Alberta harvest ahead of schedule, lower yields due to record heat

EDMONTON –

After a summer of record-breaking heat, most Alberta farmers have harvested their crops ahead of schedule while yields for some crops are significantly below normal levels.

The province’s crop report, released earlier this week, shows dryland yields of 63 per for major crops like barley, canola, dry peas, and spring wheat – significantly below the 10 year average.

“Cool wet weather caused varying degrees of delays in provincial harvest activities this week,” the Alberta Crop Report read. “Even with the delays, producers now have 78 per cent of the major crops in the bin.”

Regional ratings for yield estimates varied based on the amount of precipitation areas received.

According to the report, the South region – including Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Strathmore, and Foremost – fared the worst this season. The province expects there to only be yields of 17.8 per cent for  spring wheat, 18.5 per cent for dry peas, 16.3 per cent for canola, and 25.9 per cent for oats.

“Hot, dry conditions were prevalent in the province up until mid-July,” the report said. “Since then large areas of southeastern Alberta have received 80 millimetres or less precipitation.

“The low precipitation accumulations in these areas are a concern and without fall and winter precipitation they will be at an elevated risk for next year’s plantings.”

Several regions declared agricultural disasters this year, including Kneehill, Rocky View, Big Lakes, and Lac St. Anne counties.

The region encompassing Barrhead, Leduc, Drayton Valley, Athabasca, and Edmonton is projected to have the highest yields with 44.1 per cent of spring wheat, 28.8 per cent of dry peas, 53.3 per cent of dry oats, and 35.1 per cent of canola crops.

Pasture ratings tumbled this year with only 21 per cent listed in excellent or good condition. According to the province, the five-year average is around 46 per cent.

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