An early start to the growing season has translated to a harvest that has already begun.
“Most crops in the province are about one to two weeks ahead of a normal year, due mostly to the early seeding that was done by producers,” explained Harry Brook, crop information specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry based in Stettler.
“Farmers are really no further ahead, it’s just that the majority of the seeding took place this year before the May long weekend. When tracking things this season, there have been about the same amount of heat units so far as there would be in a normal year over the same length of time.”
Meanwhile, the latest crop report from Alberta Agriculture stated around 85 per cent of all crops in the central region are rated good to excellent, no change from the previous week and up 18 per cent from the five year average.
Soil moisture continues to be rated high, at about 82 per cent rated good to excellent for both surface and sub-soil levels, while pasture and hay conditions are around 77 per cent with the first hay cut nearly complete and some second cut being started in some portions.
Brook also believes that yields from this year’s harvest should be about average throughout most of the Bashaw, Ponoka,Camrose and Stettler regions as well as the majority of the province – with one possible exception.
“Most of the crops I’ve seen and heard reports about were looking fabulous. I’ve seen canola that was five to six feet high,”he stated.
“In a lot of cereals we are seeing, most times they will get an extra two or three heads, but instead there are seven or eight extra. It’s been impressive just how the crop development has been this year and I’m looking forward to what the yields are going to be like.”
However, unlike central regions, a few areas in the north along with the far southern region have been experiencing some extremes that are leading to problems that may leave them with average or lower yields.
“Up north in the High Prairie area, they have had an excessive amount of rain leaving them nearly swimming, while further north in the High Level region, they could use some rain as they’ve been fairly dry for the past three or four years,” Brook said.
“Meanwhile, in the Lethbridge and Medicine Hat areas, they got some rain in June following seeding. But then, they didn’tget anything significant until late July, so any yields out of that area I anticipate will be in the average range.
“That’s completely different from the central region where most producers would’ve liked to have a day without any rain.”
Brook did state that some producers are going to find harvesting a challenge though, since there has been fields hit by hail and the heavy rain and wind storms over the past few weeks.
“Those storms have put some crops on the ground, which is going to pose some huge challenges in getting them in the bin,” he said.
“Producers are not going to want to lose those crops, and with the rain we’ve seen, it is going to take a lot of time for them to dry if they’ve been sitting on the ground long.”
One other note of interest that Brook has heard about, is that the majority of the lodging that has been seen this year is in crops that were seeded late – after the May long weekend.
“Those crops that were seeded late seem to have lodged much worse than the others, but I’m not sure as to why that is the case.”