Warm, dry September conditions have been a blessing in central and northern Alberta, says James Wright, a project manager with Agriculture Financial Services Canada in Lacombe.
In an interview Sept. 14, Wright said he has never seen a fall like this and that the warm temperatures bode well for a good September. The first fall frost usually occurs on September 6, but that was not the case this year.
“We haven’t had an early frost in Alberta for ages,” said Wright. “An early frost date would have been disastrous because crop development is already late. I’m definitely breathing a sigh of relief.”
The harvest is slow and late due to cool temperatures in May and June, which resulted in crop development that was about seven to 17 days behind schedule, depending on the location, Wright said.
The issue of multiple staging is having an impact on the fall harvest. “We have some fields with really mature canola that have green plants in them as well,” said Wright.
Wright said that more producers are getting past this particular difficulty by choosing to swath first and then dry down the crops. He predicted that there would be less of an emphasis on straight combining this year. A warm, open September will give the swathed crops more time to dry, he said.
The nice weather and an increase in quality may help producers offset the impact of the reduced yield due to lack of moisture, said Wright. Yields across the province will be reduced by almost 20 to 30 per cent. Areas around Westlock, Lac La Biche, Barrhead and Camrose were particularly dry this year, said Wright.
The harvest for the Peace region is a bit of a dichotomy this year.
“The entire region has been really dry until about the last week or so,” he said. However, yield reports have indicated only a 20 per cent loss, which seems suspect due to the lack of moisture in the area. Wright is waiting to see how things develop.
Due to late maturity, the harvest has been late this year, and only about five per cent of the province’s total harvest had been completed as of September 14. Southern Alberta, which has usually completed their harvest by the second week of September, had only completed about 30 per cent of the total harvest by the middle of the month. w