Good crop year undermined by wet fall

Poor fall weather conditions have taken a toll on crops.

By PAUL COWLEY

Advocate staff

Many farmers have seen a potential bumper year wilt as unco-operative weather has stymied harvesting.

Harry Brook, a crop specialist at Stettler’s Alberta Ag-Info Centre, said this fall has been a “frustrating disappointment” for many producers.

“The problem is we had a really spectacular crop coming. In a lot of cases, we had almost ideal moisture conditions.

“We had big crops that were looking great, and then the weather turned to crap.”

The trouble started with a wet September.

“It’s frustrating because the crops were ready to harvest. It just never dried up enough to let it finish that last little bit of maturing.

“But we thought we had October. But October was a total disaster.”

About 20 per cent of the crop in Central Alberta remains on the field, he estimated.

November’s warm conditions have provided a welcomed last chance to get crops off. However, that window is likely to close by the end of this weekend with cold temperatures forecast for next week.

Brook said his office has been getting regular calls from farmers looking for advice on harvesting and storing wet crops. Careful management and drying can do much to prevent the worst damage for stored crops, but quality and value has dropped for many grains.

His advice to farmers is to get out this weekend and get their crop off, whether it’s wet or not. The amount of crop may offset some of the quality issues, he said.

“If they can get it all off, or the majority (of the crop) off, and have very little left for next year’s harvest. There will certainly be a lot of value lost but the yield will partially make up for it if they can find a market to sell it to.

“It will end up being kind of an average income year.

“But it had the potential to be so much more. That’s the disappointing part.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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