Snow, killing frost puts brakes on harvest, crop quality better than expected so far

Alberta crop conditions as of October 3

Over the weekend, an intense and large system delivered cold, wet weather across the province which caused significant snowfall in some areas and brought killing frost to almost all areas across the province. The recently wet conditions also increased soil moisture levels, especially, in the Southern and Central Regions, pausing the harvest operations for a short period of time again. Prior to the weekend however, producers were able to take advantage of good weather, with harvest progress up twelve per cent from the past week. Provincially, about 72 per cent of crops have now been harvested (including all winter wheat, fall rye, dry beans, lentils and chickpeas), 14 per cent are in the swath and another 14 per cent remain standing. When compared to the 5-year averages (2012-2016), harvest progress is quite advanced in the Southern and Central Regions, but behind in the North East, North West and Peace Regions. Provincially, nearly 22 per cent of spring wheat, 19 per cent of barley, 38 per cent of oats and eight per cent of canola are still standing. As well, about 35 per cent of the canola across the province are in swath.

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Preliminary estimates show dryland yield improving slightly for all Regions and the province as a whole, with the provincial yield index at 97.4 per cent. Average yields for potatoes on dryland and irrigated fields are estimated at 11.5 and 16.6 tons per acre, respectively. Yields for irrigated dry beans and sugar beets are reported at 2,400 pounds per acre and 27.0 tonnes per acre, respectively.

Crop quality has been better than normal for most crops, but expected to decline due to frost and snow flattening standing crops. Protein level in cereals is highly variable, from 10 to 20 per cent in some cases. Provincially, about 92 per cent of hard red spring wheat and 83 per cent of durum wheat are now graded in the top two grades, which is above the 5-year average. About 26 per cent of barley is eligible for malt and 59 per cent graded as Number 1. For oats, about 59 per cent is graded in the top two grades, which is lower than the 5-year average. Almost 97 per cent of harvested canola is in the top two grades, with 90 per cent graded as Number 1.

Click here to read the full report on the Alberta Agriculture website, complete with graphics and a breakdown by regions.

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