Harvest work in early stages across Alta.

Harvest activities were in the early stages across Alberta at the end of August, according to a provincial crop specialist.

“In the central Alberta area, there’s a little bit of barley off, some swathing going on, and starting of the swathing of canola,” said Mark Cutts of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s Ag-Info Centre at Stettler.

Harvest is a little bit further along in the southern part of the province, while slower in the Peace region, he said.

According to an AARD crop report, 31.5 per cent of crops were swathed or combined in the south as of Tuesday, 14.3 per cent in the central region and 6.1 per cent in the Peace region. Provincially, 14.3 per cent of crops had been swathed or combined, the report said.

Harvest progress across the province is “roughly in the ballpark of where we would be” on average, Cutts said.

Favourable weather was seen across the province during the latter half of August, which benefited some of the crops that were behind in development.

“We’ve had a stretch of normal to above-normal temperatures that certainly helped with the maturity of the crops,” said Cutts. “If they were behind a little bit, this has certainly brought them along in terms of maturity.”

Weather wasn’t all great in late August, as some localized regions received some heavy downpours of rain and hail, said Cutts, adding it was problematic for the crops in those areas.

Outside of the regions that saw some storm activity, there wasn’t much precipitation seen across the province, which was leading to drier soil moisture conditions.

“Looking at soil moisture reserves, they are down from where they were most of the growing season,” said Cutts. “But at this time of the year crops are essentially finished or finishing, so I don’t expect it to have any sort of a major impact on crop quality.”

Quality issues could stem from disease and pest problems in the province. Cutts said bertha armyworms were still problematic for some canola crops, with lygus bugs causing trouble in west-central areas.

Not many disease problems were reported, said Cutts, but that could change once harvest activities come to an end.

“A lot of the canola diseases we tend to hear about after harvest, in terms of scleortinia, blackleg and club root and those types of things,” he said.

As of Tuesday, most crops were in good condition, according to the crop report. Provincially, 87.9 per cent of crops were rated as in good to excellent condition.

But hay and pasture ratings were declining because of the recent dry conditions. The report said 15 per cent of hay and pasture crops were in excellent condition, 52 per cent good, 27 per cent fair and six per cent poor.

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

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