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Abnormally Early Spring Melt Offers Opportunity to Plant Early

26 March 2012
University of Manitoba

CANADA - A plant science instructor with the University of Manitoba is encouraging farmers to take advantage of this year's early spring melt by planting some of their more cold tolerant, less expensive crops early.

Western Canada has experienced an abnormally early spring melt this year accompanied by record warm temperatures.

Gary Martens, a plant science instructor with University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, observes plants are coming out of dormancy, winter wheat fields are greening up, buds are coming out on trees, alfalfa is starting to grow, the surface is dry and, while there is still a risk that we could get cold temperatures and frost, soil temperatures are warm enough that many farmers could actually start planting now.

Gary Martens said: "If you're going to be planting a forage crop like alfalfa or a grass forage blend, I would go do that right away because that takes awhile to start up and early spring is a great time to do it.

"If you're doing an inter-crop, let's say you're going to plant some red clover into your winter wheat or fall rye, now is the perfect time to do that.

"I've also suggested to farmers, if the seed you're using is relatively inexpensive and I would include in that cereal crops like wheat, oats, barley, maybe peas, maybe flax, I would plant them right now because the risk is that you have to plant it again and all you do is you lose the seed.

"I would not risk putting in canola because it costs about 50 dollars an acre.

"I would not put in corn or soybeans or edible beans or sunflowers because that's very expensive and on top of that they're more susceptible to frost than the previous ones I just described."

Mr Martens acknowledges while there is still a risk that you could get colder temperatures and frost between now and actual spring, generally the earlier you plant your cereals, peas, flax and even canola, the higher the potential yield will be if you want to take that chance.

TheCropSite News Desk

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