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Soil conditions worsen across Saskatchewan as spring seeding continues

Click to play video: 'Soil conditions worsen across Saskatchewan as spring seeding continues' Soil conditions worsen across Saskatchewan as spring seeding continues
WATCH: As spring seeding continues across Saskatchewan, dry conditions across the province continue to be a growing concern. This week's crop report shows over half of the province's cropland has less than adequate topsoil moisture – May 13, 2021

As spring seeding continues across Saskatchewan, dry conditions across the province continue to be a growing concern.

“In a few words, we’re praying for moisture,” said Bell Plaine-area grain farmer Nick Cornea on Thursday.

“Some fields are in pretty good shape for subsoil moisture, and in other fields we’re desperately in need of some rain out here.”

Southern regions of the province are either facing extreme or severe drought conditions as of April 30, according to the latest report from the Canadian Drought Monitor.

Eastern Saskatchewan, some regions east of Saskatoon and regions from North Battleford to Lloydminister are also classified as having severe drought conditions.

Read more: Severe drought conditions persist in parts of Saskatchewan heading into seeding

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Very little precipitation in the province in the last week has worsened topsoil moisture conditions, Saskatchewan Agriculture said in its crop report released Thursday.

Cropland topsoil moisture is rated at 45 per cent short, 23 per cent very short and 31 per cent adequate.

Hay and pasture land topsoil moisture are rated at 45 per cent short, 32 per cent very short and 22 per cent adequate.

Drought conditions in Saskatchewan as of April 30, 2021. Canadian Drought Monitor

The dry conditions are affecting seeding that has been completed, with crops slow to emerge due to little soil moisture and cool temperatures.

There was precipitation reported in the southwest corner of the province, however. The Admiral area recorded the most rain and snow precipitation at 25 mm followed by the Shaunavon and Rockglen areas, both reporting 20 mm of precipitation.

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Sask Ag said this will hopefully improve germination conditions for the region.

Overall, 38 per cent of the 2021 crop is seeded, well ahead of the five-year average of 22 per cent for this time of year.

The southwest region is furthest along, with 56 per cent of the crop in the ground. The southeast is at 44 per seeded, west-central at 35 per cent, the northwest at 34 per cent, east-central at 24 per cent and the northeast region at 22 per cent.

The Ministry of Agriculture says, though, that some farmers are delaying seeding smaller, more expensive crops until more moisture arrives.

“There are reports of producers across the province, in the south, central and north, who have decided to take some time off from seeding now that they’ve finished their other crops ,” said crops extension specialist Matt Struthers.

Read more: Budget 2021 promises to return some proceeds of carbon price to farmers

Another concern with the dry conditions is the risk of fires on cropland and pastures, with several rural municipalities issuing fire bans.

Sask Ag is reminding producers to be extremely careful when moving equipment and machinery that have the potential to spark or get very hot.

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