Much of Alberta has enjoyed ideal growing conditions with a combination of sunny, warm temperatures as well as days with showers.
"Pretty much the whole province has had anywhere from three to six inches of rain this spring, which is excellent for getting the crop started," says Alberta Agriculture crop specialist Harry Brook.
Conditions have been a little dry around the northern Peace River region, but generally, Alberta farmers have told him crops across the province look better for this time of year than they have in the last decade.
"The crops can't look much better," he says. "We're setting ourselves up for a large crop, potentially, as long as we continue to get moisture."
That said, farmers still need to be aware of disease and insect issues.
Stripe rust, while not at high levels in most areas -- one or two per cent, maximum, in most fields -- has appeared a couple of weeks early this year, possibly because it overwintered, according to Agriculture Canada plant pathologist Denis Gaudet. The cereal disease typically enters the province via wind, which blows it in from the Pacific northwestern United States.
Forecasts for cool, wet weather is not good news, as those conditions are ideal for stripe rust development. But Gaudet cautions against spraying, except in certain instances. Control measures should be considered for winter wheat, but many hard red and durum spring wheat varieties are resistant and may not require spraying. Alberta Agriculture's website provides additional information for stripe rust resistance ratings for individual varieties.
Provincial insect expert Scott Meers also warns farmers to monitor diamondback moths.
A second generation of the pests has been detected, and a third is probable. While third generation is not unusual, a fourth is. Alberta Ag had been warning of the possibility of a fourth, but cooler weather conditions have reduced the likelihood. Nevertheless, the possibility still exists.
"July and August, there's a lot of heat units that can be accumulated, so it is possible," Meers says.
Meers suggests farmers keep an eye on how the situation develops before spraying, as diamondback populations can be reduced by parasitic insects and diseases. But in the rare instance that extreme levels of diamondback moth larvae is preventing crops flowering, spraying is warranted, he says.