Dry, hot conditions challenge southern Alberta farmers
After string of bumper crops, many farmers having to spend more on irrigation
Despite a soggy spring in many parts of Alberta, the onset of a scorching summer has left some fields parched and some farmers paying more to irrigate their crops.
"It is very spotty in Alberta, this area here is quite dry,” says Lynn Jacobson, who farms near Enchant, about an hour northeast of Lethbridge.
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Despite the dry conditions on his land, Jacobson says the Lethbridge area received a lot of moisture this year.
"They had flooding problems, we didn't. So I guess there are bonuses to being on the fringe sometimes."
But Jacobson says the lack of moisture on his land could mean he’ll need to pay as much as 50 per cent more to irrigate his crops this year.
Jacobson says it’s a pattern that repeats itself throughout the province — some areas are thirsty for water while others are moist and lush.
"You get to around Calgary, it's been dry. But north of Calgary near Innisfail areas, very good crops up there,” says Jacobson, the president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture..
Greg Stamp, another southern Alberta farmer, says after a string of bumper crops, this year’s dry weather could mean lower yields for some operations in the area.
"It caused some premature ripening and some of the later seeded crops in southern Alberta will suffer some stress because of it,” he says.
But Stamp says getting by with less moisture is nothing new in southern Alberta.
"We are kind of just getting back to the normal that it used to be five years ago, 10 years ago."
Farmers in southern Alberta may be used to this drier weather but that doesn't make dealing with the conditions any easier.
With some farmers hoping to begin harvesting in just a week, they hope their yields can continue to hold up under the bright prairie sun.