Calgary

Alberta farmer says dry summer could mean a 30% hit to his crop yield

An especially dry growing season means some southern Alberta farmers are bracing for a potential hit to their harvest.

Dryland farmers will likely need to dip into their crop insurance, says Alberta Federation of Agriculture

Farmer Larry Woolliams says southern Alberta crops badly need rain. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

An especially dry growing season means some southern Alberta farmers are bracing for a potential hit to their harvest.

"My yields are going to be down for sure," said Larry Woolliams of the 9,000-acre Woolliams Farms near Airdrie, which grows malt, barley, peas and canola.

"Between the hail and the drought, it's kind of all over the map."

Woolliams said his crop yields could be down about 30 per cent across the board due to dry soil, and he's heard some farmers are down as much as 50 per cent.

"We're way down on our average rainfall … if we get rain it's a quarter inch at a time, we just can't seem to get that one, two-inch rainstorm."

Crop analysts say precipitation patterns in several Alberta regions were short and patchy this summer.

A drier than usual summer is likely going to mean a smaller harvest for some southern Alberta farmers. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

While overall, the provincial crop quality is expected to be strong, Lynn Jacobson with the Alberta Federation of Agriculture said several dryland farmers in the south will be hurting.

"A lot of them have been saying they're going into their crop insurance for sure this year," he said, saying some farms had nothing to combine and cut crops off for green feed.

"This is probably getting into some of the worst years we've seen [in the past decade]," he said.

Jacobson said it's likely too late for rain to make any difference this year, and farmers will simply have to try and pull back on expenses.

"This is going to affect how they operate," he said.

Both Woolliams and Jacobson say they won't have a clear picture of this year's crop results until the end of harvest season.

With files from Dave Gilson