Rain delaying harvest in Alberta

Wet, rainy weather seen in growing regions across Alberta has stalled the harvest in some areas during the first week of October.

Harry Brook, a crop specialist with Alberta’s provincial Ag-Info Centre at Stettler, said farmers are now waiting for drier weather to finish up the last bit of the harvest.

About 80 to 85 per cent of Alberta’s harvest is complete, he added, with good yields being reported for the majority of the province.

“We’re looking at (yields) 25 to 30 per cent above long-term averages,” said Brook. “It’s very common to see hard red spring wheat in that 70- to 80-bushel range.”

Canola yields are around 40 to 60 bushels per acre, he added, noting yields of 100 bushels or more per acre for barley and oat yields well over 120 bu./ac.

The large yields mean a huge crop, which has caused some grain storage problems in the province.

“There’s a scramble for guys looking for these grain bags and using whatever they can to try and store it so they can move some,” Brook said.

Quality has been generally good as well, though there could be some quality reductions due to recent wet weather in the province.

There also may be quality problems due to disease affecting some crops throughout the growing season.

“I mean, we had perfect weather for disease development so there’s been plenty of it to go around for wheat, canola and barley,” Brook said.

Rains seen in the province may help to improve the dry soil moisture conditions, though more precipitation would be welcomed.

“This moisture is going to help, but in some regions we’ve only had three-10ths of an inch, so it’s not as wet as it feels,” Brook said. “This time of year you get a quarter of an inch of rain and it feels like you’re totally inundated.”

In Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s most recent crop report, released Sept. 24, surface soil moisture across the province was rated as 57 per cent good to excellent. Subsoil moisture was rated as 64 per cent good to excellent.

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

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