Harvest work is slowly grinding along throughout the region and province-wide.
Harry Brook, a crop information specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, explained that cooler, wet weather followed up with some dry days in the past week has seen farmers be able to get slightly more than half the overall crop into the bin.
“Provincially, the average harvest that’s been completed is between 50 and 60 per cent, with that being right around where central Alberta is laying as well,” he stated in a phone interview.
“What is needed is for the rain to stay away and some warmer temperatures to come our way in order to get more progress on the harvest.”
Across the central region, about 38 per cent of the crop is in the bin — compared to 39 per cent at this time last year — well behind the five-year average of 64 per cent.
With the highs just reaching double digits recently, Brook said the heat needed to help crops get to that ideal moisture levels just isn’t there.
“If the rain comes, it’s just going to take that much longer for crops to dry out. With the forecast not looking favourable for an increase in temperature, farmers are just continuing to gradually pick away at getting the crops combined,” he said.
“We’ve also been getting a number of calls about how wet crops can be stored at while still being about to maintain the quality. It really depends on how they deal with the moisture levels and temperature the crop goes into the bin at that determines how long it can be stored.”
Brook explained, as an example, if a crop goes in at 10 degrees Celsius and its fairly damp, it can be stored upwards of four to five months. Though, he added, any crop stored needs to be checked on regularly because even if it’s at the right moisture level, if the heat level rises the risk increases that quality will fall. That risk also goes up as the moisture level percentage rises when it’s stored.
And the continued rain is contributing to soil moisture conditions that are excellent across the region, with 81 per cent of fields rating high in surface soil moisture while sub-soil moisture is rated at 77 per cent with both categories reaching two to three per cent ratings for excessive moisture levels.
Meanwhile, yields around the region remain really good, according to reports Brook has heard, though the quality of some cereals has him concerned.
“We’ve heard about some phenomenal canola yields and some great ones for a lot of cereals,” he said.
“However, many farmers are stating some of their wheat could see downgrades to feed grain, which is a concern considering areas in the U.S. are experiencing record or near-record corn yields. So, that could mean a not-so great need for feed wheat, which would mean it could be slow to move to market.”
He added there have also been reports from the Canadian Grain Commission about export shipments seeing damage and disease among some crops.