Harvest resumes with improved weather, crop quality affected
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.