By Harry Brook

This will be my final column for The Community Press, as I have retired from Flagstaff County as of May 31. I have really appreciated the opportunity to communicate to the public through these columns and by other means. I also really have enjoyed the feedback I received from the public from them. So often in my career, there was little response from the work I did and it has been very enjoyable hearing from you.

Looking ahead to the summer, there are a number of issues that you should be on the lookout for. Flea beetles are probably snacking on some of your canola seedlings, or soon will be. Watch out for grasshoppers as they start to emerge later on this month. They are a potential problem for summer and can quickly work their way into a field. Hopefully, none of you have noticed bare patches in the field from either cutworms or wireworms. You need to be out there scouting your fields, looking into any suspicious patches where the crop isn’t or where it was.

Diseases in-crop shouldn’t be much of a problem unless it gets a whole lot more humid and wet. If you use fungicides, do it only if it makes sense because of weather conditions or if you detect signs of disease starting up from the lower canopy. Don’t be fooled by natural dying off of lower leaves due to other factors, such as drought or just wearing out.

Weed control is now on many producers' minds. Keep in mind that herbicide resistance is a real problem and getting worse with every year. Wild oats are becoming a huge problem in some areas and many fields in the county already have populations of wild oats resistant to Group 1 and Group 2 herbicides. Rotate your chemical groups, not just the chemical trade names. Silage or putting in a hay crop are still excellent ways to reduce weed populations. However, you either need cattle or a neighbour willing to work with you.

Despite record high crop prices, don’t remove all the bush in the county. It does serve a need and provide some ecological services to the growing crop and for society at large. If for no other reason, keep a few bush patches around to cut the wind.

Above all stay safe while doing your farm work. And here’s hoping we continue to get timely rains and producers can continue to prosper in our communities. As the farming community goes, so goes the community at large. Thank you and good luck for the coming growing season.

Flagstaff County's new Agricultural Fieldman is Nick Dunn. Nick can be reached at 780-384-4138.