Cool, wet weather halts Alberta harvest

Alberta’s accumulated rainfall for September 2014. (WeatherFarm.com)

CNS Canada — Farmers in Alberta haven’t been able to make much harvest progress recently, as rainfall and cool weather have prevented them from getting into the fields over the past week.

Almost half an inch of rain fell in some areas on Friday (Sept. 26), followed by some nicer weather on the weekend, said Harry Brook, a crop specialist with Alberta’s provincial Ag-Info Centre in Stettler.

“Then, just as the moisture levels were coming down, we had some more rain here on Tuesday. So, frankly there’s been very little progress for the last week,” he added.

Provincially, Brook said about 60 per cent of crops were in the bin, though harvest in the Peace region, in the province’s northwest, was nearly complete due to drier weather there.

Harvest progress is a bit behind normal so far this year, though some farmers say “October is our harvest month,” he added.

Producers will need at least two weeks of favourable weather to get the rest of the crop off, Brook said, adding that forecasts call for better conditions over the weekend and early next week.

“But, I mean, that’s all subject to change the closer you get to it,” he added.

Because of all the recent excess moisture, quality is no longer a concern for producers — it’s a reality, Brook said, adding that one producer reported a durum crop that was down to a No. 5 grade.

The best place to find better-quality crops in Alberta is in the Peace region, as it suffered from a drought for most of the growing season.

“They had drought stress with lower yields, but the crop quality is probably the best in the province,” Brook said.

Yields are a “mixed bag,” but are reported as being average to above average overall so far, he noted.

The wet weather and later harvest will mean reduced acres of winter wheat this year, as farmers didn’t have many opportunities to get winter cereals seeded.

But winter wheat that’s in the ground should be growing, as there has been good moisture for the developing crop, Brook added.

— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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