Summer showers bring hope for crops

Last week’s rain may have saved the day for some as South Peace agricultural producers break free from July’s dry spell.

“Wheat has probably weathered this the best and with this moisture we’ll actually see the head build a bit better,” said Sonja Raven, County of Grande Prairie agricultural fieldman.

The recent rain may help the wheat kernels in the South Peace fill properly, she said.

The year started well, said Raven, but then a complete lack of any moisture “caused some stress.”

“We can see the cereal crops are pretty short, low to the ground, and they’re definitely maturing faster than they normally would,” Raven told Town & Country News Tuesday.

“It really depends on what stage your crops were in,” she said. For some, the rain may have come just in time, while for others, the right time may have been two weeks ago.

As for hay crops, Raven said producers will see “a way lower yield than in years past.”

“We just didn’t have the moisture to get them to a point where they were going to yield properly.”

Raven is predicting an early harvest.

“Normally, we’d probably go into September, sometimes even as late as October depending on what the crops are and at what stage they’re at,” she said. “This year it’s going to be a much earlier and I think we’ll probably be very close to done by the end of August.”

“We’re definitely going to have significant yield losses regardless,” said Raven.

She noted that with the price for canola still high, yield losses there may be somewhat offset.

Meanwhile, provincial ag minister Devin Dreeshen is promising support for Alberta farmers.

“We are working with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, local municipalities, and commodity groups to provide producers with the supports they need to make it through the ongoing dry conditions,” Dreeshen said last Thursday.

An AgriRecovery program to support local farmers and ranchers is in the works with the support of the province and federal government.

Dreeshen said the extreme dry conditions in the prairies as well as Ontario was raised at the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Agriculture Ministers’ meeting.

““I have advised Alberta crop adjusters to be flexible and complete early assessments with affected crop and hay land – for example offering alternative use of crops to address forecasted feed shortages in our livestock industry,” said Dreeshen.
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