Parched would best describe the majority of fields in the central and southern portions of Alberta.
In the weekly crop report released last week, the area ranging from Rimbey to Airdrie and east to Coronation and Oyen received only some scattered showers resulting in minimal improvement of soil moisture levels across the region.
The average across the region for surface soil moisture was rated at 65 per cent good or higher, while sub surface soil moisture levels were at 60.5 — both of which were slightly lower than the previous week.
“The importance of sub surface soil moisture increases with advancing crop stages, so more rain is critical to maintain active crop growth and to achieve desired yield potential,” Zsuzsanna Sangster, product coordinator with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, stated in the release.
That being said, overall crop conditions in the area — which includes Bashaw and Ponoka — showed the majority of crops remained either rated ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
Peas were the top rated crop at 75.9 per cent good or excellent, while both oats and barley were at 70 per cent with wheat just back at 69 per cent. Canola, which would benefit greatly from more consistent moisture, slowed somewhat in development to sit at 67 per cent. However, all of the crops sit above the five year average of 65 per cent.
The report also outlined that pasture and hay fields are in desperate need of more moisture to assist in development. Central area pasture conditions were up slightly to 60 per cent, although tame hay conditions fell a couple percentage points to 52 per cent.
Province-wide, the weather has been just as scattered with strong wind, hail and random rainfall causing some fields to be filled with water while others remain in severe need of water.
The surface soil moisture rating for Alberta jumped one per cent to 68, though subsurface levels are still far below normal across most of the province — particularly bad in the area east and south of Calgary.
Even still, crop condition ratings throughout the province are higher than the five year average, with the Peace region and Northeast areas reporting crops good to excellent in the 88 per cent range.
As for haying, all regions have started though yields are anticipated to be low across the province. Meanwhile, pastures are being sustained in areas that have received rain.