of germinating weed seeds lurking just below the soil surface. I think it must be time for the sprayer’s pre-season check up.

We finished emptying the smaller of our two potato stores this month. The McCain’s performance summary sheet for the shed was far beyond our expectations. The combined defects were very low, which meant we were paid for 98.72% of the total contents. Furthermore, the average specific gravity worked out to be nigh on perfect and on colours we achieved 95.6% number one grade. Very satisfying results indeed.

I recently drove down into Washington State to collect some equipment. This also happens to be a large potato growing area. The fields there were a flurry of frenzied planting activity and I was rather envious. However, the snow drift surrounding the potato planter has gone and the machine is in the workshop being prepared for its important duty. I just hope that my first paragraph hasn’t tempted fate; I would be rather offended if we get a dump of snow as soon as this article appears in print.

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