A farmer gathers in a grain crop east of Innisfail late last week.

Crop report shows mixed bag

The good news is despite a very hot and dry growing season for a lot of farmers in Central Alberta, there will be a crop.

The good news is despite a very hot and dry growing season for a lot of farmers in Central Alberta, there will be a crop.

The bad news is that the wet cool weather lately is not exactly helping with getting it in the bin.

As of Alberta Agriculture’s most recent crop report on Friday, only 25 per cent of crops in the Central Region have been harvested, compared with about 40 per cent this time last year.

The main crops include spring and winter wheat, durum, barley, oats, canola, dry peas and potatoes.

While 90 per cent of the winter wheat has been harvested, only about six per cent of oats have been.

About 34 per cent of canola is standing, with 47 per cent swathed but only 19 per cent harvested.

The Central Region includes the Red Deer area, and runs from Rimbey to Airdrie and east beyond Stettler, including the Coronaton and Oyen areas.

Crop specialist Mark Cutts, with Alberta Agriculture’s Ag-info Centre based in Stettler, said both yield and quality of crops in the region are variable.

A good stretch of seven to 10 days of warmer dry weather is probably needed to finish the harvest.

Pasture lands in the Central Region are better than they have been all year, with 29 per cent rated at good to excellent.

Provincially, about 27 per cent of the crops remain standing, 27 per cent are swathed, and 46 per cent are harvested (up nine per cent from the previous week).

Rainfall over the past two weeks has slowed down harvesting operations across the province. Compared to this time last year, harvest progress is behind in the Central, North East, North West and Peace Regions — down six per cent provincially. Harvesting in the South Region is 17 per cent ahead compared to last year.

The recent rain and cooler weather in Central Alberta really slowed down any type of harvest progress and just in last few days he has started to see combines out in the field again, Cutts said Friday.

“When you start to lose up to a week because of unfavourable weather, you certainly start to fall behind where you would expect to be.

The forecast indicates warmer weather ranging from 15C to 18C for the better part of this week.

“If we get a stretch of good weather we can get a lot of combining done fairly quickly. Combining in October is certainly not uncommon in Central Alberta. It’s not a big panic at this point in time,” Cutts said.

A week from now with good weather, harvest completion could be up to 50 per cent and maybe 60 per cent.

Cutts said he suspects there will be quite a bit of variability with yields and quality, simply reflecting those who received moisture and those who didn’t earlier in the season. Red Deer South was catching some rain, where north of Lacombe and Ponoka areas weren’t. Quality will likely be lower than normal because of the stresses on the crops from heat earlier in the growing season.

“The June rains are now in September, and the June rains never really happened.”

The potential is there that farmers won’t be bringing in as much income as they normally do, Cutts said.

barr@reddeeradvocate

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