Fields across much of Alberta have been hit hard by both snow and rain the past 10 days, leaving some farmers to wonder if this year could wind up being much like 2016 with crops left in fields until spring. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Alberta harvest on hold due to poor weather conditions

Central Alberta farmers among those waiting for better temperatures to finish combining

Despite forecasts that called for some nice days last week, snow combined with cool temperatures and rain have put a halt to pretty much any thoughts of harvesting crops in Alberta.

Harry Brook, crop information specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, pointed out that the only real progress made in the Bashaw and Ponoka areas has been with more canola now sitting in the swath.

“Everything is just in stasis (holding pattern) right now. Not much frost damage is anticipated as wet crops tend to better withstand more frost,” Brook noted.

“This weather and temperatures really slow everything having to do with crops — from how it matures to the time it takes to start breaking down. We are going to need several days of good weather before machinery can get back onto fields.”

By good weather, Brook meant temperatures into the mid-teens or above and some breezy conditions to go along with the warm sunshine.

“That wind will help speed up the drying process and it will have to last at least four or five days,” he added.

“The only positive that can come out of this weather pattern is that it will assist in recharging the soil moisture that is experiencing a huge deficit this year. But really, where was this wet weather during the rest of the growing season? What this will really do is help kick-start crops next year.”

The hope is that the weather will turn for the better soon and avoid what took place in 2016.

“That’s the lone concern I have — when harvest turned horrendous and the months of September and October then was saved a bit in November,” he added.

As for the amount of crops in the bin across central portions of the province, the numbers have remained virtually unchanged from the previous week with about 32 per cent of the overall crop having been combined, 27 per cent in the swath and about 40 per cent still standing.

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