Har­vest re­sumes with im­proved weather, crop qual­ity af­fected

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Kyle Smylie

Grain pro­duc­ers in the re­gion are back in the fields af­ter the early Oc­to­ber snow dump damp­ened har­vests, with progress be­hind the 5-year av­er­ages in the re­gion.

The most re­cent Al­berta crop re­port says only about 44 per cent of ma­jor crops have been har­vested in the Cen­tral re­gion, with the 5-year av­er­age in the area be­ing 79 per cent. Cool, wet weather has re­sulted in some crops sprout­ing and crack­ing, as well as crops shriv­el­ling and ker­nels be­ing frozen, which af­fects crop qual­ity. Cat­tle pro­duc­ers who rely on graz­ing land were also af­fected by the early snow and a hot, dry sum­mer, which caused higher feed prices.

Stet­tler County coun­cil de­clared an agri­cul­tural disas­ter

at their Oc­to­ber 10 meeting with the in­tent to en­cour­age the provin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to as­sist county agri­cul­ture pro­duc­ers.

The snow and mois­ture have made it dif­fi­cult to get into the fields. Cer­tain crops will di­min­ish in value as these crops re­main in the fields,” said Stet­tler County Reeve Larry Clarke in a press re­lease.

Wheat­land, Star­land, and Knee­hill Coun­ties have not made a sim­i­lar dec­la­ra­tion but are re­port­ing poorer crops and a de­layed har­vest. Wheat­land County agri­cul­tural man­ager Rus­sel Muenchrath says their coun­cil had dis­cussed do­ing the same thing and have looked into be­gin­ning the process, but a warm late Oc­to­ber fore­cast has them op­ti­mistic.

“At the mo­ment guys are back in the field and things are look­ing bet­ter long- term,” he says, adding the county was sit­ting at around 60 per cent har­vest com­ple­tion be­fore the snow fell. He says prod­uct grade will be af­fected due to the cooler weather, snow, and flat­tened crops com­pli­cat­ing a strong har­vest.

Star­land agri­cul­ture field­man Al Hamp­ton says the county was not af­fected enough to de­clare an agri­cul­tural emer­gency.

“The weather now is what the doc­tor or­dered. If we can get the grain off by Hal­loween that’s a bonus. It was look­ing pretty grim there for a while.”

A pos­i­tive of the ab­nor­mal Oc­to­ber pre­cip­i­ta­tion has ben­e­fit­ted fall seeded crops which a ma­jor­ity of crops across the prov­ince are rated good or ex­cel­lent. Pas­tures across the prov­ince have im­proved, but cool tem­per­a­tures have stunted re-growth.

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