Dry conditions lead to early harvest in central Alberta

By mid-September, the harvest is in full swing for Alberta producers. Farmers say low humidity has led to fewer crops in the bins this year.

However, central Alberta farmers are trying to stay positive by monitoring the upcoming forecast.

“We bet on the weather all the time. We don’t have to go to Vegas, we roll the dice every day here,” said John Guelly, owner of JJ Farms.

Across the province, many growers are currently harvesting, including Guelly, who said his farm had a good start to the season due to the weather conditions in the area.

“This year we had a lot more heat at the start, so our crops really got off to a quick start, but the problem was there was no moisture to help them grow. It got to a point where there was no more water,” Guelly said.

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The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) said that in Western Canada this year’s harvest is above the five-year average and crops could end sooner because many producers have received less rain than last year. normal years.

“It was a dry year and an early harvest with really disappointing yields in many cases,” said Todd Lewis, CFA vice president.

“There were some surprising yields, but overall there just wasn’t enough moisture to have a really good crop.”

Another cloud over farmers’ heads is the recurring smoke that has blanketed the province. While this helped protect crops from the early summer heat, it now reduces the time farmers spend in the fields.

“Our daylight hours are shorter and the sun is not as powerful. So we find ourselves in a situation where, if there is heavy smoke coverage, the crop does not dry. It’s not unusual to see lower temperatures at night and high humidity,” Lewis said.

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Guelly experienced similar problems with smoke during his harvest this year.

“We have had a lot of wet nights and we have to wait for the crops to dry in the morning before we can harvest. Smoke has slowed this process and reduced the number of hours we can put in each day. We can’t start as early as we would like,” he said.

Guelly also finished his canola harvest and will be back in the next few days to finish the rest of his wheat crop if he can avoid the mud.

“We can go back to some places that we had to leave in the wheat and barley because it was just too wet to get to. We just couldn’t get there with the equipment because the ground was too muddy. »

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