Crop quality has been a steep, fast downward plunge

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The crop report from Alberta Agriculture in late July was — not surprisingly — dismal.

But the speed of the deterioration of crop quality was nevertheless noteworthy.

“Only 20 per cent of the annual crops (are) good or excellent,” it said in its end-of-July report. “This represents a 17-point drop in the last two weeks and is over 50 points below the five- and 10-year average of 71 per cent.”

In fact, the report was almost an inverted image of the one issued at the end of June.

On June 28, more than 70 per cent of the wheat crop was rated good to excellent (and that average would have been higher if not for dry conditions in the South). But by July 27, only 22 per cent of spring wheat got that rating, with the Peace (13.7 per cent) overtaking the South region (21.5 per cent) in terms of having the lowest percentage of good or better conditions.

The numbers are also testament to dashed dreams.

For example, in late June, nearly 90 per cent of the pea crop in the Northeast was rated good to excellent and the Northwest wasn’t far behind. Four weeks later, those numbers were below 17 per cent.

Back in June, canola conditions were better than average in the Northwest, Northeast and Central regions (71 to 80 per cent) and not too far behind normal in the Peace. Four short weeks later, the South’s miserable 22 per cent good/excellent rating was the best in the province.

This year’s conditions are so bad the crop report makes for a strange read at times.

For example, the latest one states “the Central region experienced the most significant reduction with a 43-point decline, followed by the South, Northeast, and Northwest, which are all experiencing close to a 10-point decline. The Peace region fared better with less than a five-point decrease.”

But that was hardly good news for Peace farmers — only 15 per cent of fields were rated good or excellent.

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