Harvest was in full swing on this farm just east of Blackfalds on Friday afternoon. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

Lack of precipitation continues to hurt Central Alberta crops

Significant rainfall has helped crop development across parts of the province over the past two weeks, but Central Alberta farmers are still being negatively impacted by a lack of precipitation throughout the growing season.

The latest Alberta Crop Report, which was published Friday and displays crop conditions as of Aug. 22, shows only 35.4 per cent of all crop conditions are rated as good to excellent.

This is a slight 0.6 percentage-point decrease from the previous report. The five-year average is 63.6 per cent and the 10-year average is 64.1 per cent.

The northwest, northeast and eastern Peace regions of the province received over 40 mm, with some areas receiving over 80 mm over the past two weeks. These regions are reporting yield expectations and harvest progress near long-term averages.

“Significant moisture events throughout the (central) region delayed harvest progress,” the report states.

Harvest of winter cereals is reported as over 78 per cent complete. Harvest of spring-planted crops has begun with progress mainly reported on pulse and cereal crops. Total canola swathing and combining is reported at two per cent complete.

Reports estimate that 15 per cent of all crops and 11 per cent of major crops have been combined across the province. Both the five-year and 10-year average for all crops combined is nine per cent for this week.

The percentage of all crops combined by region are 37 per cent in the South, 12 per cent in the Central, two per cent in the northeast, one per cent in the northwest and two per cent in the Peace. The winter cereals harvest is nearing completion, and the dry pea harvest is progressing in all regions.

Provincial yield estimates for major crops are unchanged since August 8, with barley and oat yields revised up 1.5 and 1.6 bushels per acre respectively, and spring wheat, canola, and dry peas yields all revised up 0.5 bushels per acre. Provincial major crop yield estimates remain lower than average, with the exception of oats.

Precipitation since the Aug. 8 report has improved the per cent of provincial surface soil moisture rated good to excellent by four per cent due to regional soil ratings improving in the South by five per cent, in Central by four per cent and in the northeast by seven per cent. Surface soil moisture good to excellent ratings in the northwest and Peace regions remain unchanged.

Sub-surface moisture conditions rated good to excellent have increased across the province since August 8 by three per cent due to regional ratings increases of six per cent in central, seven per cent in the northeast, and three per cent in the northwest.

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