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June 03, 2024

Terence Hochstein, executive director, Potato Growers of Alberta, writes a timely column in the June 1 newsletter about soil and planting conditions. Read his column below:


“It is the 1st of June and the process growers, here in Alberta, are just wrapping up planting their last fields. May started out extremely dry, with everyone concerned about what the upcoming growing season was going to look like. The province was preparing for a summer of uncertainty with our water supply being at its lowest in at least 20 years. Some areas indicated that it was the driest on record after five to six years of widespread drought. Fortunately, over the last four weeks, we have been blessed with up to 150-200 mm of moisture in a lot of areas and cooler temperatures. This blessing has not eliminated the drought conditions across the province, but it has gone a long way in providing some optimism towards the upcoming season.


Although inconvenient to some of the irrigation farmers, the rest of the agricultural community is thankful for their first moisture in many years. Hopefully this rainfall and the remaining snowmelt will bring the reservoirs back to a respectable level so that next fall, municipalities and communities will have a winter water supply. It won’t necessarily change the irrigation allocation, but every grower has made management plans on how they allocate water on their farm this upcoming season.


Further north, the rainfall and moisture has been welcome, and in some cases has helped limit the threat of wildfires for some communities. With this widespread moisture, our seed growers are somewhat delayed getting their planting completed, but many have said they would sooner take the delay than not have moisture to plant into.


During the first 10 days of May, I had the opportunity to drive south to Las Vegas. During the trip down, we noticed a remarkable difference from Great Falls right to Nevada. The countryside was green with the rivers running high, compared to two years ago. Reservoirs, which were completely empty are now full to capacity. Even the desert through southern Utah and Nevada was alive with colour from the spring rains.


The mountains in the high country were still white with snow, with the Snake River running as high as anyone has seen it in years. Coming home, we went through the Nevada high country into Southwest Idaho, Oregon and the Palouse Hills. Everything was lush and green with the winter wheat three feet tall and headed out throughout the Palouse region.


Going north into Idaho, everything was green until you hit the 49th parallel and then it was a completely different world. It was extremely obvious that no moisture for the last four or five years has done to the countryside. We are just into the first of June and both western provinces are already into fire season. Hopefully the coming change in the weather patterns from El Niño to La Niña will provide some much needed moisture for the west.”



 Source:  Potato Growers of Alberta June 1, 2024 Potato Minute


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Submitted by Karen Davidson on 3 June 2024