Alberta producers battle for harvest progress

Alberta Crop Report: Conditions as of October 29

One more week of harvesting between weather events, and another blast of winter this past weekend brought snow or rain to many areas in the west and north halting operations yet again. The strong winds that accompanied the cold front have scattered canola swaths and blown snow into and over top of swaths still left out in the fields.

Despite the cold and snow, all regions made some combining progress. The current estimate of Major Crops in the bin is at 81 percent, 8 points above last week and 3 points ahead of last year at this time (see Table 1 below). As expected canola is the crop lagging furthest behind although, with the exception of peas, all crops in Peace region have many acres still out. The survey indicates a mix of standing and swathed crop (in brackets) for South region 2 (3) percent, Central area shows 5 (8) percent, North East has 7 (14) percent, North West indicates 7 (20) percent with Peace lagging at 26 (15) percent.

Table 1: Regional Harvest Progress (Major Crops) as of Oct. 29, 2019 .
photo: Source: AF/AFSC Crop Reporting Survey

Forecasts vary for the province this upcoming week, but in general another front bringing precipitation will go through most areas over the weekend, delaying harvest activities further. Having crops dry out enough to store continues to be a major challenge.

The moisture received so far this fall is trickling down through the soil layers and adding to the soil moisture levels. Compared to this week last year, sub-soil moisture ratings are higher in general with 45 percent rated as good, 23 percent at excellent and less than 1 percent excessive (see Table 2 below).

Table 2: Sub-surface Soil Moisture Ratings as of Oct. 29, 2019.
photo: Source: AF/AFSC Crop Reporting Survey

Region One: Southern (Strathmore, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Foremost)

  • Harvest moved 7 points over last week and is nearly cleaned up, but was slowed by the snow and frost. The frost has also affected the ability to store sugar beets, in turn slowing down the digging process.
  • Fall seeded crop poor ratings are 6 percent, 37 fair, 52 good and 5 percent rated as excellent.
  • Surface soil moisture rated as poor is 7 percent, fair 42, good 49 with 2 rated as excellent. Sub-surface soil
    moisture rated as poor is 12, fair 48 and 40 percent rated as good.
  • Pasture rated as poor is currently at 17, fair 41, good ratings are 37 with 5 percent as excellent.

Region Two: Central (Rimbey, Airdrie, Coronation, Oyen)

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  • Harvest progress moved up almost 15 points over last week and is 6 points ahead of the provincial average.
  • Fall seeded crop poor ratings are 2 percent, 17 fair, 80 good and 1 percent rated as excellent.
  • Surface soil moisture rated as poor is 3 percent, fair 19, good 65 with 13 rated as excellent. Sub-surface soil
    moisture rated as poor is 15, fair 21, good 52 with 12 percent rated as excellent.
  • Pasture rated as poor is currently at 34, fair is 22 and good ratings are 44 percent.

Region Three: North East (Smoky Lake, Vermilion, Camrose, Provost)

  • Harvest progress rose 7 points over last week, but is slightly behind the provincial average by two points.
  • Fall seeded crop ratings are 13 percent fair and 87 percent good.
  • There are no poor surface soil moisture ratings, fair ratings are 2 percent, good 59, 37 rated as excellent and 2
    rated as excessive. No poor sub-surface soil moisture ratings, fair 1, good 49 with 50 percent rated as
    excellent.
  • Pasture rated as poor is currently at 62, fair 21, and 17 percent classed as good rating.

Region Four: North West (Barrhead, Edmonton, Leduc, Drayton Valley, Athabasca)

  • Harvest progress was bumped up by 6 points since last report, yet is still falling behind the provincial average by 8 percent.
  • Surface soil moisture good rating is 28 percent, excellent 67 with 5 rated as excessive. Sub-surface soil moisture good rating is 23 with 77 per cent rated as excellent.
  • Pasture rated as poor is currently at 22, fair 56 with 22 percent rated as good.

Region Five: Peace River (Fairview, Falher, Grande Prairie, Valleyview)

  • Harvest progress is well behind the provincial average by nearly 22 points, but did move up by 6.
  • Surface soil moisture rated as fair are 10 percent, good 67, 12 rated as excellent with 11 rated as excessive.
    Sub-surface soil moisture rated as poor is 3, fair 15, good 63, with 17 per cent rated as excellent and 2 rated as
    excessive.
  • Pasture rated as poor is currently at 4, fair 38, good rating is 52 with 6 percent as excellent.

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