I have learned that there are two really key points in the farming season when things need to go well. The first period is during May when most of the big transplanting jobs are taking place. The second period is right now. I have spent a large portion of the last couple of weeks turning over beds and seeding new crops at a much higher rate than usual, and when working on the boulevard it seems that I spend an equal amount of time answering the question "You still seedin'?". I figured that was a good enough reason to answer this question for all of you as well.
The reason for this rush now is that the last week of August is really the final opportunity to get any direct seeded crops into the ground. Throughout most of the season, there is some wiggle room with the seeding of most crops but at this point in the year, small changes in the seeding date make a big difference for the timing of the harvest. That is because the growth rate of each crop will slow dramatically in the coming month as the day length continues to shorten. A difference of only a few days in seeding time now could mean that a crop is ready to harvest at the end of September, early October, or not at all.
There are numerous crops that can tolerate the odd frost to carry us into the fall months, but in just a few weeks they will pretty much stop growing. Therefore, the strategy moving into this period of the season is to load up every last bit of space with something green. If I did this in mid summer we would be overwhelmed with too much produce, but since the growth rate slows down so much in the fall, we can use our fields like large living refrigerators. If I time the seeding correctly and we get typical fall Saskatoon weather, crops will mature while the temperatures are still relatively warm and then become dormant as the temperatures drop and the days shorten even more. The dormant crops will then just wait patiently for us in the cool weather for each week's harvest.