Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 27, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
The Heavy rains aid farm picture By JOE BALLA Herald Staff Writer Heavy rains of late May are proving to be the deciding fac- tor with regard to the economic well-b e i n g of soutliern Alber- ta's farm front for 1972. While there are some prob- lem areas, the over-all picture is clear and the outlook is good. In every district of the south there is considerable optimism for a better-than-average crop even though seeding generally has been late, and in some casse is still being carried on. Spotty burnt out areas cre- ated by a lack of moisture, particularly in the southeast, caused an air of unreality in some areas and predictions were stating that 1972 is going to be bad year. But light to heavy showers during the past weekend held, the pessimism in check. The moisture also set up many fields for a better than average crop. The assurance region for good crops continues to be southern Alberta's irrigation belt. There's heavy use of wa- ter In the ditch, and sprinkler systems are being used more extensively than ever before. Many of the irrigation dis- -tricts received the least amount of natural rainfall so moisture is being more than made up for by various meth- ods of irrigation. Another problem area has been strong, westerly winds. The stiff blows have not only picked up considerable mois- ture from the soil, but also been responsible for some of the spotty burning of crops. OIK of the heaviest rainftlls to hit southern Alberta in many years, poured onto crop- ped, hay and paslurelands east o( Medicine Hat during the lat- ter part of May. Up to five inches of driving rain struck in the initial downpour. The torrent of rain turned rail line valley east of the 'Hat into a giant river. The fast- moving water caused some damage through erosion; crop- ped fields were washed oul and some farm homes were moved off their foundations. While the moisture is being described as "too much at it was needed badly. The entire countryside has now turned into lush growth and deep green. Heavy rains totalling from two to four inches also hit oth- er parts of southern Alberta during the latter part of May and early June. Farmers in districts with lighter rainfalls feel they did not receive enough but the added moisture placed a strong hold position on crops. The heavy rainfalls stretch- ed far to the northeast to around Hilda and Schuler, and into parts of Saskatchewan where three to four inches of rain was recorded. Because of the lateness of the seeding, season, many farmers didn't have time to wait for the wild oats to em- erge and grow. As a result, tha wild oat.is a No. 1 problem in some of the dryland farming districts of the south. The flea beetle is perhaps the most common .pest in the south so far this year. The tiny insect is mainly attacking rapeseed crops, and there is ex- tensive spraying going on. While it is the most pronounced pest, agricultural officials dp not expect a general outbreak or any serious problems. Agricultural scientists pre- dicted 1972 would be a year of serious outbreaks of grasshop- pers throughout the south coun- try. So far the prediction has failed to materialize. Earlier this season the Em- press district north of Med- icine Hat had one of the most serious outbreaks of grasshop- pers in years. A concerted et- fort by the department of agri- culture to move in additional supplies of hopper spray brought the situation under control in short order. Spotty outbreaks of grass- hoppers have been noticed in other districts of the south in recent weeks, but fast action with insecticides have brought the pest under control. A g r i c u I tural experts are somewhat puzzled by a mass movement of sugar beet worm moths in the Vulcan dis- trict. Tlie pests are hosting on native vegetation such as pig- weed, and do not appear to be in any hurry to move onto their more favored food supplies the sugar beats in the irriga- tion belt to the south. One of the first crops to be harvested in the south again this year has been radishes in the Brooks district. Still on a somewhat experimental basis, the vegetable has been grown around Brooks for several years now. The radishes are being sown and harvested ev- Goverumeiit says Role is market le There seems to be a consid-. erable amount of confusion con- cerning the Alberta govern- ment's role in marketing boards and commissions. This situation is particularly true of the Al- berta Hog Producers Marketing Board. Clarke Ferries, chairman of the Alberta Agricultural Prod- ucts Marketing Council, stress- es that the government has nc direct involvement in market- ing boards or commissions. It simply provides the mar- keting legislation for producers to use if they choose to do so. The Council, he said, grants the board or commission the au- thority to carry out the objec- tives of the plan submitted by the producer organization, or organizations, after the plan has been approved by cabinet, It also makes sure that tho board does not abuse or mis- use the- powers that were granted to it under the Market- ing of Agricultural Products Act. The producers, themselves, set the levy, or fee, they are prepared to pay for the board or commission to carry out its objectives. The board, not the Council, establishes or changes market- ing quotas that are allocated to Individual producers. The Coun- cil'only approves the guidelines under winch the quotas are es- tablished, changed, or transfer- red to make sure that it is done fairly. Quotas are based upon the anticipated demand which is arrived at through discus- sions between the board and tho merchandizes of the product. Mr. Ferries pointed out that a producer who is not satisfied with his tiuota can appeal to the board for reconsideration of his particular situation. If ho fails to get satisfaction, he can then appeal to the Council for a re-evaluation of the situation. The Council has absolutely no jurisdiction over prices paid to producers. Some boards have the authority to set prices which they base upon the supply, de- mand, comnalition and cost of producing that particular prod- uct. 'The povernment's role is the .same for commissions. The C d u n cil simply give the com- mission the authority to carry the obicctives in the plan submitted by Hie producer or- ganization. Mr. Ferries strongly advises producers to make a point of attending all the annual meet- ings of their board or commis- sion, a n d to carefully review the annual report. Only in this way can they evaluate the or- ganization's past performance, and make constructive sugges- tions for its future operations. cry three days on a 250-acro plot, and sold to stores tlirough- out the province. Next in the line of vegetables to be harvested is expected to be peas for the canneries. Har- vest is expected early in July. Harvesting of hay on native grasslands in dryland districts is starling, with the crop gen- erally being described as fair to good. For many fields the rains came too late to show growth in the first cutting. Cutting of hay and other for- age crops in the irrigation belt is also getting under way and should be general by early July. The irrigation crop is be- ing described as good average. Bulk of the south's acres of sugar beets has been thinned and first hoeing is un- der way in most districts. The beet fields have been about Iho only' area where a shortage of labor has been noted and the crop 'has suffered, to some degree because of the shortage. The winter wheat and all rye growing districts have the crops in the heading out stage, with well above average stands reported from the western dis- tricts. The early-sown spring grain crops are in the stooling stage, with some heading being noted. The later-sown spring crops ap- pear to be stronger, but there is some danger they may hit the fall frost period in the green stage, particularly if it's a wet summer. Agricultural experts state that farmers who are still seeding should be counting only on a green feed harvest. Some 60-day crops may make it but even they will be crowd- ing the frost period. If, how- ever, it's a year when the frosts arrive late, the late seeders could harvest some of the best crops. With the exception of the southeast corner of the prov- ince, most other districts report they will require only one more good rain during the growing season to bring on good crops. Exceptionally hot weather for a prolonged period could change this. On the Indian reserves in the region, the "prairie wool" is short as haying gets under way. Livestock conditions are de- scribed as good to excellent, with the exception of Indian cattle. These cattle came through the prolonged winter in "rough shape" in many cases because of a shortage of hay. The heavy snowstorm of May added to the problems. In the southeast, there has been some reduction in herd sizes because of the relatively poor pasture conditions and this thinning out of herds is ex- pected to continue until thero are some heavy rains and pas- tures arc improved.