Alberta farmers fret over recent summer snowfalls
Some Alberta farmers are concerned about their crops after a late-summer snowfall blanketed parts of the province, with more flurries expected in the forecast.
Early season snow can squash crops that grow upright, like wheat and barley, make them harder to harvest and decimate their quality, leaving farmers with a less valuable product.
Greg Sears has been growing canola, wheat, barley and peas just north of Grande Prairie, Alta., for about a decade and recently had about 15 centimetres of snow covered his crops, pushing down his cereal and canola and freezing anything that wasn’t fully mature yet.
“It’s just going to be a long, slow harvest from here on in — even if we do get some really nice weather,” he said.
The area needs warm, windy weather to dry the crop, Sears said, adding the current ground conditions will make it hard for him to get his equipment on the land.
That difficult harvest comes after wildfires in B.C. earlier this year created additional pressure with the drifting smoke slowing down the crop development, he said.
The neighbouring province saw thousands of square kilometres of woodland charred by more than 2,000 wildfires since April, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
In addition to slowing the harvest, the snow likely deteriorated the crop quality.
Sears hoped his barley would go to a malt beer brewing market, but now expects it’ll land elsewhere for a lower price.
He anticipates about $100 an acre less in revenue than during a typical harvest.
His wheat will likely fall from milling-grade, which is for human consumption, to animalfeed quality, he said.
The pea crop will suffer on two fronts, he said, expecting a quality and yield reduction.
Farmers work a field near Gibbons, Alta. on Wednesday. Snowfall blanketed parts of the province and more flurries are in the forecast.