Rain needed as planting season ends

Karl Smallman of Triple S Farms in Knutsford said planting this year was completed earlier than normal because weather this spring has been hot and dry. Now that crops are growing though, rain is what’s really needed.            Jillian Trainor photo

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Farmers in the region completed their planting earlier than usual because of the hot, dry weather this spring, 

Karl Smallman of Triple S Farms in Knutsford thought things went extremely well.

“You didn’t have to worry about rain, or wait for the ground to dry out to get to the field, you just kept going each day,” said Mr Smallman. “You got full days in every day, and things got done in a quicker fashion than before.”

Mr Smallman said a full day runs from around seven in the morning to 10 or 10:30 at night.

Darryl Wallace, of Wallace Family Farms Ltd in Cascumpec, estimates planting on his farm finished about 10 days ahead of schedule.

Because employees are on their own in tractors and other farm equipment, social distancing wasn’t an issue, and both farmers were able to employ the same amount of people as they did last year. 

One thing that is different though is how farmers deal with their suppliers.

“If you had to order a part, they would set it outside the door,” explained Mr Wallace. “The fertilizer plant, if you went in to get your fertilizer, you would never get out of the truck other than to roll the tarp down and up. It was just different protocol.”

Now that everything is planted and in the ground, what their crops need most right now is rain, something that’s been in short supply over the last few growing seasons. Mr Wallace said the dry weather is already starting to impact his barley crop.

When crops start to grow, their roots will start searching for moisture, but right now, there isn’t any to be found. If the dry weather keeps up, crops growth might slow down, or even stop altogether.

“At planting time, things went well, it’s just whenever the crop starts to grow, the roots will go searching for moisture and right now there’s not any to be found. It’s soon going to show in the condition of the crop, everything will just slow down and stop if we don’t get some water to keep things growing.”

Ideally, potato crops should get an inch of rain a week, and with rain in the forecast, there is hope that it will be enough for now.

Too much rain is also a problem, especially as the season comes to a close. Post Tropical Storm Dorian hit Prince Edward Island on September 7, and actually drowned out lower lying fields. This in turn can potentially cause rotting once those potatoes are dug up and put in storage.

Still, farmers remain hopeful heading into the growing season.

“We have a rich, fertile soil here, and we’re in good shape to have a lovely crop with how we planted the crop and with how good things look right now, the crop is coming up nice and even,” said Mr Smallman. “The potential is there for having a wonderful season and a great harvest, we’ll just have to wait and see if rain can come in a timely fashion and help us grow a good crop.”

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