September snow unwelcomed, especially by farmers

Many farmers waiting for some warm, windy weather to dry crops for harvest

Not again. Snow in September?

Those hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s early snowfalls will be disappointed by Friday’s forecast calling for snow in central Alberta with highs a paltry 3 C and only single digits for the next few days following.

For farmers, the early snowfall comes at a time when they’re looking for some heat and wind to finish off and dry crops and allow harvesting to kick into high gear.

“Hopefully, we don’t get too much snow,” said Harry Brook, crop specialist with the Alberta Ag-Info Centre in Stettler, on Tuesday.

Heavy snowfalls can flatten crops to the ground, which makes it much more difficult for them to dry out.

“That creates several issues with harvest,” he said.

One of the problems is that crops can germinate, which immediately hurts their value.

Some farmers have begun swathing — which offer some protection from snow — to get ahead of the bad conditions.

Snow and cool conditions just set back the calendar further on harvest and brings it closer to a killing frost.

“If you look at the date on the calendar, it’s the last week in September. We haven’t had a killing frost yet. We’ve been lucky.

“But it’s coming. Every day is closer to that killing frost.”

Some of the bigger producers with many acres are harvesting now and putting their crops through dryers to get a head start.

So far, most of the crops coming off around central Alberta are peas, with a little wheat and barley as well.

“Certainly, the canola and the wheat — the vast majority is waiting to be dried down — same with a lot of barley too.

“There’s a lot of crop that still has to get cured to the point you can harvest it and put it in storage.”

The longer term forecast of single-digit highs will not help.

“You’re not going to really get any significant drying going on until you get some warmer temperatures. This 6 C, 7 C, 8 C is not doing the trick.”

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