The end to the 2014 harvest is in sight for Central Alberta farmers, with only a few clouds to obscure the finish line.
The latest crop report by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development estimated that harvest in this region was 86.4 per complete, as of Tuesday. That number might have crept up to around 90 per cent by Friday, said Mark Cutts, a Stettler-based crop specialist with the provincial department.
“It’s getting harder and harder to find fields that are not combined,” he said.
“There’s quite a few that I’ve talked to that are done, and then there’s probably the odd larger-acre guy or maybe some later-seeded crops that are still needing to be combined.”
A week of good weather should put an end to that, said Cutts, and that’s exactly what weather forecasters are predicting.
Farmers in Central Alberta are actually lagging behind their counterparts elsewhere in the province.
Producers in Southern Alberta were 98.4 per cent complete as of Tuesday, those in Northeast Alberta were at the 94.4 per cent mark, farmers to the northwest were at 88.5 per cent, and harvest in the Peace River region was 92.6 per cent complete. For the province as a whole, the figure was 92.6 per cent.
Local yields appear to be average, based on the feedback Cutts has received to date.
And despite a hard frost in early September that diminished the quality of cereal crops and left many canola plants with green seeds at season’s end, producers aren’t too disappointed with what they’ve been seeing in their combine hoppers.
“Most guys are happy with the grade.”
That said, the 2014 harvest is falling far short of last year’s bumper crop.
“But last year was one of those years when everything lined up perfectly,” said Cutts.
Some producers even have some of last year’s crop still in the bin, he noted — a consequence of the rail transportation system’s inability to move all that product to market. Cutts said he isn’t sure if that carry-over will mean backlogs again this winter.
He noted that ag commodity prices aren’t as strong as they were a year and a half or two years ago, which reflects farmers’ output elsewhere in North America and beyond.
“It’s a global market, so good production in another part of the world has an impact on the pricing we get in this part of the world.”