Alberta's crop conditions down as drought, heat wave impact growth

Only 18 per cent of crops in Alberta are in good to excellent condition, according to the latest provincial crop report.

Just 18 per cent of crops are in good to excellent condition

A canola field under an eerie orange sky in Alberta in 2018. (Suppled by James Oberhofer )

Only 18 per cent of crops in Alberta are in good to excellent condition, according to the latest provincial crop report.

The heat wave this summer has hurt a variety of industries, like the cattle sector, and it also impacted crop development.

"All dry peas, 97 per cent of canola and more than 95 per cent of lentils and chickpeas are in the podding stage," read the report.

Over the past five years, crops in good to excellent condition averaged to about 69 per cent.

"Compared to the previous crop report, growing condition ratings dropped for all regions, with the North West Region deteriorating the most," it read.

Alberta Federation of Agriculture president Lynn Jacobson says recent bouts of rain didn't do much for pastures.

"The heat has brought harvest forward … a couple of weeks," he said.

"We're going back into 30 plus weather here now for this week coming up and, you know, maybe the next week."

He says that means those in the grain industry will be having a short crop this year.

"There was some worry [for] people that signed contracts based on their previous averages. And there will be quite a few producers that probably won't be able to meet those contracts."

Roger Chevraux, owner of Century 12 Farms and vice chair of the Alberta Canola Growers, says he's not surprised by the report.

"Heat and the lack of moisture came at the wrong time for the canola," he said, adding that timing is everything 

"A lot of it came in the month of July, which is when our crop is usually sediment seed and the pod sets are usually there. And this year, that's not the case."

Despite the hit, Chevraux says his crop insurance will help him ride out the poor yield. 

"In farming, we always say next year, next year will be better. We're always the eternal optimist."

According to a release issued last week, the federal government agreed to $100 million for immediate relief for Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta under the AgriRecovery program.

The program is designed to cover uninsurable costs, including costs incurred during extreme drought.

With files from Julie Debeljak


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