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       Friday, January 15, 2021

One Year Ago
Around 700 000 acres remained to be harvested from the 2007 crop.
Crop reporters estimated that provincial production would be below the 10 year average.
Quality of the 2007 crop was about average.
Crop reporters estimated that farmers harvested an above average crop this year.  However, farm incomes will be tempered by high input costs.

Seeding activity in the province began in the southwest by mid-April.  By June 8, seeding was 99 per cent complete.

Farmers seeded an estimated 34.1 million acres.  Crops were behind for much of the growing season due to cool weather.  Harvest started in late July with some swathing in the southwest. Second growth from uneven germination and hail damage delayed the harvest of some crops. By the end of August only 20 per cent of the 2008 crop had been harvested.  However, it picked up significantly by mid-September.  Overall, fall harvest progress was slightly ahead of the five-year average.

Crop quality was above average.  The amount of harvested crop falling into the top two grades was above the 10-year average.  Downgrading of crops came from insects, ergot, hail, and weathering.

Forage yields varied throughout the province.  In the southwest and west central region, yields were below average.

Saskatchewan Agriculture says Thank you to our crop reporters for their information for another season-you make the report the valuable source of information that it is.


According to Saskatchewan Watershed Authority's April, 2008 report, winter precipitation totals in the grainbelt region generally varied from below normal in southern areas to near normal in northern areas. 

The weather patterns during March and into mid-April of below normal precipitation, low thawing daytime temperatures followed by cold nights resulted in a very slow melt with high sublimation losses (conversion of snow directly to water vapour).  Runoff was below to well below normal, with generally smaller peaks and runoff volumes south and west of the Yellow Head Highway.  In areas south of the Trans-Canada Highway, where soil moisture conditions were dry, many areas experienced no measurable runoff, leaving reservoirs and dugouts at low levels.  

Precipitation during April was quite variable throughout the province.  South eastern areas received well below normal precipitation while west central areas received well above normal precipitation.  In mid April, a brief period of very mild temperatures combined with strong winds resulted in a rapid melt of the snow pack in areas north of the Yellow Head Highway.  The rapid melt and corresponding runoff produced well above normal peak flows in the north central and north eastern grainbelt areas, resulting in flooding of agricultural lands. 

During the third week of April, much of western and central areas of the province were hit with heavy snowfall.  The return to cold temperatures resulted in a slower melt of the new snow.  The additional snowfall resulted in a second runoff in west central areas and a prolonged runoff in north western areas of the grainbelt. 

Precipitation during May, with the exception of the extreme south western area, was well below normal throughout much of the province.  South western areas saw near normal precipitation.  In late May, a low pressure system helped spread beneficial rainfall to much of southern Saskatchewan. 

In mid-June, a strong low pressure system brought heavy rain to southern Saskatchewan. 

In early July, severe thunderstorms tracked across portions of the southwest with hail, strong winds, and at least one funnel cloud.  In late July, a warm, humid air mass met a drier air mass and the collision resulted in strong storms across central and southern areas.  Weather events included large hail, funnel clouds, tornados, and strong winds. 

Mid-August, saw more storms in southern areas, including hail, strong winds, and rainfall amounts of up to 60 mm or more.  Just over a week later, desert-like heat hit Saskatchewan, shattering many temperature records - some set as far back as 1894.

Thanksgiving Day weekend saw a Colorado low produce widespread heavy snowfall - the highest amounts fell in a swath from Yorkton through Moose Jaw and Regina and then south to the U.S. border. 

During the season April 1 to August 31, precipitation as a percentage of normal ranged from 60% to 85% in the area including Prince Albert, Hudson Bay, Wynyard, and North Battleford, as well as isolated areas in the west central and southern regions.  In an area including Maple Creek, Gravelbourg, and Swift Current, precipitation ranged from 115% to 150%.  Other areas with this range of precipitation included west central areas near the Alberta border as well as some east central areas.  The remainder of the grainbelt had rainfall in the range of 85% to 115%.


Less than one-half of one per cent of the 2007 crop was left out over the winter.  Seeding activity in the province had begun by mid-April in the southwest.  By the end of April, 1% of the 2008 crop had been planted.  By mid-May, about 25% of the crop had been planted.  Wet and/or cold field conditions hindered many producers from starting earlier.  Dry soil conditions in the south caused some delays in seeding.  By the end of May, 97% of the crop was seeded.  By June 8, the provincial seeding progress total was at 99%, and only Crop District 9b at 96% reported less than 98% complete.

During seeding, shortages of inputs were reported, including inoculants, seed, fertilizer, and chemical (primarily Edge).  A snowstorm around April 20 brought snow to west central and north western regions and further delayed seeding.  It was June 1 before the southeast finally received some precipitation to help improve topsoil moisture.  There was some re-seeding due to frost damage and poor emergence.

Wet and windy weather made spraying challenging for farmers.  As well, cool, dry weather hampered weed growth.  

Crop Damage

Throughout the growing season, sources of weather damage were wind, heat and drought stress, frost, flooding, and hail.    

Alberta typically has the most hail events each summer, however, as in 2007, Saskatchewan once again had the greatest number of reported severe hail events at 99.  The 1991-2007 average for Saskatchewan is 43 severe hail events.  Hail damage was also a significant issue in 2008 across Saskatchewan, and associated diseases in pulse crops became a concern in some areas.

From entomologist, Scott Hartley

Climatic conditions are a major factor influencing insect populations, including pest and beneficial species.  For instance, cool temperatures this spring slowed development and activity of many insects, while minimal precipitation in May resulted in the delay of wheat midge emergence in July.  Economic thresholds, the estimated level at which insect populations cause sufficient damage to warrant control, were lower in 2008 because of the increased commodity prices.

Flea beetle populations have been increasing during the last few years, but we did not have the consistent warm and dry conditions in 2008 required to make them a major issue for producers.

Wireworms caused serious damage to crops in isolated areas. There are no reliable counter measures for wireworm control during the growing season and producers who experienced significant infestations during 2008 should be prepared to use an insecticide seed treatment in 2009.

Cutworms were a serious insect pest in many crops including lentil, mustard, canola and cereals and were prevalent in areas similar to 2007. Cutworms were reported throughout the south (Assiniboia), southwest (Shaunavon) and west central (Kindersley) regions.  The earliest reports were species that over-winter as larvae, in most cases army and dingy cutworms that are above-ground feeders. Large infestations completely defoliated young seedling crops, typically on hilltops and drier areas of a field. Below-ground feeding species such as red-backed or pale western cutworms were also identified. Cooler, wetter conditions in some areas may have reduced the overall damage.

The pea leaf weevil reached economic levels in pea crops in southwest Saskatchewan in 2008.  It was first found in the province in 2007, with the most extensive damage noted near the Alberta border north of Maple Creek. However, the economic infestation range extended in 2008 and chemical control was required in pea crops much further east; to the Gull Lake and Shaunavon areas. Adult feeding on the leaves can severely reduce crop stands, but larval damage to the nitrogen-fixing nodules may be more significant.  Research on the pea leaf weevil is currently being conducted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Lethbridge.

The cabbage seedpod weevil has continued to expand out of southwest Saskatchewan.  The highest populations are still located in the southwest, but a survey conducted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Saskatchewan Agriculture in July indicated economic infestations in other areas, and the presence of the weevil as far east as Regina and north to within 70 km of Saskatoon.

Monitoring for diamondback moth trapped a high number of moths near Avonlea in June. Although the traps are intended more as a warning than as an indicator of economic levels, some fields required control in the area. Diamondback moths were noted in a number of other areas where insecticide application was required (Wilkie, Rosetown, Kindersley and Lloydminster).

The fall 2007 survey of adult grasshoppers suggested the potential for severe (>12-24 hoppers per square metre) infestations in a few areas in south and west-central Saskatchewan.  Although heavy infestations did not occur, there were reports of crops being sprayed in the Elrose, Rosetown and Outlook areas. Insecticide application occurred largely on lentil, in which the economic threshold is lowest ( 2 hoppers and higher per square metre).  The fall 2008 grasshopper survey is complete and the 2009 grasshopper forecast map will be available in January.

Wheat stem sawfly was at high levels in various locations across the province, particularly in northwest and central regions. Crop rotation and utilizing solid stemmed wheat varieties remain the only options for managing this pest. Early swathing of severely infested stands is the best method of salvaging wheat if high populations are noted.

Root maggots were widespread in the Parkland Region in 2008.  Favourable (moist) soil conditions were conducive to maggot populations and most canola plants had one or more larvae tunneling in the root.  On a large field scale, control options are not economically viable.  Non-chemical strategies include heavier seeding rates and should be considered in the spring when planting.

Moist conditions are also favourable for the wheat stem maggot. Infestations were estimated at higher levels than normally seen in the Province. However, due to the highly visible white heads, observed estimates are generally higher than actual levels.  Furthermore, there are no control options available.

Wheat midge infestations were forecast to be at unprecedented levels in 2008 and this was, no doubt, the most serious insect pest for producers. However, cool and very dry conditions resulted in a delay in emergence. Reports of the first emergence of midge were in locations in the east-central and northeast regions in early July, with the bulk of the female midge emerging about a week later than most years. Chemical application for control continued into the third week in July. Variable crop staging resulted in some of the earliest seeded wheat crops escaping damage.

Various aphid species were noted and required control in a number of crops with pea, lentil and canary seed being the most affected. Aphids were also noted at higher levels in some cereal crops but even with the increased value in these crops, control was not required.

The annual Bertha armyworm monitoring program indicated a few areas with higher potential risk, based on adult moth counts. There was some spraying reported for Bertha armyworm larvae in the Prince Albert area and in the northeast (Nipawin), but overall, the outbreak experienced over the past few years appears to be on the decline.

From plant pathologist, Faye Dokken:  The 2008 year was not considered significant for most crop diseases.

In cereal crops, leaf spotting diseases were reported in 2008.  Survey material from the Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) Survey revealed that FHB was present and it was likely that the highest levels were on the east side of the province.  There were some reports of powdery mildew on cereals.  Ergot was reported in cereals in areas all over the province at harvest time.  Harvest was delayed in many areas due to late crops (e.g. delayed emergence after seeding, recovery from hail damage) and poor harvest conditions including rain in August and September.  This places crops at risk for sooty moulds and reduced quality.  These moulds can continue to develop in the bin and lead to grain spoilage or the production of mycotoxins in the grain.

In oilseed crops, alternaria black spot and hail were the most prevalent diseases/issues in the Canola Disease Survey.  In general, the season started with early frost damage on canola seedlings and uneven germination that led to uneven maturity and delayed harvest in some regions.  Hail and weed issues seemed to be the major limitations for flax crops.  For mustard corps, the majority of issues were related to weeds, especially wild mustard.

Cool temperatures and dry conditions reduced growing conditions causing many field pea seedlings to grow very slowly and have poor nodulation.  This allowed for organisms that cause root rot to gain an advantage on the plant and severely affect the roots of field peas.  It seemed this phenomenon was significant through much of the growing area of the province.

In lentils, no major outbreaks of anthracnose occurred.

In chickpeas, Ascochyta infection appeared early in the season; however, the disease did not appear to have as drastic an impact on production as initially feared.  Weather conditions during much of the remainder of 2008 were not conducive to advancing or spreading the disease much further.


Harvest operations got underway in late July with some swathing of fall rye in the southwest.  The largest week over week harvesting progress occurred between September 14 and 21 at 28%.  Harvest progress was slow as the crop moved from 1% harvested by August 10 to 97% harvested by October 12.  Cool, wet weather caused harvesting delays in late August and early September.  Crops that were hail-damaged in the summer were slow to ripen and some are still not harvested.

About 600 000 acres remain to be harvested from the 2008 crop, primarily in the northeast, though unharvested grain fields are scattered throughout the province.  Farmers continue to combine when they can, and grain dryers are being well-used.  Most, if not all of the crop is expected to be taken off this fall.

On a provincial basis, yield estimates are expected to be above the 10-year average for all crops except triticale.  The north eastern area of the grainbelt reported the highest average yields for oats, barley, fall rye, canola (shared with the northwest), mustard, and peas.  The east central area of the grainbelt reported the highest average yields for winter wheat, spring wheat, durum, flax, and lentils.  The south western area reported the lowest average yields for all crops except fall rye, triticale, and lentils.

Most farmers were pleasantly surprised with the yields they received given the lack of rainfall in May and the cool temperatures.


The percentage of harvest which fell into the top two grades was generally higher across all crops, in comparison to their respective 10-year average.  The downgrading that did occur primarily came from insects, ergot, hail, and weathering.

The spring wheat crop is estimated to be 49% No. 1 Canada Western (CW), compared to 46% No. 1 CW for the 10-year (1998-2007) average.  A further 37% is expected to grade No. 2, compared to the average of 23%.  The durum crop is expected to be 35% No. 1 CWAD and 39% No. 2 CWAD for 2008, compared to 40% and 28% respectively from the 10-year average. 

Twenty-nine per cent of the oat crop is expected to grade No. 1 CW, compared to the 10-year average of 26%.  Malting barley grade for the 2008 crop also is expected to be above the 10-year average - 48% versus 33%.  Sixty-eight per cent of the triticale crop is expected to grade No. 1 Canada.  There is no 10-year crop report average for triticale.

Eighty-eight per cent of the flax crop is expected to grade 1 CW and 11% No. 2, compared to the 10-year average of 79% and 14% respectively.   Canola is also above average for the top grades - 90% of the 2008 crop is No. 1 and nine per cent is No.2 versus the 10-year average of 75% and 15%, respectively.

The mustard crop is expected to grade 83% No. 1 Canada versus the 10-year average of 73%.  With 24% of the sunflowers combined, 100% of that crop is expected to grade   No. 1 Canada, compared to 64% for the 10-year average.  The lentil crop is expected to grade 84% in the top two grades, compared to the 10-year average of 74%.  The pea crop is expected to grade 92% in the top two grades, compared to the 10-year average of 83%.  The chickpea crop is expected to grade 47% No. 1 CW.  There is no 10-year average for chickpeas.

The quality of fall seeded crops was estimated to be above-average.  The rye crop was expected to grade 97% in the top two grades versus the 10-year average of 88%.  Winter wheat crops were expected to grade 59% No. 1 CW and 34% No 2 CW., versus 49% and 34% respectively for the 10-year average.

Many of the higher grading crops came from the southwest.  Many of the lower grading crops came from the southeast and the east central region. 

Hay/Pasture and Winter Feed

Cutting of the 2008 hay crop began in mid-June.  By mid-July, over 40% of the first-cut had been baled or put into silage.  By August 3, 74% of the first cut and less than 1% of the second cut had been harvested.  Many reporters did not expect a second cut of hay in their district.  Frost and cool spring weather delayed hay crops in all areas of the province, while southern areas had dry soil conditions as well.  Farmers also struggled with wet weather during haying season.

Pastures were slow to develop as cool, dry conditions in the south and snow in the north hampered growth.  Pasture condition ratings at the end of May showed only 22% of the pastures rated in good to excellent condition.  By the end of July, pasture conditions had improved and 58% were reported to be in good to excellent condition.  Conditions declined by the end of August, with 45% of pastures rated as good to excellent.  The decline continued into September with 35% of pastures rated in good to excellent condition at the end of the month.  Pastures held out better in southern areas. 

Water supplies for livestock is a concern for many southern producers going into the winter as sloughs and dugouts are dry or very low.  Many are looking for a heavy snowfall to replenish water basins in the spring run-off.  Some farmers have been hauling water for livestock for several weeks already.     

About three-quarters of livestock owners have adequate feed supplies going into winter.  The southwest shows the highest percentage of inadequate supplies (14% to 18%) for straw, greenfeed, and feedgrain.  The southeast and northwest show the highest percentage (over 20%) of inadequate supplies for hay.


As of October 19, 2008, 72% of the crop land is rated as having adequate topsoil moisture, 5% as having surplus, 21% as having short, and 2% as having very short topsoil moisture conditions.  The southeast has the highest rating of surplus topsoil moisture conditions at 16% and the northeast has the highest rating of very short topsoil moisture at 7%.  For hay and pasture land, 68% of the land is rated as adequate, 2% as surplus, 27% as short, and 3% as very short.  Eight per cent of north eastern hay and pasture land is rated as having surplus topsoil moisture, while 10% of north western hay and pasture land is rated as having very short topsoil moisture conditions. 

Saskatchewan Agriculture will be collecting information on subsoil moisture to produce a map for November 1, 2008.

The Ministry of Agriculture has over 250 crop reporters around the province who contribute to this report.  Over 60% of the reporters have been with the program for at least 10 years - and over 25% have been with the program for more than 20 years.

For further information contact:
Terry Bedard, P.Ag.
Agricultural Economist
Policy Branch
The Ministry of Agriculture

Related Documents
Final Crop Report 2008.pdf  ( 315.2 KB )

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