Tuesday, 08 August 2017 05:22

Heat wave has had various adverse affects on southwest

Written by  Andrea Carol
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Saskatoon Berry pie lovers may be going without this year. Scorching temperatures and little to no precipitation has put a dent in the harvest of the province’s famous berry. Sun-baked Saskatoon berry crops took a huge hit leaving skimpy left overs for pie lovers.

It’s a disaster of epic proportion for the Thanksgiving table this year.  If you are a Saskatoon Berry lover, Mom’s pie may not be on the menu.
Over the past few weeks Saskatchewan residents braved record temperatures and dangerously dry conditions. The arid conditions rudely reminded us that we still live in the Palliser Triangle.  With a reputation as the sunniest province in Canada (approximately 2206 hours per year) and the leader in cereal crop production in the country, the southwest has experienced it’s driest July in 130 years.
July’s hot temperatures threatened livestock, crops and parks. Environment Canada is predicting over the next 30 years, the number of extremely hot days in a year is expected to more than double in some parts of Canada. This will without a doubt have an impact on producers. (And Saskatoon berries)!
The high air temperature and lack of rain, adversely affects plant growth in crops and yield declines are expected across the province.
“The high temps experienced this summer has certainly impacted yields. The year started off pretty good with good moisture to get crops germinated.  Winds and high temperatures in May and June caused crops to use much of the reserve moisture in the ground. High temperatures in July limited the length of flowering on all crops which will subsequently reduce yield.  The only thing that salvaged a crop was the excellent reserve moisture in the ground from the significant rain last year”, explained Gerry Bourgeois of Swift Current. “Unfortunately, every last drop of water has been sucked out of the ground.  We will need significant rain this fall or next spring to replenish the moisture profile.  If next year is like this year, crops won't survive as there will be no sub soil moisture in the ground”.
Cattle producers were challenged with compromised water quality due to the arid conditions. Water is the nutrient required most by cattle and they can tolerate poor water quality better than humans, but if concentrations of specific compounds found in water are high enough, cattle can be affected. A producer near Shamrock, Saska. experienced devastation when poor water quality and heat were responsible for the death of 200 cattle.
Cattle aren’t the only one’s suffering as the water in rivers and lakes can become too warm and cannot sustain life. Warm water holds less dissolved oxygen than cold water, so in times of high temperatures, fish can have a hard time getting enough oxygen. There have been reports of fish kills in the province due to the high temperatures. Sloughs and dugouts have evaporated as well. With Saskatchewan having 44% of Canada’s total cultivated farmland, Mom’s Thanksgiving pie isn’t the only thing to take a hit this year. Unfortunately for most producers, the rain came too late.
Harvest is underway and Thanksgiving will still come…well, it will come perhaps without  the Saskatoon pie.

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