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Research station year dry of moisture, funds

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It was a dry year for the Emo research station in 1997 in more ways than one, manager Kim Jo Calder told the annual meeting of the Rainy River Soil and Crop Improvement Association last week in Emo.

Yields seemed to be down across the board, she said, especially in the forage crops.

Even those crops that managed to fare somewhat well, like the wheat and cereals, produced rather low yields compared to last year’s test results.

But unlike last year, the problem wasn’t due to too much moisture. This time there was too little.

“My big complaint was the dry season,” Calder said, noting the season was cold early on, pushing back the seeding date to late May.

The lingering cold, combined with the lack of rain, could have affected the germination of many of the cereals, she noted, causing many seeds just to rot in the fields.

Meanwhile, the station also faced a dry year in terms of funding, which Calder said was “still tight” when it came to research money. In fact, the number of her student assistants was reduced by one position this year.

“Without another student, this meant I was out in the field more often, which I like," Calder said. "But it makes data testing a bit more stressful at the end of the year.”

More data results are still to come in from samples shipped to the University of Guelph for testing.

In related news, results from forage stock piling test have been held off due to lack of funds.

Mike Neilson, president of the local soil and crop association, said the results from these tests would be necessary this winter. To wait around until spring to get them would leave district farmers with no time to implement them.

Gord Scheifele, the University of Guelph’s northern research co-ordinator, said there wasn’t much that could be done if the funds weren’t there.

But Amos Brielmann pointed out the soil and crop association had raised more than $500 in anticipation that money would run out for cereals testing.

Since the cereals testing already had been done, Brielmann asked why couldn’t it be used for the forage tests.

It then was moved, and carried, by those at the annual meeting that the money be used in such a manner.

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