Yields are down from last year, the quality isn’t as good, harvest is progressing slower and prices are lower.
But things could be much worse for Central Alberta farmers — and several weeks ago looked like they would be.
Mark Cutts, a crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development in Stettler, said producers are doing a good job of picking up crops that were flattened by this year’s early snowfall.
“With that snow sitting on it back in the early part of September, I bet they didn’t think that was possible.”
Early indications are that yields are pretty good. A crop report issued by Agricultural Financial Services Corp. on Friday projected that the numbers provincewide could be the second highest ever — behind only last year’s phenomenal crop.
“Most are pleasantly surprised with yields,” said Cutts, noting how dry conditions in Central Alberta during the summer led many to believe production would suffer.
“I think most producers, if they’re average to a bit above average yield, given the year I think they’ll be satisfied with that.”
Cutts estimates that harvest in this region is 50 to 55 per cent complete, although persistent cool, damp weather is slowing progress.
“I think fits and starts kind of describes harvest this fall.”
However, a forecast of sunny weather over the next several days has Cutts optimistic that farmers can now make some headway.
“If we could settle in for 10 days to two weeks, I think we’d see the vast majority of the crop off in Central Alberta.”
It’s too early to comment on quality, but the rough start to fall probably did some damage, said Cutts.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some quality issues based on that snow and frost incidents that happened a couple of weeks ago.”
It’s important that yield and quality are decent this year, said Cutts, because crop prices are down.
“There’s no doubt the numbers are not going to be as pretty as they were a year and certainly two years ago.”