Image: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

AFSC received 2,300 hail claims from recent storms

Conditions of many fields starting to fall as excess heat, lack of moisture begin to take a toll

Several big storms that rolled through the province last month are beginning to stack up the damage claims at Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC).

As of July 26, AFSC has received more than 2,300 hail claims — with nearly half of those coming from the area stretching between Didsbury and Olds then east all the way to the Saskatchewan border.

Jackie Sanden, AFSC insurance product coordinator, explained 2018 has been quite busy for hail claims, despite the annual average of claims over the same time frame is about 3,300.

“What we are seeing for damage is highly variable. Some crops have received minimal damage where others have been completely wiped out,” she stated.

In addition, Sanden noted more than 80 per cent of claims are currently being inspected within 16 days of being reported to AFSC. However, she added, “As claim numbers continue to rise, future wait times may differ based on the number of outstanding claims.”

To file a claim, producers are urged to call their local AFSC branch or call 1-877-899-2372 within the 14 day claim window. More information on claims or programs with AFSC can be found by going to www.afcs.ca.

Crops affected by dry weather

The severe weather that Alberta has witnessed over the past month is starting to have noticeable affects on crops.

While severe thunderstorms with strong winds and hail are partially to blame for damaging many fields and creating lodging issues, the constant extreme temperatures are also a concern.

Harry Brook, crop information specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, explained some small areas have seen storm related damage though the lack of moisture is a far bigger threat to yields right now.

“There has been hail, but I don’t think it’s at the same level as in previous years. Overall, the crops are hanging in there, getting just enough moisture to stay in the game,” he said.

“The problem is that we are in a period of maximum moisture usage with no soil moisture reserves and we are seeing symptoms of dry fields affecting the crops. The rain the area has seen has been extremely isolated and that general steady type of rain needed hasn’t really developed.”

Brook explained that these spotty rains, combined with plus 30 degree temperatures and some wind, are taking away much needed moisture during the growth stage.

“Just looking at a field tells quite a story,” Brook added. “With flat fields, the growth is fairly even. But you can see a difference with even a small depression or a hill, as it will either be higher or lower than the rest of the crop due to the moisture holding capacity.”

Brook also noted that the high winds combined with the moisture is causing lodging in some fields, but barley in the region seems to be getting the worst of it.

As a result of the erratic weather, the rating of good to excellent crops fell 12 points to 52 per cent in the central region. Pulses are the most developed with nearly 80 per cent in the podding stage, followed by canola at over half podding.

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