County has plot tour
Camrose area farmers had the opportunity to explore fields of pea and faba beans just north of New Norway, wheat north of Kelsey and barley east of Armena in a Camrose County Agriculture and Environmental Services plot tour last Thursday.
"We have nine varieties of barley that we are testing," said Camrose County Agricultural and Environmental Services assistant manager Kevin Macdonald.
The tour also included a radish plot on a piece of gumbo soil about 10 km north of Camrose.
"The tillage radish brings nutrients to the top soil profile and leaves little tunnels where the roots end that the water can get into," said Macdonald. "It helps improve the aeration and is supposed to be good for improving yield down the road."
Plot tours allow farmers who are thinking of changing up their crops to investigate new varieties and see how they fare in real life situations. Camrose County Agricultural and Environmental Services collects data on the crops throughout the growing season and at harvest time – seeing what the yield is per acre – and posts it on the County website for easy access.
"You can tell by the footprints that are left that a few guys have already been out to the plots to have a look around," said Macdonald. "We have had a few calls at the office here asking where they are."
Of particular interest this year is a plot featuring a new variety of wheat.
"The variety is only a couple of years old and is being grown right next to a variety of wheat that has been around for 45 years," said Macdonald.
Camrose County farmers are in for a good harvest season provided nothing unusual happens in the next month.
"Things are looking pretty good right now," said Macdonald. "There are a few crops in the Rosalind and Gladstone areas that were hit with loonie- and twoney- sized hail and there are some crops that are earlier than others but compared to other parts of the province we are looking pretty decent. I was down in the Olds area not long ago and some of their canola was at the yellow stage."
Macdonald said the four inches of rain over the last couple of weeks has been very welcome.
"The crops were looking pretty stressed when we had that week where the temperatures were well into the thirties."
Macdonald is predicting that the harvesting of pea crops could get underway in the next couple of weeks.
"There are a few guys who have already desiccated their pea crops to dry them out," he said.
Typically, 50 per cent of the crops in Camrose County are seeded to canola, followed by 20 to 25 per cent wheat and the remainder peas, barley and oats. Canola has a tap root system that allows it to draw more moisture from the ground than wheat or barley in drier conditions.