Winter comes early to Alta., crop downgrades likely

CNS Canada — There may technically still be two more weeks of summer on the calendar, but winter weather has hit Alberta already and is raising quality concerns for unharvested crops in the province.

Widespread snowfall and temperatures near the freezing mark were being reported Monday across the province. The winter weather is expected to persist into Thursday, with killing frosts of -3 to -5 C in the forecasts for many areas on Wednesday and Thursday mornings (Sept. 10-11), according to Environment Canada data.

As of Monday, roughly 20-30 per cent of the harvest is complete in Alberta, but maybe a third of the unharvested crop is not yet ripe, said crop specialist Harry Brook of the Alberta Ag-Info Centre in Stettler.

“If we do get a killing frost, which they are predicting this week, I expect a significant percentage of our late seeded crops will go to feed,” said Brook.

The majority of the crop is at the right stage where this weather won’t cause problems, but he estimated 30 per cent could be susceptible.

Wheat crops still in the soft dough stage will be downgraded, and late canola will also see more green seed.

In addition to the cold temperatures, the heavy, wet snow, will likely lead to lodging, said Brook.

Ahead of the latest weather event, many crops in Alberta were already feeling the effects of the dry conditions that persisted most of the summer.

Crops were generally disappointing, Brook said, noting that “this year, we ran out of water.” The moisture now is too late to help the crops, and Brook commented that “we’re looking to next year.”

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.


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