This blog/newsletter is in Summer Dormancy until September
"Livestock producers are hard hit as pastures dry up and the price of hay triples
More Alberta counties have de-clared themselves agriculture disaster areas as drought spreads across the province.
The northern counties of Sturgeon, Leduc, Mackenzie, Parkland and Thorhild and the southwestern county of Cypress are suffering from severe dryness as crops and pastures shrivel, and more could join their ranks.
Deciding to declare a disaster is a hard call to make because spotty rain has alleviated conditions for some, said Al Kemmere, president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.
“Even within counties there are scorched areas and areas that are actually doing quite well.”
The declarations are raising awareness as the situation becomes more dire.
“We don’t know if this is Year 1 of a multi-year situation or if this is going to be one year at a time,” he said.
Yields will be down and crop insurance is available, but more help may be needed.
“The province has been very clear: the insurance programs that are out there are the first line of defence.”
Livestock producers are hardest hit because feed supplies are disappearing fast. The price of a bale of hay has tripled in price and is up to around $200.
Hay may have to come from other regions of the country because some parts of the province are so dry there are no cereal crops for emergency grazing."
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | Jul 2015 | Top Crop Manager
"July 28, 2015 – An Alberta Agriculture and Forestry specialist says there are steps growers can take today to help prevent the spread of Fusarium head blight (FHB) in next year’s crop.
“Fusarium head blight is an aggressive fungal disease of cereal crops that affects kernel development and is well established in southern Alberta with trace amounts found in the central and northern regions of the province,” says Neil Whatley, crop specialist, AAF, Stettler.
While caused by one or more species, Fusarium graminearum (Fg) is considered the most important FHB species due to its aggressiveness and production of a toxin called deoxynivalenol or DON. DON affects livestock feed, the baking and milling quality of wheat and the malting and brewing qualities of malt barley. The Canadian Grain Commission allows very little Fusarium damaged kernel (FDK) tolerances in top grades.
Whatley says farmers need to use a combination of disease prevention strategies throughout the growing season. “The first step to trying to limit FHB is knowing whether the disease is present in a field by searching for and observing disease symptoms. Additionally, learning whether Fg is the dominant FHB species under observation and becoming aware of its prevalence and severity contributes to this first step toward potentially reducing its impact.”
FHB symptoms become visible in a maturing cereal crop during heading stage, typically during the last part of July or early August. The most apparent Fg disease symptom is premature bleaching of one or more infected spikelets in the cereal plant’s head, which visibly stands out on green heads. Spore growth appears as an orange or salmon coloured fungal growth at the base and edges of the glumes on these blighted head parts.
Whatley says that diseased spikelets can contain visibly affected kernels. “In grading terms, visibly affected wheat seeds are called Fusarium damaged kernels (FDK), whereas in barley, it is called Fusarium mould. FDKs in wheat are shrunken and typically chalky white, while Fusarium mould on barley appears as an orange or black encrustation of the seed surface. Symptoms in barley may be confused with hail damage, kernel smudge, or infection by leaf diseases such as net blotch or spot blotch.”
Infection timing determines the severity of kernel damage. While infection occurring at early flowering can lead to complete abortion of kernels, FDKs generally result from infection later in the flowering stage. Infections well after flowering and up to the soft dough stage of kernel development may not show visible symptoms, however kernels can contain the fungus and more importantly the mycotoxin it produces.
Whatley recommends that if any symptoms are observed, to send the affected cereal head samples to a lab to determine whether the Fusarium species is indeed Fusarium graminearum and to determine Fg prevalence. “Routine testing of harvested grain and seed intended for planting is another way of assessing the presence and extent of Fg, especially if harvested grain is downgraded due to the presence of FDK. Several private seed company labs offer testing services for Fg in cereal seed/grain,” he says.
“Realizing whether a specific field is a candidate to apply an Fg control strategy is contingent upon the knowledge gained by observing disease symptoms at the heading stage of cereal crops during previous growing seasons. Determining the FHB species and disease severity are the first steps to determining whether a control strategy is necessary,” he adds.
Ultimately, Whatley says, determining the need for a fungicide application in an area where Fg is established will largely depend on the occurrence of moderate temperatures and suitable moisture just prior to and during the early stages of flowering. “Once symptoms are present it is too late to apply a fungicide, but you can still use this information to plan for subsequent growing seasons.”"
"Common rust caused by the fungus Puccinia sorghi is an emerging disease of corn in Ontario. The pathogen does not survive in Ontario. The rust spores arrive in Ontario through wind current from the southern United States. The disease is favored by cool night temperature (18 to 22°C), moderate or warm day time temperature and high humidity or wetness hours.
Common rust has been observed this week in Chatham-Kent. The disease is characterized by appearance of brick red pustules in leaves, sheaths, and stalks (Fig. 1). The rust pustules appear in leaves first and later spread to sheaths and stalks. The urediniospores produced in brick red pustules infect the healthy corn foliage and repeat multiple cycles. The disease can quickly spread in the corn fields if high relative humidity and moderate temperature exists.
The weather conditions during the past two weeks in the southwestern Ontario were favorable for common rust infection (Fig. 2). The disease might spread in the region if warm and humid conditions will exist in the next few weeks. However, the disease may not be big concern if hot and dry weather conditions will exist in the region."[Pictures and Table]
• Source: weathercentral
"Fertilizer giant PotashCorp has lowered its 2015 profit expectations, despite stable global potash demand, as nitrogen prices retreat.
The world’s biggest fertilizer group by market capitalization trimmed full year profit expectations to $1.95 to $1.75 a share, from $2.05 to $1.75 a share, as the company’s profits fell on weaker nitrogen sales.
The company narrowed its potash sales forecast for 2015 to 9.3 to 9.6m tonnes from 9.2 to 9.7m tonnes, as rising demand in China cancelled out falling expectation in the Americas.
The group’s profits fell 12% $417m, or 50 cents a share, in the three months to June 30, down from $472m over the same period last year, falling short of analysts’ estimates of 51 cents a share.
Potash Corp’s nitrogen segment saw sales fall 2% to 1.6m tonnes in the three months to June 30, while average realized nitrogen price fell 15% to $334 per tonne.
However earnings from the group’s core potash segment edged up, as potash production remained flat at 2.5m tonnes compared to the same time last year, while average realized potash price rose 4% to $273 per tonne, and profits in the segment also grew, as gross margin jumped 6%.
Total group revenues fell 9% to $1.731bn, down from $1.892bn over the same period last year, falling short of analysts’ estimates of $1.890bn.
PotashCorp left expectations for full-year 2015 global potash demand unchanged at 60m tonnes, as falling demand in the Americas was cancelled out by rising shipments to China.
PotashCorp expects shipments to North America to accelerate over the rest of 2015, but still revised down its forecast for total 2015 shipments to 9.0 to 9.5m tonnes, compared to the 9.3 to 9.8m tonnes forecast in April.
PotashCorp also lowered its forecast for Latin American potash demand, citing “reduced credit availability and currency weakness in Brazil”.
The group saw full year Latin American potash demand at 10.6 to 11.1m tonnes, from 10.8 to 11.3m tonnes forecast in April."
“July 23, 2015 – Reports of aphid infestations have been common during the past couple of weeks with areas affected throughout Saskatchewan. Many of the reports have been from southwest Saskatchewan in lentil crops. Both pea and lentil appear to be the most affected.
Timing and necessity of insecticide applications should be treated on a case by case basis. Early application of insecticide likely won’t provide a yield response but will affect beneficial predators (e.g. lady beetle larvae and adults) and wasp parasites. Late application would have no beneficial result and will be an unnecessary expense as the aphids cannot damage crops that have completed seed filling.”